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About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View This Issue
The INDEPENDENT, November 20, 2008
Can You Dig It?
By Schann Nelson
OSU Master Gardener
homes, and they would really like to live with you! Frankly, I don’t care to share.
Fleas and ticks come in on dogs and cats; I try to keep the flea meds up to date.
My youngest daughter was trying to do the right thing by applying grocery store flea
stuff, but seizures started almost immediately and eventually the poor pet died, a
very traumatic experience for us all. Now I get the most effective stuff we can af-
ford from the vet.
We also have regular infestations of carpenter ants which we control by using
flea bombs in the crawl space. When it gets BAD I apply a broad range insecticide
(hopefully with a growth inhibitor) both inside and outside the house. After it dries,
the product works as a contact poison for about six-months and has been remark-
ably effective at controlling the ant population that is always trying to move in.
Also trying to move in are the small ‘meadow mice’, which are actually voles. In-
teresting factoid: No matter where you are there are almost certainly several ro-
dents within 10 feet of you at all times! Mice and rats are famous for their capacity
to carry disease and can create a big mess. Since I learned that the dead mice are
not poisonous to cats, I rotate two different kinds of solid bait in the house because
trapping, alone, was not effective. That becomes obvious when all the bait stations
These small rodents can also cause problems in the garden. While they don’t
tunnel themselves, they use tunnels in the ground made by moles and gophers,
and they love to burrow around and under mulch or landscape fabric or snow. They
will nest up against small trees if there is mulch or fabric to hide under. The inner
bark (cambium) of the tree becomes a tasty and convenient food source. If the tree
is small they can girdle it completely and kill it. Holes in the bark provide access to
all kinds of incest and diseases.
Finally, there are the larger vertebrate forest dwellers that even urban residents
find themselves faced with as we integrate the landscape into a sustainable whole.
There are several species of native squirrel and rabbit. There are larger animals,
like dear and elk, and lots of midsize ones, including opossums and porcupines. [In
case you don’t believe we have porcupines, I spent one Saturday having the vet
take quills out of the dog’s poor nose.] While I haven’t heard of aggressive rabbits,
squirrels and raccoons can become extremely aggressive when denied food, par-
ticularly if habituated to food being provided by people. Teach your kids that ani-
mals are WILD, are ‘cute’ only at a distance, and that feeding wild animals is NOT
A Good Idea! One local woman was nearly killed by a raccoon, it took a year be-
fore she was able to walk!
Birds and bats are generally good for the yard and garden. Starlings, however,
are not native, make a huge noisy, mess nesting, and use resources needed by na-
tive species. You don’t want starlings nesting in your house, so close up any unnec-
essary openings. Remember, any animal acting in an unusual way, for example a
bat on the ground during the day, may have rabies – still an extremely dangerous
and contagious disease.
The quantity of vegetation created in a season MUST be
an identifying characteristic of the maritime temperate rain
forest that dominates the landscape of the western edge of
the Pacific northwest. This biological richness allows, by
virtue of the wealth of relatively small areas maintained as
habitat, the dense population of urban areas without being
overwhelmed by concrete and stone. These open areas help
revitalize neighborhoods, protect and preserve native
species, and greatly enhance the quality of life in the entire
region. Connecting, and allowing movement between, these
urban areas across the rich agricultural land and into forests of the rural landscape
creates an ecology that can be sustained — I hope.
But the sheer mass of seasonal vegetation growth is astounding. And it’s not just
in one season; every year we get three good growing seasons, each creating an-
other layer of mulch and brush. It takes a lot of work to hack out and maintain a
space to exist as you get closer to the rich rural landscape. I’m interested to see
what develops in some of the small fenced ‘wild spaces’ and wetlands that have
been built inside the urban growth boundary. Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree
that they are a necessary part of creating viable space for dense human popula-
tions and industrial use. I worry about the maintenance of these smaller develop-
ment-based areas. Sure they’ll do a great job of providing habitat, but for what?
In the same way that a casual pile of anything burnable is not a burn pile, letting
anything that will grow to maturity and propagate does not create a livable land-
scape or recreate habitat.
Human intervention is required to create a sustainable environment. There are
few places on the earth where only native species remain if any such place could
ever be so defined. ANY untended piece of land (or anything left outside) will start
growing stuff as soon as the rains begin and will probably be some shade of green
before next summer. Left untended, these pseudo-wild places (or your yard) will be
overwhelmed with dense prickly impenetrable mixed species brush, probably most-
ly invasive non-native weeds. Certain creatures that like to live in densely brushy
places are not welcome within our homes, whether urban or rural.
The first fall storms have arrived. Raking leaves off the grass and starting to think
about what I want to cut back or out got me thinking again about how hard it might
be to understand why I’m always talking about killing off plants [and bugs and ro-
dents and mollusks and fungi]. In an effort to help folks envision the mass of stuff
Dennis and I attempt to manage, I’m going to describe our various piles. On our (al-
most) four acres, about one-quarter acre is fenced off to keep the chickens and
cows contained in the barnyard, pasture and forest that shares the rest of the land.
We have a designated area (away from buildings, reachable by hose) where
windfall and woody debris are collected for our annual brush fire.
This year’s burn pile is the biggest since we ‘remodeled’ the
house. It’s at least 10 feet high and quite dense, since we build
and burn only a single pile each year. It could easily be much larg-
N EHALEM V ALLEY B IBLE C HURCH
er, since there’s a good deal of thinning and other small saw work
Gary Taylor, Pastor
that should happen in the front hedge and fruit trees.
Grant & North Streets, Vernonia
Besides the burn pile, there is the large (approx. 8’x8’) bin
where cardboard, manure, kitchen waste, yard debris and any-
Sunday School 10:00 a.m.
thing else we think will decay (one year an old cotton futon) is
Morning Worship 11:00 a.m.
more or less layered up and worked constantly by the chickens.
Every couple of years the whole batch has to be moved to the
Wednesday Service 7:00 p.m.
garden when it’s mostly decomposed and overtaking the bin. We
rake the leaves in the front yard, and if we get it all done, use them
V ERNONIA F OURSQUARE C HURCH
to pretty much cover the vegetable garden AND the edges of the
Carl Pense, Pastor
850 Madison Avenue, Vernonia
During the growing season, most of the weeds from perennial
beds and garden get pitched over the fence. I have a small (about
Sunday Worship Service: 10:30 a.m.
Children’s Sunday School
five feet around and up to four feet high) pile for weeds and de-
bris that I don’t want to compost (or that I don’t want to yard all the
C HURCH OF J ESUS C HRIST
way back to the big pile).
OF L ATTER D AY S AINTS
I don’t have a good estimate of the actual annual volume of all
this stuff, but the effort is continuous. And its not as if the front is
Marc Farmer, Branch President
neat and tidy, even with good mulch there are lots of weeds to be
1350 E. Knott Street, Vernonia
pulled and I haven’t even started on cutting back perennials for
Sacrament Meeting, Sunday 10 a.m.
Sunday School & Primary 11:20 a.m.
So far I’ve dealt with the plants, but there are also some crea-
Relief Society, Priesthood and
tures you learn to live with if you live close to wildness. As the cold
Young Women, Sunday 12:10 p.m.
returns, insects and rodents are looking for nice warm winter
S EVENTH D AY A DVENTIST
F IRST B APTIST C HURCH
Gary S. Walter, Pastor
2nd Ave. and Nehalem St., Vernonia
Morning Worship, 11:00 a.m.
Sabbath School 9:30 a.m.
359 “A” Street, Vernonia
Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Sunday Worship Service 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday Prayer Meeting 7:00 p.m.
A SSEMBLY OF G OD
S T . M ARY ' S C ATHOLIC C HURCH
Wayne and Maureene Marr
662 Jefferson Ave., Vernonia,
Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Morning Worship 11:00 a.m
Rev. Luan Tran, Administrator
960 Missouri Avenue, Vernonia
Mass Sunday 12:00 Noon
Religious Educ. Sunday 10:30 a.m.
V ERNONIA C HRISTIAN C HURCH
V ERNONIA C OMMUNITY C HURCH
Sam Hough, Evangelist
410 North Street, Vernonia
Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Morning Worship 11:00 a.m.
Ladies' Bible Study 9:30 a.m.
Ladies’ Worship 10:00 a.m.
Children’s Choir 3:00 p.m.
Family Bible Study 7:00 p.m.
Grant Williams, Pastor
957 State Avenue, Vernonia
Sunday Breakfast 9:00 a.m.
Morning Worship 9:45 a.m.
Children and Nursery 10:00 a.m.
Youth Group 6:00 p.m.
Preschool Mon. & Wed. 9:00 a.m.
Wednesday Prayer 6:00 p.m.
Tues. & Fri. Adult Volleyball 7:00 p.m.