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Eugene Weekly : It's About Time : 9.1.11




By David Wagner

Rubus bifrons wild blackberry

eptember is our best month for hiking in the mountains. The late snow means the high meadows will still  have a nice array of wildflowers. Hiking by moonlight on open trails above timberline is a real delight. It can provide an early start for a long day of tramping. The best time is the three days after full moon, when the moon is still very bright and still high in the sky before dawn.

I learned about a new garden pest this summer: the assassin bug. I should be happy it is in my garden because it is a predator that hunts the vegetable pests. Its dark side is that it is a blood sucker, like ticks and mosquitoes. Baby assassin bugs, called nymphs, are under a quarter of an inch long. I caught one on my wrist when I felt a stinging. Wiping it off left a blood smear. A few days later the site turned into a swollen, itchy welt. One got me under my ear lobe. Because I scratched too much, the welt made my lobe swell up and get red and hot. How we gardeners suffer!

Fruit canning has been delayed this year. Peaches are barely reaching their peak. Blackberries have come on late this year, just like everything else. Their season will extend far into the month. We like them because they are so tasty, easy to pick, and free. They make a good jelly by adding crabapples (for pectin) to the pot when making juice.

David Wagner is botanist who lives and works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes and leads nature walks. He may be reached at fernzenmosses@me.com