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It's About Time - July 2016

Pipsissiwa, Chimaphila umbellata
Pipsissiwa, Chimaphila umbellata

By July, gardens are burgeoning with flowers and vegetables. They will thrive through the summer only if we pay diligent attention to adequate watering. Digital hose timers are great for extended trips out of town. We also have to deal with combatting weeds and pests. I wrestle with use of poisons. Slug bait offends my organic sensibilities but it seems the only effective way to keep snails away from our hostas and lilies.

Is it really necessary to use strictly organic fertilizers? Lawn grass can’t tell the difference between one source of nitrate or another; fixed nitrogen is fixed nitrogen to a plant. What about the commercial fertilizer additives?  Horse manure seems pretty noble at the end of these ruminations.

July is a squirrelly month for Willamette Valley urbanites. Can we trap and eliminate fox squirrels humanely? It is not legal to catch and release these arboreal rats to another neighborhood.

The harsh realities of nature show up if we keep eyes open when taking our neighborhood walks. A bushtit nest on the ground reveals predators at work. The little hatchlings don’t have a chance once discovered. Crows and jays don’t survive on bugs, nuts and berries. A dried and flattened garter snake shows roadkill isn’t just a country highway sight.

Escape to the mountains is always good for keeping mental balance with nature. Flower diversity is amazing in the forests and ridgetop meadows. Day hikes are best as high country camping is generally made intolerable by mosquitoes until late August.

David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. Contact him directly at fernzenmosses@me.com.