Saturday, April 8, 2017
“April showers bring May flowers.” For us here in Central Oregon that does seem to be the case. We had a healthy amount of cold, wet, white insulation blanketing the ground for months and all that frostiness is yielding forth its harvest with green grass and plenty of weeds. It all looks pretty right now, but I’m telling you, don’t let the dainty little sprouts fool you. Many of them will grow up to haunt you in the middle of the summery warmness that is inevitably on its way. What seems like a reasonable task now to pull, spray, hoe, and burn will only multiply in the coming weeks. There is one plant that gets my goat every year. If you’ve lived in Central Oregon for any length of time, I’m sure you are very familiar with it. This little low-profile plant is the very reason bicycle tube manufacturers stay in business. Puncture Vine (or Goat Heads as it is commonly known), grows in places that no other living thing could grow. It loves dry gravel and travels all over the countryside hitchhiking on the bottom of your shoes and the sides of your tires. Many people have asked me over the years how to kill this terrible menace that seems to defy all pesticides, wind, fire, and hail. Well, I’ll share with you the only things that I have found to work with any degree of success. First, don’t let them get big. Like any plant, they are much easier to kill when they are small. Puncture vine will put on thorns within two weeks of sprouting; that means by the time you notice them you need to re-prioritize your day, put on your fatigues, and go do battle. You should start looking for these little guys popping up between the 2nd week of May, and throughout the rest of the summer. It’s not all that expensive to kill these plants if you don’t let them get out of control. Glyphosate (which is your typical weed killer like Round-Up) will work when they first pop up, but it’s not a sure deal. I personally have had much better success with a broadleaf herbicide such as SpeedZone. The nice thing about using SpeedZone for puncture vine is its growth regulating properties. Dicamba is one of the active ingredients and it rapidly speeds up the growth of the plant causing it to run out of nutrients and it dies quickly. One other nice thing about using a broadleaf is that it won’t kill your grass. You can spray your gravel and then go spray that pesky patch of dandelions with the same batch. If the puncture vine already has thorns on it, get the shovel out and pop it out by the center stem and burn it in the burn barrel. Don’t share this gift with anyone, burn it! The thorns are the seeds and they can stay viable for up to ten years! Be careful with broadleaf since it will kill anything with a leaf on it. It doesn’t know the difference between puncture vine and the organic lettuce in your garden. Broadleaf herbicides also have a tendency to “drift”, causing undesired kills. Many beautiful gardens have become the victim of well-intentioned goat head eradicators.
Speaking of gardens, if you are looking for a nice location to plant your produce this year, we have one for you! Crook County Parks and Recreation District operates a community garden in the back corner of Ward Park, Stryker ll Field. We can rent you a 12×12 plot or a 12x 20 plot. There are even a couple of raised beds that have hoops over them for cold frames. We are just getting the soil all tilled up so it’s time to come claim your space! Every plot has its own water spigot with the water coming directly out of Ochoco Creek. There is also a garden shed down there with tools for you to use.
Besides fighting weeds and cleaning up the parks; I thought I would mention one other thing. CCPRD has had their eye on the top of Barns Butte for two decades now. The BLM owns 160 acres on the top of the beautiful hill that graces the NE horizon of Prineville. We have have had numerous conversations with the BLM over the years about the potential of getting this land in the hands of Parks and Rec. for the purpose of building trails up there. The big hang up in the past has always been the cinnabar mines that had tailings that were hazardous. The BLM has cleaned up the mines in recent years and the conversation about CCPRD managing the Butte has begun once again. There is nothing certain about what will happen just yet, but we are excited about the potential recreation opportunities that a well planned trail system would provide the residents of Prineville. It seems especially fitting to begin planning for this area in light of the fact that the City of Prineville has just purchased 460 acres from Brook Resources that sits adjacent to this Federal land. With these two properties in the hands of the local government, it would give the people of Crook County a wonderful opportunity to create a outdoor area that could be enjoyed by everyone.
Crook County Parks and Recreation District