Upcoming programs

Food Preservation classes

Jam and jelly season is officially here and gardens are starting to yield vegetables too! Get yourself ready to preserve your harvest by joining OSU Extension Educator Jenny Rudolph for a talk on safe home food preservation methods. This event will also provide an opportunity for you to have your pressure canner gauges tested for free. Gauges should be tested for accuracy each year before using. So bring your canner with you.

Fern Hill Grange

Food Preservation Talk & Pressure Gauge Testing

July 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Other food preservation classes: Contact the Extension office (503 397-3462) for de-tails. To register online go to: http://bit.ly/ ColumbiaFoodPreservation.

These classes are $20 apiece. Secret to Perfect Pickles (8/6), Making Herb Infused Jelly (8/13), Drying Fruits, Vegetables, and Meat (8/20), The Science and Art of Canning Salsa (8/28). All will be held at the Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District Office, 35285 Millard Rd, St Helens, OR 97051

Hunt to Home:

Game Processing

Saturday, September 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Columbia Soil & Water Conservation District office at Mil-lard Road in St. Helens. $40

Are you a novice or seasoned hunter looking to improve your butchering and processing skills? Class includes hands-on butchery instruction, freezer wrapping, and a pressure canning demonstration. Preregister.

Got food preservation questions? Give us a call at 503-397-3462. Food Preservation recipes and fact sheets can be accessed online at: https://extension. oregonstate.edu/food/preservation

Miscellaneous topics

Irrigation is so important in August. Subsurface moisture is depleted by now, temperatures are hot and plants are at crucial stages of growth. We get very little rain in August. Most gardens and lawns will need an inch of water or more per week to keep going. Trees or shrubs planted this spring need more water because their root systems are not well developed.

Sunburn can be a problem on apples and broadleaf evergreens. Any 95º plus weather is too much to handle. Most of the damage is on the south or west side of a plant. Damaged apples will not mature normally and will often fall off before ripening. Damaged leaves are browned at the tips or margins. They look bad but generally don’t constitute more than a cosmetic concern. If all the leaves were affected, the plant was grievously short of water or something is wrong with the roots.

Blossom end rot of tomatoes (a calcium shortage and not a disease despite its name) can be reduced by adequate and even watering. Lime your garden area this fall with 10 pounds of agricultural lime per 100 square feet. This will be good for three years.

Poison hemlock

For some reason, there appears to be an upsurge in the amount of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) in Columbia County. This is not a new plant. It was unintentionally introduced by settlers to the region at least 150 years ago and has been part of the landscape ever since.

The plant is highly toxic to humans and livestock. Socrates was forced to drink a concoction of this plant as fatal payment for being somewhat of an obnoxious dissident in Greece several thousand years ago (read The Death of Socrates by I. F. Stone for an interesting discussion of this event).

The foliage or roots can poison livestock, with the foliage being more toxic. The toxicity is not lost in hay or silage making. Handling the plants or chopping them with a “weed-eater” can cause a dermal reaction in many people.

Poison hemlock is a carrot family biennial plant, meaning that seedlings that germinate this year over winter as visible rosettes (2-5 inches tall in the winter) which will bolt to flower next summer. The plant in flower is tall, often exceeding 5-6 feet. Flowering stems are very visible right now. The stems have characteristic purple spotting and the whole plant has a distinctive “mousy” odor. The leaves are very lacey and almost fern-like.

The flower is similar to Queen Anne’s lace. Seeds fall near the stem and up to 85% can germinate immediately. Some will germinate the following year or two but seed viability is relatively short.

Poison hemlock needs disturbed ground or bare ground with little vegetative cover to get started. It can tolerate somewhat poor drainage (and may be more competitive in those areas) but does not require it. I have seen it along roadsides, field edges, and once, a luxuriant crop in someone’s back yard in Scappoose. It is showing up a lot more in residential landscapes. Often, it isn’t clear how the seeds got there.

There are some herbicides that will help control poison hemlock, but timing is crucial. There is little evidence that spraying the flowering stalk at this stage will keep the plant from going to seed. And since a biennial dies after going to seed, what’s the point? Better to careful cut off the seed heads and destroy them.

It is more effective to establish a vigorous competitive cover (usually grass) where hem-lock seeds are germinating. Then selective herbicides that don’t damage grass can be used to control the escaped rosettes this fall or next March/April.

Chip Bubl: OSU Extension/Columbia County 503 397-3462. 505 N. Columbia River Highway, St. Helens, OR 97051 chip.bubl@ oregonstate.edu

Free newsletter

The Oregon State University Extension office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter on gardening and farming topics (called County Living) written/edited by yours truly. All you need to do is ask for it and it will be mailed or emailed to you. Call 503 397-3462 to be put on the list. Alternatively, you can find it on the web at

Many extension publications available online

Are you putting up salsa, saving seeds, or thinking about planting grapes? OSU has a large number of its publications available for free download. Just go to https://catalog.extension. oregonstate.edu/ . Click on publications and start exploring.

The Extension Service offers its programs and materials equally to all people.

Contact information for the Extension office

Oregon State University Extension Service – Columbia County. 505 N. Columbia River Highway St. Helens, OR 97051. 503 397-3462 Email: chip.bubl@oregonstate.edu


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