Clatskanie Grows

Food Preservation classes:

Contact the Extension office (503 397-3462) for details. To register online go to:

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

August is insect month

August has lots of insects and spiders. The largest and showiest ones seem to find their way to the Extension office with regularity. Last August through September, there was a lot of fall webworm activity along Highway 30 from Rainier to Sauvie Island. I am seeing a little activity lately but it isn’t clear where or how bad they will be. Their characteristic webbing is visible on numerous trees. In the home landscape, apples and walnuts seem to get a lot of their attention. Control is not necessary. The leaf-feeding damage they do is temporary. Once they are protected by that web, cutting them out is about the only choice and that only makes sense if you would have pruned that limb out anyway.

A spectacular insect is the banded alder borer. This insect lays its eggs in dead or dying wood, especially alders. The beetle can fly. The adult emerges as a long beetle of one and half to three or more inches with black and white bands on its back. It has very large antennae which are also banded black and white. People with alder firewood often find the adults emerging or trying to lay eggs. They are not home or structural pests and do not need spraying. This is a great insect with which to start an insect collection. Picture from Introduction to North American Beetles by Papp.

Another interesting character is the ten-lined June beetle. It can also fly and is often attracted to outside lights. It is an oval insect, rather stout and about 1.5 inches long. It has ten (count them) white lines down their back against a brownish background. While this beetle has fearsome larva that are reputed to go for Douglas fir seedlings, I have never seen any plants damaged by them nor heard of anyone spraying for them. They will make a distinctive whirring noise if you approach or handle them.

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 hemlock 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.

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:


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