alternative press serving the lower columbia pacific region

Summer Reading List

Well, believe it or not, it’s summer – time to connect up the hoses, get out the weeding tools and have some serious one-on-one time with your garden. And after all that watering and weeding, you can settle down on the back deck with (insert your favorite back-deck food or beverage here) and get some reading done (before falling asleep and dreaming of your best garden harvest and flower show ever!).

English IvyIf you’re like me, you’ll be dealing with plenty of ivy, wild cucumber, and buttercup, all considered invasive weeds. But only English ivy is on THE LIST. Yes, the first bit of summer reading is to get familiar with the Oregon State Noxious Weeds List. On it, you’ll find 264 plants under strict quarantine, and if you have one or more in your garden, you need to either kill (class A) or control (class B) them. So cozy down with THE LIST and learn all about the likes of biddy biddy, camelthorn, sessile joyweed, hairy whitetop, pilipiliula, old man’s beard, Paterson’s curse, policeman’s hat, quackgrass, mile-a-minute, kikuyugrass, Argentine screwbean, turkeyberry, coat buttons and spiny cocklebur, to name but a few. For $5, you can buy a booklet called Pacific Northwest’s Least Wanted List: Invasive Weed Identification and Management from the Oregon State University Extension Service and get close and personal some of these invaders. That’s right, know your enemy.

Invasive Plant MedicineOr maybe friend. After a particularly arduous weeding session, you may start to wonder if there’s another way. Well, have we got a book for you. So plunk down in your favorite deckchair, grab your favorite snack, and open up Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives by Timothy Scott (Healing Arts Press, 2010), “the first book to demonstrate how plants originally considered harmful to the environment actually restore Earth’s ecosystems and possess powerful healing properties,” according to the book’s web site. In Part 1 of the book, Waging War on Plants, Scott discusses the politics and science of invasion biology, ending with a chapter on the economics of weeds. Part Two, The Intelligence of Plants, talks about the way plants communicate and defend themselves, which lays the groundwork for Part Three, Guide to Invasive Plants, where 25 invasives are surveyed in detail for their medicinal and ecological value. For instance, did you know that English ivy removes toxins from the air, has tasty berries (to birds), and is used to treat skin diseases and even cancer? Lots of great information in this book, and you can read it on your Kindle or iPad for less than $10!

When the Killing's DoneLooking for some fiction? T.C. Boyle’s 13th novel, When the Killing’s Done (Viking Press, 2011), is a dramatization of the recent battle between animal rights activists and government and conservation groups over eradication of invasive species in the Channel Islands off of the southern Californian coast. The epigraph of the book is from Genesis 1:28: And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Boyle ends his description of the book with, “Just how precious is any given life—and who gets to decide?”

Have a great summer in the garden!

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