Blackberries & Puncture Vine

Every day is fun and eventful on the farm! One day we’re finding snakes, another we’re catching crawdads or finding a baby bird that has fallen from its nest. Today, we took advantage of some cooler weather and I picked blackberries! Our sweet little kitty trailed behind us, all the way up the hill, making short detours to stalk down a grasshopper or a frog along the way.  Our “Welcome Wolf,” Kina (said “Kee-nah”), also accompanied us up the hill.  She is also quite fond of those sweet, succulent berries, and does quite well at picking them for herself!  Levi, my little helper for the day, brought his own bucket into which to pick.  I think he may have had a berry in there once…  The only other evidence of his help was smeared across his face, but I daresay he enjoyed the experience!  After wading into the irrigation ditch, my helper shed his wet shoes and opted for barefoot.  Ah, for those days!  Jennifer’s feet would be black with so much dirt and … other organic materials… which I suspect was a point of pride, and also the cause of a bit of strife in an effort to get her to WASH those feet!  But I digress … Levi did very well in his little bare feet, somehow managing not to step on any blackberry thorns while he picked !  He hopped his way across the hot dirt on our way back, only begging to be carried a couple times before we reached the barns!  Then he hopped his way between the soft weeds growing on the driveway, just like I remember doing so many times as a kid!

All the kiddos getting in on the 4-wheeler fun with grandpa!

All the kiddos getting in on the 4-wheeler fun with grandpa!

Thank you all for the prayers for water!  Our family got together and went down to the creek to repair our makeshift dam of straw bales.  We were doubtful of what difference it would make, considering it only changed the level of the water an inch or two, but we have been so thankful for the water we have had in the ditch ever since!!  As you have probably witnessed, we have gotten our corn all the way through harvest!  We did not plant as much this year, due to our concerns that we wouldn’t have the water to support it.  The tomatoes are now coming on strong!  This has us busy canning, making salsa, and gearing up for making our own marinara as well.  Meanwhile, if you have been considering making any pickles this year, please drop us a note to order your cucumbers!  They are slowing down quickly, and are usually done about the time most are ready to start their canning (when the kids get back in school).  Other produce in the Garden Shed right now:  broccoli, chard, onions, garlic, cut flowers, Asian eggplant, peppers (anahiems, bells, & jalepenos), cherry  tomatoes, cantaloupe, green beans, sunburst (patty pan) squash, zucchini, cucumbers (Aremenian, Orient express slicers, and sassies for canning and slicing), & tomatoes.  We also have fresh basil, and can sell you some if you’d be interested in making pesto or just having fresh herbs.

We have begun harvesting our grapes! But sorry, you won't find any of these for sale in the garden shed.

We have begun harvesting our grapes! But sorry, you won’t find any of these for sale in the garden shed.

Canning tomatoes! You'll want about 15 pounds in order to fill your canner with 7 quarts.

Canning tomatoes! You’ll want about 15 pounds in order to fill your canner with 7 quarts.

There’s one more thing we’ve been harvesting around here lately – something we’re not so fond of: Puncture vine!  If you are here in Southern Oregon, you have probably seen some of these signs around, warning against “noxious weeks” and reminding you that it’s “your responsibility.”  But if you are new to the area, or just botanically illiterate, you probably have no idea which weeds are considered “noxious” or why!  While “noxious” refers directly to the harmful effects of the weeds on the environment and/or animals, it also indicates that those plants are not native to the area and are particularly invasive.  Some are more ob-noxious than others… some are actually pretty!  And as much as blackberry thorns hurt and the bushes can quickly hinder and overtake our ditches, we sure appreciate their fruit even though they are also considered “noxious” here in Southern Oregon (some types)!

You may see these signs around Southern Oregon, but do you know what a noxious weed is?

You may see these signs around Southern Oregon, but do you know what a noxious weed is?

My days 'harvest' of puncture vine. Can you see those nasty thorns? They break into about 10 more individual seeds each.

My days ‘harvest’ of puncture vine. Can you see those nasty thorns? They break into about 10 more individual seeds each.

But it does not take too much of an imagination to fill in the blanks about puncture vine (although it is also called “goat head” in some areas), and why it is so ob-noxious!  Puncture vine is known for having these nasty thorns on them that can puncture your bike tires and your feet (or your dear “Fido’s” feet). Not only do they hurt like the dickens, but they catch a free ride on your car tires or the soles of your shoes, spreading like wildfire wherever they go.  (It is NOT nice to find these in your carpet either!)  Part of what makes them particularly ob-“noxious” is that they require very little of an environment in order to thrive!  They like to grow in the middle of a gravel packed driveway, and in cracks on the sidewalk.

How can you identify these nasty plants?  Well, let me show you! They spread all over the ground, similar to a lot of other weeds we have around here (this is particularly a problem when those hot bare feet are eager to find a soft weed spreading on the driveway, only to find puncture vine instead!).  Unlike the other weeds, puncture vine has a very distinct leaf pattern, and small yellow flowers.  Harder to see are the nasty thorns that hide underneath the leaves.

Puncture vine has a distinct leaf pattern, and these 'cute' little yellow flowers... which lead to very distinct nasty thorns.

Puncture vine has a distinct leaf pattern, and these ‘cute’ little yellow flowers… which lead to very distinct nasty thorns.

A patch of puncture vine growing alongside Brownsboro Hwy/Royal Avenue in Eagle Point.

A patch of puncture vine growing alongside Brownsboro Hwy/Royal Avenue in Eagle Point.

Here is what you can DO about puncture vine:  Look for it early!  If you can find it before it sets thorns, you can spray it (heaven forbid, yes, it does merit that sort of drastic measure).  However, if you are just finding it after the flowers and thorns are set, we suggest you pull it out and gently place it in a plastic bag to be discarded, and look for the seeds that may have been dropped to discard them as well!  This may seem extreme, but these nasty little seeds are a major part of the problem!  Each cluster of thorns break into about ten other seeds, and will come up as an entire patch of puncture vine next year, not to mention where else they might spread .

You might be thinking we’re a little extreme about this stuff… but as a former Texas resident, let me just say that we have a lot of things to love about Oregon, and the lack of puncture vine infested grass is one of them!!

Want more information about noxious weeds in Southern Oregon and what to do about them?  Visit this site: http://www.rvcog.org/pdf/NR_Noxious_Weed_Handout.pdfIMG_3877[1]

An abundance of tomatoes!  We'll try to give you a few recipe ideas. :)

An abundance of tomatoes! We’ll try to give you a few recipe ideas. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Blackberries & Puncture Vine

  1. Pingback: It’s getting hot! | Hubbard's Garden Shed

  2. my neighbor several years back had his entire curb filled with this… (thought what a “hardy” ground cover… although I did pick up a couple of the annoying thorns in my bike tires)… now I know better… thought he had planted them.. looking back… I bet he just let them take over…

  3. Pingback: A bit of our history… | Hubbard's Garden Shed

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