[green river lake state park]Fighting the war of the weeds
Despite my best attempts to keep the weed count down in the yard, there’s suddenly an abundance of low-growing, far-reaching, green weeds cropping up all over the place. This particular weed seems to favor rocky areas and sprouts up in dry, sandy borders between pavers; among river rocks on the backyard berm; and along a stretch of gravel that runs adjacent to the lawn. It isn’t too picky, though, as I’ve also found it growing happily in my vegetable garden and creeping through a few areas in the grass.
The weed’s hairy, pink stems spread out across the ground in all directions. Looking closely, there’s a telltale purplish spot in the middle of each small, oval leaf, a detail which helped me identify this pesky plant as spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata).
The University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension has a printable “Nevada Nuisance Weed Field Guide,” authored by Melody Hefner and Heidi Kratsch, which can be found online at extension.unr.edu/publication.aspx?PubID=2325. In addition to serving as an excellent resource for proper weed identification, prevention, and control, this helpful guide includes photographs and specific information about dozens of troublesome plants found throughout Nevada.
Spotted spurge is an annual weed that grows quickly and can progress from germination to seed production in just a few weeks. I’ve already had the unfortunate experience of ridding our yard of puncture vine (aka: goat heads), a process that spanned several years and entailed hours of digging, pulling, and disposing, so I have no interest in letting the spurge settle in here.
To remove it, I gather the widespread stems in a bunch and grip the base of each weed, being careful to get as much of the root as possible when I lift it out.
These weeds aren’t difficult to pull, but sometimes they’ll snap and a milky, sap-like substance leaks out. This white liquid can be an irritant to skin and eyes, so it’s best to avoid contact by wearing gloves and protective glasses when handling it. Spotted spurge is also listed as poisonous to humans and animals.
Sometimes it seems as though a whole new crop has sprouted overnight, and I’ve been busy trying to keep the number of these plants to a minimum.
The other day while pulling a few weeds in the backyard, I noticed a couple of red ants going after something in the grass. To my surprise, I saw that it was a baby praying mantis, struggling to fend off the aggressive predators. I carefully picked up the tiny, green nymph and placed it onto a potted tomato plant, safely out of the ants’ reach.
While I’m not a fan of this year’s seemingly endless weeding, I wouldn’t have ever seen that miniature praying mantis had I not been crouched near the ground at that particular moment. That sighting felt like a little bonus reward for my efforts.
Washoe Lake State Park offers fish printing
On Saturday, June 26 from 10 a.m.-noon, Washoe Lake State Park hosts a workshop featuring Gyotaku, the Japanese art of fish printing.
Park staff will provide paint (which may stain clothing), rice paper, brushes, and fish replicas. Participants are invited to go to the Maze parking lot anytime during the event’s two-hour run time and make a print.
This program is free and open to the public. There is a park entrance fee of $5 per vehicle for Nevada residents and $10 per vehicle for non-residents.
Washoe Lake State Park is located at 4855 Eastlake Blvd. in New Washoe City. Once at the park, turn left past the fee booth and the Maze parking lot will be on the right.
Find additional information about Nevada State Parks and a calendar of upcoming programs and events at parks.nv.gov.
Amy Roby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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