Sunday, January 26, 2014

Landscape Nuisances, Grants Pass Municipal Code, Title 5:

5.12.050 Weed, Grass, Snow and Ice Removal.
1. No owner or person in charge of property, improved or unimproved, abutting on a public sidewalk or right of way adjacent to a public sidewalk may permit:
A. Snow to remain on the sidewalk for a period longer than the first two hours of daylight after the snow has fallen.
B. Ice to cover or remain on the sidewalk, after the first two hours of daylight after the ice has formed. Such person shall remove ice accumulating on the sidewalk or cover the ice with sand, ashes, or other suitable material to assure safe travel. (Ord. 2901 §9, 1960)
C. Weeds or grass from growing or remaining on the sidewalk for a period longer than two weeks or consisting of a length greater than 6 inches.

2. Property owners and persons in charge of property, improved or unimproved, abutting on right of way adjacent to a public sidewalk shall be responsible for the maintenance of said right of way, including but not limited to: keeping it free from weeds; watering and caring for any plants and trees planted herein; maintaining any groundcover placed by the City; maintaining any groundcover as required by other sections of the Municipal Code or the Grants Pass Development Code. (Ord. 5380 § 18, 2006)

5.12.060 Weeds and Noxious Growth.
No owner or person in charge of property may permit weeds or other noxious vegetation to grow upon his property. It is the duty of an owner or person in charge of property to cut down or to destroy weeds or other noxious vegetation from becoming unsightly, or from becoming a fire hazard, or from maturing or going to seed. (Ord. 2901 §10, 1960)

5.12.070 Scattering Rubbish.

No person may throw, dump, or deposit upon public or private property, and no person may keep on private property, any injurious or offensive substance or any kind of rubbish, (including but not limited to garbage, trash, waste, refuse, and junk), appliances, motor vehicles or parts thereof, building materials, machinery, or any other substance which would mar the appearance, create a stench, or detract from the cleanliness or safety of such property, or would be likely to injure any animal, vehicle, or person traveling upon any public way. (Ord. 2901 §11, 1960; Ord. 4397 §1, 1981) (Ord. 5379 § 18, 2006)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Support Litter Cleanup in Grants Pass

The other day, I was walking my dog in the park and picking up litter, while wracking my brain for ways to make more money.  For the last 7 years, I have not been able to pay my bills by gardening, since my Social Security survivor’s benefits from my late husband ended.  My parents have been subsidizing me with loans, but that can’t go on forever. 
The amount of money I can make as a private gardener is limited by the number of people I can serve, which is less than a dozen, and by the amount that each can afford to pay.  I’m also 55, and the heavy work of gardening is starting to wear out my body. 
I suddenly realized that I was already serving the whole city by picking up litter, and I should get paid for that.  I had a vision of a bright green advertising tunic, telling people what I do and asking for donations.
I don’t pick up trash because I like to do so, any more than I garden because I like the hard work.  I do it because I have developed a passion for order and cleanliness through my work; I like the look.  Gardening is keeping order out of doors; picking up the litter is the first step.  It is relatively easy work that desperately needs to be done, every day, somewhere.
Wearing the tunic, I have a different attitude toward litter now.  Before, it just disgusted, especially when it was concentrated in one area, slowing me down.  Now it’s an opportunity to wear the tunic and possibly make money.  Plus, the mere act of picking it up while drawing attention to it with the tunic should get people to see litter and pick it up themselves.
But there is a tension in picking up litter for donations; one has to be seen doing the work, at least at first.  For now, I must stick to the main roads where I can be seen, when people are out to see me.  Once I start collecting enough donations from my website to pay my bills, I can work the alleys, side streets, parks and vagrant camping spots more.  Disorderly vagrants mark their territories with litter; picking it up discourages camping and other disorderly conduct.

If you want this work to continue and expand, please go to and donate.  Right now, I’m working for customers 3 days a week and picking up litter for two.  If I get enough donations, I will not replace my customers as they drop out by attrition, and will expand the days I do litter cleaning.  If I don’t get enough money from this, I will have to find another job, and my customers and the city will lose the benefit of my private gardening and public litter cleaning.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Chickweed is great winter food and medicine

          A great eating green that holds up well through the winter is worth paying attention to.  One that also can be used to treat eye infections is even better.

Chickweed under the locust trees

Chickweed is already blooming and shedding seed down by the Rogue River along the bike/walking trail at the end of Greenwood Avenue.  It started growing this year months earlier than usual, sprouting with cold September rains, rather than waiting for November like recent years, or January as usual.  The early December snow and deep freeze, down to 8 degrees, didn’t damage the plants, perhaps because they were covered with snow, and they took off blooming and making seed before the end of the month.  It is probably more mature by the river than most places, temperatures being more moderate there.

 Chickweed closeup

I know it is seeding because I am making chickweed tea to treat conjunctivitis, AKA pink eye, and I end up with seeds in my cup.  It has boric acid in just the right amount to safely and effectively in kill bacteria in the eyes.  I make a small cup every day with a small handful of fresh, uncut chickweed and drop some in my eyes morning and night. 

 Fresh, whole chickweed ready for tea

 Making tea and sterilizing the medicine jar

Prepared medicine and leftovers

It must be made fresh daily to work, as it can get cloudy quickly.  To keep it fresh for the day, I sterilize the jar I keep the dropper in with boiling water at the same time I make the tea; pour some tea in the sterilized jar with the dropper; and lid the jar until the tea is cooled enough to use. 
It stings a bit at first, but stops the itch immediately and clears up the eyes.  Like other antibiotics, it must be used for a week or so after symptoms subside to stop them from returning.  I put about ¼ cup of tea in the jar, eat the mouthful of wilted greens, and drink the rest for a tonic high in vitamins A, C, iron and calcium.
The easiest way to pick chickweed is to grab the top of its mass of leaves and cut off the top 2-3 inches with a knife.  They are crawling, succulent plants that can stand about 6 inches high in a mass, and the tips are the best eating.
          They are great as a wilted green with dinner, or fresh in sandwiches and salads, much like spinach with smaller leaves and succulent stems; a little bitter, but a good bitter.  I like a sandwich on Dave’s Killer Bread with peanut or almond butter on one piece and cream cheese on the other, with jelly and chopped chickweed between.
            The locust trees by the river, and the box elder and plum in my backyard, make perfect chickweed habitat, as their leaves fall early; they are soft and eaten quickly by the soil; and they make rich soil under dappled shade, with winter sun through the branches.  The variety that grows by the river has larger leaves than most, and was easily spread to my backyard by pulling the seedy plants in late spring and spreading them where I wanted them to grow.

Gardening is easy, if you do it naturally.