Tillamook County Master Gardener Association

Photo Contest Winners!

Introducing TCMGA’s 2020 Photo Contest Winners

Each year TCMGA holds a Member Photo Contest where members submit their best photos in the respective categories. Submissions are voted on and winners determined with each receiving a prize.

Categories are ‘Flowers’, ‘Garden’, ‘Animal in the Garden’, ‘Landscape’, and ‘Other’. Winning photos are displayed below. Congratulations to all and a special thank you to members who submitted photos for judging.


Submitted by Betty Lyons


Submitted by Arla Ayers

Animal in the Garden

Submitted by Arla Ayers


Two winners in this category!

Submitted by Arla Ayers

Submitted by Nika van Tilburg


Submitted by Jamie Sinnott

PFAS – Forever is a long time.

Per- and Poly-Fluoro-Alkyl-Substances (PFAS) is a class of chemicals that have evolved to become a global environmental and health contaminant. 

This article will identify and discuss PFAS , provide a brief background, discuss the health risks of PFAS, how the process of contamination occurs, and list common sources of PFAS.  Of special concern to gardeners and agriculturists is the presence of PFAS in various fertilizers. Considerations for avoidance of commercial products are listed.  References are numbered and hyperlinked (X) throughout the article for further reading.

Background: Per- and Poly-Fluoro-Alkyl-Substances (PFAS) is a class of chemicals that have evolved to become a global environmental and health contaminant.  Considered inert at their introduction in the 1940’s, persistent research has proven that PFAS are highly toxic and persist –  seemingly forever  – in water resources, soil, and animal tissue and organs with malignant effects.  In the US alone, as early as 1998, a study by 3M, manufacturer of PFAS varieties,  verified that PFAS were in the blood stream of the general US population. (7)

This is a global crisis as PFAS contamination is now worldwide due to the extensive use of household and industrial products. (1) Now labeled as “forever chemicals”, just how to reduce and eliminate them from tissue and blood has yet to be discovered. The first PFAS were “long chain”, 8-Carbon atoms. More recent PFAS have six carbons atoms (Gen X or “short chain” PFAS)  Research indicates that the short chain PFAS which were hoped to be less residual, are actually more toxic. (1)

Sources of PFAS: PFAS are found in a vast assortment of common products. Contamination of air occurs from emissions from manufacturing sites, (6) and from heating cookware to boiling point temperature (100 °C or 212 °F) a common cooking temperature. PFAS leach into food and water stored in PFAS-infused plastic containers and water bottles.  Other sources of absorption through skin or off-gassing are: “products designed to repel soil, grease, and water, for carpet and furniture treatments, food wraps, sprays for leather, shoes and other clothing, paints and cleaning products, shampoo and floor wax, where PFCs are used as surfactants.” Scotchguard (3M) applications (3) , Class B firefighting foams (note: exempt is Class A foam for wildland fires) (8), and various mosquito treatments.

Health Impacts: Once PFAS are absorbed by animal tissue or are respired through aerosol they enter the blood, or plant cells, reside in soil, or in water, they persist for an indefinite amount of time. This is significant because we are continually exposed to PFAS  through consumer products, water, air, and environmental locations. If a PFAS-free world could suddenly be created, it would still take an estimated 44 years to excrete half the mass of PFAS accumulated in a living organism. (5)  The persistency of toxic absorption undermines mitigation, assuring negative health impacts.

Research on pregnant women indicated that PFAS pass through the umbilical cord and is stored in fetal tissue. (2) In studies the 3M Company submitted to the government (2001), they found  PFAS in the blood of 96 percent of 598 children tested in 23 states and the District of Columbia. [Extract | Full Document(3)  A peer-reviewed study in 2021 found that PFAS were in mothers’ breast milk in the US at levels higher than a previous 2005 study, including newer varieties of PFAS being present.  Lastly, water supplies in many areas of the US carry PFAS either influent (to homes) or effluent (from homes, industry) or both.  Both pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and PFAS are not filtered by most municipal water treatment plants in the effluent cycle. PFAS reside in the biosolids/manure from the waste plant at that point. If the biosolids become a primary ingredient in a fertilizer, PFAS are present. Forever.

PFAS have been linked to cancer, immune system harm, kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure,  low birth weights, obesity, reduced fertility in both men and women, thyroid disease, brain damage, low birth weights,  hormone suppression, pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, birth defects, and other health issues. (7) (3)

PFAS and Fertilizer: Sewage sludges (biosolids) are treated various ways to kill pathogens and then spread on farmland, forests, parks, golf courses, pastures, and wildlands in some cases. As just discussed, the problem with this ‘re-cycling’ of manure resources is that sewage sludge also contains PFAS, PPCPs (pharmaceutical and personal care products) and we don’t know how to eliminate these chemical groups once introduced. The sludge treatments applied to land contaminate the ground and surface water through the natural percolation, the soil, the plants. the wildlife who survive on what’s left of their habitat.  Here’s how to be part of the solution, every good intention matters. Reference Sierra Club Graph.

Be Part of the Solution: Check the label. Biosolid fertilizers are often presented as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ , a comforting but inaccurate description. Look on the label for the “Guaranteed Analysis” section where you ‘ll find the source of the fertilizer. If purchasing compost or topsoil, check product information for terms like “biosolids,” “residuals,” or “municipal waste,” which could indicate it is made from sewage. (11) Of course,  there are products which bypass the PFAS/PPCP problem which will be clear in the analysis section. In closing, here’s some gardening strategies which are sustainable and avoid purchasing products entirely:

  1. Start your own compost  bin or barrel or other method (check references for the method that suits your situation),
  2. Have a worm bin and engage the ready help of Red Wigglers (Eisenia fetida) or one of 7000 species of Eisenia. Youtube has so many options for organizing a worm farm! 
  3. If allowed by zone, consider having a blend of rabbit or small poultry species which can provide a variety of rich N increasing amends.  Manure of Guinea fowl, ducks, pigeons (4.2 N), chicken ( 1.1 N), and rabbit (2.4 N)varies.
  4. Between seasons grow green manure crops in your garden or containers to amend:    Alfalfa (Lucerne), Crimson Clover, Fenugreek, Lupins, Red Clover, Sweet Clover, White Clover, Yellow Trefoil, Field Beans, Forage Pea, many more.
  5. Every positive action to keep your garden and food, your air, water, soil,  free of forever chemicals not only decreases your accumulative levels, it helps a corner of the world. And corners, half acres, acres, sections, they all add up to one round earth.

Submitted by A. West

Farmers Market Season Opens this Month

Have a Gardening Question? Ask a Master Gardener!

Tillamook County Master Gardeners will be attending Farmers Markets this season, in Neskowin, Pacific City, Tillamook & Manzanita on the dates below.   For each market’s full summer schedule and market vendor offerings, click on their link.   Visit us at any of the markets where we will answer your gardening questions such as: ‘Is it too late to plant the tomatoes?’ ‘What is this bug crawling in the cabbage?’ ‘The deer have eaten all my flowers!’ ‘The moles have been aerating the lawn.  Do I poison the holes, flood them out, trap?’  We can also offer plant and tree recommendations to ensure they will grow successfully on the Oregon Coast.

For those of you who are interested in becoming a Master Gardener there is also GOOD NEWS.  OSU will be conducting Master Gardener in-person training classes in 2022.  Details will be coming out this fall, so be sure to check our website for updates.  We also like to just meet people and have a friendly chat.   

Support Your Community Farmers Markets!

Neskowin Farmers Market – 9am-1pm

June 12, July 10, August 14, September 11

Pacific City Farmers Market – 10am-2pm

June 13, July 4, August 1, September 5

Tillamook Farmers Market – 9am-2pm

June 26, July 24, August 28, September 25

Manzanita Farmers Market – 4pm-7pm

June 25, July 23, August 20, September 10

Donate Now to TCMGA Scholarships!

I’m pleased to announce Tillamook County Master Gardener Association (TCMGA) is now able to accept donations to any of our three scholarship funds and to the Learning Garden located at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds on line. Our mission is to offer educational opportunities to area residents on sustainable gardening principles and research based horticultural practices in conformance with the Oregon State University (OSU) Master Gardener ProgramTM. Donations to any of these funds facilitates our efforts.

Tillamook Bay Community College Scholarship

TCMGA will actively support and fund college scholarship opportunities for Tillamook County college students who are pursuing degrees in horticultural, natural resources, and other agricultural sciences. We believe in continuing education and the advancement of scientific education, research and evidence-based practices to benefit society.

OSU Master Gardener Training Scholarship

(OSU) Master Gardener Program™ training classes are taught by OSU extension agents and horticultural experts. The program offers basic, practical courses in plant science and home horticulture. Classes include basic botany, methods for growing vegetables, lawns, fruit trees and landscape plants, pest identification and control methods, soil management and plant nutrition, and diagnosis of plant problems. TCMGA will provide financial assistance to OSU Extension Service’s Master Gardener class participants who are unable to pay the full amount of class tuition.

Oregon Master Gardeners Mini-College Scholarship

The Oregon Master Gardener Association (OMGA) and county chapters, in partnership with OSU, provide valuable assistance to the (OSU) Master Gardener Program™ that educates Oregonians about the art and science of growing and caring for plants. Part of that assistance is providing support for Educational Out Reach programs such as the Annual Master Gardener Mini-College. Donations to this scholarship fund will assist “Master Gardener of the Year,” “Early Bloomer”, “Learning Gardener of the Year”, and “Behind the Scenes” awardees with scholarships toward registration, room and board expenses at Mini‐College and/or toward registration, room and board expenses at the International Master Gardener Conference (IMGC).

Tillamook County Master Gardeners Learning Garden

Tillamook County Master Gardeners Learning Garden is located at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds, 4603 3rd Street, Tillamook. The Learning Garden is an ongoing educational project of the Oregon State University Master Gardener Program™ in Tillamook County — available for public enjoyment year-round.

The garden is a learning lab for all Tillamook County Master Gardeners who choose to participate. Each year Master Gardeners undertake special projects in the Learning Garden. A major addition to the garden was construction of a heated hoop house primarily for extended season use, but also serves as an educational venue for classes open to the public as well as our Master Gardeners. Contributions to the Learning Garden Fund are used toward expenses in support of our ongoing educational mission and for capital improvements – the latest being pavers around the Office Shed.

For more information and to donate to any of these funds, please go to our Donate to TCMGA page.

Tillamook County Master Gardener Association is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN #30-0064573. All donations are fully tax deductible.

What Happens to a Tree When it Dies?

Decomposing trees on the forest floor become “dead wood”—a part of ecosystems that researchers are only beginning to understand.

What Happens to a Tree When It Dies? | JSTOR Daily

A dead tree in a forest

When walking in the woods, most people spend their time looking up at the trees—but if they divert their attention to the ground, a whole new habitat awaits.

Dead wood, also known as coarse woody material, is composed of the trees, twigs, and branches that have died and fallen to the ground. Foresters used to remove dead wood because it was once thought of as unsightly. Today, keeping dead wood on the ground has become a priority in forests around the world.

When a tree dies naturally or falls due to extreme weather events, new life springs forward. Fungi communities flourish on dead wood, salamanders create breeding grounds, and saplings grow on the nutrient-rich bark. But this doesn’t happen overnight. According to researchers Harri Mäkinen, Jari Hynynen, Juha Siitonen, and Risto Sievänen, it can take up to 100 years or more for wood to decompose, depending on the species and forest type.

In a review paper, researchers Fred L. Bunnell and Isabelle Houde collected data on dead wood from forests around the world, describing the ways it’s ultimately important in all kinds of forests, from Sweden to the Pacific Northwest.

Dead wood itself is easy to find in the forest, but identifying which species it is can be difficult, depending on how decayed the wood is. There are five stages of decay, ranging from just fallen to decomposed so heavily that it nearly resembles soil.

Some studies cited by Bunnell and House estimate that dead wood can comprise up to 40 percent of the total wood volume in a stand that doesn’t have active logging or tree harvesting. Forests that are managed for logging or ecological purposes tend to have less dead wood, which can have ripple effects on species, nutrient balance, and carbon storage.

 UnsplashBy: Olivia Box  March 31, 2021  2 minutes Share Tweet Email Print