Tillamook County Master Gardener Association

Planting Seeds

A timely missive by our frequent contributor – Neal Lemery

            “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you may reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

            Spring can be such a time of miracles. New growth, blossoms, warm sun, time outdoors just being in the presence of all the new, experiencing the changes happening all around us.

            I often don’t take the time to just be in the midst of it all — witnessing, being in the moment, simply being present.

            Today, I plant seeds in the dirt, expecting new life to emerge into the light. My expectations may not be fulfilled, yet I am preparing for the miracle of life to occur, on its own terms, its own way, its own destiny.

            I can bring the seed, the soil, the water, the warmth together. And then I wait patiently, allowing the sunlight and all the other forces in and around the seeds to bring about new life. My task is done — I’ve put the elements together, but I am no longer the agent, the catalyst, or the director.  I’m just the audience, and I just wait.

            “We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is nurturing us.” — Jenny Uglow

            Planting seeds is an act of optimism, of believing that the miracles of life are ongoing, renewing.  Gardening is an act of courage and believing in change and renewal.

            Gardening is stewardship and caretaking, an expression that one person can make a difference, and be a force to better the world.

            And, in doing that, the garden gives back to me, its renewal and growth filling me up with the wonderment of nature, of patience and diligence, of generosity reciprocated, invigorating me and the world we live in.

            I become recharged, the goodness inside of me renewed, re-enforced. In this, I can give more, receive more. The seed, and me, we both grow, moving towards our collective potential to better the world.


Plant Sale Catalog is Online Now!

For those of you waiting breathlessly at your keyboard with fingers poised, the Tillamook County Master Gardeners Association’s 2022 Plant Sale Catalog is online NOW! Type with abandon! https://tillamookmastergardeners.com

Check out the vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, houseplants and, oh yeah, uh the tomatoes??!! Members have been seeding, propagating, potting and re-potting since February in their own greenhouses, windowsills and in our Hoop House at the Learning Garden. All of this effort to ensure we offer our customers the best quality plants possible.

The online catalog will be available thru Tuesday, May 3. Orders will be boxed and ready for pick up at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds 4-H/FFA Pavillion on Friday, May 6 from 12noon to 4pm and on Saturday between 9am and 1pm.

Not to worry if some of the products become ‘out of stock’ through the catalog. We have a robust inventory of plants at the in-person sale on Saturday. Of course, there will be a few bonuses to shopping the Saturday sale. On offer will be unique and one-of-a kind plants, hanging flower baskets, additional varieties of house plants, flowers and veggies, too.

We are pleased to host local vendors at the in-person sale. Be sure to bring your garden tools for sharpening by the Sharpenator while you shop. Hope Stanton of Aldervale Native Plants will have a wide selection of natives available, too. Tillamook Master Gardeners will be on the floor to assist you with your plant selections and staffing our Help Desk for those customers with questions. You will not want to miss the fantastic Garden Garage Sale.

  • Pennyfullness
  • Northwood Crafts
  • Fabric Crafts
  • Dan’s Crafted Woodworks
  • Bee Me
  • LJ’s Goodies
  • Happy House Glassworks
  • Sharpenator
  • Aldervale Native Plants
  • Bewley Creek Woodworking

Doors open at 9:00 am Saturday morning. Bring your garden wagons and shop, visit, snack and enjoy the event. Our last in-person sale was in 2019 – 3 years ago! It’s been way to long. TCMGA members are stoked and ready to get back in action. So-o-o-o watch out!



As a kid, I started my interest in gardening by playing in the mud, eagerly becoming completely immersed in the art of smearing mud on all exposed skin, grinding it into all of my clothes, and the occasional taste test. The plants came later, with my mother gently transitioning me from random mud splashes into some actual garden work, complete with planting, weeding, and harvesting.

I wasn’t nearly as “fully involved” the other day when I attended a workshop on the gentle Japanese art of Kokedama, which literally means “moss ball”. It is a form of bonsai for the house plant enthusiast. You basically repot a small house plant between two halves of a mud ball, surround it with moss, and wrap the ball in a number of wraps of string or fishing line. The result can either be hung on a string, or placed on a pot saucer, and placed in a suitable spot in your house.

I reverted to my childhood practices, with the teacher first asking us to blend a mix of 60% potting soil and 40% peat moss. Add water until everything was completely saturated, then fashion a large, grapefruit sized ball. This was trickier than it looked, with the need to add more water until the peat moss was fully saturated.

Then, unpot a small plant and gently remove all of the loose soil, and loosen the root ball. Break your muddy ball of dirt in half, “like cracking an egg” the teacher said. Gently plant the roots between the two halves, pushing the ball back together.

Your task is to then cover the entire ball with a thick layer of live sphagnum or other thickly matted moss that has been soaking in a tray. Once that is accomplished and everything is dripping wet, take a three to four foot length of twine, string, or fishing line, and tie one end around the base of the plant’s leaves, like you were adding a collar to the ball. Wrap the rest of the string over the rest of the ball, as if you were excessively wrapping a present, securing the moss around the ball and holding the ball together.

As you can imagine, this is a muddy, drippy project, perfect for the little boy in me, taking me back to those aimless days of playing in the mud. With a little patience, your plant ends up being secured under the twine, moss, and mud, with plenty of room to grow.

Part of this process seems to call upon a third and even a fourth hand, but if things fall apart, you can just reshape the mud and squish it all together with a little more finesse. Choosing gooey, sticky soil seems like the way to go. Your inner child will help with this.

The lady next to me, an accomplished knitter and gardener, made her ball look perfect, all neat and tidy. She put a long loop at the top, and said she was going to hang it from the ceiling in her living room. Not a straggle of moss was out of place on her kokedama, while my creation was looking more “organic”, an expression of my own kokedama methodology and childhood ways.

My first creation has found a home in a plant saucer on the sill of the living room window, with my wife generously commenting that it was quite lovely.

Care for these works of art is rather minimal, with an occasional misting of the moss, and a periodic soaking in the kitchen sink or a tub, so that the mud ball can return to its soggy origins.

There are a variety of plants that do well as kokedama specimens: pothos, philadendron, peace lily, spider plants, and ferns. My choice was a bird’s nest fern, and it seems to now be at home inside of the mud ball, moss, and randomized twine wrap. Plants with tender roots, such as begonias, are not on the recommended kokedama list.

My next exploration of this Japanese art form will hopefully be a little less “organic” with the strings more carefully wrapped. One could place the plant at a jaunty angle, or use a variety of colored twine. The possibilities seem endless.

Kokedama’s origins are in the Japanese bonsai discipline, based on the “nearai” school of bonsai, which emphasizes exposing the roots of the plants, so one can appreciate the structure. Kokedama became popular in the Edo period in Japan (1603-1867) and has regained popularity during the recent interest in houseplants. 

~ Submitted by Neal Lemery

You Can’t Grow Roses on the Coast – Really??

I beg to differ with that old adage.  Coastal residents grow a plethora of vibrant, stunning, beautiful roses of all shapes, sizes and varieties.   

As with any plant selection, you should choose your roses with your specific location in mind.  What type of a rose do you want to plant? Floribunda, Hybrid teas, climber, ground cover and where will it reside.  What are the growing conditions in the planting area?  Sunny or shady? 

For those who think the plants require too much effort, what with fertilizing, aphids, fungus, salt air, wind and deer, there are varieties that are resistant to such issues and require minimal maintenance.   These concerns are similar to any vegetable, flower or tree we grow.  Doesn’t each plant require the best placement in the landscape or garden?  What about attending to the cabbage moth in the vegetable garden, or pruning the blueberries in the spring or baiting for slugs.  Roses are no different. 

To assuage your hesitation, there are excellent resources at hand. OSU’s publication Landscaping with Roses | OSU Extension Service (oregonstate.edu) is the ‘go to’ article for all of your rose selection, planting and care questions.  Mark your calendar for the upcoming Growing Oregon Gardeners:  Level Up Series 2022, ‘Growing Great Roses’ webinar May 10, 2022.  All of the webinars in this series are FREE!

(Psst… a link to all of the ‘Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series, both 2022 and 2021, can be accessed here!)

This past Saturday, Master Gardeners and Apprentices spent the morning pruning and tidying the Pioneer Museum Rose Garden.  Ten people turned out – 5 Hardy Perennials, 4 Apprentices and a photographer from the Tillamook County Pioneer.  The roses had been wind pruned recently, but still needed dead wood removal and additional pruning for shaping and plant health.  This was an opportunity for the Apprentices to learn from ‘hands on experience’. 

OSU’s video on pruning is worth viewing if you are just beginning or need a refresher. 

Pruning Roses with OSU Master Gardeners

You may also want to read an article entitled ‘A Gardeners’ Cautionary Tale’ reprinted from the HPSO (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon) Quarterly, Fall 2021 edition relating the importance of proper gloves for pruning.

All of this being said — You CAN grow roses on the Coast!

Thoughts on Glam Gardening

My name and address were sold to the SEND THIS WOMAN EVERY CATALOG IN PRINT list last year. Being a non-shopper, I’ve been discarding catalogs every day for a year as soon as they arrive. I do lament the many pounds of wasted tree pulp from trees I deeply wish were still standing generously sequestering CO2 and giving us more O2. Cool weather loving seedlings are facing a change in soil temperature, soil and air humidity, and sun intensity they historically require to regenerate. My calls to stop delivery have been unfruitful and the tide of nonsense continues. “Leave it in the ground” I request to service reps bored and overly polite. However, there are no absolutes it seems, today a catalog arrived that I actually enjoyed -1 out of more than 100. It caught me on a foggy chilly day I wanted to plant potato eyes which I’ve been saving all winter. But it is still too early just yet. Short time is the hardest.

The arrival of a Gardener’s catalog heralding from Pennsylvania tantalizing with UK specialties caught my fancy on a particularly February day  before I removed the address and tossed it  into recycling. Do they actually recycle? In any case, I am now visually acquainted with a distinct world of gardening, much like a gourmet cooking store.  Loaded with the most dedicated and impeccably manufactured gardening items I opened the book into Glam Gardening. I wonder if the Prince of Wales has at least one of every item, as well as, the oiled barn jacket with a corduroy collar he wore in his video at the beginning of the pandemic urging Brits to Garden and Carry On. (youtube) So over a long lukewarm coffee, softened with oat milk, I perused the possibilities: splendid specific tools for every possible action in a garden or greenhouse.  I’m remembering the scene in “American Beauty” (1999) where the narrator (Lester) comments that his wife’s matching rose snips and rubber crocs is “not an accident”.

We all have our ways.  I admit I collect cast iron bakeware (heavy!) and have three different spigot heads for watering ( seedling, spot, and thumb ).  The seedling spigot makes soft ephemeral droplets, the spot spigot head has an outlet 3mm wide for precise application of water. As for  broadcast watering I use my thumb to splay the water, a childhood skill practiced to perfection for the purpose.

Garden Trug
Garden Hod

But in learning the difference between a hod and a trug. I was challenged: wood, plastic, bamboo, telescoping. All which are infinitely more elegant loaded and even soiled, than my grocery bags, old boxes, and tin pales used as needed for “purposes not intended”.

I spent some time investigating an array of squirrel baffles having always made my own from scrounged and hand constructed contrivances refusing to pay $32 – $71 for a plastic thingy. I will shamelessly admit that the creature being most baffled was usually me, not the squirrel. It was a contest of will and ingenuity, nonetheless. We developed a relationship of sorts. In any case, I will share that the most copy-able baffle from the UK looks like a glorified funnel and “Hell yeah, I can do that at home”. Why didn’t I think of an automotive funnel before? Baffled no longer.

My odd ball pruner collection has become dull to an expletive, deserving the descriptor of “tearer” not pruner. So, I was mesmerized by the assortment of Tool Sharpeners, one for every specific tool. Sure, here one needs a distinctive diecast tool, the shape of metal and cutting angle of blade is important. It’s all physics or elbow grease. As my attempts at file sharpening are still in process, I can write resolutely that it is a baffle of another dimension. I stewed over the shear pruners and scissor sharpeners or the 3 Garden Tool Sharpeners in One Kit. (Cost was same either direction). I decided I’d just go to the Saturday workshop on Pruning at the Learning Garden at 10 a.m. Saturday 19 February. (HINT, HINT) I have the files I just need an encouraging word about which direction to file. I’m a visual learner.

My pruner collection being in acute worthless condition, the red handled snips and pruners #2 -10, presented dazziling  Pleistocene-looking creatures with big sharp sparkling beaks and big wary eyes. But they also look dangerously sharp and they match.  Less chewing.

I was delighted at the non-toxic pest control options: a beer garden for slugs (Slug-X), Plantskydd for chewers of tree bark, harmless but works for 6 months and would it repel the neighbors 5 feral cats? Give me elk anyday.

Which brings me to the page on weeding implements with angles and bends to seek out taproots. They are far above my old kitchen butter knife, rusty screwdriver (straight head not phillips), they are far above my thrift store trowel not previously-gently-used.  But on these I can pass.

A few pages on I was struck with MustHaveIt’s. As a strictly organic no-machine type gardener I am planning to invest in the Vintage Hand Tools, steel with bamboo handles: trowel, weeding fork, grubber.  And yes, they match and will fit in the pocket of my Barn coat once I find one.

~ by Alexis West