Tillamook County Master Gardener Association

How Fungi Changed My View of the World

Contributed by Michael Thomas and Nika van Tilburg

These are two incredible videos by Australian photographer Stephen Axford. How Fungi Changed My View of the World is approximately 32 minutes. Mr. Axford introduces himself providing a brief history how he became so intrigued by Fungi. Fungi Timelapse Photography is approximately 6 minutes.

Art People Gallery featured much of Mr. Axford’s work on their website noting ‘Stephen Axford is an ambassador for Sony Australia and has an international reputation as a specialist in nature photographer with a particular passion in macro fungi photography. He also has a unique expertise in time-lapse photography of fungi. The beauty and scientific accuracy of Stephen’s fungi photography have captivated national and international media, fungi experts and the general public, with a following that stretches from Patagonia to Vladivostok.’

Enjoy these videos. They are beautiful.




Attack of the Crane Fly Larvae

My assurance – this is not a new horror movie, but an equally dramatic reality show happening in my front lawn. Cast of characters include the aggravating title pest, a crew of voracious moles, and starlings each fended off with an arsenal of scissor traps, buckets, rakes, insecticide and eventually grass seed as evidenced in the photos. I heartily refer readers to OSU’s publication EM9296 on the European Crane Fly if your lawn looks anything like mine does.

For those who know me, I’m a bit obsessive about my lawn. I was a little slow on the draw with the insecticide application last winter not getting it applied until late November. The first indication of an attack were a lot of birds foraging in the front lawn, followed by a growing number of bare patches and then the aggravating appearance of mole hills. (I’m personally convinced the moles are dining on the larvae.) Each a classic indication of a real.Crane Fly.Larvae.PROBLEM. G-A-H-H-H-A.

Having accrued over 24″ of rain here during January & February, I waited until last week to set 4 mole traps not wanting to dig holes in the mud. As of this writing – no casualties (dang). Of course family is coming next week and the battlefield is directly out their room windows giving them a dismal view of my landscape.

Reseeding the destroyed area is delayed as I would like to win this battle (no hopes of ever winning the war) by trapping the little beggar(s) first. Also, it is still too cold. The poor little grass seeds would just shiver and freeze to death before they could germinate.  At least the soil is being aerated….

Trask River Agriculture Program

Fall Cover Crops

Contributed by Cris Roberts

Trask River High School (TRHS) staffed and owned by Tillamook School District 9 (TSD9) is housed on the physical compound of the Tillamook  Youth Correctional Facility (TYCF) site South of Tillamook on County Port property. As part of the greater Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) system, they house and offer rehabilitation opportunities for legally offending youth ages 14-21. The Camp Tillamook Youth Transitional Facility (known as Camp Tillamook) is also housed on this  same site for youth preparing to transition back into society. 

In 2011, the Tillamook County Master Gardener Association (TCMGA) was contacted by TYCF seeking help to refurbish an existing, but sorely dilapidated, garden  compound on its property in order to give youth horticultural opportunities.  With that first project, TCMGA volunteers have worked consistently over the years to educate and guide the youth at OYA through classroom instruction resulting in many of the students earning OSU Home Horticulture certificates and with hands on guidance in the facility gardens.


Fall Mix

While the photo to the left may appear to be a thriving, summertime Tillamook garden bed, it is actually one of our Trask River Agriculture Program (T.R.A.P.) winter “Cover Crops” planted late in the Fall on the Oregon Youth Authority facility grounds here in Tillamook. This particular one is called, “Fall Mix” and is sold by Territorial Seed Company.


There are many reasons to consider growing cover crops: They help to keep the garden-bed soil from eroding. They also replenish Nitrogen in the soil and help to hold weeds at bay. In my experience, Cover Crops also provide a wonderful visual field of green during the bleakest time of the year AND provide excellent early pollinator food come Spring (if not plowed under). An on-line site called the “Organic Growers School” has this to say:

A cover crop is a crop you grow for the soil, instead of for your plate. The practice of growing specific crops just for fertilizing and building the soil dates back to the Roman Empire. Cover crops add organic matter to the soil, and add nitrogen in a slow-release way that plants can handle, leading to less nitrogen volatilization (read: waste!). Cover crops can also act as mulches if managed correctly, improve soil physical properties in just one growing season, and attract beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden. They are also beautiful! (Organic Growers School).

I am a strong proponent of nitrogen-fixing crops, but one of the most rewarding aspects of growing Cover Crops in the Oregon Youth Authority garden has been to see that visual aspect I mentioned above of how they provide so well for our early pollinators. Knowing that our planning for our trusty, hardy and much-valued beneficial insects begins each fall, we get a wonderful feeling of participating intentionally in nature’s health and well-being. 

Territorial Seed Company’s Fall Mix (mentioned above) – One of the wonderful things about this mix is that you get a variety of blended greens and, if one punks out on you, there are always others to hold the ground. It contains a blend of Austrian Field Peas, Crimson Clover, Hairy Vetch, Annual Rye and Winter Rye. One pound of this mix will run about $9.00, enough to cover 400-500 square feet of garden bed. It is my experience that this mix does well in our Tillamook climate. This cover crop fills in nicely and, therefore, looks like a full crop early on in the season. It is also a good educational tool for taking a look at several types of individual cover crop plants.

In our particular garden, the winter cover crops we have grown have included the following:


Fava Bean

One of the magical things about this legume is that it tends to grow, then stop, then grow, then stop until our weather begins to warm in the Spring. This makes it a fun plant to watch. I also LOVE the look of Fava Bean blossoms. They have a robust white and black appearance, rather unique in a typical early-spring garden. Fava Beans can grow  tall. The ones we have grown in our garden (Vicia faba) have gotten taller than some of my vigorous 6-foot youth.


Crimson Clover

Trifolium incarnatum has got to be one of my favorites! Again, in our OYA plot of ground, this crop fills in nicely as the weather begins to warm. If left to bloom, oh my! Gorgeous, bright-pink blooms catch any eye that happens upon them, including, once again, the pollinators. You may have seen this crop growing just East of the Coastal Mountain range outside Portland or Salem. Stunning. 


Berseem Clover

We have grown this Clover (Trifolium alexandrinum) several times in our garden, but we can’t seem to get it to cover as well as the Crimson Clover. I am wondering if we aren’t starting the crop soon enough in the summer to get good coverage by winter. The blooms, which are creamy-looking, are pretty but not as splashy as Crimson. I’ve often thought it would be a fun visual experiment to alternate the white, pink, white, pink throughout our garden. We just might have to try that this next year. 


Vetch 

Although often used as a cover crop in our area, we haven’t tried growing this at OYA. I do have some experience growing it in an Oceanside vegetable/fruit garden. It covered well, but also self-seeded well the following year! Buyer beware. 


Mustard

This plant gets a very bad rap…for probably good reasons. Once it is planted, it is hard to get rid of. The seeds tend to lurk in the soil just waiting for a chance to spring forth and concur! Mustard, however, is just beautiful! The brilliant, yellow blossoms make even the worst of cloudy days good. That is, unless, you are trying to get rid of it! A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to take a gorgeous drive to Silverton, Oregon to visit one of my favorite cousins. It was early summer and around every bend and corner the bright yellow blooms signaled abundant life. It had been deliberately planted as a cover crop. Another drive through the Palouse Country of Washington exhibited an absolutely stunning pallet of visual color. I have noticed a more tropical legume in the Territorial Seed catalog called, “Sunn Hemp” (not related to Cannabis). Crotalaria juncea seems to bear a slight resemblance, at least in color, to Mustard.  I have ZERO experience, however, with this Cover Crop.


Certain Cover Crops can (and should) be grown in the summer. One that I love to grow at work is Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). I love the shy way this plant grows. It starts out subtle then, all of a sudden, makes itself known with broad, floppy, dark-green leaves and delicate, white blossoms blowing in the breeze. If left to seed, the seed heads are like little triangular purses and can  be ground into flour, if one is so inclined. My favorite fact about this plant (and it has proved out in our garden) is that it is one of the favorite sources of nectar for some of our busy, prolific hoverflies. Did you know that hoverflies are avid pollinators often outcompeting the European Honey Bees? Amazing and a good reason for us to take note. These little guys, also, are native to our area! Some feed on aphids as well and some feed off of the honeydew from aphids. 

That exhausts my personal experience with Cover Crops, but I hope you get bitten by the Cover Crop bug as I have and try out some of these yourself. We have many ways of contributing to the health of our precious planet. Although this is just one, it is a very fun, interesting and rewarding one.

Arctostaphylos/Manzanita Day

March 31, 2021 – Second Annual Manzanita Day

Last year, for the first time in Manzanita history, a beloved plant got its own holiday.

“Whereas: the City of Manzanita has proudly shared its name with the beautiful shrub, manzanita, for more than one hundred years…”, the proclamation stated, “I, Mike Scott, Mayor of Manzanita Oregon, hereby declare March 31st Manzanita Day.” One year later, the idea of a March 31st holiday is looking particularly inviting. Who can argue with a neighborly, non-partisan celebration of the shrub that spells home!

For more information on the plans for the day – Raffle and live entertainment – Click Here

Crows – The Smartest Bird in the World

A few robins are beginning to show up in the yard this past week. I’ve also seen one of my hummingbirds scouting the feeders. As they turn away I don’t blame them. The feeders need a THOROUGH CLEANING! But back to the Crows. They have been around all winter, talking vociferously from the tree tops as I walk by and swooping down in flocks to see what is on offer in the yard. This article from The Audubon Society ‘Meet the Bird Brainiacs: American Crow’ describes them as the ‘smartest bird in the world’. Author John Marzluff is a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington.


The American Crow – Photo by John Quine

The crows in your neighborhood know your block better than you do. They know the garbage truck routes. They know which kids drop animal crackers and which ones throw rocks. They know the pet dogs, and they might even play with the friendly ones. If you feed them, they probably not only recognize you but your car as well, and they might just leave you trinkets in return. These birds live their lives intertwined with ours, carefully observing us even as most of us barely take note of them. That’s how they survive, and they’re good at it: In recent decades the American Crow has taken over our suburbs, and even moved into the hearts of our big cities. As we’ve reshaped the landscape, we’ve created an ideal environment for an animal that is canny and perceptive enough to exploit our riches. MORE……

Want to learn more about this topic? Explore more resources from OSU Extension: Wildlife