Tillamook County Master Gardener Association

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

How Driscoll’s Reinvented the Strawberry

The berry behemoth turned produce into a beauty contest, and won.

Strawberry season is fast approaching. Hopefully, you have already planted your berries. Possibly blossoms have developed and you can see the little green berry. Do you know the type of strawberry you have planted? Are they June-bearers, Everbearers or Day Neutral? Or will you just wait until you see a bright red berry and hope to get it picked before the robins? The answer to this question and anything else you would like to learn about this amazing fruit can be found in OSU’s publication, Growing Strawberries in Your Home Garden, EC 1307. As for ‘reinventing the strawberry’, this quote from the article caught my attention. “Produce is war, and it is won by having something beautiful-looking to sell at Costco when the competition has only cat-faced uglies.” Following are excerpts from the article reprinted from the August 21, 2017 edition of the New Yorker. The entire article can be read here.


By Dana Goodyear August 14, 2017

Driscoll’s relentless focus on breeding has helped shape the supermarket strawberry.

One foggy May morning, the Joy Makers, a team of scientists employed by Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company, gathered at its research-and-development campus, which is known as Cassin Ranch, in the small agricultural town of Watsonville, on California’s Central Coast. Before them was a table laden with plastic clamshells: red, white, and pink strawberries for the pipeline. Phil Stewart, an affably geeky, sandy-haired strawberry geneticist, offered me a yellowish-white specimen with rosy stains, like a skinned knee when the blood starts seeping through. The Joy Makers watched expectantly as I tasted it. The fruit, an unpatented variety referred to as 21AA176, was juicy and soft, mildly astringent but tropical, reminiscent of white tea. “It goes back to a variety called White Carolina, which is maybe the oldest strawberry variety still in existence,” Stewart said. “It dates back to the seventeen-hundreds.”

In some Asian markets, white fruit is coveted, and Driscoll’s has conducted commercial trials in Hong Kong. But although the company has been breeding whites for fifteen years, it has yet to introduce any to U.S. grocery stores; Americans, accustomed to an aggressive cold chain, typically fear underripe fruit. “I brought these to a wedding, and all the parents were telling their kids not to eat the white ones,” a Joy Maker remarked. Lately, however, Driscoll’s focus groups have shown that millennials, adventurous and open-minded in their eating habits, and easily seduced by novelty, may embrace pale berries. With these consumers, unburdened by preconceived notions of what a white berry should look or taste like, Driscoll’s has a priceless opportunity: the definitional power that comes with first contact. Before that can happen, though, the berries must conform to Driscoll’s aesthetic standards. Stewart held a 21AA176 up to his face and inspected it carefully. “Microcracking,” he said, pointing out some barely perceptible brown spots, caused by moisture on the plastic packaging, that were marring the surface. “This is not going to go forward.”

Driscoll’s, a fourth-generation family business, says that it controls roughly a third of the six-billion-dollar U.S. berry market, including sixty per cent of organic strawberries, forty-six per cent of blackberries, fourteen per cent of blueberries, and just about every raspberry you don’t pick yourself. Miles Reiter is the chairman; his family owns some seventy per cent of the company, which develops proprietary breeds, licenses them exclusively to approved Driscoll’s growers, and sells the fruit under one of the few widely recognizable brand names in the fresh section of the grocery store. Though the farming is technically outsourced, the Reiters also own a farming company, run by Miles’s brother Garland, which grows about a third of Driscoll’s fruit. “We’re commonly referred to as the Evil Empire,” Allison Reiter Kambic, one of Miles’s daughters, told me ruefully. “They’re the leaders,” Herb Baum, who for decades led the berry coöperative Naturipe, said. “I regret to say, as I worked for a competitor.” At ninety, Baum is retired, but when he tells people that he worked in strawberries and they say, “Oh, Driscoll’s?” he knows just how Salieri felt.

Produce is war, and it is won by having something beautiful-looking to sell at Costco when the competition has only cat-faced uglies. In the eighties, beset by takeover ambitions from Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole, Driscoll’s embarked on a new vision: all four berries, all year round. Otherwise, Miles told me, “we could be outflanked.” Driscoll’s berries are grown in twenty-one countries and sold in forty-eight; since the nineties, the company has invested heavily in Mexico. Driscoll’s sells more than a billion clamshells every year; it was Driscoll’s idea to put berries into clamshells in the first place. At the corporate offices, in a business park a few miles from Cassin Ranch, interactive maps mounted on the walls monitor every truck carrying Driscoll’s fruit in North America, some two hundred and fifty at any given time. An alarm goes off if a truck’s temperature deviates from an accepted range, if a truck stops for too long (in Las Vegas, for instance), or if security is breached. A full load of strawberries is worth about fifty thousand dollars; blueberries garner twice as much. The maps resemble battle plans, with armies of trucks fanning out across the continent.

Strawberries can be orange or white, the size of a pinkie tip, oblong, conjoined or bloblike, ecstatic, defiant, ungainly, unique. But you don’t think of them that way. What you picture is a Driscoll’s berry: glossy, red, and heart-shaped, and firm enough to ship to the East Coast or to the Middle East and eat two weeks past the harvest date. Driscoll’s berries tend to lack the sugar rush and perfumed oomph of a tiny sun-warmed heirloom discovered on a country lane. Since the company’s inception, it has placed an emphasis on appearance. “We have helped shape what a strawberry looks like with our relentless focus,” Soren Bjorn, the company’s president, said. Its cultivars—the genetically distinct new varieties it creates through breeding—and the germplasm, the genetic library of plants its breeders can draw on as parents for future cultivars, constitute the company’s intellectual property. Speaking with a legal newspaper, Driscoll’s senior vice-president and general counsel compared the company to its neighbors in Silicon Valley. “Growers are sort of like our manufacturing plants,” he said. “We make the inventions, they assemble it, and then we market it, so it’s not that dissimilar from Apple using someone else to do the manufacturing but they’ve made the invention and marketed the end product.” Like Apple, Driscoll’s guards its I.P. jealously.

Berries are the top-grossing produce in the supermarket. (“I remember when we were little and berries surpassed bananas in revenue,” Brie Reiter Smith, Miles’s oldest daughter, who is the general manager of North American production, said.) According to Frances Dillard, Driscoll’s global brand strategist and a veteran of Disney’s consumer-products division, berries are the produce category most associated with happiness. (Kale, in contrast, has a health-control, “me” focus.) On a slide that Dillard prepared, mapping psychographic associations with various fruits, strawberries floated between Freedom and Harmony, in a zone marked Extrovert, above a word cloud that read “Social, pleasure, joy, balance, conviviality, friendship, warmth, soft, natural, sharing.” (Blueberries vibed as status-oriented, demanding, and high-tech.) As I studied the slide over Dillard’s shoulder in her office, she smiled tightly and said, “This is proprietary.” More

Dana Goodyear is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the host of the podcast “Lost Hills.”

Why Millennials Are Suddenly So Obsessed With Houseplants

It’s much more than a social media fadIs there a Plant Swap in your future?

By Casey Bond Reprinted from the Huffington Post

Succulents, fiddle leaf figs, the elusive variegated monstera: Ask proud plant parents about their collections, and they’ll gush with such enthusiasm that you’d think they were talking about actual children.

Jennifer Coates, a 33-year-old freelance writer in Los Angeles, has accumulated more than 110 houseplants since she began collecting in January. Today, they’re an integral part of her daily routine. Every morning, she rolls out of bed, heads to the living room and begins a 45-minute tour of all her plants. Even before brushing her teeth or feeding the dog, Coates inspects every leaf for signs that it’s thirsty or threatened by pests and tends to those that require her attention.

It might seem extreme, but Coates is just one of many budding plant enthusiasts who dedicate hours a day and thousands of dollars to cultivating plant collections in their homes. But houseplants are nothing new, so why are millennials suddenly flocking to this hobby?

“There is something that is just completely awe-inspiring about having a living organism that you maybe get with one or two leaves ... and you give it a little bit of water, and it literally turns into something else in front of you,” one plant-lover said.
“There is something that is just completely awe-inspiring about having a living organism that you maybe get with one or two leaves … and you give it a little bit of water, and it literally turns into something else in front of you,” one plant-lover said.

A trend fueled by Social Media

American gardeners spent a record $52.3 billion on lawn and garden retail sales last year, according to the 2019 National Gardening Survey. A quarter of that spending was attributed to 18- to 34-year-olds, whose spending on plants has grown at a higher rate than any other age group since 2014.

Houseplants can thank visually driven social media for their resurgence in popularity. Instagram, in particular, has become a haven for foliage fanatics.

That’s how Coates was hooked initially. Her inability to keep plants alive had always been a running joke with her husband, considered the plant guru of the household. However, while scrolling through Instagram’s browse feature one day, Coates happened upon an eye-catching photo posted by a plant lover. She followed that account, along with several others over the course of a month or two, and her desire to grow a collection of her own intensified.

Soon, she was fully immersed in plant culture. Recently, Coates even attended her first local plant swap. “That’s when I really started to realize that these plant people aren’t just on the internet ― they’re real people. And there really is a pretty big plant community.”

One of those plant people is Jake Berkowitz, 39, who helped organize the LA swap. Somewhat of a local plant celebrity, Berkowitz is highly active in the community and a member of organizations such as the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulents Society and Los Angeles County Arboretum. He houses a whopping 400 plants in his East Hollywood apartment — many of which reside in a dedicated sunroom with precise temperature and humidity controls — and owns the Instagram account @keepyourplantson_la, which boasts nearly 15,000 followers. Because he works from home for a tech company, he’s able to spend several hours a day tending to the collection.

“I fell into it slowly, and then it does kind of snowball,” he said, explaining that it’s the intersection of the plants themselves and social media that’s fueling today’s craze. “In the ’80s, they didn’t have this way for collectors to connect with one another to both to share their collections, but also leverage the expertise of people with more experience and share notes.”

More Than Just A Fad

Though the plant craze might seem like a passing social media fad, the millennial generation is uniquely suited to maintain a long-lasting love affair with plants.

It’s no secret that millennials are delaying major life milestones such as buying homes, getting married and having children, largely for financial reasons. In Los Angeles, for example, the median home price hit an all-time record of $618,000 this past June, prompting an increasing number of millennials to remain renters. The cost of having kids is also higher than ever; the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates it will cost a middle-income family $233,610 to raise a baby born in 2015 through age 17. And millennials collectively hold about $1 trillion of the nation’s debt, a 22% increase over the last five years.

“People are designed for connection and nurturing, but with more millennials waiting until later in life to have babies and settle down, young people are turning to plants,” said Lily Ewing, a therapist in Seattle who also happens to be a millennial and plant enthusiast. According to Ewing, plants often require less attention than other living things, such as pets, but still provide the opportunity to nurture something. Plants can provide a greater sense of fulfillment and purpose, she explained.

“There is something that is just completely awe-inspiring about having a living organism that you maybe get with one or two leaves, that’s two or three inches tall, and you put it next to a window so that it gets a little bit of light, and you give it a little bit of water, and it literally turns into something else in front of you,” Berkowitz said.

Not to mention, plant owners don’t have to worry about adhering to landlords’ strict pet policies or arranging a sitter while on vacation. And a beloved philodendron will never cover the walls in crayon or soil the carpet.

The millennial love of houseplants also has a lot to do with the self-care and wellness movements. Known as the “wellness generation,” millennials are big spenders when it comes to everything from boutique fitness classes to athleisure wear. So it makes sense that they’d fully embrace the physical and mental health benefits offered by plants.

“The main reason why I really enjoy plants is because they encourage me to slow down,” Coates said. Her mornings, she explained, used to begin by immediately picking up her phone and checking emails, often even before getting out of bed. “Now I can do something else that’s not work or staring at a screen, and appreciate the little details,” she said. “It’s a running joke in the plant community that plants are a cheaper form of therapy.”

Ewing agreed. “Keeping plants around the home or office allows people to bring nature to their immediate surroundings when it can be hard to find time to get away from the day-to-day hustle and escape to the outdoors,” she said.

A Like-Minded Community

Perhaps the most compelling benefit of plant collecting is the incredibly active and supportive community that exists behind the scenes.

Naomi Painter, a 37-year-old mental health counselor in Portland, Oregon, began collecting plants after losing her job in early 2017. “Suddenly, no one needed me at all, which was kind of awful,” she said. So one day, she popped into a local florist shop to buy herself consolation flowers. That’s when she saw that they had a living stone plant ― an unusual type of succulent that resembles rocks or pebbles ― and decided to bring it home.

As she began to accumulate a few more plants, Painter turned to Instagram to connect with other plant collectors, find information about care and post a few of her own pictures. Soon, her personal feed was filled with all things plants.

“It was like cracking a code or learning a new language,” she said. Eventually, Painter decided to create a separate Instagram account under the handle @NaomiPlanter. She posted one plant photo per day, along with information such as where she got it and how she cared for it. After one year of diligent posting, she amassed more than 20,000 followers (recently, her followers topped 30,000).

“I didn’t know that I had anything to offer,” Painter said. “I’m not a botanist. I don’t have a greenhouse. I’m just a regular person that has some plants.” It turns out, there are a whole lot of regular people with plants who want to connect with each other. In fact, Painter says she gets 30-50 Instagram comments and messages each day and replies to every one of them.

“You get to know people,” she said. “I know who’s leaving her husband, whose best friend just died, who’s getting married … you get to know all these people all over the world and then you’re all friends.”

In addition to social media connections, getting involved in the plant community also provides countless opportunities to meet up in person. Besides plant swaps, enthusiasts of particular varieties can attend shows throughout the year. This coming weekend, thousands of plant lovers will descend on Miami for the International Aroid Society Show and Sale, which the community has dubbed the “Coachella for plants.”

That’s not to say there can’t be a dark side to plant collecting. Some plant parents get wrapped up in hunting down super-rare species, adding too many to their collections and spending more money than they can realistically afford. Like any type of collecting, it’s possible to compromise your quality of life and go overboard.

“There always seems to be an ‘it’ plant,” Berkowitz said. Lately, for example, it’s been the variegated monstera, a coveted variety of the monstera deliciosa that has stunning marbled leaves. “Over the last six months, I have watched variegated monsteras going from being sold for about $200, to $300, to $500. Now I’m seeing these plants being sold for $750 or $1,000.”

Painter pointed out that collecting anything can become an obsession if you aren’t careful. And considering the visual nature of social media, especially Instagram, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what other people have. But you don’t necessarily know the other side of their lives when the camera is down.

“Just consider your life and your environment when you’re collecting plants,” she said. “And if you see other people’s plants that you really like, you can just enjoy them on Instagram.”

Ultimately, the millennial obsession with houseplants is a healthy one. Not only does it encourage nurturing, patience and self-care, but it fosters community in a world where people can feel otherwise isolated.

“Even if I got rid of all my plants tomorrow, I would still have all these really cool friends that I’ve made, that I would never have met in any other way,” Painter said. “I’m really surprised every day by how supportive everyone is of each other … I think if there’s a positive corner of Instagram, I found it.”

Did George Washington Carver Invent Peanut Butter?

On April 22, 2021 we celebrated Earth Day recognizing a commitment to studying and practicing methods which will protect our environment. Following is an excerpt from the article published in Biography Magazine describing George Washington Carver’s – The Peanut Doctor – development of sustainable gardening practices. The full article can be found here.


Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Washington Carver created more than 300 products from the peanut plant but is often remembered for the one he didn’t invent: peanut butter. The agricultural scientist is often given credit for “discovering” something that was already there. Still, his story fits nicely alongside the rise of peanut butter as a culinary favorite in the first decades of the 20th century, making him an appropriate symbol for this distinctly American specialty.

Carver helped farmers find alternate uses for popular crops

Born into slavery in Missouri, near the end of the Civil War, Carver displayed a curiosity for learning and delicate touch for plant life from his earliest years. Rejected from one college, which had accepted him before realizing he was Black, Carver eventually entered Iowa’s Simpson College and then the school that became Iowa State University, where he earned his master’s in agriculture in 1896.

George Washington Carver
Photo: Getty Images

As director of the agricultural department at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute, Carver worked to develop sustainable farming practices when he wasn’t bogged down by more menial tasks like actually teaching. Generations of cotton planting and the intrusion of the boll weevil had decimated Southern farms by the early 1900s, and Carver encouraged farmers to develop other crops that revitalized the soil, like cowpeas, beans, sweet potatoes and peanuts.

One of his earliest known achievements was the development of the Jesup Wagon, a school on wheels that paid visits to poor farmers in remote areas beginning in 1906. Carver also sought to give growers additional incentive by devising alternate uses for the crops he championed, producing an array of items that included medicines, lotions and soap.