Mid-July 2022 * No 12
Thanks to our June and July Saturday Farmers Market Recycling volunteers
GwenEllyn Anderson, Kelley Morehouse. Steve Slemenda, Laure Bordelon, Kevin Mowrey, Meagan Griffin
Teresa Foster, Kelley Morehouse, Mikiel Nankman, Kevin Mowrey, Meagan Griffin, Kevin McCarty
We are especially grateful to Meagan Griffin for getting our cartons and Terracycle items recycled!
We can't do this without your help. Please consider volunteering at the Saturday market.
A GENTLE REMINDER FOR THOSE WHO ARE
At our July Farmer s Market recycling collection, we had received twice as many cartons than in June. We are so glad the message has gotten out to so many people.
However, starting in August , we must inspect the cartons to see if they are clean, dry and be flattened as much as possible. If not, they won't be accepted. (Please see photos below for our new requirement for cartons). This is because the cartons are mailed to the Carton Council in Colorado or Nebraska.
Please - Cartons must be:
* Caps on (if you have them)
* Keep straws in the package (juice boxes)
We'd appreciate your donation to help with shipping costs
This has been a very successful program
We will now be asking for Donations to cover the cost of transporting the STYROFOAM to the recycling company in Tigard. We both know how expensive gas is. Thank you in advance for your understanding!
NEW! Recycling Plastic Plant Pots?
You may drop them off at Harpole's Produce, 8017 Mt Angel Hwy NE, Silverton, OR 97381. Please contact Melody in advance if you need plastic pots (contact information is on Harpole's Facebook page)
Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed
Oregon Dept. of Agriculture:
Today, July 11, 2022, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has confirmed the first capture of Emerald Ash Borer on the West Coast. Found in Forest Grove on June 30, the small shiny boring beetles are responsible for killing tens of millions of ash trees across America in the last decade. Their predation will remove 100% of ash trees from the urban landscape and from the forest as their spread brings further ecological destruction to already stressed systems. But they don't damage other tree species. It is hard to overstate the damage they will do in Oregon. Ash trees are in the genus Fraxinus. We have one native species in Oregon and it is an important wetland tree species. There are hundreds along Silver Creek running through Silverton.
Not a lot can be done at home to slow their spread. Homeowners can hire professional tree care companies to inject pesticide into established ash trees. This practice does provide protection, but isn't a long term solution. Until there is an effective biological predator introduced into the American ecosystem emerald ash borers will kill 100% of the susceptible ash trees.
Grow a diverse selection of trees from different families to make your landscape more resilient to invasive species, disease, and environmental stresses.
Eliminate Irrigation, Keep the Flowers
Grow Native Annuals
By Eric Hammond firstname.lastname@example.org
We will face water restrictions this year despite the wet spring, and not to be an alarmist or cause panic but next year can always be much worse. We’ve had a serving of weather extremes in Oregon. Climate science indicates we’ll have more. The range of actions you can take to prepare your garden for rationed irrigation is broad. A focus on keeping your garden flowering without any irrigation while also boosting biodiversity is easy. Grow native annuals. It’s that simple.
Annual flowers native to the Willamette Valley are completely adapted to our summer droughts. They do not need any irrigation to offer weeks of floral bounty. Native pollinators which are under intense pressure from habitat destruction don’t care if their food is wild sourced or garden grown. Growing native annuals in our gardens offers insects their preferred pollen and nectar. Natives from California grow well here because their nearby natural habitat is so similar to ours.
Climate and plant adaptation models show plants from hotter areas may be better adapted for the climate we will experience in the future. We should start growing plants adapted to the climate we will have, not the climate we have had. I’m kind of a prepper, this appeals to me. An example from a more southern native range, is bird’s eye gilia, Gilia tricolor. It has large white and lavender flowers with dark centers and turquoise anthers. They grow well in my garden and the flowers stand out against the dark reddish soil. Meadowfoam, Limnanthes species, is another example of drawing from warmer southern habitats. It has at least four subspecies in Oregon, but only one occurs wild as far north as Albany and many more are in California. They are low spreading species and all I’ve grown perform well in my garden.
While growing native annuals doesn’t rebuild the whole ecosystem it helps maintain biodiversity in a small way. And this isn’t limited to insect biodiversity. Native annual grow best without any irrigation, saving our common water supply for more critical uses. One of our tallest annuals, showy tarweed, Madia elegans, has large yellow daisies that close during the heat of the day in summer. It has very sticky, gland covered stems and foliage, so I'm careful to plant it where I can't brush my arms against it. Its seeds, similar to sunflower seeds, are loved by gold fiches. It grows on dry highway verges as a testament to its drought tolerance.
For quantity of pollinator visits Clarkia is worth growing, but that undersells its showiness. Farewell-to-spring, Clarkia amoena, has large flowers in pink shades that bloom into July. It is also one of the plants visited by leafcutter bees. Though finding a leafcutter bee in action is difficult, spotting leaves with circles cut out is a sure sign you are hosting a population of these beneficial native insects. Solitary bees use the leafy discs to build little nests for their larva. Seek out these species of clarkia with the showiest flowers: Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi, C. purpurea ssp. quadrivulnera, C. rhomboidei, C. bottae, C. concinna. They grow upright and knit well into the garden. Clarkia are noted among our native annuals for feeding the widest range of insects.
Bluehead gilia, Gilia capitata, is visited by our native, yellow-faced bumble bee, and is also hosts the larva of Adela singulella, a moth. It’s a tiny wispy moth with very long threadlike antae which I’d like a chance to see in my garden. A tall thin stemmed plant, bluehead gilia has round heads of blue flowers with turquois anthers. In late June and early July, I find them growing in the margins around Silverton. There are never many, so growing it your garden helps add food for the bumble bees and moths. Bluehead gilia are easy to grow.
There are many commercial flower mixes available that use the term native. But these rely on an overly broad definition, and often contain species from other bioregions. Many of these species aren’t helpful to local native pollinators or biodiversity. It is easy to have a successful flower garden that excludes nonnative annuals. Nonnative annuals such as bachelor buttons, red and crimson clovers, rudbeckia, calendula, true poppies, etc. are pretty but don’t offer the specific benefits that native annuals do.
A mixture of annuals can be a few species such as snow white meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii ssp. nivea), five spot (Nemophila maculata), and baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii). They start blooming in April and have spreading, low growth with white, white with purple blotches, and blue flowers respectively. Or create a mix of colors, height, and bloom timing with sea blush (Plectritis congesta), large flowered blue eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora), farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), and tarweed (Madia elegans). You can see sea blush and bluehead gilia on the very step dry grass covered slopes in the canyons of Silverfalls State Park. It’s easy to recognize sea blush from its small rosy-pink flowers held in showy round heads. If you can get close enough there, you’ll be able to smell their sweet fragrance. When there are lots in the garden the fragrance is more robust. I’ve never noticed large flowered blue eyed Mary growing wild, but it would be easy to do so because of its showy blue and white flowers on low stems. Both these species finish in June. Clarkia’s pink flowers continue for the next month. You’ll be challenged trying to figure out what time of day the big yellow flowers of tarweed close. They are open while I drink my first cup of coffee but always closed when I return at morning break. California poppy’s electric orange flowers are familiar but never vulgar and make a good addition in an annual seed mix. And other shades are available.
To resist the drought, most of our native annuals start growing early, with the fall rains and bloom in spring. Most of them finish early in summer. As the plants wither away, their seeds drop to the ground for the next year. Plant some annuals near winter-dormant crocosmia, atop lilies, or among perennials that expand late. This has worked out well with fragrant popcorn flower, Plagiobothrys figuratus, in my garden. Though its white flowers are small, the myriad of them are showy and quite fragrant.
The best success you will find is had by planting these annual seeds directly in the garden in autumn. Prepare early by ordering seeds in summer. Using Latin names, you’ll be able to find most of the seeds you might want. The species I’ve mentioned are easy to start with but there are many others worth searching out to include in your garden. You might even want to do a little guerilla gardening and buy a few extra packets to sprinkle in areas that should be hosting native annuals. You could also think of growing native perennials.
To succeed with our native annuals, pick a place in your garden that isn’t crowded by other plants, or trampled all winter by your dog. Remember they don’t need irrigation. The spot that will give you the best success isn’t full of other growth over winter. Weeds or grass, even if dormant when you sow the seeds, expand during autumn and winter smothering annual seedlings. In early autumn, bare the soil, killing anything that will grow back over winter. I like to select areas for broadcasted seed. There I don't spread mulch. I scatter the seeds over the perennials and around shrubs. They don't grow as a carpet, but some emerge providing pops of color. The few that grow are pleasant surprises for me and the pollinators. Bark and mulch don’t hold moisture well and are low in nutrition; seedlings fail on these soil coverings. The annuals germinate with rain, or in spring after winter stratification.
Scatter the seeds in October, it gives time to kill weeds that germinate in September. Before sowing the seed, first break the crust on the soil surface by scratching it. Do not cover the seed. Let the rain work the seed down into the soil. Don’t crowd the seed too much or the seedlings won’t have enough space to mature. Shoot for about five plants in a square foot but start with a lot more seed than that assuming a lot of things will go wrong. Thin seedlings if they are too crowded after germination. Transplanting them isn’t likely to succeed. Fertilize the seedlings in January and February to get good growth and boisterous flower displays.
A rewarding part of growing native annuals lays in their ability to self-sow and come back the following year. Nonnative annuals don’t do that in my garden and if they do, they’re weedy. Let the annuals bloom and wither on their own natural schedule. Their seeds drop when mature. Clear away the debris in late summer or when unsightly. Harvest the plants when they are about half withered if you want to move them to new locations or collect seeds. Rubbing the dead plants, after thorough drying, in your hands should free any stuck seeds.
Conserving Water / Saving $$
Kelley Morehouse <Kelley.email@example.com
Use native plants for landscaping and replacing large areas of lawn.
Heat up a small amount of water on the stove or electric kettle to hand wash dishes since my water heater is a long way from the sink.
Alternately, capture water that is slow to heat up in a jug or bucket and use it to water your garden or houseplants.
Run the dishwasher when it is completely full.
Take short showers and turn off the water when soaping up.
Run only full loads of laundry.
Wait to flush (urine) after 2-3 uses.
Monitor your water bill for unusual spikes in use and check for leaks.
Use a broom to keep patios and sidewalks tidy.
Water plants based upon their need rather than a set schedule. Turn off automatic sprinklers when it's raining.
Solarizing in Silverton - an active Case Study, Part 2
The Mystery Persists
The Mystery Persists
By Elyce Hues
What began as a pursuit of rooftop solar quickly becomes a forced confrontation with the aging systems of a mid-century home. Carrying this 1960’s house into the present century proves ambitious and spendy. As for the initial aim, purchasing PV panels, the story takes a surprising and exciting turn!
Last Month, in Solarizing in Silverton…
When the ice storm of ‘21 felled three giant Oregon white oaks near her house, Elyce assuaged her sadness with hope for a silver lining - maybe now her roof would get enough sun to collect the household’s power! After several out-of-town PV installers turned her down, she found a local installer who gave her a bid; however, their proposed system was so large, it raised a red flag for Seeds for Sol, the Corvallis organization partnered with Sustainable Silverton to make solar accessible for Silvertonians. It put the skids on the project. When we last left her, Elyce was gearing up for an in-home visit by Julie and Nancy with Seeds for Sol to find out why the home’s electricity usage was so high.
I set to work to figure out what was going on. Julie and Nancy’s visit from Corvallis yielded one great surprise, and a few ideas about my house. Perhaps the original wiring was on the fritz and draining electricity somehow; or perhaps it’s being drained by the equally ancient electrical panel. When I told them about one flickering LED and one exploded LED bulb, and a third LED fixture that would not turn on for two weeks, the Seeds for Sol ladies expressed concern that I may have an electrical issue that rises to the level of fire hazard. Yikes! What was needed, they said, was an electrician.
Two local electricians were contacted, but I never got a call back (I have learned that this profession is in extremely high demand - mothers, tell your children). One of the large local home repair companies were able to send someone, but the appointment ended without any answers. In the weeks I’d been waiting for an electrician, I had contacted PGE for ideas.
“Turn off all the breakers,” the smart-sounding customer service rep said. “Then turn them each on, one-by-one, and mark down the electricity use showing at the outside meter for each breaker.” In a carefully timed execution with help from a friend, the breakers were flipped and the readings captured on video. Unfortunately, the video had issues in the transfer and this investigative operation is currently on hold.
Father’s Day arrived. I had not brought up these problems to my dad, since I am always bringing him dad-problems to solve. I thought I’d try to work with the pros and give Dad a break. On Father’s Day, having struck out for an answer from the electrician, I gave in and told my dad what’s been going on. Like a whip, he cracked off these thoughts:
1- It wouldn’t be the circuit breaker. As long as the circuits trip when they should (they do) and an electrician measured that the amperage of each circuit was correct (he did), replacing the panel (price tag: $4,100) would not address the problem.
2- Houses of this age were often wired with aluminum instead of copper, which is much less conductive and requires more energy to push the electricity through. That could explain a higher than typical electricity use, to a degree. However, my dad had worked on my house enough to know that the wiring is copper.
Then I told him about the usage pattern, according to that smart PGE lady (extreme usage spikes about twice a day). In response, he asked about the age of my water heater (oh, 30+ years is all). To his next question, I replied: why yes, the upstairs fixtures are receiving very little hot water, and my dad quickly concluded that the water heater is the prime suspect.
“Change that out and see what that does to your electricity bills,” said my dad. “If that doesn’t do it, the next step would be to measure and sum the electricity use of your appliances and see how far off your total usage is from the sum of your appliances.” The water heater will be changed out soon; hopefully in time to report in next month’s installment the findings!
Now, for the surprise. The non-local PV installers had all declined to model solar for my roof based on the tree cover seen in the pre-storm aerial photos. They were unswayed by the news that three trees had come down in an ice storm. Then a Salem-based PV installer agreed to come look, and said they could do it if I took down four more oaks. Then a Silverton-based installer said they could do it without taking down any more trees.
On the beautiful, sunny day that Julie, Nancy and I stood looking up at my roof, Julie shook her head and said, “I don’t see how your roof is a candidate for solar even if you did take down more trees.” She has seen many a good candidate, and she has also had first-hand experience with what a little shade will do to a PV system’s productivity.
“However,” she continued, “have you heard of community solar?” I had not. Turns out, it is a brand new program that allows people to purchase panels on a solar farm.
You own the panels and all electricity they generate.
You can sell the panels back to the solar farm owner at any time.
You can move, and you don’t leave your panels back at your old house.
Solar power suddenly becomes viable for renters or homeowners with too much shade.
Seeds for Sol can still provide the grant money for the initial purchase; as with rooftop solar, you pay back the grant out of your savings on your electricity bill.
Cons: unclear if there are any.
This is a game-changer!
Will the new water heater fix the electricity drain? Join us next month to find out! In the meantime, if you would like more information about the community solar program, contact Dan Orzech at Oregon Clean Power Coalition - firstname.lastname@example.org .
Follow-up on Make a Difference Day (killing invasive Ivy)
Invasive species are the second leading cause of extinction since 1500 (Bellard et al 2016). Ivy isn’t native in North America. Invasive in Silverton, it is having a destructive and costly impact. Because it creeps along the ground and tolerates deep shade and severe drought it crowds out native plants. Its destruction multiplies across flora and fauna in our town. When ivy encounters a tree, it climbs, and its aerial vines produce fruit furthering the cycle. Growth on the ground doesn’t bloom. This unique feature is an entry for control.
On June 4, the first day of Make a Difference Week, Sustainable Silverton sponsored an ivy kill event at Coolidge McClaine Park. Seven volunteers from Silverton turned out in the warm rain to cut climbing ivy off at the ground. Cutting kills the aerial growth, flowers, and berries of the ivy. This saves trees and stops the further spread of this invasive species. English holly, also destructive for native ecosystems, was killed in the park. Over 25 hours of sweaty, wet time were volunteered to sustain Silverton’s ecosystem.
Silver Creek holds a lot of social importance for the city, but its route puts it in ecological peril. A volunteer invasive weed expert found false-brome growing on the creek in the park. This is a new infestation of this perennial European grass that could be quite destructive on the banks of the creek. We are waiting to hear from ODA about the best course of action for its removal.
The June 4 event was part of an international, weeklong event sponsored by the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). Last year there were 144 projects across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas. And in 2022, 36 in the USA. It was exciting having Silverton on the SER website alongside those projects.
Bellard, C.; Cassey, P.; Blackburn, T. 2016 Alien species as a driver of recent extinctions. Biol. Lett.
Sustainable Silverton has a number of Action Teams for you to participate in. This site has more information about what each team is doing and hopes to do. Please reach out and become involved; we can all help somewhere.
Not to worry
Eric Hammond Jun 24
Powdery mildew is a common problem in the Pacific Northwest. It’s turning up a little early this year after weeks and weeks of cold rain in time for the heat in my garden. Every summer I get questions from friends about this fungal disease. They see the white fuzzy mycelium covering their plants and they worry about what to do and whether its damaging.
There’s a species of powdery mildew of every plant. Here, you can find it infesting the foliage of Oregon white oaks, bigleaf maples, Florida dogwoods, squash and green beans. It’s recognizable on foliage and stems as a white, fuzzy, powdery coating. What you see are fungal mycelium growing on the outside of the leaf. Very little of it actually enters into the leaf but it can still do a lot of localized damage. It's found growing on either the upper or lower leaf surface, both, and on twigs. Where it is growing on the foliage will depend on the species it’s infesting. Sometimes it is noticeable as small spots rather than a covering over the whole leaf. It most often affects younger leaves, though some years by autumn it covers all the foliage.
Notice the Paint Spatter like spots of powdery mildew on these Acer truncatum
High relative humidity creates conditions favorable for powdery mildew spores to germinate and grow. In the PNW during summer our daytime humidity is low, during the night it is quite high as summer drags on. Humidity is the key to controlling this often destructive disease. In the greenhouse, my approach to powdery mildew control is prevention. Grow the seedlings with lots of air moving around their foliage. This reduces relative humidity and dries them quickly; never send leaves wet into the night. Eradication of this disease isn’t possible. Preventing infestations and their spread is critical to maximizing harvest. Infested crops don’t grow well, they can defoliate, and severe infestations will kill smaller nursery seedlings.
In my garden at home, I never have these same concerns. The fuzzy white mycelium of powdery mildew might be ugly on some plants, but it won’t kill plants in the garden. Garden-sized plants are strong enough to endure a reduction in their photosynthesis. And any reduced growth won't be noticeable. Infested trees in your garden will be fine without any home treatment. Expensive and environmentally destructive chemical or biological treatments for these plants is wasteful. For those trees, and for the plants in your garden, vegetables or shrubs, the best prevention is keeping the foliage dry.
Irrigate only in the morning, so the foliage can dry before nightfall. Do not over irrigate. Excessive irrigation may cause root disease and add plant stress that leads to increased foliage disease. You’ll see less powdery mildew on plants undergoing a little drought stress. It isn’t the best approach to grow vegetables under drought stress though because it reduces yield. In normal years, I don’t see powdery mildew infestations on squash until late summer and by then the crop is set, so there isn’t anything to worry about.
By Eric Hammond · Launched 2 years ago
Plants, Horticulture, Ecology in China and the Pacific Northwest.