Are you ready for spring? Most gardeners are about now. Even with a mild winter, we are longing for flowers, grass, trees in bloom and in leaf anxious, even. Phil has given us hope, but even he cannot lengthen the daylight needed for the plants to flourish.
A good place to stimulate your anticipation is the Master Gardeners annual Smart Gardening Workshop March 5 at Community College of Beaver County in Center Township. From planning the garden to improving the soil, combating aggressors to utilizing precipitation, the workshop can provide recommendations for your dilemmas.
Many of our flowers dont grow from seeds. Len Lehman from Indiana University will teach the difference between bulbs, tubers, corms, and rhizomes, and some plants growing from them that may be unfamiliar and underused such as canna, crocosmia, gladiolus, freesia, crocus, caladiums, tuberous begonias, anemones, iris, and lily-of-the-valley. Did you know that there are fall crocuses? Colchicums.
Adding compost improves the soil structure and drainage, and adds nutrient value, but it can take some time for grass, leaves, and kitchen waste to break down enough to use. Worms accelerate the decomposition process, and Travis Leivo of Shadyside Worms will teach the best practices for using vermiculture (you can even do it all year inside) and composting insects to hasten the activity of your backyard compost bin or pile.
Even before we enjoy our vegetables, fruits and flowers, the use of pesticides to combat weeds, insects and diseases can often be an issue. Which are safest for the environment and for our food consumption? Daniel Frank of West Virginia University will shed some light on the differences between conventional and organic pesticides and help us think about our choices.
We are well aware of our need for fresh, clean water. As our society continues to grow and pave over the earth, there is more runoff from rain and snow into storm drains. Penn State Extensions water conservation educator, Susan Boser, will show us how we can be part of the solution, catching and diverting storm water into rain barrels and rain gardens and letting the water slowly soak into the ground.
The Smart Gardening Workshop will provide answers to many of the questions you may have about your gardens. And it will provide a continental breakfast; lunch; handout information; marketplace bargains of gently used gardening tools and related items; silent auction with a variety of articles from overnight hotel stays, gift certificates for museums and garden centers to food baskets; and, of course, gardening items.
All this for a $45 early bird registration fee until Feb. 28. Walk-in participants will be accepted as space permits for $55. You may register online at http://extension.psu.edu/gardening/events or call 724-774-3003 for more information. All are welcome. We hope to see you there.
Peggy Adams is Master Gardener coordinator for Penn State Extension Beaver County.