Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The guys certainly were busy tonight…

That's a goldfinch, the entire family has been here today…

And they sure do enjoy the anise hyssop, along with my bees...

September: Learn about Bulbs, Compost and Getting More Plants

The September programs are now taking registrations. The Fall Into Gardening event is free but register now for the other programs.

Bulbs-Fall Planting program: Find out about choosing, planting and caring for spring flowering bulbs. Learn how to force bulbs to flower during the dreary winter days. More about this interesting topic at "Trick Bulbs Now for Winter Treats." $10 - You'll think it's a bargain when beautiful blooms brighten your windowsill on a gray January day.

"Composting" is a valuable resource and money saver. Learn which of the variety of methods you can use at your house. $10 Sign up now and start composting this month.
Perennials at MG Nancy Miller's house (Laurie Collins)
"Dig, Divide & Multiply Perennials" will help you figure out when and how to divide your perennials to keep them healthy - and to share with others, too! $10 is a bargain for all the money you'll save multiplying your plants.

All course and events are held at the Agriculture Heritage Center, 181 Franklin Farm Road, Chambersburg, unless noted.

Our programs are growing in popularity and now require pre-registration. Call 717-263-9226 for more information and to register. We now accept credit cards to make phone registration easier.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tomato Day and Fall Into Gardening - Two Great Events

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

14th Annual Tomato Day

This event, held by the Master Gardeners of Penn State, Franklin County, will host lots of visitors on Saturday, August 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Agriculture Heritage Center, 181 Franklin Farm Road, Chambersburg. As in years past, this event will be on the lawn by the stream but this year it is scheduled on a Saturday. No excuse to miss it!
Preparing for the taste test (Laurie Collins)
Tomato Tasting
The most popular destination on Tomato Day is the big tent covering tables laden with 20 or more varieties of tomatoes, cut-up and coded with a letter. Visitors do a blind taste test, recording their rating for taste and appearance. Paste tomatoes, beefsteak, slicing, cherry, and heirloom types are included in the samples.

At the end they receive a key to the codes and discover the names of the tomatoes. The ratings are tallied at the end of the day and posted on the Franklin County, PA Master Gardeners Facebook page.
Salsa Verde (made with green tomatoes (Public Opinion)
Salsa Contest
Everyone is invited to enter the Salsa Contest. Competitors bring their salsa and recipes along with a bag of chips. Although typical salsa recipes are made with ripe red tomatoes, past winners have included a mango salsa and salsa verde (green tomato) variations. Last year’s winner, Charles White, will be among the judges for best salsa but visitors can also taste and vote for the “People’s Choice” award.
Largest Tomato Contest
If there’s a “big ‘un” in your garden that will be ripe around August 23, consider entering this contest. Past winners have clocked in at about 2 pounds. The 4-H Garden Club will be entering and has some mighty big Mortgage Lifter variety tomatoes and one will definitely challenge all comers.
'Mortgage Lifter' in the 4-H Garden
Join the fun and enter the contests. Deadline to register for the Largest Tomato and Salsa contest is August 18. Call 717-263-9226 to register or for more information.
Flower arrangement display

Flower Arrangements
Master Gardeners will display a large variety of floral arrangements using seasonal flowers and greens from both the demonstration and home gardens. These will be on display in the lobby of the Agricultural Heritage Building.  Stop by and get some new ideas of how to display your beautiful blooms.


Fall Into Gardening

A new Master Gardener event this year will be on Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the barn across from the Agriculture Heritage Center, 181 Franklin Farm Road, Chambersburg.

This family-friendly event will have a self-guided tour of the eight demonstration garden areas, a scavenger hunt for younger visitors, a demonstration of planting bulbs for forcing, and a fall plant sale plus interesting exhibits in the Clubhouse near the barn.

Garden areas, created and maintained by the Master Gardeners of Penn State, Franklin County, include drought-tolerant, perennial, herb and pollinator gardens. Stroll through the Woodland Meadow and Native Habitat area and check out the Victory Garden with a variety of vegetables and fruits as well as the new 4-H Achievement Garden.

Pink hyacinth (tomylees)
For the younger visitors up to age 12, accompanied by an adult, there will be a scavenger hunt. Prizes are available for the first 75 participants.

Learn how to plant beautiful flower bulbs that will bloom during both the holiday season and the gray days of winter.
Daylilies to Highlight the Fall Plant Sale

A Fall Plant Sale will be held in the newly renovated holding area near the greenhouse. Locally grown perennials for sun and shade plus a variety of herbs, shrubs and trees will be available. Of special interest is the wide variety of unusual daylilies (Hemerocallis). They won't be blooming  but here are a few waiting for you to grab them up.
'Frances Joiner': This stunning mid-season re-bloomer, is a light yellow with rose eye above a greenish yellow throat
'Francis Joiner'
'When My Sweetheart Returns': A small, single mid-season re-bloomer in pale yellow with rose eye above a greenish yellow throat
'When My Sweetheart Returns' Daylily (Nancy Miller)
'Morning by Morning': Eye-catching fragrant, early season coral pink double flower with dark coral eyezone above a yellow throat
'Morning by Morning'
'My Sweet Rose': A very fragrant, mid-season bloomer in rose pink with cream to deep green throat

Master Gardeners will be available at each of the gardens to answer questions and share information as well as at the Patrick Gass Garden at the north edge of the parking lot on the west side of Franklin Farm Road. This is a work-in-progress project but already has historic plants and information signs.
Free. Parking at the Agricultural Heritage Center lot, west side of Franklin Farm Road.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Come Compost with Us

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Another great way to recycle and help the earth rejuvenate itself! Free but please register!

Master Gardener Trey Gelbach will join George Hurd for this workshop.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Leave No Crop Behind - Gleaning

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

They may not be beautiful but they are edible and nutritious.
At the Grove Family Library I saw a flyer for The Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania and this was new to me.

What is Gleaning?

Gleaning is collecting excess, unsalable but edible food from gardeners, farmers, distributors and producers and distributing it to food banks, shelters, local agencies and individuals who would not typically have access to fresh food. Why is it unsalable? It most likely is slightly damaged or otherwise imperfect although still edible and nutritious.
Harvesting (gleaning) beans (Annalee Newitz)
While this is typically collecting after-harvest leftover crops from farmers' fields or from fields where it is not profitable to harvest, gleaning can also include collecting food from restaurants, grocery stores and even catering operations.
School group gleaning (Courtesy Laughing Dog Farm)
Daniel Botkin, the Farm Manager of Laughing Dog Farm in Gill, Massachusetts, noted online, “Personally, I like to think of gleaning as a form of 'targeted recycling'.”

Does Gleaning Make A Difference?

If gleaning is done on leftover crops and food, how much can it be?
The Gleaning Project notes on its Website that since June 2013 they have salvaged over 100,000 pounds of food. This is with the help of 95 volunteers (482 hrs.) and 33 growers, producers and distributors in Adams County. This food was distributed to approximately 5,187 unduplicated individuals at or below ... Federal poverty level with the help of 40 community-needs assistance agencies and organizations.
Since January 1, 2014, The Society of St. Andrew reports 8.4 million pounds gleaned and 36.3 million food servings delivered.
Highlights from the 2013 Boston Area Gleaners annual report show over 88,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables gleaned with over 354,000 4-oz food servings delivered.
Franklin County has over 1,500 acres of vegetables and 200,000 acres of cropland. Penn State Extension estimates that 50% of food is lost between field and fork.

How Does This Work?

Here’s how the Gleaning Project explains it:
“Want to be part of a food justice flash mob? Not to sound corny (pardon the pun), but that's exactly what The Gleaning Project does! When farmers have excess, unsalable but edible food in the fields, we gather volunteers and head out. All the food goes to local needs assistance agencies, like food pantries and shelters.”
To volunteer, go to the Gleaning Project Website Volunteer page.
Since harvesting needs to be done within 1 or 2 days of notification, gathering volunteers has been made significantly easier with e-mail blasts, Facebook notifications and even Twitter.
The Gleaners. Jean-Fran├žois Millet. 1857

Another Thought on Gleaning

Botkin also shares a bit of philosophy on his Website: “Gleaning precious foodstuff is an ancient, ubiquitous practice. But we must also transpose its brilliant logic to other commodities routinely wasted, like energy, clothes, lumber, bricks, books …”

For more information check these links

Penn State Extension: Sustainable Food Recovery Programs – Information on establishing and maintaining partnerships in food recovery (gleaning) and distribution chains

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Six-Legged Scouts in the National Parks

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

At Hodgdon Pond (C.Kagan)
Today I was a "citizen scientist" and spent 4 hours this morning at Hodgdon Pond in Acadia National Park catching dragonfly larvae for a UMaine research project tracking mercury in the water.
Scooping water and sediment to capture larvae (NPS)
 Hip high waders, long-handled net and a small plastic spoon to scoop them from net to a holding tub (can't touch them) and me slogging through muck.
Dragonfly Team: Ranger Michael, me, Julie and James
And getting STUCK - suction that wouldn't release my boot -  my co-"scientists" - Julie and James worked very hard to get me unstuck as Ranger Michael was at the far end of the pond. We all ended up falling down in the muck.

We captured 60 larvae and identified at least three different families. We also scooped up a leech, a salt water clam (? fresh water pond?), caddis fly egg cases, a snail, back-swimmers and either a moss animal or an egg mass of some kind.
Aeshnidae, Libellulidae, and Gomphidae larvae (NPS)
(I don't remember which is which!)
 We chose the largest samples, measured them (Average size 16-22 mm) and put them into bags with an information tag in each bag. 
Plastic sample bags (NPS)
The samples will be frozen and sent to UMaine at Orono for analysis and to confirm the identity.

The toxic form of mercury, methylmercury, increases in concentration in the food chain. (NPS)

Excerpt from study

Why use dragonfly larvae?

Dragonfly larvae live in the water for 1-4 years or more before becoming adult dragonflies. Aquatic systems like lakes, ponds, and wetlands are often where methylmercury (the more toxic form that gets into living things) accumulates.

Dragonfly larvae also eat small fish, tadpoles, and bugs that in turn contain methylmercury. As the dragonfly larvae eat more, the amount of methylmercury in their bodies increase in a process called bioaccumulation. When other animals, such as larger fish, eat the dragonfly larvae these animals also accumulate methlymercury, but at higher concentrations due to biomagnification up the food chain. Dragonfly larvae are abundant and they are found across the country. They are in the middle of the food chain, so they are potentially useful for determining the health of an ecosystem.

Visit the UMaine FBook page Six-Legged Scouts in National Parks/About to find out more about this project. 

Information also available at
National Park Service: Citizen Scientists Study Mercury in Dragonfly Larvae
Integrated Resource Management Application/NPS: More information about data and National Parks participating

Monday, July 21, 2014

Late Summer Events and Workshops

Tomato Day

Master Gardeners will hold their 14th Annual Tomato Day on Saturday, August 23 from 10 am - 2 pm. Free. Come and taste over 20 varieties of tomatoes, enter the largest tomato contest and/or the salsa contest* (or be among the voters for the People's Choice award) and enjoy visiting with Master Gardeners and neighbors.

*Deadline to enter August 18. Call 717-263-9226 and register.

Check out the "Save the Date" list and note that there will be a Fall plant sale at our "Fall into Gardening" event on September 6. More later about this new event.

Avoid the disappointment of fully enrolled workshops by calling now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

National Moth Week is Coming!

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Polyphemus Moth - Antheraea polyphemus
National Moth Week is July 19 through 27, 2014.

Why celebrate moths? 

  • Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
  • Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
  • Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult’s hand.
  • Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day.

Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) Picture Credit Jen Wetzel
Check out previous posts on moths.

Imperial Moth
What is THAT? Cercropia Moth Caterpillar
Waiting for GOoD mOTh
Polyphemus Moth
Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar
Clear Wing Hummingbird Moth
White Lined Sphinx Moth
Tobacco and Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar

Cercropia Moth Caterpillar (Carol Kagan)
Cercropia Moth - largest in N. America

Better yet, go outside after dusk and look for some.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
Not a night person? You can try to see a hummingbird moth during the day. Check out all the places hummingbirds and bees would go for nectar such as butterfly bush, phlox and bee balm.

Fun site for the hummingbird moth: Hummingbirdmoth.com

More information on moths

National Moth Week 2013
Extension Master Gardener: Almost Wordless Wednesday- National Moth Week 7/19-7/27

Thanks to Ray E. for several of the previous posts.