Friday, March 26, 2010

Paper Clover Campaign

Help support 4-H at Tractor Supply Co.  – Today, the Tractor Supply Company (TSC) store in Chambersburg joined 4-H in support of local youth with the TSC Paper Clover Campaign, a national in-store fundraising effort to benefit state and local 4 H programming in each of the communities where a Tractor Supply Company store is located.

Beginning Friday, March 26, through Sunday, April 18, shoppers will have the opportunity to support 4-H by purchasing paper clovers for just $1 at checkout. All funds raised through this local TSC Paper Clover Campaign will be donated to 4-H, and will support local camps, after-school programs and other 4-H youth development program activities here in Franklin County.
“Many of our stores have been involved with 4-H clubs for years. Now, Tractor Supply Company is proud to have an official chain-wide relationship with 4-H,” said Tractor Supply Company Chairman and CEO Jim Wright. “For us, this is an outstanding way to support our current and future customers and future team members, and it’s a way to give back to the 900-plus unique communities we serve.”
Franklin County 4-H will be hosting a special promotion at the Chambersburg store on Saturday, April 10 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


The Summer Garden Experience is an annual event that takes place at Penn State’s Research Facility in Landisville, just a couple of hours away from here. Here are weekly results and commentary from the 2009 flower trial season.  This year (Saturday, July 31), the featured speaker will be Lee Reich, PhD who worked in agricultural research for Cornell University and the U. S. Department of Agriculture before moving on to writing and consulting. He grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on his farmden (more than a garden, less than a farm), including many uncommon fruits such as pawpaw, hardy kiwifruit, shipova, and medlar. He is the author of several books, including A Northeast Gardener's Year, The Pruning Book, Weedless Gardening, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, and Landscaping with Fruit.

He did a guest blog post recently at the Garden Rant (profiled here) describing what he does, and differentiating it from the relatively new practice, “permaculture”. I thoroughly enjoyed his rant:

I wish I had a catchy name for the kind of farmdening I do. (A farmden is more than a garden, less than a farm; I used to have a garden, now I have a farmden.)

Despite the assertion of one young, “expert” permaculturalist, I am not a permaculturalist. (Perhaps in a futile attempt to strengthen his argument, he went on to say that all gardening/farmdening except commercial agriculture is “permaculture” and that, “as a teacher of permaculture,” he should know!)
Whippersnapper!  Go read the whole thing. I added Dr. Reich’s own blog, In Lee's Garden Now, to the list at the right.

The Summer Garden Experience is Cooperative Extension’s premier horticultural public relations event for the Southeast Region. Master Gardeners from the region, including us in Franklin County, are a major part of it, so mark your calendars, and plan to attend.

(Thanks to Laurie C. for the pictures)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Apple Scab Alert

Dr. Henry Ngugi and Dr. Noemi O. Halbrendt of the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville have sent out an alert for apple growers.  The first mature spores of the disease were detected on March 24, 2010. The numbers were high for March, being more typical of those observed by mid-April in most years. The findings indicate the growing season is 3 weeks early in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Copper spray applications no later than ¼ inch green tip are highly recommended to manage scab (dormant rate depending on the label). Warm temperatures early in the season will allow large numbers of ascospores to mature and be available for infection at the next wetting periods.

You can purchase a comprehensive guide Fruit Production for the Home Gardener from the office for only $12.00, or view the same information on-line here.  The section on Apple Scab can be found here.

Picture and diagram are from Cornell's Fact Sheet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Native Plant Tour - Spring Haven

The Cumberland Woodland Owners Association (CWOA) is sponsoring a Native Plant Tour at Spring Haven Nursery in Newburg at 6:30 PM on Thursday, April 8th and invites all Master Gardeners.  Spring Haven Nurseries specializes in native woodland plants and shade perennials grown either in propagation beds or in the gardens located there. Nursery owners, Dave and Dianne Cornman, will lead the tour and explain how to protect native plant communities and how to practice responsible landscaping. The tour is open to the public. You do not have to be a member and there is no cost to attend.

If you recall, we visited there a few years ago.  It's where I purchased one of my favorite Spring Ephemerals, Twin Leaf, or Jeffersonia diphylla.  I saved some seed from last year's bloom (check out the strange seed pod below) and I'm using Karen's Winter Sown technique that I learned in January as a way to try and propagate it.  We'll see how successful I am in a few weeks.  The plant is featured in the Native Plant Garden at Rutgers Gardens.  It is increasingly rare.
Twinleaf is protected by state laws as a threatened or endangered plant in New York, and New Jersey. Named by John Bartram for his friend, Thomas Jefferson, this plant has beautiful and unusual foliage, with two oval leaves arranged opposite each other on a stem. Attractive white flowers appear in April. Woodland soils and shade.
Interesting thing I just learned:

Native Americans used the root as a tea for cramps, spasms, nervous excitability, diarrhea, a diuretic for kidney stones and urinary infections, and as a gargle for sore throats. Externally it was used as a wash for rheumatism, sores, ulcers, inflammation, and cancerous sores. The plant is probably toxic, so caution should be used if preparing it for modern day use!

More here.

First Garden Workday of 2010

Much thanks to all the folks who turned out for the first garden workday on Saturday. We had good representation from the new class, and thanks to Jane and Karen, learned proper pruning techniques. Sometimes, there’s a drawback to learning what you’re supposed to do, because after I went home, I saw all the things that I should have been doing all these years, and haven’t been. I keep falling back on the “Savage Garden” “Natural Look” explanation. Yeah. That’s the ticket. My story and I’m sticking to it.

We also got an introduction to our new Mantis Tiller and the old(er) Chipper/Shredder. Both are 4-cycle engines and use straight gasoline, no need to mix in oil with the fuel.

Enjoy the pictures.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Well Kathy, it's more than a glimmer now.  Here we are a mere week later and Spring has begun!  At last the snow has done it's retreat.  And in it's place have marched forth all of those lovely spring bulbs as well as a few perennials.  The robins are doing their mating rituals, mockingbirds are gathering nesting material, and the pond critters and fish have come out of their winter hideouts!

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

I am so eager to be done with the snow and cold.  Realizing there's no certainty of no more snow for a some weeks yet.  I'm filled with excitement about my flower beds and what cool creatures I might photograph this year.
My heart beats fast over the plant and seed catalogs.
And yet.....I know it's the beginning of 8-12 weeks of seriously hard work.  Waking up mornings feeling like I've contracted polio overnight from gardening the day before.  This year, Wii Fit has entered my life.  Maybe that part won't be so bad.  Or perhaps that's wishful thinking.  

Spring:  Time has a way of evaporating into thin air, causing me near angina, for fear of not getting to something in time.  Plants could care less what your schedule is.  They don't wait for you.

In addition.......all of those "over the winter" projects I had delusions of grandeur about, have now moved to the "git r done or forget it" pile.

We're talking mere hours left to wrap things up here people!

Especially challenging when you work full time.

I begin a season of laundry piling up, dishes left in the sink and dust buffalo rolling around the house .  Yes you heard me, dust buffalo.  They replace the bunnies when spring hits.

More angina.

I did say I love this time of year, didn't I?

Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Signs of Spring

I worked out in the front walkway garden yesterday cleaning around the birch tree so we could see the crocus that are blooming. My husband thinks the rabbits will be much happier now that dinner is on display.  I was really dismayed at the broken branches on some of the shrubs. The viburnum carlesii has a large branch that was partially split. I read in George Weigel's blog that sometimes if you tie the branch together with an old nylon, the branch may bond. I did this once with a foxtail spruce and it worked. I'm going to give it a try since I have nothing to lose but a branch. Some of the boxwoods had mangled branches, but after trimming them they don't look so bad. I won't mention all the vole trails...that's another day.

No matter how severe the winter damage, the crocus bloom gives me hope.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Master Gardener Banquet

Don't forget to sign up for the Master Gardener Banquet scheduled for Saturday, March 20, 2010 at the Ag Heritage Building. We need confirmation of your attendance by the end of this week (Friday, March 12) to send a head count to the caterer. Tickets are $20.00 apiece.


Hors d'oeuvres
Tossed Salad
Roast Pork Loin with Stuffing
Chicken Marsala
Red Skin Potatoes with Parsley
Peas and Baby Carrots
Coffee, Tea, Iced Tea
Assorted Cakes and Pies

Contact Nicole at the office to sign up at 263-9226.

Forest Regeneration - Dr. James Finley

On Thursday, March 11th, at the Cumberland Woodland Owners’ Association meeting, Dr. James Finley, Penn State Professor of Forest Resources, will give a presentation on forest regeneration and reforestation in Pennsylvania. The meeting will start at 7:00PM at the Franklin County Extension Office which is located at 181 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. The event is open to the general public and there is no cost to attend.

In Pennsylvania, forest regeneration, or regrowth, requires sufficient numbers of desirable tree seedlings to be available to replace today’s forest following harvest. Under many circumstances, regeneration is not easy. Competing plants, deer, and insufficient light on the forest floor can interfere with regeneration and, in the long run, may threaten forest sustainability. Recent U.S. Forest Service data from Pennsylvania’s statewide forest inventory (2004) document regeneration problems.

In forest stands where light conditions are adequate for regeneration development, less than 50 percent have adequate seedlings and saplings to regenerate the forest. This finding includes all tree species capable of growing into the forest canopy. When only commercially desirable species are considered, less than one-third of these forest stands have adequate regeneration to replace the existing forest. Sustainable forestry is defined as managing our forest resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The Cumberland Woodland Owners Association (CWOA) is an organization of forestland owners and others interested in forestry issues in south central Pennsylvania. The mission of the association is to provide information, education and an exchange of ideas to its members and others about the methods and benefits of proper forest management. For more information about the meeting or the Cumberland Woodland Owners Association, contact Fred Peabody at 717/776-3565 (email: or George Hurd at 717/263-9226 (email: Directions to the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office in Franklin County are available at:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Addicted to Caffeine and Nicotine

Interesting recent study notices that Bees and people have something in common:

Bees prefer nectar with small amounts of nicotine and caffeine over nectar that does not comprise these substances at all, a study from the University of Haifa reveals. "This could be an evolutionary development intended, as in humans, to make the bee addicted," states Prof. Ido Izhaki, one of the researchers who conducted the study.

It also turns out that caffeine is a pretty toxic substance. If it were labeled as a pesticide by EPA, it would fall into category 2, carrying a signal word "Warning" based on its LD 50.

If you want to learn more about pesticides, bees, toxicity, etc., come to the March 25 workshop, Can I Wash Dishes With Insecticidal Soap?

Garden Rant

I've added the women at the Garden Rant to the blog list on the right. A popular blog that's been around since 2006, the purveyors of Garden Rant have the following manifesto. They are ...

Convinced that gardening MATTERS
Bored with perfect magazine gardens.
In love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens.
Suspicious of “the horticultural industry.”
Delighted by people with a passion for plants.
Appalled by chemical warfare in the garden.
Turned off by any activities that involve “landscaping” with “plant materials.”
Flabbergasted at the idea of a “no maintenance garden.”
Gardening our asses off.
Having a hell of a lot of fun.

One of the ranters is Amy Stewart, the author of "Wicked Plants", profiled here. They sure do seem to have a lot of fun, as well as provide a lot of good information.

March Workshops

Upcoming Public Workshops – This Saturday, March 6, 2010 at Elmer G.’s place – Hands-on Pruning. We have 23 registered and can take 7 more. Next Saturday, March 13, 2010 Pruning for Safety and Health of Trees, targeted for backyard woodlot owners. Lots of space still available for that one with 9 people registered out of a maximum class size of 30.

And finally, March 25, 2010, Can I Wash Dishes With Insecticidal Soap? – a general public introduction to integrated pest management techniques and pesticide safety for the home and garden. We have 13 signed up for that one, and can take 25.

March Lunch and Learn for Master Gardeners – Entomology 101 – March 17th 10:00-1:00. Very useful if you’re covering the hotline and are worried about giving advice to people bringing in bug samples. This class is intended to learn the basics of insect ID, with an emphasis on household pests, and the common ones we get in the office.

Contact the office (263-9226) if you want to sign up.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Strawberry Plant Sale

The Franklin County 4-H program is sponsoring a strawberry plant sale. For only $5.50, you get 25 strawberry plants. Strawberries are perennial, so you'll have several years of production from just one planting. Sign up (call 263-9226) for the Small Fruit in the Home Garden class coming up on Saturday, April 10 to learn the best ways to grow them, along with cane crops like raspberries and blackberries. Strawberries take well to container gardening and can also be used in an ornamental pyramid planting. Here are some fact sheets. Virginia Tech. University of Arkansas.

Here is the order form. Just print it out, fill in, and mail to the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office. Orders and payment (checks payable to 4-H Development Fund) are due by Monday, March 29.

Plants will be available for pickup on Tuesday, April 27, after 1:00 PM.

Flying is Hard!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Public Service Announcement

Last week, Dr. Holly Scoggins, one of the Garden Professors, from Virginia Tech, our Land Grant University counterpart for the Commonwealth of Virginia, posted this sobering account of her state’s budget woes, and its effect on Cooperative Extension.

Cooperative Extension has been prone to budget cuts for quite a while now – for most states, the fat was long ago cut away, and further cuts are going straight to the bone.

This proposed budget would effectively close down Extension in (by far) the most heavily populated areas of Virginia – Northern Virginia, the Richmond area, and the Virginia Beach area.

Go read the whole thing. These kind of budget cuts are happening all over the US, so we need to be diligent in making sure that our legislators and commissioners are familiar with what we do and realize the value of Extension and the Master Gardener program, so that Pennsylvania remains supportive.

The annual Extension Capital Day is coming up on March 9. Both Donna B. and Cindy S. have volunteered to represent Franklin County Master Gardeners on a visit to Harrisburg, along with volunteers from 4H and the farming community. You can support their efforts by contacting your local representative and reinforcing with them, the many good works that our program does for the citizens of Pennsylvania. As Dr. Scoggins said, it's not just "Plows and Cows" anymore. Web sites with contact information are here:

Senator Richard Alloway
Representative Rob Kauffman
Representative Mark Keller
Representative Dan Moul
Representative Todd Rock

UPDATE: And Happy 100th Birthday, Extension!

UPDATE II:  May be off on the 100th year.  The Smith-Lever Act which established Cooperative Extension was signed in 1914.

Real Truck Farm

Angela W. sent this link. Enjoy!

Now that's fresh.

Moon Rue and Mary's Root

Linda S. and I met with Dr. Doris Goldman of Renfrew today, to discuss the plants we'll start from seeds for the historic vegetable gardens at Renfrew, as well as a smaller subset for John Brown’s House. Extras will be made available for the plant sale. We’ll have cabbages, cauliflowers, collards, brussel sprouts, kale, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These are all varieties that were used in the 1800's in the kitchen gardens of the time. New for this year are two varieties of cotton and an artichoke, as well as medicinal herbs rue and black lovage. Alas, cardoon is not on the menu. Perhaps one of these zone 7 perennials that we planted last year, will overwinter and produce seeds.

Dr. Goldman will be the first speaker in a Spring Lecture series at Renfrew, talking about the Pennsylvania German Four Square Garden. The lecture is this Thursday, March 4 at 7:00 PM at Renfrew. Details for the whole series can be found at the link. We purchased a copy of her book, Moon Rue and Mary’s Root, and loaded it on the MG computer for your use. It will make great reading during down times when you're covering the hot line.

Update: Here's a beautiful slideshow of the garden at Renfrew. I'm looking forward to the updated, larger version coming this Spring.