Thursday, March 27, 2014

40°, Sunny, Clear = Master Gardeners at Work

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener
Tomatoes and Peppers Rise Up!
In preparation for the May 9 Vegetable and the May 17 Plant Sales, the greenhouse and holding area teams are working away.
Opal Basil- Just one of the many herbs to be offered

In less than 1 week we have tiny tomato and basil and other plants peeking up.

Opal basil, cinnamon basil, tarragon, borage, dill, lemon grass, garlic chives, cilantro, and hyssop will be offered along with parsley and sweet basil. Larger thyme and lemon balm should be available and lots of mints divided out from the demo garden.

Holding Area - May 2013

We have hundreds and hundreds of plants that are overwintering and will be moved to the holding area. These will add to the inventory for the plant sale.
"Many hands make light the work."
The Holding Area coordinators had many hands on deck (Bill Stead-shorts, really?) to help clear out the high tunnel area and adjacent space.
The high tunnel frame will be removed
2013 Master Gardener Plant Sale

Why is the Master Gardener, Franklin County, Vegetable and Plant Sale different from other plant sales?

  • Heirloom and unique varieties, most not offered at garden centers, are growing in the greenhouse.
  • Locally grown plants, nurtured by Master Gardeners in their home landscapes, have been divided out and potted up to sell.
  • Our sales are also scheduled at an ideal time to take plants home and plant them out - no worry over where to hold plants until the last frost date.
  • Master Gardeners will be at the plant sale to offer assistance for choosing and caring for the plants offered.
Don't miss this unique opportunity to get unique and quality plants are great prices.
Bring your wagons, cart, or boxes and load up on quality plants
Vegetable Sale - Friday, May 9 --   10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your boxes and take home these bargains.

Plant Sale - Saturday, May 17 -- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Lines form early so grab your coffee and come over. Bring your cart or wagon and load up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Make Your Own Miniature Landscape (Fairy Gardens) Sat., March 29

by Carol Kagan

You've seen these miniature gardens with different themes - gnomes, Asian homesteads, fairies and even Lord of the Rings. You've wanted to make one but didn't know where to start. Here's the answer and a way to spring into spring since the weather won't let us!
After the very, very successful presentation on February 1, Juanita Kauffman is offering a Make and Take Workshop on two dates: Sat., March 29 from 9 - 11 a.m. and Tues. April 8 from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at the Ag Heritage Center, 181 Franklin Farm Road, Chambersburg.

This workshop will go over the guidelines for these miniature gardens but will be a hands-on presentation where participants will make their own to take home.

All supplies are provide including a made-in the-USA beautifully glazed, 13 1/2" pottery bowl, soil, gravel, 2-4 appropriately scaled plants and 2-3 tiny accessories.
Kauffman will participants put all these elements together to make a miniature gardens that will be a conversation piece and provide hours of enjoyment.

The cost is $50 - a great value for these quality supplies and workshop guidance.

For information or to register, call 717-263-9226.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Greenhouse Opening Marks the First Day of Spring

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener
Peppers begin their journey to seedling then plant
What better sign of the first day spring than the Master Gardener greenhouse up and running? With the Annual Plant Sale just eight weeks away, the cycle of life begins for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, flowers and herbs.
Heavy fleece jackets and sweat shirts came off as greenhouse team members generated their own heat in the controlled warmth of the greenhouse on March 20.  Lead by Juanita Kauffman, title yet undecided, everyone was busy beginning with the quick review of the day’s activities.
Barb Petrucci searches for Garden Peach tomato labels
 Seed starting trays were filled and passed on to planting teams. In recycling mode, many plant labels were sorted out from last year’s batch and matched up to their trays.
Tom Reeder refills the planting mix as Diane Keeney plants
Jane Birt & Ruth Young seeding a tray
The seeds were carefully matched to their labels and were dropped into the trays.
Bill Dorman and Diane Keeney match seeds to labels
After covering them lightly with planting mix they were watered.
Don Knode covers seed with planning mix
Some were set on heating pads to speed up germination.
Juanita Kauffman places trays on heating pads
The timing for planting is geared so plants will be ready for transplanting in our area at the time of the Plant Sale, scheduled this year for May 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Customers are advised to come early and bring their own carts or wagons.

This year’s sale promises a wide variety of plants started in the greenhouse. Many are unusual or heirloom varieties not typically found in local garden centers or nurseries. Another unique feature of the Plant Sale is the locally grown plants donated from Master Gardener landscapes.

Not all of the greenhouse team is shown here. After last week's clean-up and today's planting, their work is only starting - daily watering, transplanting and nurturing this year's crops.

Artemisia - International Herb Society Herb of the Year

By Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Artemisia adds a silver touch to landscapes
The International Herb Society (IHS) official Herb of the Year™ for 2014 is Artemisia (Artemisia species).

There are over 300 species of Artemisia (Ahr-tuh-MIZ-ee-uh); each one has its own special features from height, leaf shape or color to aromas that range from clean and refreshing to acrid and repugnant. They are used for landscaping, cooking, and crafting. Their oils are used as insect repellents, perfume additives and are important ingredients in malaria medicines.
Artemisia species have a wide variety of heights and leaf textures, offering a range of landscape choices from borders to background plants. Artemisia plants can be as small as Silver Brocade (A. stelleriana), often called Dusty Miller, at six inches or as tall as Sweet Annie (A. annua) often reaching six feet. The silver, grey and green colors provide good backdrops to the more colorful plants in the garden.
While each species has its own growing requirements, most are perennials, hardy as far north as zone 4, prefer sun or partial sun exposure and like well-drained soil.
The culinary favorite, French Tarragon, is an artemisia
French tarragon (A. drancunculus) is the most well-known of the culinary artemisias. It is the main ingredient in French sauces and salad dressings and used in poultry dishes as well as tarragon vinegar. Although considered a bitter herb, wormwood (A. absinthium) is the primary ingredient in vermouth, absinthe liqueur, and used to flavor beer and wine.

Silver King (A. ludoviciana) and Powis Castle (A. arborescens ) are usually the silver color in many dried wreaths and flower arrangements. They are easy to dry and go with any color palette.
Silver King artemisia provides a background that shows off colors
Some artemisias have unpleasant scents and are put in sachets as moth and mosquito repellents while others with pleasing aromas are added to potpourris. In the language of flowers Artemisia represents dignity.

Sweet Annie provides a yellow-green leaf and small yellow flowers and is also good for dried crafting. For some, this herb has a pleasant fragrance but not for others. This plant was used historically as a medicine but it can produce allergic reactions, rashes and congestion in some individuals just by handling the plants. 
Flowers of Sweet Annie artemisia
Approved by the Federal Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the component artemisinin found in Artemisia annua (Sweet Annie is used for treatment of malaria, most often in combination with other drugs. This has been found to be as effective as quinine.
Are you interested in Artemisia plants? The Master Gardener plant sale on May 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. will feature both Silver King and Silver Mound plants as well as a variety of other plants grown and donated by members.
Also check out the The Herb Society of America (HSA) Notable Native Herb for 2014  -  Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegate), our Blog entry on this plant,  and the Master Gardener’s Redring MilkweedProject.

Masters Gardeners, Penn State Extension, Franklin County have presentations, events and workshops throughout the year. To be added to the e-mail event schedule list, please email or call 717-263-9226.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Master Gardeners Enjoy Olmsted Presentation

Last fall at our annual banquet, Kirk Brown, as Frederick Olmsted, gave an excellent presentation. Here's his post about that presentation.

Chambersburg Master Gardeners and Olmsted’s Civil War Experience

“What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party.”  –Henry David Thoreau
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” –John F. Kennedy 
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
Mary Ritner’s Boarding House was a hot bed of abolitionist rhetoric and fiery biblical oratory.
It’s been nearly a century since the great fire of Chambersburg was ignited as one of the penultimate acts of defiance by rebels under orders from Brig. Gen John McCausland.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
The downstairs parlor reserved for John Brown and his compatriots.

As the only major community burned down by Confederate forces during the Civil War, the borough had failed to provide a ransom of $500,000 in US currency or $100,000 in gold when the town was invaded for the third time on July 30, 1864. It was from Chambersburg that John Brown staged weapons and ammunition in the run-up to his ill-fated attack on Harper’s Ferry in 1859.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
The kitchen of Mary Ritner’s boarding house has a table that once sat John Bartram and his partisan assembly of abolitionists.

Mary Ritner kept a boarding house at 225 East King Street. John Brown and several of his co-conspirators rented rooms from her while planning the take-over of the federal depot. The town was a center for abolitionist sentiments and served as a way station to the Underground Railroad because of its service as a railroad junction.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
The Master Gardeners were celebrating their 20th anniversary.

In the intervening ninety-nine plus years, gardeners have been extremely busy beautifying the city. This year, dozens of them came together under the banner of the State Master Gardener’s Association to celebrate at their annual banquet.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
Celebrating a 20th anniversary. Jane Krumpe, Truella Izer &Linda Secrist

Let me state unequivocally: Frederick Law Olmsted is an abolitionist. I wrote extensively of my travels through the slave states of Alabama, Louisiana and Texas in “A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States; With Remarks on Their Economy.” Nothing about the system is sustainable.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
Entertaining the guests is always part of the thrill of speaking about Landscape Architecture and the history of its art and practice. With Juanita & Kenny Kauffman

Landscape design and execution, on the other hand can be very sustainable. The art and theory of Landscape Design should be extended as a perfect way to solve the problems facing human kind by urban crowding, general health of the population, and natural preservation. Without it we are simply abusers of the wealth given by God that we have been charged with stewarding.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Civil War Journal, Kirk R. Brown, Chambersburg PA, Master Gardeners
Guests arriving were introduced to the evening’s lecturer: Frederick Law Olmsted.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Redring Milkweed Project

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)
I found something interesting when exploring the 2014 designated herbs - Artemisia: Herb of the Year of the International Herb Society and Redring Milkweed: Notable Native Herb from the Herb Society of America. I discovered that redring milkweed is on the endangered plant list in Pennsylvania.

After reading the blog posting, a Master Gardener inquired where to get plants or seeds. I discovered that is not easy. Long story short- Porterbrook Native Herbs in Ohio has plants available.

A proposal to the Master Gardener Steering Committee to establish a propagation colony in our Woodland Meadow Native Habitat Demonstration Garden was approved and plants have been ordered.
Redring Milkweed plant along a roadside


Redring Milkweed - Asclepias variegata
Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension, Franklin County
This project was created to propagate redring milkweed plants (Asclepias variegata) which are an endangered native plant in Pennsylvania. A colony of plants will be established in the Woodland Meadow Native Habitat to provide seeds and plant divisions to share with other native plant organizations. Additionally, these hard to find native plants will be offered as a premium plant at Master Gardener plant sales.
In conjunction with the mission of the Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension, the Redring Milkweed Project will serve the home gardening and general public by 
  • providing a renewable resource for this endangered Pennsylvania native plant.
  • demonstrating inclusion of native plants in the landscape.
  • providing a resource for publicizing the Master Garden program through communication sources such as the Master Gardener blog and Facebook page.
  • adding to the beautiful and inspiring setting of the Woodland Meadow Native Habitat demonstration garden for the delight and inspiration of the public.
Masters Gardeners, Penn State Extension, Franklin County have presentations, events and workshops throughout the year. To be added to the e-mail event schedule list, please email or call 717-263-9226.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Master Gardens and 4-H Team Up for Youth Garden Club

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Planting the Seeds of Gardening
Franklin County 4-H Youth Start Garden Club

Chambersburg, PA – Although Michelle Obama’s White House garden gets a lot of media attention, it’s the growth of local and community gardens that have an impact IRL (in real life). This year 4-H of Franklin County is starting a Garden Club.
Franklin County is considered the No. 4 farm county in the state and earns more than $300 million annually in agricultural sales. With the farming community all around, many are inspired to learn about gardening and have gardens of their own.

Last year, Master Gardener Jessica Kauffman was asked if there was a junior Master Gardener program. While there is no Master Gardener program for youths, Kauffman’s inquiries planted the seed for a 4-H Garden Club.

The first organizational meeting will be held on March 27 at 6:30 PM at the Ag Heritage Building at 185 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Meetings will be held weekly on Thursday evenings.

“The … Garden Club is a great opportunity for children ages 8-18 in the community to learn all aspects of gardening,” said Jason Goetz, Extension Educator in the 4-H Youth Development Team.  Like other 4-H Clubs, he said, they will also learn “skills that will allow them to succeed in society.”
The Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension, Franklin County and the 4-H club are teaming up with Kauffman and Carol Kagan as club leaders. Other Master Gardeners will share their expertise as well. The club will have a garden at the Ag Heritage Center gardens on Franklin Farm Road.

In past years Master Gardeners partnered with the 4-H Harvest 4-Health and Kids Learning After School (KLAS) programs, helping establish a vegetable garden at Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Chambersburg. This is a local effort to teach the newest generation about growing fresh, nutritious food, much like the White House garden.

Students at Thaddeus Stevens do spring planting (Photo: Public Opinion)
Donna Scherer, Master Gardener Coordinator said, “It’s important that we reach out to our youth to connect them to where their food comes from and to empower them with the ability to grow their own food.”
For the 2014 year, the Garden Club will focus on Vegetable Gardening. Youth will have the opportunity to grow vegetables on the Ag Heritage grounds during the regular growing season. They will also have support and resources for any home-based vegetable gardens.

Club members will learn about gardening from planning what to plant through how to harvest and use the vegetables they grow. Along the way to harvest, they will learn about the life-cycle of plants, what they need to grow, and how to care for them to get a good harvest.
“I'm so excited to be a part of the new 4-H garden club! Kids seem to have an innate curiosity and excitement about nature,” said Kauffman, adding “I'm sure it will add to the energy at club meetings.”

In order to fund the Garden Club, 4-H is offering strawberry plants at $7 (incl. tax) for a bundle of 25. Varieties available include Earliglow, Honeoye, Northeaster, Allstar, Jewel, Cabot, Montery (day neutral plants).
Perhaps the White House could use a few more strawberry plants for their garden.

For more information about the club, becoming a member or to order strawberries call the Penn State Extension office at 717-263-9226.
For more information about this program contact:
Jason Goetz, 4-H  Youth Development Educator- or 717-263-9226
Donna Scherer, Master Garden Coordinator- or 717-263-9226

To be added to the e-mail event schedule list, please call 717-263-9226.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beautiful Flowers Indoors and Outdoors

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener
Succulent Heurnia zebrine (Owl's eye)
Another few beautiful blooms that brighten the indoors and show a sign of spring outdoors. Thanks to Juanita Kauffman, Master Gardener, for sharing these photos.
More of the plant Heurnia zebrine
Indoors it’s Heurnia zebrina, otherwise known as Owl's eye succulent.
Snowdrop in snow (Galanthus nivalis)
And outdoors it's the ever-hardy snowdrop (Galanthusnivalis ).
A closer look at a snowdrop
Other links

Time for a Haircut

Last week I was sitting around shivering, wondering when, if ever, spring might show its face in south-central PA.  I got my answer today (March 8th) as the sun shone and the temps rose.  True to my calling (Master Gardener/Dirt-Digger/Plant Executioner Extraordinaire - I am sure there are others you can dream up, and they are probably all true), I set out for the backyard to decide what terror I could unleash.  After a short (and soggy) review of the winter damage (see my blogs, Winter Damage, part 1 and 2…), I decided that I could begin the trimming of the Coral Ember Willow.

Coral Ember Willow in a Winter Landscape

Some of you may recall my 2013 blog on this plant (Winter Interest, Part 10 - Coral Ember Willow, 01/22/13).  Real briefly, Salix alba ssp. vitellina 'Britzensis' is a fast-growing, vigorous, hardy, colorful large shrub.  Its inexpensive, gets large, gets woody, and wildlife likes it.  During the growing season, it is a good screen shrub, but is most interesting after the leaves fall off, with yellow, red and orange branches that glow in a snowy winter landscape.

Branch colors vary on the same shrub
It needs space.  My 11 year old model grew to over 15 feet this year.  My 3 year old's were over 6 feet.  It does need trimmed back every year before it leafs out if you have any interest in controlling its size.   That means cutting as much of the last year's growth (the colored branches) as possible.  The further back you cut, the better the color the following winter.

So yesterday I did my thing out there in the spring sunshine.  Evidence follows.

After the haircut (see branches on the ground)

Close-up of one of my younger pups
There is a lot of debris to get rid of.  Some get put in a bucket of water, so they can root and be started for the Master Gardener's plant sale (May 17, 2014; 9AM-1 PM at the Franklin County Extension Office grounds).  Others will be used for decorating and crafts, or making trellises for plants.  But I'm ready to see my willows start to leaf out again.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Winter Damage, Part II (Voles)

Much to my dismay, I found that they are back.  The voles.  Not that I mind THEM so much.  Its what they do to my lawn.  To all my friends who love animals, I apologize for the following post.  I don't want these guys as pets, and I will do whatever I can to make my home an unwelcome abode for them and their families.

What is a vole?  There are 4 types of voles found in Pennsylvania, but the one that you will most likely encounter at your home is the meadow vole, a small ground-dwelling rodent, about 6", with short legs, short tails, and chubby bodies.

Meadow vole
Better view of short legs and tail

What is vole damage?  You know you have a vole problem if you find long surface runway systems with burrow openings in your lawn.  They have been under the snow, and the voles use the snow as cover as they go out and chomp on the grasses and plants they need to survive.  The voles are very tasty to a lot of predators; they are very active, but try to stay out of open space and grassy areas.  Voles are the only ones who make the above-ground tunnels in your lawn.  They have the snow as cover, and once the snow melts, they will normally disappear from your open lawn.  Your lawn should recover quickly in the spring.  

Vole runways appear as the snow melts in the spring
Voles are also trouble-makers for orchards and nurseries, where they often girdle tree bark.  Lots of other animals do this too, but vole damage on tree bark is usually non-uniform, with gnaw marks at various angles and irregular patches.

What I found when the snow melted...
They are often confused with moles (who have large front feet and digging claws, no external ears and a pointy snout), shrews (who have a long pointy snout, pointy front teeth and are smaller than voles), and mice (the biggest difference between mice and voles is the length of their tail; voles have shorter tails).  A vole has a rounded, not a pointy, snout, chisel-shaped teeth, and visible eyes and ears.

There are various methods of control:
1.  Habitat modification.  Keep grasses clipped, clean up leaf litter, keep a 2 foot vegetative-free zone around trees to discourage them from nesting near tree bases.
2.  Exclusion (fencing).  Make sure it goes 4-6 inches beneath the ground.
3.  Trapping.  Can be effective.  Make sure you release the little fellows over a half mile away.
4.  Predators.  Hawks, owls, crows, skunks, raccoons, snakes and cats all enjoy voles.
5.  Repellants and toxicants.  Not practical in your lawn.  Consult a licensed applicator or the Extension Office for questions about these in commercial sites.
6.  Fumigants and frightening are not effective with voles.
PS Voles have been known to carry a variety of potentially serious human pathogens (rabies, hantavirus, others) so even if you think they're cute, don't handle and try to make a pet of them…

I'm trying to do some trapping, but no luck so far.  My hope is that this article is right and as the snow melts, they are migrating to better cover (AKA anywhere other than my lawn) for the months to come.