So much to learn at Yard and Garden Area at Penn State's Ag Progress Days

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Visitors to the Yard and Garden area at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 18-20, can learn about flower arranging, growing herbs, new flower varieties, pollinators and creating habitat for bees and butterflies, high-tunnels, potato varieties -- and have their questions about gardening answered by experts.

New this year, the area will include a presentation on Wednesday about the Penn State Flower Trials, according to Molly Sturniolo, coordinator of Penn State Extension's Master Gardener program in Centre County.

"Penn State has been evaluating flower varieties since 1933. This presentation will discuss the history, background and evolution of the Penn State flower trials," she said. "The goals and objectives of the flower trials will be discussed, as well as how growers and home gardeners can benefit from the research done on select varieties."

The presentation on herbs, also slated for Wednesday, was very popular when it debuted last year at Ag Progress Days, Sturniolo pointed out.

"It includes a discussion about simple harvesting and preserving methods so you can grow your own herbs for year-round enjoyment," she said. "Imagine how your special dishes will taste this winter with your own herbs enhancing the flavor of your culinary creations."=

Trial Plants at Yard, Garden Area

New this year, the Yard and Garden Area will include a presentation on Wednesday about the Penn State Flower Trials. Penn State has been evaluating flower varieties since 1933. This presentation will discuss the history, background and evolution of the Penn State flower trials, as well as how growers and home gardeners can benefit from the research done on select varieties.

Image: Penn State

Again this year, the benefits of creating pollinator-friendly landscapes will be a focus of the Yard and Garden area.

The demonstration plots at the Yard and Garden area are now six years old, and their many flowers and plantings are attracting and nourishing huge numbers of native bees, butterflies and other pollinators. As pollinators continue to be in jeopardy, Penn State Master Gardeners teamed with horticulture faculty members to create and nurture the gardens -- located at the end of 11th Street at the show site -- to demonstrate that supplying pollinators with food and habitat can be beautiful.

Sturniolo noted that Ag Progress Days visitors are drawn to the colorful floral displays and comment on the abundance of butterflies.

"The demonstration plots serve as living proof that the average gardener can do something to attract and help pollinators," she said. "Planting these flowers and other host plants is well within their ability."

To help support and propagate these beneficial insects, Penn State Master Gardeners offer the Pollinator Friendly Garden Certification program, which teaches homeowners and gardeners to certify their landscapes as pollinator-friendly.=

The certification includes such skills as planting a year-round native garden of diverse and abundant plants, maintaining a parcel of wild and undisturbed vegetation, installing bee nests and minimizing pesticide use.

Visitors who sign up to complete the four-step certification process (which carries a $10 fee) will be eligible to purchase a pollinator-friendly sign for their property.

Honeybee demonstrations also will be conducted. Located adjacent to the raised garden beds will be an observation beehive. Experts from the Pennsylvania State Beekeeper's Association and Penn State Extension will be on hand to provide guidance and answer questions. Information will be available on Penn State Extension's innovative online course, Beekeeping 101.

"For our more curious and adventurous visitors who'd like to gain a deeper understanding of beekeeping, a small bee yard from which they can watch a beekeeper open hives and talk about the honey bees' daily activities will be located up the hill from the honey bee demonstration area," said Sturniolo.

Master Gardeners will be on hand in the Yard and Garden Tent to answer any general questions about horticulture and gardening. In addition, experts from Penn State's departments of plant science, plant pathology and entomology will offer advice and help solve visitors' plant and pest problems. They will field questions and identify insects brought by visitors.

Molly and kids at APD

Master Gardeners will be on hand in the Yard and Garden Tent to answer any general questions about horticulture and gardening.

Image: Penn State

Sturniolo said the Yard and Garden area also will highlight the benefits of growing plants in high tunnels and backyard high tunnels, which are greenhouse-like structures that often enable growers to fine-tune the growth environment and extend the growing season.

Finally, the area will feature potato crops, offering multiple potato varieties growing in the soil and freshly dug tubers. Visitors can see some of the potato varieties grown in Pennsylvania as well as some new varieties. Freshly harvested potato samples will be on display.

The following one-hour presentations are scheduled at the Yard and Garden Area:

Monday, Aug. 18

10:30 a.m. -- High Tunnel Vegetables, Small Fruits and Cut Flowers

1 p.m. -- Flower-Arranging

2 p.m. -- Pollinator Gardening

Wednesday, Aug. 19

10 a.m. -- Harvesting and Preserving Wild Herbs

11 a.m. -- Flower-Arranging

1 p.m. -- Penn State Flower Trials

2 p.m. -- Flower-Arranging

6 p.m. -- Pollinator Gardening

Thursday, Aug. 20

10:30 a.m. -- High Tunnel Vegetables, Small Fruits and Cut Flowers

11 a.m. -- Flower-Arranging

2 p.m. -- Flower-Arranging

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 19; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event here.

 

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Last Updated August 05, 2015