Over the Garden Fence | Annual Garden Fair set to sprout May 17

By Bill LamontMay 10, 2014 

Larry Campbell, a longtime Penn State Extension master gardener of Centre County and chairman of the 2014 Garden Fair and Plant Sale, wanted folks to know that the Garden Fair and Plant Sale is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 17 and will include a large plant sale of more than 5,000 plants, including vegetable bedding plants, perennials, native plants, herbs and annuals.

It is suggested that visitors bring a wagon or cart to transport their plants. A shady, supervised spot will be provided where wagons and boxes of plants can be parked while attendees attend talks, visit vendors or tour the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

There will be free talks by a host of gardening experts, and a chance to visit with more than 30 invited vendors from throughout Pennsylvania. There will be more than $300 in door prizes, many new gardening items and accessories up to $250 value in the silent auction and the ever-popular Garden Garage Sale. The great thing is that parking and admission are free.

The annual event will take place at the Ag Progress Days site at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. The site is 9 miles southwest of State College on state Route 45. More information about the Garden Fair and Plant Sale and driving directions are available online at http://extension.psu.edu/garden-fair.

Campbell tells me the expert speakers include Penn State professors as well as master gardeners and others. The talks will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude after 2 p.m. Presentations include such topics as “Fruit Tree Basics” and “Gardening for Pollinators.”

Anne Quinn Corr, a local food writer and chef, will present “Homegrown Tomatoes: Choosing the Best Varieties.”

Another topic of interest is “Square Foot Gardening.” Jane Wettstone, a master gardener, will talk about “Rain Barrels: Why and How.” They have even recruited your “Over the Garden Fence” columnist into talking about “High Tunnels for the Home Gardener” at the master gardeners high tunnel on site.

Master gardeners are volunteers who provide residents with research-based educational programs in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship. They greatly magnify the reach and ability of Penn State Extension to offer practical, how-to advice and problem-solving assistance.

Last year, master gardeners statewide answered more than 17,000 phone calls and emails from residents seeking answers to plant, weed and insect issues. They delivered horticulture-education programs, organized and maintained demonstration gardens, consulted with school and community gardens, and donated thousands of pounds of produce to food banks. Altogether, they donated 119,306 hours valued at nearly $2.6 million.

Anyone interested in becoming a master gardener can contact his or her Penn State Extension county office. Visit http://extension.psu.edu/counties for contact information. Centre County residents can contact Molly Sturniolo at mas79@psu.edu.

Centre County master gardener hotline volunteers are available to answer your gardening questions on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to noon, at centremg @ag.psu.edu or 355-4897.

Bill Lamont is a professor and extension vegetable specialist in the department of plant science at Penn State and can be reached by email at wlamont@psu.edu.

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