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Free gardening/cooking demo with Doug Sunday and huge garden giveaway

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog Jess and DougThe Organic Gardeners are together again at three Giant Eagle Market District stores for a free cooking and gardening demonstration.

I'll be at three Giant Eagle Market District stores on Sunday May 31, 2015 with my radio partner Jessica Walliser. Together we are The Organic Gardeners.

We'll be doing a free cooking and gardening demonstration and then holding our biggest give a way ever.

The theme is Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes.

We'll talk about how to grow them, deal with pests and keep them disease free. We also have a trick to make them last until Thanksgiving.

Then it's time to cook German-Italian Risotto with Basil, Tomatoes, and Corn from my book Tomatoes Garlic Basil. But that's not all, GEMD will hold an exclusive tomato tasting for everyone who attends.

Now for all the stuff we're giving away. We have sprinklers and hose end sprayers from Dramm, Bobbex Deer Repellent, Bonnie Plants Plant Food, lots of seeds and even some rare, heirloom tomato plants.

We'll be at the Bethel Park Giant Eagle Market District at 9:30 a.m.

The Waterworks store in Fox Chapel at 12 noon.

The Pine Store at 2:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

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Worth the wait? The mountain laurel that wouldn't bloom

Written by Doug Oster on .

 blog insta Red mountain laurel'Nipmunk' mountain laurel prepares to bloom. The buds are amazing. Photo by Doug Oster

How long would you wait to see a plant bloom?

Four years ago I planted three mountain laurel 'Nipmunck' shrubs I got cheap at the end of the season. One bit the dust, but the other two have looked healthy in the garden.

Deer are not supposed to eat mountain laurel as it's toxic to them. I think there were some young deer browsing which ended up with a stomach ache because for the last two years they nibbled all the buds off in late fall.

The last two winters have been tough on the plants too. Even though it's  native and the Pennsylvania state flower, the Polar Vortex and subsequent winter were brutal.

I know from experience they take a while to catch on and resent transplanting.

But the wait is over and the plant has finally started to bloom.

The deep red buds are stunning and will give way to a light pink to creamy white flower.

As soon as it's done blooming, I'll fertilize with Hollytone to make the plants happy.

The key to getting more flowers will be to surround the plant with deer netting at the end of the season.

I've grown many plants that have made me wait, and I really don't mind.

Patience is one virtue that's always required for gardening.

 

 

 

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Urban Homesteading Series from Penn State Extension to launch in June

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog straw bale2Learn how to garden in bales of straw with the experts from Penn State Cooperative Extension. Photo by Doug Oster

URBAN HOMESTEADING SERIES PROGRAM LAUNCH

PITTSBURGH, PA, MAY 26, 2015:

Penn State Extension’s Urban Homesteading Series to Launch June 2015

Penn State Extension of Allegheny County is proud to announce the launch of the “Urban Homesteading Series”.

This series is designed for creative do-it-yourselfers with an interest in sustainable food and living adventures. Each workshop features an expert instructor leading hands-on demonstrations in a variety of homesteading activities which are scalable for home, apartment, or community projects.

Upcoming programs include:

  • June 18: Straw Bale Gardening
  • July 7: Bug Your Bugs! July Pest Walk
  • July 21: Midsummer Night’s (Berry) Jam
  • August 4: August Pest Walk
  • September 8: Winemaking
  • September 24: Gardening with Perennials

Registration is open for the first workshop of the series, Straw Bale Gardening, on Thursday, June 18, 2015 from 6 pm – 8 pm at the Penn State Extension Edible Teaching Garden at 400 N. Lexington Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208.

Straw-bale gardening is a low-cost, low-maintenance, back-friendly raised-bed gardening method. The Master Gardener instructor will lead a hands-on workshop, present the technique step-by-step at the Edible Teaching Garden where this method is practiced. Pre-registration is required and the fee for this class is $25.

Fall and winter workshops include home beer brewing in partnership with local craft breweries, gardening with perennials, yeast and sourdough bread baking classes, intercropped urban fruit orchard, pruning and lactofermentation.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER

Visit: bit.ly/1FqAp7R

CONTACT

 

Rachel Samuels, Program Assistant: (412) 482-3464, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Penn State Center Pittsburgh

Energy Innovation Center

1435 Bedford Avenue, Suite A

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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Heirloom iris reveals a family's legacy

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog irisThis beautiful heirloom iris has a story to tell. Photo by Doug Oster

Soft blue iris petals cling to drops of rain on a spring morning in the garden.

The variety was a gift to me from Bernice Born, who inherited the plant from her mother, who got it from her mother. Passing on plants to family and friends is one of the magical parts of gardening.

I met Bernice after writing this Saturday Diary in the Post-Gazette about discovering some cool vinyl records. She called to see if I was interested in some of her old records. During our conversation in her home, she told me the story of this iris and how important it was to her family. 

The flowers followed them everywhere they moved, eventually ending up on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Those pretty blooms were always the background for family photos. I promised to return when the flowers were blooming to write the story.

20140602doirishomes1aBernice Strawinski is the mother of Bernice Born, who was about 14 months old in this picture. It was shot at her grandmother's home in Torrington, Conn. The irises are in the background to the left and right. Mrs. Born has moved her grandmother's irises all across the country as she has moved from home to home.

 

Last year at this time, I spent part of the day with Bernice to tell the wonderful story of how her family has been connected with the plant for as long as anyone can remember.

As I left, Bernice insisted I take a division of her family treasure. They were planted in a bed filled with rich compost and where they get the most sun in the garden.

Tight buds started to unfurl a couple days ago and when they did, all I could think about was Bernice, her family and how important this plant is to all of them.

Every time she shares the plant, she's sharing a part of her family history; and every time it blooms the story is told again.

That's the magic of gardening.

 

 

 

 

 

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Teach your children well, Phipps Summer Camps are great for kids

Written by Doug Oster on .

1110d phipps1 b

I can't think of a better thing for kids to do this summer than learn about nature at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Phipps Summer Camps: Enrollment Still Open for 2015
Pittsburgh’s premier public garden immerses youth in the natural world. 

Pittsburgh, Pa. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is still enrolling children for a variety of nature-based summer camps touching on healthy living, art, science and sustainability. These half-day programs are held in June, July and August.

The 2015 line-up featuring immersive activities and nutritious snacks includes:

  • Seedling Scientists: Ages 4 and 5
    A Bug’s World: An expedition to find crawling, buzzing and flying garden friends
    Fairytale Forest: An imaginative interpretation of favorite stories through garden activities

  • Budding Botanists: Ages 6 and 7
    Dancing with the Plants: A movement-based experience highlighting nature and dance
    Bugs in the ‘Burgh: A time of insect-themed Conservatory exploration

  • Flowering Explorers: Ages 8 and 9
    Kitchen Creations: An awesome opportunity to grow and create delicious veggie snacks
    Nature Explorers: A scientific observation skills-building journey through garden habitats

  • Fruiting Designers: Ages 10 and 11
    EcoArtist: A cool look at how to create art from natural and repurposed objects

  • Seed Spreaders: Ages 12 and 13
    Climate Defenders: An inspiring examination of climate change and the world’s biomes

Prices range from $60 – $145. For details and registration, parents and caregivers can call 412/441-4442, ext. 3925 or visit phipps.conservatory.org.

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