Home Gardeners' School - Spring 2007
It's that time of year again! This is my third year attending the Home Gardeners' School offered by the Office of Continuing Education at Cook College now known as the College of Environmental and Biological Sciences. They offer it twice a year, in March and September. It's all day on a Saturday. You can take up to four classes. There are also speakers and Q&A's during the lunch break.
My first class was on composting. I loved the instructor. She was very enthusiastic and had the rare gift of inspiring that same enthusiasm in her audience. She offered a lot of the same techniques as I had read in Teaming with Microbes . I did come away from the class with one new idea: when cleaning up your leaves in the fall or spring, leave a pile of them next to your composter. Every time you dump kitchen waste or other green matter in it, cover it with leaves which are brown matter. Voila! A great way to keep your brown to green ratio correct.
The second class of the morning session that I attended was on foliage in the garden. The lecturer was the garden writer, Judy Glattstein. I've taken classes from her before. She is always entertaining as well as informative. I chose this class, based on her book Consider the Leaf: Foliage in Garden Design, because I need variety in my garden beds. Foliage is an excellent accent if used correctly. Judy showed us many combinations of color, texture and shape and pointed what worked and what didn't and why.
There was a Q&A with a few of the instructors during the lunch break. My favorite question: how do you get rid of moles/voles? Judy answered that question and her answer was the same one I would use: Get a cat! It's completely organic and doubles as a lap warmer in the winter.
Next up, after lunch, was "25 Common Plants (and Options): Care, Culture & Use". Now why would I be interested in this? I don't grow any of the "common" landscape plants. The answer is quite simple. Everyone knows that I am a Master Gardener, so they bring me all of their gardening questions. That's tough for me because, as noted above, I don't grow that stuff so I know nothing about it! Thanks to the Director of Rutgers Gardens who taught the class, I now know a lot more about the trees and shrubs used by most homeowners in New Jersey as well as good substitutes.
For the fourth class of the day, nothing was offered that piqued my interest so I helped out at the plant sale sponsored by Rutgers Gardens. The plants are always ones that not found in the local nurseries and big box stores. It's great way for me to learn about new plants as well as help out the Gardens. They depend on their volunteers to set up and tear down the plant sales, answer questions and help people carry their purchases to their cars. It was a fun way to end my day of garden learning.
There is also always a book sale sponsored by the college bookstore. In prior years, I haven't found the selection very interesting. This year, the books were more varied. I snagged the last copy of A Pompeian Herbal: Ancient and Modern Medicinal Plants. I've added it to my stack of unread gardening books, which also includes Gertrude Jekyll's Lost Garden and The Garden at Highgrove. It has to rain sometime, right? And then maybe I'll have time to read my new books!