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Gardeners can find tips at Ag Progress Days

UNIVERSITY PARK — A team of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences experts will be available for consultation in the yard and garden area during Ag Progress Days, which begins Tuesday in Rock Springs.

Experts include Penn State Extension Master Gardeners, extension educators and specialists in horticulture, plant pathology and entomology. Master Gardeners from across the state will dispense advice to gardening enthusiasts at the “Ask a Master Gardener” booth. There also will be presentations on container gardening, seed saving, building raised beds, winter sowing, flower arranging and tomato grafting.

The flowers and plantings in the garden attract and nourish huge numbers of native bees, butterflies and other pollinators. With pollinators in jeopardy, Penn State Master Gardeners teamed up 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.

The Penn State Master Gardener Program continues to offer the Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification program, which teaches homeowners and gardeners to certify their landscapes as pollinator friendly.

The certification includes such steps as planting a year-round native garden of diverse and abundant plants while providing food, a water source and shelter for the pollinators. Those who complete the four-step certification process, which carries a $10 fee, will be eligible to purchase a pollinator-friendly sign for their property.

The yard and garden area also will highlight the benefits of growing plants in high tunnels, which are greenhouse-like structures that often enable growers to modify the growth environment and extend the growing season.

Located adjacent to the raised garden beds will be an observation beehive, where experts from Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association will be available to discuss beekeeping and native bees. Visitors can see posters explaining Penn State research on pollinator issues, and prospective beekeepers can get information on Extension’s innovative online course, Beekeeping 101.

At the vegetable tent, the potato plot will feature multiple potato varieties growing in the soil and freshly dug tubers. Designed for potato farmers and backyard gardeners alike, visitors are encouraged to bring their potato-growing questions. The tent will display some of the potato varieties grown in Pennsylvania, including some new varieties.

The following 30-minute presentations are scheduled::

Tuesday

10 a.m.: Flower Arranging

Noon: Seed-Saving Basics

1 p.m.: Natural History of Chocolate

2 p.m.: Propagation Demonstration

3 pm.: Container Gardening

Wednesday

10 a.m.: Tomato Grafting Demonstration

11 a.m.: For the Love of Garlic

1 p.m.: Winter Sowing

2 p.m.: Let’s Start with Soil

3 p.m.: Tomato Grafting Demonstration

4 p.m.: Flower Arranging

Thursday

10 a.m.: Flower Arranging

11 a.m.: How to Construct a Raised Bed

1 p.m.: Let’s Start with Soil

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, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Admission and parking are free.

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