Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rutgers Home Gardeners School

So today is one of my favorite days of the year. It's the Rutgers Home Gardeners School day.

It's a day-long event that includes lectures, a plant sale and a book sale.

They had a pretty full agenda with a total of 36 different classes being offered. You get to pick 4 classes to attend. Today I chose Managing Good & Bad Bugs in your Garden which really ended up being about turf management (read: lawn). Not my thing but still useful. Unfortunately, so many questions were asked during the lecture that he didn't have time to finish the presentation so we didn't get to review the beneficial insects which is what I'm really interested in.

Next it was on to Do's and Don't of Butterfly Gardening. This was taught by Rick Mikula. He's quite the clown.

But not one of those scary clowns that look like they're going to eat you, more like a good clown that tells you how to keep caterpillars alive and bring certain ones back. I've decided that I'm going to plant a butterfly garden in the front yard. I wish we could do it in the backyard but with the birdhouses we can't. Caterpillars = bird food.

How cool is this caterpillar!

Spicebush Caterpillar
I was on my own for lunch so that meant going to the book sale and the plant sale. I like to support this event so I do my best best pick up a thing or 2... or 4... I got some oregano and rosemary I also picked up 2 books:

I really want to get more into native plants and plants that will encourage wildlife so this seems like a good start.

Again in keeping with the wildlife aspect. I think it's a lot of fun to see all this life buzzing and fluttering about. Seeing that hummingbird last year really made me happy and knowing that I'm giving these guys a place to hang out really means something to us - Jared is just as passionate about the Eco system.

The afternoon was filled with native plants and perennials. What I really found interesting about the Eco-Friendly and Drought Tolerant Native Plants class was the discussion of their root systems. Some can go as far down as 20 feet! This is why they would be drought resistant, the roots can get moisture and nutrients way down below even when the surface soil is dry and nasty. This is what makes dandelion root so healthy. Speaking of dry and nasty looks like quite of few of the native plants thrive on bad untended soil. That's good to know!

Butterfly Weed and Blue Star
Here are 2 that I want to add to my butterfly garden.

The Perennials for Year-Round Interest class was based on blooms during all 4 seasons. Not all of the plants were native but some of them were definitely interesting. It was nice to see some of the plants here recommended in the native plant class and the butterfly garden class - those are definitely coming to our garden

All in all it was a fun day with lots to learn about gardening. I look forward to next years classes.

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