New Greenhouse helps 4-H Center at Auerfarm Teach Youth the Science of Gardening
By Sarah Bailey, Master Gardener Coordinator, Hartford County Extension Center
Winter may have been unusually cold and long this year, but there was a sunny and green oasis at the 4-H Center at Auerfarm. Spinach and herbs grew throughout the winter, to be joined by all manner of vegetables, herbs and flowers as the seasons shifted. Over the last year students planted seeds, weeded the ground-level beds and sampled fresh produce right from the source. The first killing frost is no longer an end to the growing season; it simply signals a shift into the new greenhouse. Funded by an anonymous $50,000 grant, the 20 x 48 foot polycarbonate rigid-walled structure provides both in-ground and bench-top growing space, along with room for classes and demonstrations. While heated, it is being run as a “cold house” with minimal non-solar heat in the winter, yet stays warm enough for several cold-hardy plant varieties. On a sunny January day, it feels like July!
The building is home to a variety of programs and events. Area schoolchildren take part in Farm to School programs, and Junior Master Gardener (JMG) participants learn about how plants grow, do plant science experiments, and plant and harvest produce. Teachers receive JMG program training to bring gardening and environmental hands-on curriculum back to their schools. Along with the specific youth programming, the greenhouse also hosts programs for the adult UConn Master Gardeners who help grow plants for the Foodshare production garden on the farm.
Additional growing space and an extended spring and fall growing season have allowed for additional gardening and food-related events throughout the year. An additional benefit has been the creation of venues for multi-generational experiences. Currently under development is a series on Gardening with Families along with a Saturday program on gardening and the environment for youth.
Proven Biological Control Programs for Indoor and Outdoor Production of Ornamentals
UConn Extension and UMass Extension are sponsoring, Proven Biological Control Programs; for indoor and outdoor production of ornamentals. This one day educational program will be held on Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Room 100 of the WB Young Building, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.
The speakers featured at this educational program include:
Margery Daughtrey, Cornell University, LIHREC, Riverhead, NY who will be speaking onBiological Controls of Disease: Fungus vs. Fungus in the Greenhouse
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans, Buglady Consulting, Slatington, PA who will be speaking on
Evaluating Your Biological Control Program andUsing Biological Controls in Outdoor Production
Grant Jones, IPM Specialist, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA who will be speaking on Implementing a Biological Control Program at Longwood Gardens
A Grower Panel on IPM & Biologicalsfeaturing Steven Courcy & Keith Salcines DS Cole Growers, Loudon, NH and Michael Calhoun, Broken Arrow Nursery, Hamden, CT.
A registration fee of $35 is due by June 11thpayable by check only to the University of Connecticut. Included in the cost of admission: coffee, continental breakfast, lunch, informational handouts and parking.
Five pesticide recertification credits will be offered for attendees in CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, and VT.
UConn Extension hosted a workshop on December 16th on Growing Container Grown Greenhouse Vegetables. Over 65 attendees listened to five University speakers and two farmers share their insights on greenhouse vegetables.
Leanne Pundt of UConn Extension hosted two Spring Bedding Plant meetings in February for Connecticut growers. One was held in Vernon and the other in Torrington so that all growers were offered a convenient location.
The Meetings began with a discussion on the greenhouse issues of 2012, including downy mildew on garden impatiens. Leanne offered tips on how to manage pests on ornamentals, vegetables and herb bedding plants.
Extension Educator Jude Boucher presented a virtual tour of how some Connecticut growers are growing vegetables in the greenhouses, a tour of some of the All America Sweepstakes (AAS) winners and losers at the UConn Department of Plant Science Research Farm plus give us updates on late blight on tomatoes
UConn Plant Science Department Head Rich McAvoy covered updates on plant growth regulators, reviewed the best management practices for Plant Growth Regulators (PGR’S) and gave tips on how to hold plants if sales are delayed. He also gave some tips on nutritional monitoring using the pour thru method and how to calibrate your injector.
Wade Elmer, Plant Pathologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station covered emerging diseases such as downy mildews, powdery mildews, botrytis, leaf spots, root rots and others plus highlighted what diseases to expect on some of the shade tolerant species growing in 2013.
Overall, both meetings were well attended and very successful. It should be a very successful year for bedding plants.