Saturday, February 2, 2013

Gardening Resources from Cornell Cooperative Extension

A message from Cooperative Extension:

New seed catalogs are showing up in the mailbox daily, and many of us now are planning our gardens for the spring and summer.  Let Cornell Cooperative Extension help you grow your BEST garden this year!  CCE-Tompkins offers a range of useful programs and services, such as soil pH testing, classes and workshops on gardening topics, garden slide shows, plant and pest identification, volunteer and networking opportunities, even free seeds! A selection is listed below.  To receive regular updates on all our programs, visit CCE-Tompkins on
Facebook or sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter

What and When to Plant
Are you wondering when to plant your potatoes or lima beans? Perhaps you'd like to start your home vegetable garden in July after a vacation; what can you still plant then that will mature for harvest before the first fall frost?  Visit our "Food Gardening" pages at  for a list of popular garden vegetables and their suggested first and last planting dates (as seeds, sets, or transplants) for Tompkins County, NY. You also will find instructions on rotating your home garden crops, links to Cornell Resources, and a list of Community Garden plots you can rent if you don't have your own land for a garden.

Soil Testing
You can obtain pH, nutrient profile, and other specialized soil tests through CCE-Tompkins.  Read about the soil testing services that we offer, and the instructions for taking a soil sample before bringing your sample to CCE-Tompkins for testing.  Visit for details, and instructions on how to take a soil sample.

Call the GrowLine
Trained Master Gardener volunteers respond to your gardening questions.  Call (607) 272-2292 and ask for the GrowLine; visit the GrowLine webpage; or email

Seed Cabinets
Each year, staff in our Home Horticulture program write to various seed companies to request donations of seeds that are leftover from the previous year, but still viable. Seed packets are organized in 2 cabinets, one for flowers, another for vegetables and herbs.  Everyone is welcome to come and take some seeds for free, but to keep the system fair, we've had to put these GUIDELINES into place which seed-takers must follow: 1. ONLY 1 VISIT PER MONTH and 2. LIMIT OF 10 SEED PACKETS PER VISIT. So that we can track the success of the free seed program, we ask those taking seeds to write down their name, email and number of seeds they have taken.  Seeds generally are available starting in late January until the supply is gone. The Seed Cabinets are located in our Agriculture/Environment office and may be visited weekdays from 8:30am-4:30pm.  Questions? Call (607) 272-2292 for more information.
Classes and Workshops
Community Seed Swap
Sunday, February. 24, 11:00am-3:00pm
at Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca NY
Join us for the first ever Seedy Sunday in Ithaca! Bring your extra seeds to swap and share with others – they can be home-saved seeds or purchased seeds that you have in surplus. Plus talks and workshops on seed saving and community seed libraries. Free event!  Questions? Contact Chrys Gardener at (607) 272-2292 or

Getting Started with Vegetable Gardening
Thursday, February 28, 6:30-8:30 pm
at Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca NY
This class is for the beginning vegetable gardener. Learn where to site your garden, how to prepare the soil, how to start seeds, how to plant, when to mulch, easy vegetables to try first, and so on. Pat Curran, Horticulture Educator, also will discuss favorite varieties, container gardening, and harvesting tips. Pre-registration is recommended so we can make sufficient handouts.  Fee: $5/person.  Call (607) 272-2292 to sign up! Offered again on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30pm.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair
Saturday, March 2, 12:00-3:00 pm
at Boynton Middle School, 1601 North Cayuga Street, Ithaca
What is CSA? Learn about this partnership between consumers and farmers; meet and talk with 15+ area CSA farmers in one place! Activities to keep the kids busy, space to sit and review farm information. For more information, contact Avi Miner at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, (607) 272-2292.

Winter Worm Composting Class
Saturday, March 9, 10:00am-12:00 pm
at Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca
No backyard needed! Vermicomposting is an easy indoor system that produces rich compost for your plants. This hands-on workshop will teach you how to care for your very own bin. Each paying household will go home with a starter bin and worms. Fee $10 per household. Register early by calling (607) 272-2292, space is  limited!

Veggie Gardening: Beyond the Basics
Thursday March 14,6:30-8:30pm
at Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca
Learn about less common veggies, maximizing your crop, seedstarting tricks, which seeds to start when, techniques to extend the season, and more. Fee: $5/person, please call (607) 272-2292 to pre-register so we can make sufficient handouts.  NOTE: For a more basic discussion of how to get started with veggie gardening, attend "Getting Started with Vegetable Gardening" either February 28 or April 16

Grow Your Own Spuds!
Wednesday, March 20, 6:00-8:00pm
at Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca
Everything you always wanted to know about potatoes!  Potatoes are one of the most productive and easiest garden crops for anyone to grow. We will dig an Irish 'lazy bed' - this is a great way to break new ground for next year's veggie garden. We'll also cover information on common diseases and pests of potatoes and how to manage them organically.

Fruits for the Home Gardener
Thursday, March 28, 6:30-8:30 pm
at Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca
Find out which small fruits and tree fruits are easiest to grow in a home garden. Using microclimates, picking the hardiest varieties for a cold site, selecting disease-resistant varieties, and preparing the soil are the keys to success. Pre-registration recommended; call (607) 272-2292 to sign up. Fee: $5/person

Spring Into Gardening! A Day of Workshops!
Saturday, April 6, 9:00 am-5:00pm
at Dewitt Middle School, 560 Warren Road, Ithaca
This one-day event will feature a range of talks and hands-on workshops on organic vegetable gardening, growing herbs, seed saving, beneficial insects and pests, home fruit growing, deer-proofing your garden, native plants, pruning, school gardening and more! The Master Gardener volunteers will be on hand for soil and pH testing, and the Ithaca Children's Garden staff will provide a space for children's gardening activities. Early bird registration (until March 15): $60.00 After March 15 registration: $75.00. Registration includes your choice of five workshops, a box lunch, soil testing and children's activities. For more information, call Chrys Gardener at (607) 272-2292.
For more information, visit, call (607) 272-2292, or stop by Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca NY (8:30am-4:30pm on weekdays).

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