It’s your turn to tell the Inadvertent Gardener what to do!

So last year, I decided to spend a February Saturday at a gardening fair. That’s how I roll, you know, as the Inadvertent Gardener. Rocking out the winter Saturdays learning about staking flowers and planning herb garden layouts.

Except it was far too wintry a Saturday that particular day, and the fair was cancelled, leaving me bereft of opportunities to learn more about bees and composting.

This year, the Iowa State Extension Service is trying again, offering the Winter Gardening Fair 2008 on February 2. I’m planning to go, although I have not yet registered.

I have friends who have known me long enough to be shaking their heads right now. I am an incorrigible planner, that girl who buys the tickets to shows and events and plays and concerts before anyone else even looks at their calendar book, that girl who is most likely to say, “Sure, I’d love to, but I’m going to see B.B. King that night and I bought the tickets in 1994, so I can’t possibly change my plans.”

You may ask, then, why I haven’t registered? Well, part of it’s because I haven’t been able to narrow down what sessions I want to attend. Here’s the day I’m considering so far:

Session 1:
The Kitchen Garden

Including vegetables, flowers, and herbs, LCMG Ellen Skripsky will explore raised garden beds, vertical growing, and successive planting as space-saving techniques.

It should be obvious from my various recipes why I want to attend this one. Also, I definitely need to do a significantly better job with successive planting, so I can definitely pick up some tips here.

Session 2:
This is where I run into problems. I’m debating between the following three sessions:

Starting Garden Transplants
LCMG Zora Ronan will show us how to successfully start our own garden transplants from seed at home.

I haven’t tried any seed starting yet, but probably need to give it a whirl. I suspect this session would help demystify the process for me so I might feel brave enough to try it this year. That being said, I refuse to invest in grow-lights. I mean, I refuse to invest in them this year. This is not a sickness, people.

Summer Flowering Bulbs
Learn about summer flowering bulbs and their care with LCMG Ian Philpott. Examples are allium, calla, lily, canna, dahlia, and gladiolus. Learn how to lift bulbs, corms, and tubers and store for the winter.

Since I did so poorly with bulbs last year, it occurs to me that it might be nice to actually learn what I’m doing this year.

Peonies
Peonies were the queens of Grandma’s spring garden. Join Linn County Master Gardener Lu Barron and find out what’s new in herbaceous and tree peonies as well as how to plant and care for them.

I have come to love peonies. That’s all there is to say about that.

Session 3:
The Good, the Bad, and the Buggly
Dr. Donald Lewis, ISU Extension Entomology Specialist, will provide us with information to help us identify and manage those garden bugs that attack our gardens.

How can anyone go wrong with a session titled The Good, The Bad, and the Buggly? It’s so punny, folks! Plus, as I’ve said before, I’m a little bit obsessed with garden bugs, even though the ones in the house still freak me out.

So, here’s the thing. I need to send in my registration fairly soon, but I’m willing to wait a bit. Why? Because I’m going to let you, my fair and lovely blog readers, decide my future. My future, that is, when it comes to Session 2. Place your vote (and, if you so choose, your rationale…) in the comments and let me know what you think. I’ll go with a simple majority rule on this one.

And, just to make things more interesting, I’ll let you switch your vote one time in the process, just in case you’ve already voted and someone else comes up with a better rationale for why I should attend a different class during that session. That way, it’ll be that much more like the Iowa Caucuses. It is election season, after all!

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33 Responses to “It’s your turn to tell the Inadvertent Gardener what to do!”


  1. 1 NC Heather January 7, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Selfishly, I want you to go to the one about peonies. I love them too and want to add some to our yard this season (sorry, I can’t call it a garden – it’s just not a garden….yet?). So, if you go to the session about peonies, you can guide me on how to grow them.

    I won’t change my vote. As you said when we talked on Friday about your caucus experience – I would never survive a caucus – it would drive me up a wall to have all those people arguing and switching and everything.

  2. 2 Jenny January 7, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I vote for transplants. I started with seeds last year and it’s fabulously fun to watch your tiny seedlings grow, especially when it’s snowing out. I just used a windowsill (though a grow light is in my near future), so you should be fine. I can send you some seeds if you need some to start out with…

    As for those other two, clearly inferior sessions: summer bulbs? “Learn how to lift bulbs”? I’m sure you already know how to dig. I can’t come up with much to disparage the peony session, since I know nothing about them. Though I doubt that stops most electioneers…I’ll think on it. :)

  3. 3 Lydia January 7, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Selfish, I know, but I have so little success with transplants that I hope you’ll go to that session, and then tell us everything you learn.

  4. 4 Annie in Austin January 7, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Genie – I’m still trying to catch up from a couple of weeks away and am greatly enjoying immersion into a big batch of your posts – sort of like reading the Inadvertent Magazine?

    While I love peonies, and haven’t got a great track record with transplants… The Good, The Bad, and the Buggly? sounds pretty cool. Have fun and Happy 2008 to you!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose
    [Found the chickpeas – now where are those artichoke hearts?]

  5. 5 Jen-Ben January 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Peonies!!! I love, love, love ’em, and of all the varieties, my most favorite is the pale pink. Just typing this makes me think of spring (and maybe the fact that it’s going to be 72 degrees here today).

  6. 6 Wayne January 7, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    NO on the peonies— can live with out them, though I have one plant at the school and I have to admit that the fact that the flowers smell like processed meat is a conversation starter.

    YES on the seeds… it empowers you to varieties beyond your imagination.

  7. 7 NC Heather January 7, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Peonies small like processed meat? I have enjoyed the smell of every peonie I’ve ever encountered. So, either I have encountered peonies quite different from the ones you are growing or I have an unknown-to-me fondness for the smell of processed meat. Care to elaborate on the fragrance of the peonies you grow Wayne?

  8. 8 Melinda January 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Definitely transplants. It’s easier than most people think, but you have to get over the hurdle and just do it! Plus, I’d love to hear any tips you learn :).

  9. 9 Heather January 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Definitely the bugs. It’s the one I would want to go to the most and since you’ll do a great job of reporting what you’ve learned, that’s the one I want to hear about!

  10. 10 Ginni January 7, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    I’ve saved the info about the fair and may go. They have a few seminars I’d love to attend. It sounds great!

    Thanks for the info
    Ginni

  11. 11 Karen Ledebur January 8, 2008 at 12:32 am

    This is a no brainer given the ring tones of all the men in my life….come on you know what I’m going to say cuz….”The Good the Bad and the Buggly”!

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener January 8, 2008 at 6:50 am

    NC Heather, your unchangeable vote is duly noted. And I’m curious about that whole processed-meat-smell thing, too!

    Jenny, just a windowsill? Hmm. Perhaps it can be done in my house after all…

    Lydia, the knowledge-imparting part is definitely part of the deal, no matter what!

    Annie, I like the magazine idea! I’m definitely going to The Good, The Bad and The Buggly no matter what for session 3…it’s session 2 that I’m still trying to parse out.

    Jen-Ben, 72 degrees in Virginia in January? That seems quite wrong…

    Wayne, like I said above, processed meat? Really? That’s hilarious…and bizarre.

    Melinda, ah, getting over the hurdle…yes…

    Heather, I’m going to the bug session no matter what — no worries there!

    Ginni, if you go, let me know — we should have lunch together!

    Kären, LOL about the ring tones…I hear ya!

  13. 14 scotty January 8, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Please please please – go with the transplants. The training you’d get on bulbs you can probably easily replicate with one of those doofy morning sessions at a nursery or Home Depot or something like that. The seeding stuff is more complicated, and you’ll probably get more value out of that session. If necessary, I am willing to add an additional “please.” Perhaps even two. But no more than that, I wouldn’t want things to turn rediculous.

  14. 15 inadvertentgardener January 8, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Michelle, oh, there’s no doubt about that one!

    Scotty, one can never have too many pleases!

  15. 16 Jeanne January 9, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Hmmmm – good choices! I love peonies, too. Nevertheless, you can grow peonies without too much trouble from tips and instructions in most garden books. At some point, it would be good to get more help when you’re ready to propogate, etc. Maybe come up with your own inadvertent peony!

    I think I’d go for the bugs, with the anticipation of learning to identify the beneficial from the pesky.

  16. 17 Ferne January 9, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I would say it is a toss up between the bug one or the seed starting. You can get recipe ideas anywhere and the bulbs and peonies are great, but a no brainer and there is enough info available from books and the internet, but learning about the kinds of bugs you would encounter in your area from an expert is invaluable. They will probably talk about integrated pest management which more people need to understand.

    I live in a little one bedroom apartment right now and I rent my garden plot. I start most of my own veggie starts under a grow light that I have put together and attached to a shelf on a bakers rack. I actually just bought a shop light fixture and a cool florescent bulb and a warm one. I will probably change them out for full spectrum bulbs this year, but the mix of the cool and warm were really inexpensive and worked great. I put my light fixture on a chain that I attach with little S hooks then I can adjust the height as the plants grow. It is really simple and effective. I have a little heat mat that I use also which speeds up the process. Really, starting your own seeds gives you the best selection of veggies to pick from and it is reallllly fun.

    Enjoy yourself!

    Ferne

  17. 18 wayne January 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    NC Heather and inadvertant one–an explanation on my comment

    so I am at work and one of my horticulture students is checking out the peonies which were in full bloom and says, “Stratz, these smell like salami”

    I say get a clue you fool or something along those lines and walk over and take a whiff… and they smell like salami.

    The flowers are white and were planted at the school before I got to the school… 10 years ago…

  18. 19 inadvertentgardener January 9, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Jeanne, coming up with The Inadvertent Peony would be pretty cool…

    Ferne, integrated pest management sounds interesting…and complicated! But no worries — I’m definitely going to the bug session. It’s Session 2 that I’m trying to figure out!

    Wayne, that’s hilarious…the power of suggestion!

  19. 20 Robin January 9, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    I am so excited about the Gardening Fair! Like you, I’m a DC transplant and I need to learn how to grow my garden in a much different climate.

    I’ll be joining you in the Kitchen Garden session. I had a hard time with session 2, but decided on Designing a Mixed Garden. (Choice #2 was Hardy roses.) I’ll probably be in Perennial Selections for session #4.

    I think I could see you in the Starting Transplants class. Seems right up your alley.

  20. 21 inadvertentgardener January 10, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Robin! I’m so glad you’re going to be there — we definitely need to plan to meet up. Thanks for your vote!

  21. 22 Heather January 10, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Duh, if I had read more carefully I would have seen that you were attending session 3 and were asking for advice on session 2. I was just so disinterested in all the session 2 choices that I skipped right to the bugs! So I correct my response to the transplant session. Still not that interested, but the best of the worst IMHO.

  22. 23 Robin January 10, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Genie – I’d love to be able to say hi!

  23. 24 Becky January 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Peonies, because you love them. If it is a passion, you will have a wonderful time. Gardening is about love, passion, and nurturing in order to be successful. I would have the same problem trying to decide which one to attend. I love peonies also. Go to the seed starting if you yearn for plants you can’t find locally. I guess it depends on how much time you want to spend going to garden centers and nurseries. I am looking forward to reading about what you have learned.

  24. 25 Katie January 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Definitely the bugs! It’s the most annoying and effects all of the gardens. As to transplants – I’ve done that. One year I did an experiment. I planted a transplant (you know they go into shock for a few days, right?) and a seed at the same time. In 2 weeks the seed was bigger. No more seedlings for me. As to the peonies…buy a book!

  25. 26 chigiy January 10, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    If it were me, I would be most interested in the transplant class.
    Have fun.

  26. 27 Aiyana January 11, 2008 at 2:19 am

    You’ve probably already sent in your registration, but I’ll put in a vote. I’d do the bulb thing. Since you had bad luck last year, taking a class may improve your chances of getting a good crop this time. I would do bulbs myself because that is one area I’ve never got into, except one year 20 years ago when I planted tulips.
    Aiyana

  27. 28 wayne January 12, 2008 at 8:08 am

    I look forward to your next peonie smelling experience…. sausage???

  28. 29 kate smudges January 14, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    The Good, the Bad and the Buggly sounds intriguing. So does the transplant session – it sounds as if any of the sessions would be great fun to attend. Let us know what you decide to do!

  29. 30 Ginger January 16, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Oh, I’d definitely vote for the transplanting class. Transplanting poses the biggest challenge of the three, I think–meaning it’s probably more interesting. Plus, you might pick up some good tips for preventing leggy seedlings and keeping the darn things thriving long enough to transplant them. I could use some tips like that.

  30. 31 Robin January 21, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    So, Genie. What classes did you end up registering for? I called mine in to Kirkwood and was too late to get the Kitchen Garden class in session 1. I’m, intead, going to learn all about Prairie Gardens.

  31. 32 inadvertentgardener January 29, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Heather, your vote was duly counted — no worries about the mix-up!

    Robin, I’m looking forward to it.

    Becky, I will say this — having such a breadth of choices is a delicious problem to have.

    Katie, I’m so excited to learn about the bugs — they’re so interesting!

    Chigiy, I still wish I’d been able to get into that one.

    Aiyana, thanks for making the call that made all the difference!

    Wayne, you are too funny.

    Kate Smudges, I do kind of suspect that I wouldn’t have been able to go wrong with any of the sessions.

    Ginger, I am guessing I’ll be able to take such a class at next year’s fair. We’ll see.

    Robin, there must have been a cancellation, because when I finally got around to registering there was just one seat available in that Kitchen Garden class. I would be happy to share materials with you — I’ll give you copies of whatever I pick up or the notes I take.


  1. 1 The power of a minority vote « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on January 26, 2008 at 12:02 am

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