April 2018
Welcome to the Practical Earthkeeper newsletter!
This new monthly format will include topical articles for gardeners, homesteaders and farmers, as well as a listing of upcoming horticulture and agriculture events. We are interested in your feedback - let us know what you think of the new format, and if you like it please share it!
Don't Miss These Events!
AgStravaganza! at Ithaca Commons
Saturday, April 14, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Agstravaganza 2017
The farm comes to the Ithaca Commons! Many farms will be present, including CSA, maple, honey, cheese, and livestock. See sheep shearing and fiber spinning with lots of food products to sample and purchase. Plus, big farm equipment to climb into for pictures and learn about farming practices. Lots of farmers and Ag organizations will be there to answer questions and provide information. The Dairy Princess Court will hand out free ice cream too!

Free! No need to register!

Compost Fair & 4-H Duck Race
Sunday, April 29, 2018, 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Celebrate spring's arrival by stopping by the Compost Fair for a guaranteed good time! This year's fair will be in conjunction with the  4-H Duck Race . Admission is FREE to both events and open to the public.

There will be information and demonstrations of beginning and advanced compost techniques, continuous tours of our demonstration site, live music, food and activities for kids. Several partner organizations, gardening and sustainability groups will be joining us. All attendees will be eligible to win fabulous compost prizes. Compost bins (Earth Machines, welded wire cylinder and worm compost bins) will be for sale while supplies last. Go home a composter!
Citizen Pruner Program
Held at the Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension Building
Open to the public and interested volunteers who have a passion for trees and want to learn proper planting and pruning methods!

Most classes run from 7-8:30 PM, sign up for whichever class you wish to attend.

Monday, April 9Right Tree Right Place - learn about trees for difficult sites with Dr. Nina Bassuk
Monday, April 16Tree Pruning – Jeanne Grace, City Forester & Keith Vanderhye, Limbwalker Tree Care
Monday, April 23Shrub Pruning – Monika Roth, Cooperative Extension Ag Educator
Monday, April 30, 5:30 PMTree ID walk and pruning demo.


Pre-registration is required. Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$5 per person, per class.
Tip of the Month
Seed Starting - Tomatoes
By Pat Curran, Master Gardener
It's great that you are planning to have a veggie garden. And that's just what you should be doing right now - planning the garden! In our USDA zone 5 area (most of Tompkins County), our average last spring frost is May 14, so we quite often have frosts late in May. That's why the upstate tradition is to plant tender veggies such as tomatoes on Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day is May 28 this year, so we still have to be prepared to protect tender plants from late frosts (with boxes, old sheets, almost anything lightweight enough).

Of course, different veggies vary in how much cold they can take. Peas and spinach can be direct-seeded into the garden and planted earlier than tomatoes or peppers, which we grow from transplants (in order to get a good crop before our average first fall frost, Oct. 1). These dates mean we have a frost-free growing season of about 4.5 months!

So when should you start your tomato seeds? Count back about 4 or 5 weeks from when you plan to transplant them into the garden. Tomato seeds germinate promptly, and the baby plants grow best with lots of light, as in a sunroom or under a fluorescent light that is kept about 4 inches above the growing tips of the young plants. It's better to have short, stocky, dark green plants, than long, leggy pale ones that didn't get enough light.

For more information on gardening, including seed starting for other plants, consult the Growline at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at 272-2292.
Visit the Food Gardening webpage on First Planting Dates .
From the GrowLine Desk...
Plotting Against The Deer
By Raul654. (Own work.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
There is nothing more heartbreaking than walking to your window to gaze at the flowerbed, then see the tulips ravaged from the deer. In the Ithaca and surrounding areas, the deer population can become a huge problem when trying to plan which plants to include in a garden.

The Master Gardeners with GrowLine have lists of suggested plants to incorporate into a landscape that have deer resistant qualities. For example, while tulips are a tasty snack to deer, they will rarely touch hellebore, another spring flowering perennial.

While no plant is completely 'deer-proof', the GrowLine is a great resource to ask for suggestions on best plants for deer resistance and considerations for location in your garden. Start with this List of Deer Resistant Plants to identify which plants withstand the deer grazing.
Upcoming Events & Classes
Seed to Supper
Classes April-May 2018
FREE vegetable gardening classes for beginners on a budget!

Seed to Supper is a series of six classes for beginning gardeners who want to learn to grow food on a budget. The classes are offered for FREE and will be taught in multiple locations in Tompkins County by trained Seed to Supper educators. Class participants are encouraged to attend all six classes, and everyone receives a free 100-page gardening manual, a certificate of completion, and free vegetable seeds and seedlings at the end of the course to plant in their own gardens. The classes are taught through a combination of PowerPoint presentations and hands-on activities. Topics covered include planning a vegetable garden, soil preparation, composting, planting, garden maintenance, pests and diseases, and harvesting.

Visit the  Seed to Supper  page to see a list of class locations, dates, times and registration information.

Growing 'Gourdgeous' Gourds
Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Already growing peas, carrots and kale? Well, how about growing a gourd basket to put them all in?! Otto and Graham Ottoson of  Gourdlandia  will discuss some of the tricks involved in producing a hearty, carvable crop of cucurbit containers! Seed sources, pest management, drying, and a little bit about crafting will be discussed. The Ottosons are recent winners of the national Jim Story competition, the American Gourd Society's annual gourd manipulation contest.

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$7-$10/person self-determined sliding scale
Growing Fruit Series #1: Fruit Tree Pruning
Sunday, April 8, 2018, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
If you grow fruit trees, it’s important to know how to prune them correctly to promote yearly fruiting and reduce disease problems. At this hands-on demonstration at Indian Creek orchard, orchardist Steve Cummins will demonstrate pruning and training techniques for both young and mature trees, including dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard trees. Species covered will include apple, peach and plum trees.

The pruning demonstration will take place in the orchard so please dress for the weather.

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$7-$10/person self-determined sliding scale
Growing Medicinal Herbs for Home and Farms
Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Special opportunity to learn about growing medicinal herbs on a farm scale!
Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to join master farmers Andrea and Matthias Reisen of Healing Spirits Herb Farm ( healingspiritsherbfarm.com ) for an inspiring evening of learning how to grow medicinal herbs for your home garden and also at a farm scale. Learn about which herbs are easy to grow and which offer more challenges. Learn the processes for planting, cultivation, harvesting, processing, and marketing. Andrea and Matthias have been wildcrafting and farming organically and biodynamically at their farm since 1982.

NOTE: This class is being held at the Tompkins County Public Library in the Borg Warner Community Room.

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
Sliding scale $10-$20 will cover the farmers' time and travel expenses.
Using Plants for Natural Dyes
Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Natural dyes can be made from a variety of wild and cultivated plants. Textile artists Sarah Gotowka (Luna Fibers) and Tracy McLellan will give a presentation on plants that can be used for dyeing fibers and fabrics. The discussion will include native plants and some that can be grown in our gardens, as well as common foods that can be used for dyes. Methods for dyeing with plants on fibers and fabrics will be provided and examples of plant-dyed fibers and fabrics will be shown.

Check out the Luna Fiber Studio in Trumansburg, NY and Sarah Gotowka's page showcasing her previous work.

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$7-$10/person self-determined sliding scale
Propagating and Growing Culinary Herbs
Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Come join farmer Karma Glos of  Kingbird Farm  to learn how to grow culinary herbs in your home garden or farmstead. Karma will cover growing annual and perennial herbs from cuttings and seeds and how to process and dry herbs to keep your family eating homegrown fresh and dried herbs all year round. Participants will practice rooting herb cuttings and can take home a rooted cutting from Karma’s mother plants.

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$7-$10/person self-determined sliding scale
Growing Fruit Series #2: Tree Fruits
Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Learn to grow your own apple, cherry and plum trees! This class will cover site selection, disease-resistant varieties for organic cultivation, soil and light requirements, planting, maintenance and pest and disease management for home orchards.

Instructor Chrys Gardener is the Community Horticulture Educator at CCE Tompkins. She is passionate about teaching people to garden, with particular interests in growing edibles and seed saving. Prior to CCE Tompkins, Chrys worked as a landscape gardener in the Ithaca area and has extensive experience with practical garden design. She has been growing tree fruits organically for over 20 years. 

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$7-$10/person self-determined sliding scale
Growing Fruit Series #3: Small Fruits
Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Small fruits, which include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants and jostaberries, are well-suited for growing in smaller spaces and generally more tolerant of heavy soils than tree fruits. Learn about site selection, cultivar selection, planting, maintenance and disease and pest control for these fruits.

Instructor Chrys Gardener is the Community Horticulture Educator at CCE Tompkins. She is passionate about teaching people to garden, with particular interests in growing edibles and seed saving. Prior to CCE Tompkins, Chrys worked as a landscape gardener in the Ithaca area and has extensive experience with practical garden design. She has been growing small fruits organically for over 20 years.

Pre-registration is required . Register and pay online on the link below, or call CCE-Tompkins at 272-2292. Pre-registration is required to hold your place in the class, and also in the event that a class is postponed or cancelled and we need to contact participants.
$7-$10/person self-determined sliding scale
Save The Date!
Garden Fair Plant Sale
SUNDAY May 20 , 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM at Ithaca High School
Cooperative Extension  Master Gardener  volunteers, an estimated 40 area growers, and other garden groups offer perennials, specialty plants and gardening advice. You will find organically grown vegetable transplants and heirloom varieties, a huge variety of annuals, herbs and many specialty perennials, flowering shrubs, trees, hardy roses and fruit crops. Free soil pH testing is available and educational exhibits and information are offered. Bring baskets, wagons, and other containers for transporting plants.

Free admission! Learn more from the Spring Garden Fair webpage.
The Practical Earthkeeper is your monthly connection to classes, events and information
for gardeners, homesteaders and farmers. For more information about our upcoming workshops and events, visit us at ccetompkins.org and at our Education Center at 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca NY

If for any reason you don't wish to receive our monthly newsletter, unsubscribing is easy and secure -
just visit the SafeUnsubscribe link at the bottom of this page!