Friday, September 19, 2014

Last Weekend for the Fringe Festival Art Project, WETLANDS, at Spruce Harbor Park

Benjamin Cromie

While visiting Spruce Harbor Park at Penn's Landing this month, you may have wondered what that unusual houseboat contraption was bobbing up and down on the Delaware. WETLAND is visual artist, Mary Mattingly's post-apocalyptic vision of sustainable waterfront living. With vegetable gardens, chickens, bee hives, and too many creative sustainable features to list here, this floating art installation is buzzing with inspiration.

This is your last weekend to see WETLAND before it closes for good. A visit is free, but one of the many educational and music events there may cost a little more.

Friday 9/19 - yoga at 6 pm, $20
Saturday 9/20 - performance of High Tide, Holy Water at 7 pm, free
Sunday 9/21 - class on beekeeping at 2 pm, free

For more information, check out:

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Master Gardener Classes Beginning

Master Gardener Class of 2015 training begins September 30, 2014 and runs Tuesday evenings through January.   Training is a combination of classes, workshops, self-study, group projects, and guided tours.  Successful graduates will have volunteer opportunities in educational garden programming for adults and youth throughout the city.

Interested in learning more about what it takes to become a Master Gardener volunteer?.    Come to an orientation on September 16th 5-6:30.

Orientation & Classes will be held at the offices of Penn State Extension,  in the Penn State Center, 675 Sansom Street.

For More information or to apply to the program visit
Link to Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners Application and informationor email Anna Herman, Coordinator PS Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners at

Upcoming MG Training Classes.

September 30   Intro, Communications
October 7         Soil 101 & then some
October 14       Botany
October 21       Growing Vegetables in the City
October 28       Green Infrastructure
November 4     Diagnosing Pests and Pathology – Hortline 101
November 11   Permaculture
November 18   Entomology/Integrated Pest Management
December 2     Fruit, Urban Orchards & Pruning
December 9     Urban Forestry & City Trees
December 16   Native Plants, Planting for Wildlife, Restoration Ecology
January 6        Soil 201

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pickling vegetables

Michele Koskinen

Summer canning and preserving for me is a wonderful hobby that I have been doing since I helped my mother in her kitchen as a child. A few weeks ago in my email box was an article from Organic Gardening about vegetables to pickle. Since I love pickled foods I took a look and found new ideas for this foray into the world of pickling. This seems to be the newest, found, old way, of preserving foods.

Many cultures uses fermentation and pickling in their everyday food choices. Pickling has been traditionally used to preserve fruits that do not store well in their natural state. Thus far, I have pickled beets, string beans, cucumbers 3 ways, 3 kinds of hot peppers and today with 2 zucchini staring at me I am trying zucchini pickles.

I am attaching the link to the article for all of you home canners. Have fun.


The USDA guides are also a great resource for beginning canners as well as extension sites and of course food blogs. Remember that all safety precautions should be followed to prevent spoilage of food and botulism.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Monarchs at the Pollinator Garden

Karen Melton

We have been thrilled when we happened to witness Black Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies laying eggs in the Pollinator Garden.   For the Black Swallowtails we have a variety of host plants (plants that those specific caterpillars are adapted to eat) which are plants in the carrot family such as parsley, dill and fennel.  For the Monarchs we have several species of Asclepias (milkweed), the only host plant family for this butterfly.

Here is a female Monarch butterfly laying an egg on our Asclepias Tuberosa (Butterfly Weed).  You can see her bending the lower end of her body forward to deposit the egg.  It is not known exactly how butterflies are able to sense the specific host plants on which they must lay their eggs.

The two white dots on the right side of the center buds below are Monarch butterfly eggs.

At maturity this caterpillar will enter a chrysalis stage then later emerge as a Monarch butterfly.  Many butterflies overwinter in the chrysalis stage, but Monarchs perform their legendary migration to an overwintering site in Mexico.  Given the time of  year, if this caterpillar makes it to the butterfly stage (which few do), it could be one that attempts the migration.  American agricultural practices have dramatically reduced the amount of milkweed growing in the U.S.  In addition, climate change is altering the characteristics of the overwintering site in Mexico, so that fewer butterflies survive the winter.  And with the prolonged drought in Texas, it is increasingly difficult for butterflies to find enough nectar flowers to survive this leg of the journey.  Gardeners everywhere should consider giving some space to milkweeds.  They produce beautiful flowers that attract native bees as well as butterflies.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Butterflies, Bees and more

Michele Koskinen

Butterflies, Bees and more....   The Butterfly Garden Committee has created a beautiful new brochure that details the benefits of gardening for pollinators and lists the plants growing in our demonstration garden. .  Thanks to MG Andrea Lewandowski and Howard Goldstein, for the useful explanations and gorgeous artwork.  Additional thanks to all the gardeners who get out and weed and water and plant so there is a thriving environment for the Butterflies, Bees, beneficial insects.  

All the gardens at the Horticulture Center are looking beautiful.  Get out there for a visit.