The Dirt on Gardening

The seed catalogs are dog-eared, the orders are arriving. But in most of the Adirondacks April is much too soon for serious planting. Serious planning, on the other hand, is exactly what is encouraged in several programs this month.

“Landscapes Beyond Landscapes” is the theme of the annual North Country Garden Symposium on April 7 at the municipal center in Chestertown. Sessions cover rain gardens, 40 uncommon native plants, ways to make your place beautiful even when flowers are not in full bloom, plus a sneak peek at the Adirondack Botanical Garden. Sydney Eddison, author of Gardening for a Lifetime, will share her wisdom on the passing of time in the garden. The book has received raves from The New York Times and Whole Living magazine as well as numerous garden blogs. The full day begins at 8:30 and costs $65 for all materials plus lunch, beverages and snacks. To register or for more details visit the garden symposium site above or call David Campbell at (518) 532-7430.

On April 14 the King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga hosts its first “Planting the Seeds of Knowledge” Garden and Landscape Symposium, which brings experts from Vermont and northern New York to share information on everything from proper composting to identifying plant pests and diseases to growing edible flowers. Emily Debolt, of Fiddlehead Creek Native Plant Nursery, in Hartford, New York, will talk about adding the flowering plants that evolved here to your own perennial beds and borders. The full day begins at 9 a.m. and  costs $75, including a box lunch. Register in advance by choosing “Explore and Learn” from the Fort Ticonderoga website or calling education director Rich Strum at (518) 585-6370.

Amy Ivy, horticulturist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton and Essex Counties and garden expert on North Country Public Radio, gives a free lecture, “Don’t Treat Your Garden like Dirt,” on Wednesday, April 18, at 7:30 at the Whallonsburg Grange, in Whallonsburg, New York. Call (518) 962-4386 for details.

Sustainable agriculture is the focus of FarmHack, interconnected events on April 28-29 that showcase methods and ideas at Intervale, in Vermont; at Essex Farm, in Essex, New York; Whallonsburg Grange; and other sites in the Champlain Valley. Designed for farmers, engineers, architects and those interested in learning more about local, small-scale farming and food production, the free program begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and is organized by the Greenhorns, a national movement that educates in the fields and on the Web.

“Mainstream agricultural research and development try to solve farmers’ problems with top-down, chemical and energy-intensive inventions. FarmHack seeks to solve problems by helping our community of farmers to be better inventors, developing tools that fit the scale and their ethics of our sustainable family farms,” says Greenhorns founder Severine von Tscharner Fleming.

Workshops range from tillage techniques and CAD for agriculture as well as a session on converting silos into living spaces. Breakfast and lunch at FarmHack feature fresh local fare; participants are invited to bring a dish for the Saturday evening potluck. Find updates and more information on FarmHack’s Facebook page.

For gardeners who won’t be in the North Country for mud season the May/June issue of Adirondack Life includes stories on hardy roses ideal for our harsh climate as well as community gardens across the park. Subscribers will be receiving their magazines soon, and this issue will be on newsstands and in local retail stores by April 15. If you wish to purchase an issue please contact or call (518) 946-2191.

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