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Gardening 101: 'Weed It, Water It and Love It'

Bonnie Davis and Rose Trunzo dig up their secrets to making a great garden.

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary could have learned a thing or two from Rose Trunzo and Bonnie Davis. The two gave an informative lecture and PowerPoint slide presentation on gardening at the .

Rose Trunzo, without an ounce of irony, spoke at length about flowers, and Bonnie Davis covered the vegetable patch.

The two offered quite a bit of important information for neophyte gardeners.

Davis encouraged the participants to observe and report. “What grows in your area? Take a leisurely drive or stroll around your neighborhood,” she said. “See what works and what doesn’t.”

She emphasized planning. “Evaluate the conditions when determining which plants and vegetables to buy. Read the tags. Some veggies take up a lot of room. A small tomato plant will start small, but you’ve got to give it room to grow. New gardeners always overlook that and forget that a tiny plant will take up a two-foot circumference in a short amount of time.”

Both speakers stressed the importance of testing the soil. You want to know how much alkaline or acid is in your soil. They recommend you spend $9 and get a soil test through the Agricultural Analytical Services Lab.

“You should get a soil test every three years,” Davis said. “If you’re growing things in your yard, the soil conditions will change every few years, and you want to be on top of it.”

Trunzo discussed the difference between annuals, perennials, bulbs, corms and tubers, citing examples of each, replete with colorful photographs of a variety of flowers.  

Marigolds, impatiens and nasturtiums are annuals. Poppies, garden phlox and coneflowers are perennials. For someone named Rose, she skimmed over roses, but what’s in a name?

“Make sure you read all the information on the plant’s tag before purchasing it," she said. "Here in Peters Township, and in most of southwestern PA, we are in Zone 6A. When buying plants you should only buy plants for in the 5, 6 and 7 zones.”  There go the plans for the backyard palm trees.

“It’s important where you place your flowers. Make sure that flowers that require full sun are out in the sun," Trunzo continued. "Some flowers require full sun, some partial sun, partial shade and full shade. Make sure you plan accordingly. Also, make sure you have an available water source.”

Some of the participants in the audience were concerned about deer eating their tulips. Trunzo informed them that deer love eating flowers, especially tulips, but there are no real deer resistant flowers. If you spray anything to keep them away, remember to spray again after each rainfall.

Trunzo stressed the importance of having a rain barrel. It’s cheap and environmentally friendly; they save water and money. Another one of her valuable tips was on composting. She is a big advocate of the compost pile.

“When you compost, it is important not to include proteins," said Trunzo. "Fruit, vegetables, coffee grinds and egg shells are OK, meat and cheeses are not.”

Davis’ No. 1 take away from the afternoon was: “Vegetable gardens are high maintenance, but it’s great to get out there in your yard and grow things. When you’re in your garden just remember: weed it, water it and love it.”

The speakers gave out several handy pamphlets with lots of valuable information, including multiple websites to use as research tools. Their favorite websites were the Kemper Center for Home GardeningUSDA fact sheets and plant guides and Dave’s Garden for guides and information.

The Community Recreation Center is offering another class on gardening from 10 to 11 a.m. on March 19. Seed 101 is the topic for its next presentation. Before you dig, you might want to hear what these gardening gurus have to say.

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