Winter Gardening Series: Jump-Starting The Garden Season

Penn State Extension Master Gardeners are offering a Winter Gardening Series of how-to topics for area gardeners on four consecutive Thursday evenings in February and March at the Berks County Agricultural Center in Bern Township.  All classes will be held in the Berks County Ag Center Auditorium from 7-9 p.m.

“There’s no better cure for cabin fever than planning for spring gardening,” says Beth Finlay, Coordinator for the Master Gardener Program in Berks County.  “The Winter Gardening Series is a chance to jump-start the garden season, hone skills, learn new techniques, and lay plans for your healthiest, most enjoyable gardens ever.”

On February 8, Master Gardeners Karen George and Martey Costellowill present A Gardener’s Calendar for Winter and Spring, a monthly outline to plan, prepare, and maintain your garden. This class is a guide to what to do and when to do it for your vegetables, annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and lawns to have a prolific gardening season.  A session covering summer and fall months will be presented in our April Spring Gardening Series.

On February 15, Water-wise Gardening and Stewardship in Home Gardens will tackle water use and conservation, and smart approaches to protecting both plants and the environment.  Penn State Master Watershed Stewards will team with Master Gardeners to discuss rain gardens, rain barrels, plant groupings, and proven watering techniques.

The class on February 22 will be a Focus on Vegetables: tips and techniques for growing vegetables in home gardens, landscapes, and containers. Master Gardener Pat Magala will start the session with a general discussion of seed selection, seed starting, and vegetable families.  Then participants will spend time at in-depth learning stations on raised beds and vertical gardening; tomatoes and peppers, container growing, vegetables in the landscape; and seed starting and transplanting.

On March 1, Rethinking Your Landscape will help participants take a critical look at their home plantings to decide what can be removed, replaced, or rejuvenated. Landscape plantings have a life cycle, and some plants simply outgrow their appeal.  If a yard or garden is in need of a facelift, Master Gardeners can offer remedies for overgrown, outdated and aging plantings.

Participants may choose individual classes or may register for the whole series. Class sizes are limited to permit hands-on learning and time for discussion.

Registration is required, with a class fee of $10 per person per class.  Register online:  or by phone, 1-877-345-0691.

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 610-378-1327 in advance of your participation or visit.



Who are the doomsday Preppers? US community prepares for ‘end of the world’ by stockpiling food

What will you do when you realise that the world is coming to an end, be it due to natural causes or man-made? While most of us are busy living our lives and facing day-to-day challenges, there are those are who are certain that “doomsday” will arrive sooner or later and have been preparing themselves quietly for it.

As part of a BBC One show, Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes met people also known as the “Preppers” based in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, US. The ongoing unrest in the world, climate change and above all, the growing fear of terrorism, have all convinced the community that the end of the world is near and they have started stockpiling food, arms and ammunition.

“When I heard George Bush senior give a speech and use the words New World Order I got up out of my chair and said ‘Oh, my God’. From that moment on I became a Prepper and always had a backpack in my bag prepared for who knows what. I don’t know,” Heidi, a sales representative, told Miriam about her preparedness which she began in 1987.

“I have buckets of things buried in places for emergencies. I have MRE – meals ready to eat – which come from the military,” she added while explaining she has buried dry fruits and other ready-to-eat foods in different secret places that will prevent her and her family from starving to death.

She also flaunts her preparedness to get safe food and drinking water during an apocalypse. “This is a head net for bugs which doubles as a net for catching little fish. If something can only be used for one thing then it is taking up space. The most important thing is a water filter as I remember in Katrina there was plenty of water but it was not drinkable,” she said.

She said like her many others prefer to stay prepared and one of the most popular survival tools among the Preppers is a knife, which according to her, is ideal for “protection or hunting”. “They are for bush-crafting and we feel like any knife you take out you should be able to use to cut down a tree and skin a rabbit. You carry a knife on your belt. We sell the kind of sling that David used to kill Goliath,” she told Miriam.

The second episode of the docu-series Miriam’s Big American Adventure will air on Wednesday, 10 January on BBC One.


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