2013 Demo Garden Highlights: Heirloom Tomatoes, Trellising Techniques

The Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Chautauqua County have once again been busy in 2013, not only in their own gardens but in the Demonstration Garden at the Frank Bratt Ag Center as well. They have expanded the garden by more than 100-square feet, adding in an additional Giving Garden bed for St. Susan Center, a cucumber bed along the fence and a large tractor tire to serve as a raised bed. This is in addition to the nine 3-by-3 beds for the Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners Demonstration Site, the six 3-by-3 Testing Gardens and two 3-by-24 Giving Gardens that were installed in 2012.

Last year in the testing beds, the effect of synthetic versus organic fertilizer was compared using three crops: tomatoes, carrots and lettuce with no real effect seen on growth or taste. For 2013, the volunteers have decided to grow a variety of Heirloom Tomatoes for the public to come and taste test. There has been a significant increase in the amount of questions the group has received regarding heirloom vegetables, in the past few years, and what better way to educate than have the public see, smell and taste heirlooms first hand. This will also allow the group to test the plethora of trellises that are on the market geared for tomato plants.

Once again, Cornell University has designed the nine beds of the Vegetable Varieties Demonstration Garden section to inform the public about the Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners online citizen science project that any gardener can participate in.

The concept is simple: Gardeners visit the VVfG website – vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu/main/login.php – and report what varieties perform well and not so well in their gardens. Other gardeners can then visit the site to view the variety ratings and read the reviews to decide which might work well for them.

In addition to rating vegetable varieties, the demonstration garden highlights Cornell’s 2013 Garden Theme, Beneficial Insects, by incorporating ecological gardening techniques and plants that invite the beneficial insects into the garden.

In 2012, the Master Gardeners hosted two successful Evening in the Garden Programs, and we are happy to announce the programs will be a monthly occurrence in 2013. The third Wednesday of every month throughout the summer all are welcome to come get your hands dirty alongside the Master Gardener volunteers as they lead you through gardening tours, demonstrations and best of all taste testing the vegetables that are ready for harvest.

We would like to invite the public to the 2013 Kick-Off Party on Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m. in the Demonstration Garden at the Frank Bratt Ag Center. All are welcome to attend, and the event is free of charge. The Frank Bratt Ag Center is at 3542 Turner Road in Jamestown.

For more information on beneficial insects, please visit: blogs.cornell.edu/horticulture/insects/

The mission of the Chautauqua County Master Gardener Program is to educate and serve the community, utilizing university and research-based horticultural information. Volunteers are from the community who have successfully completed 50-plus hours of Cornell-approved training and volunteer a minimum of 50 hours per year.

For more information on the Master Gardener Program, please contact: Betsy Burgeson, Master Gardener coordinator, at 664-9502, ext. 204, or email Emh92@cornell.edu.

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