Gardening seminars a prelude to spring – The Tribune-Democrat

What better way to prepare for spring than to learn about what you can do in your yard and garden?

A series of five seminars on gardening and landscaping will be offered in March and April at the Sandyvale Greenhouse at Sandyvale Memorial Gardens and Conservancy, 80 Hickory St., Johnstown.

The seminars are “Success with Houseplants,” March 15; “Vegetable Know-How,” March 22; “Creative Home Landscaping,” March 29; “Herb Gardening 101,” April 5; and “Backyard Fruit Production,” April 12.

The seminars will be led by Ron McIntosh, who hosted the “Green Grower” gardening program that aired in the 1980s on WJAC-TV.

“I graduated from the agriculture course at Vo-Tech in 1981, and I’ve been gardening and working in the landscape industry ever since,” McIntosh said. “I have a lot of hands-on knowledge. I’ve always had my hands in the soil and am lucky to have had a job in that area.”

McIntosh said the three-hour sessions will cover a lot of material, but be easy to understand in layman’s terms.

In the first session on houseplants on March 15, McIntosh will cover the basic care needed to keep them happy and healthy.

“We’ll talk about how to choose the right plant for the lighting conditions in various rooms of the home,” he said. “Every room is different.”

Potting soil, containers, watering, fertilizers, pests, lighting and propagating also will be discussed.

“Vegetable Know-How” on March 22 will feature choosing the right site for a garden while considering sun and shade.

How to start garden plants from seeds indoors, using mulch, addressing the problems of pests and disease, growing a garden in containers, soil, how to extend the area’s short growing season and how to harvest the bounty by freezing and canning also will be discussed.

“Creative Home Landscaping” on March 29 will be all about making a landscape plan to work on over a period of years, whether gardeners are working with a new or existing property.

“Participants will measure their property and identify problems such as wet and dry areas,” McIntosh said. “Selecting the right plants is key to me. You don’t want a plant in the wrong spot where it won’t do well.”

Proper planting methods for trees and shrubs, pruning, maintenance, mulching and fertilizing also will be discussed.

The session on herb gardening on April 5 will have information on the culinary and medicinal uses and scent properties of herbs.

“Herbs are becoming bigger every year,” McIntosh said. “They’re hardy for the area and come back every year. (Participants) will learn how to design a kitchen garden or formal herb garden.”

Propagation, growing from seed, harvesting and drying also will be discussed.

“Backyard Fruit Production” on April 12 will tell what types of fruit can be grown in the area and add in some more exotic fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and figs, which can be brought indoors and treated as house plants after the summer.

“We will discuss how big their property is and what type of fruit can be grown on it,” McIntosh said. “You can grow a dwarf apple or pear tree in 10 square feet.”

Purchasing trees and berry bushes, making them deer and racoon proof, pruning, pests and disease, fertilizing, harvesting and storage also will be discussed.

“This is all very much hands on, and I’ll make it as simple as possible,” McIntosh said. “The best teacher is to do it and learn for yourself.”

Class size will be limited to 30 seats per session, and registration and payment must be received at least one week prior to the desired seminar.

Registration forms are available by emailing or on Sandyvale’s website at www.sandy

Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at


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