gardening

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

On a breezy Wednesday morning, a tour group of gardeners and members of Pittsburgh's nonprofit community visited all the green spaces the neighborhood of Homewood had to offer. They saw the personal gardens of resident Amir Rashad, walked through shared plots and the garden manned by Operation Better Block.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

On a drizzly afternoon in Bellevue, a small crowd gathered at the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Memorial Garden to tell stories, share laughs and take pictures. 

The Power Of Worm Poop

Aug 12, 2016

On small farms and in gardens around the world, a legless invertebrate has been quietly helping crops grow — simply by eating and pooping.

That's vermicomposting — using the power of worms for the good of humanity. A growing number of advocates believe this technique can improve soil quality, produce more food to feed hungry mouths and even increase income for some farmers.

It sounds too good to be true. Are worms really poised to take the agricultural world by storm?

An Old Trick Holds New Promise For Tastier Tomatoes

Jul 20, 2016

Scott Stoddard is an expert when it comes to tomatoes. He plants rows and rows of tomatoes outdoors on farms across central California for the University of California Cooperative Extension.

They're the kind of tomatoes that "end up on sandwiches at Subway," Stoddard says. "Also, at any of your common hamburger places, In-N-Out, McDonald's, you name it."

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Gardeners swarmed the Allegheny County Courthouse garden on Wednesday where Pennsylvania State University master gardeners handed out free plants and answered questions during Bee Wise, an annual informational event.

"We are trying to make the community more aware of native plants and pollinators," said Penn State master gardener Susan Mortensen. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Gardening can be expensive. Buying or renting tools for turning the soil, buying vegetable starts or investing in fancy lighting systems to start seeds at home, buying soil, compost and mulch – it all adds up.

But growing food at home doesn’t have to break the bank, said Jeremy Fleishman, coordinator of Grow Pittsburgh’s Garden Resource Center in Larimer.

Keith Carver / Flickr

Bees can be pesky, but they're vital to the ecosystem. Take bees out of the equation, and many of the foods on the dinner table disappear.

In an effort to protect them, experts plan to talk about the threats to bees and pollinators at Bee Wise: Plant Natives on June 8, hosted by the Allegheny County Master Gardeners and Penn State Allegheny Extension.

Flickr user William Real

The City of Pittsburgh wants to make it easier for residents to start gardens in the 9,500 vacant lots it owns.

City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would create the Adopt-a-Lot program within the Department of City Planning.

Assistant director of City Planning Andrew Dash said there is currently no formal mechanism for people who want to maintain, beautify or grow food in vacant lots.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

It’s a sunny afternoon on Bell Avenue in North Braddock, and a bunch of kids have gathered around a wooden table set up in what a year ago was just another empty lot.

Now the lot is a kid-driven community garden, and on the table is a microchip called a MaKey MaKey attached to a laptop. Wires that stick out from the MaKey MaKey are clamped onto cherry tomatoes. When the kids squeeze the tomatoes, different musical notes play.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mike Caplan and Terese Caldararo are walking through the rows of their garden, pointing out the different fruits, vegetables and herbs they planted this spring.

“We’ve got 25 tomato plants: Cherokee tomato, German Johnson’s, Rutgers. You name it we got it,” Caplan says. “And up front we’ve got peppers, bell peppers, and a lot of banana peppers."

“Different kinds of squash and zucchini: acorn squash, summer squash. We grew lettuce here. We had cilantro, we had parsley and rosemary,” Caldararo adds.

Keeping Italian Traditions Alive in the Garden

Aug 26, 2014
Chris Squier / WESA

When Fenice and Nicola Mercurio moved to the United States from Italy decades ago, they brought their cooking traditions as well as a knowledge of Mediterranean gardening. As members of Pittsburgh's Italian Garden Project, the Mercurios and project founder Mary Menniti hold events and demonstrations in order to pass along their Italian heritage. See videos about the many other gardeners involved in the project.

Allegheny County’s master gardeners will have a chance to show off their green thumbs and celebrate gardening with an expected 1,000 visitors at the 8th annual Garden in the Parks event Saturday.

The event will take place near the demonstration gardens in North Park and South Park from 9am to 1pm.

Throughout the day, approximately 30 Master Gardeners will be at each site to offer tours of the gardens, answer questions, organize games for children, raffle off gardening tools, and host taste-tests.

The summer’s wet, cool weather is making life difficult for Pennsylvania’s tomato farmers.

The Penn State Extension, which monitors agricultural phenomenon, has confirmed fungal outbreaks in 13 counties from Lackawanna County to as far west as Cambria County.

The spreading fungus is known as “late blight” and is one of the worst threats tomato growers face, according to Beth Gugino, a plant pathologist for the Penn State Extension.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Speaking about her self-published “In The Garden: A Botanically Illustrated Gardening Book,” Sandra McPeake says, “I want it to become a very dirty book … take it to the garden … learn how to plant.”

McPeake’s love of gardening is a family tradition, and it’s based on the food she likes to eat.

"What are we really hungry for and what do I normally harvest to cook with” are questions she asks herself before each spring’s planting.