Friday, July 24, 2009

Farm's garden to be on display

SUTHERLAND-Are you looking for a way to cut costs at the grocery store?

Iowa State University Extension may have a solution.

Through the Eight Gardens in Eight Days program, horticulturist Cindy Haynes hopes to educate Iowans on the potential to save money by growing produce at home.

Established nearly 20 years ago, the annual program is presenting home demonstration gardens developed by the Extension in eight communities, including Sutherland, throughout July and August. The other gardens are in Rock Rapids, Fruitland, Kanawha, Gilbert, Nashua, Chariton and Lewis.

Each year, Haynes chooses to incorporate different flowers and plants contingent on what the gardening trends are.

This year’s theme, mainly chosen because of the national economic crisis, deals with growing vegetables that can stretch your dollar. By incorporating the option of canning and preserving produce, Haynes chose products like winter squash, tomatoes, potatoes and onions for planting in the statewide gardens.

“They’re all easy to grow, and they keep a long time,” she said. “Tomatoes might need to be canned or frozen, but potatoes and onions can just be stored in a cool basement.”

Because Haynes always likes to incorporate something fun into the gardens, she planted white pumpkins, or “ghostly pumpkins,” this year.

“They take up a lot of space, and they are nice looking plants,” she said. “We planted a big one and a little one. That way, the pumpkin patch isn’t all orange. It’s a nice comparison of the different varieties of cultivators you might select.”

The final trend that the Extension settled on was incorporating unusual flowers and ornamental grasses.

“We always like to show the newer, unusual zinnias and marigolds that come out,” Haynes said. “We like to demonstrate how they perform in Iowa. Sometimes we see some real winners and sometimes we see some real dogs.”

On the field days, Haynes sees how each plant is handling the Iowa weather. The Sutherland field day, which is the last of the eight, will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm in O’Brien County, located six miles southwest of Sutherland, at 6320 500th St.

After speeches from Del Brokshus, owner of Del’s Garden Center in Spencer, and Haynes, the garden, which features five varieties of pumpkins, six varieties of squash, a wide selection of flowers, giant corn, wild grass, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beets, beans and sweet potatoes, will be open for tours.

Research farm superintendent Ryan Rusk said complimentary root beer floats and grilled sweet corn also will be served.

“The field days are always a good interactive learning period,” Rusk said. “It’s just a good chance to relate with other gardeners and have an enjoyable evening out.”

What: Eight Gardens in Eight Days tour stop
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12
Where: Iowa State University Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm in O’Brien County, 6320 500th St., Sutherland
For more info: Contact ISU horticulturist Cindy Haynes at (515) 294-4006 or

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The South O'Brien Sun.

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