PennState Extension: Become a Master Gardener

Master Gardener volunteers will be staffing their Garden Hotline at the Extension office, 181 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, beginning April 24 through the end of September, to assist home gardeners with gardening and plant questions and problems. The Garden Hotline operates on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The Extension office and the Hotline will be closed on Memorial Day (May 29), Juneteenth (June 19), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (September 4).

Home gardeners are welcome to stop in or call the Extension office at 717-263-9226 to speak to a Master Gardener. The Garden Hotline can also be reached via email at Samples or photos of plants, insects, or garden problems are helpful to the Master Gardeners in assisting you with identification, diagnosis, and recommendations to solve your gardening questions. They may not always know the answer immediately, but they will take the time to research and get back to you with accurate, reliable information.

UPCOMING WEBINARS AND EVENTS: Penn State Extension is pleased to continue to provide quality education via a wide variety of webinars and recordings.If you have difficulty registering online for any of these live webinars, please contact Penn State Extension’s customer service team at 877-345-0691. Most of these webinars will be recorded and available for viewing at a later time, as well. Continue to search our website: for the latest offerings.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023, 6:00PM – In Person Workshop – Victory Garden: Planning and Preparing Join Penn State Master Gardeners in Franklin County for an informal workshop at their Victory Garden Demonstration Garden. During this first workshop, Victory Garden: Planning and Preparing, you will learn how to test your soil, build raised beds, create vertical gardens, and use no-till techniques to grow vegetables. The workshop will feature short talks by Master Gardeners, followed by a Q&A session and a guided tour around the victory garden. The workshop will be held outdoors; the Demonstration Garden is located across the street from the Extension office at 181 Franklin Farm Lane. Attendees should dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes for walking on sloping terrain. In the event of steady rain or severe thunderstorm threat or occurrence, the workshop will be postponed to Tue., May 23, 2023 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET). Participants should check the weather forecast prior to arriving for the workshop. Register by May 12 at or call 1-877-345-0691 to register by phone.

Saturday, May 20, 2023Franklin County Master Gardener Plant Sale The sale will be held at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, PA 17202, from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. The Master Gardeners will once again offer a great selection of greenhouse-grown vegetable, annual flower, and herb plants, with many hard-to-find and unusual varieties, along with a wide assortment of sun and shade-loving perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees, all for reasonable prices. Bring your gardening questions, and get information about plants and planting from friendly, knowledgeable Penn State Master Gardener volunteers.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023, 12PM – Live Webinar – Home Food Preservation: Introduction to Preserving. The Home Food Preservation: Introduction to Preserving event will explain the scientific reasoning behind today’s recommended methods for home food preservation while dispelling food preservation myths and unsafe practices of the past. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in home food preservation. Canning, freezing, and drying are preservation methods that allow you to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. While these methods of home food preservation have existed for centuries, we have learned much about the science behind these methods in recent years. The Home Food Preservation series of webinars will provide you with the scientific background, preparation tips, and safe processing methods to preserve food at home. To register go to or call 1-877-345-0691.

Thursday, June 1, 11AM – Live Webinar – Home Food Preservation: Water Bath Canning. Join us for Home Food Preservation Water Bath Canning to learn the basics of water bath and atmospheric steam canning. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in home food preservation. Canning is one method of food preservation that allows you to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. While this method of home food preservation has existed for centuries, we have learned much about the science behind safe canning methods in recent years. We will provide research to dispel food preservation myths and unsafe practices and discuss practical tips to ensure a positive experience when water bath canning foods. The Home Food Preservation series of webinars will provide you with the scientific background, preparation tips, and safe processing methods to preserve food at home. To register go to or call 1-877-345-0691

Ready-Set-Grow Plant Sale -Watering Tips

Submitted by Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener

We’ve seen downpours recently and we will have heat waves that will drag on for a while. Watering your landscape and plants can be tricky. Now is the time to think about how you will take care of your plants as summer gets in full swing.

The idea that plants need 1” of water per week is an interesting idea, but the truth is that different plants have different water needs. The amount of water for a plant depends on several different things such as the type of plant, type of soil, and, of course, the weather. How do you know when to water? One way is to poke your finger into the soil near the stem of the plant. It should be damp down several inches. But other factors make it more obvious.

Certainly, those newly planted and young seedlings have smaller root systems and need a consistent supply of water. This may be daily in our hot and sunny weather. More established trees and shrubs should have well-formed root systems and may only need watering during long stretches of dry weather. For trees, water no closer than 3 feet to the trunk and a few feet beyond the drip line.  (

Fruits and vegetables need consistent water to produce well. Keep them from going completely dry because this can cause problems like blossom end rot, cracked tomatoes, or limp and yellow cucumbers.

Watering in the morning is best and will allow water to soak in before the heat of the day evaporates it. This also allows the leaves to dry out and prevent leaf burn. Avoid late day or nighttime as the water can encourage mildew, fungus, and other problems. (

Dennis Patton, a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension, notes to “make sure you apply water efficiently right onto the soil surface so there is little to no evaporation.”  Avoid daily light sprinklings, which encourage roots to grow near the soil surface where they are vulnerable to drying out. Plants do better with slow and deep watering than a quick once-over.

Watering with sprinklers may be okay for grassy areas but overhead watering is not the best for flowers and shrubs. Getting the moisture to the root area is the best way at the ground level. Soaker hoses, whether laying on or under the soil, are one of the best strategies. Not everyone has that set-up, so a hose wand or water bubbler are good hose accessories to have in the toolbox. They can provide water at soil level and soak in deep at the root zone, especially good for trees and shrubs.

A water bubbler will water plants and soak deep into the soil at the root zone. It works better than overhead watering and sprinklers. Lay the bubbler on the soil near the plants. We use it in the Franklin County Herb Demonstration Garden which is in full sun all day in raised beds that are heavily mulched.

Container plants, especially those in clay pots, and raised beds may need attention more often as they dry out quicker than a garden bed. Plants should be in containers deep enough to allow downward root growth and must have drainage holes. Overwatering can be a problem, too, and can contribute to root rot. Empty any container saucers that fill up after watering.

Applying a 2” layer of mulch over well-watered soil can help curtail moisture evaporation. Do not mulch up against a plant stem or pile against a tree trunk.

Don’t leave your plants hanging their heads in the heat. Give them a good, long drink.

Agronomy Odds and Ends

Submitted By Heidi Reed, Penn State Extension Agronomy Educator

Custom Rates

I regularly get calls asking about custom farming rates. Most are dismayed when I explain PDA hasn’t published that information for several years, and I send them information from Ohio or Maryland. Penn State Extension is now collecting this information so that we can provide more locally accurate estimates for you. Email Andrew Frankenfield at, or call 610-489-4315 to be mailed a survey. We plan to publish the report this summer.


You may be done planting and spraying, or maybe you’re still waiting to plant. Depending on timing of your spray applications in relation to rainfall, soil-applied herbicides may not have been incorporated or “activated”, and therefore will not provide adequate weed control. All soil-applied herbicides need about half an inch of rain within 7 to 10 days or before weed emergence to be effective, but some weeds need less than half an inch of rainfall to germinate. So, if two weeks have passed since a pre spray and you notice weeds popping up, quickly make plans for a post herbicide rescue application.

On the other hand, if you had applied your residual herbicides before heavy rainfall, especially if you experienced run-off from the field, some of the herbicide likely moved off-site, or at least lost some activity. This movement or degradation effect is higher with medium and high solubility products like Callisto, s-metolachlor, acetochlor, metribuzin, Outlook, Pursuit, Reflex, Spartan/Authority, and Stinger. To check your product’s water solubility, you can call your local Agronomy Educator, or see Tables 2.2-6 and 2.4-6 in the 2023-2024 Penn State Agronomy Guide.

In either case, regular scouting is the only way to catch weed escapes early. If you do need a rescue post application, make sure to read the label and do not go over the maximum yearly limit for any product or group of herbicides.


About a week ago, a dust storm in Illinois caused a vehicle accident that killed six and wounded 37 people. If this tragic accident isn’t a reminder about the importance of soil conservation, I don’t know what is. The dust storm was partially tied to high winds, which we can’t control, but, we can control soil disturbance and soil cover on our farmland, and naked, regularly tilled fields played a big part in this accident. If you don’t already practice reduced tillage and cover crops, in addition to other conservation best management practices, this is a nudge to try to do more.

There are many financial assistance opportunities for farmers in Pennsylvania to help with starting or improving BMPs This includes (but is not limited to) assistance with purchasing no-till equipment and cover crop costs. If you have a soil erosion issue, I urge you to speak with your local NRCS and Conservation Districts for more information on these programs, and help deciding which is right for your farm.


Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research and extension programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Extension is implied. This publication is available in alternative media on request.

The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Office, The Pennsylvania State University,

28 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901, Email:, Tel (814) 863-0471.


Janet Donahoe obituary 1935~2023

A graduate of Wilson College and The Catholic University of America, Janet taught English and Latin in Pennsylvania and was a school librarian in Virginia. 

Chewy commercial says it all

I have been what I like to call a television aficionado for many, many decades. I enjoy a good evening spent in front of the old boob tube and have since I was young.

Verna L Hoover obituary 1935~2023

Verna enjoyed traveling, crocheting, making and painting ceramics and spending time with her family. She was a member of King Street United Brethren Church.