Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Find Free or Low Cost Gardening Seminars

Whether you are a novice gardener or a master gardener, there are many free or low cost gardening seminars, workshops, and events happening at this time of year. You'll walk away with great information about this year's gardening trends, gardening techniques, and maybe even a plant or two.

3 Tips to Find Free or Low Cost Gardening Seminars and Events

1. Garden Nurseries and Greenhouses
Garden nurseries are preparing for the upcoming season and are really trying to reel you in to their store to make your spring planting purchases. I try to take advantage of as many of their activities as possible. A local nursery is hosting a Spring Open House over the next two weekend where they are offering seminars on seed starting, growing perennials, landscaping, chickens, and container gardening. They are also offering free house plant re-potting, crafts for kids, and an Easter egg hunt.

I hit the jackpot a few years ago when I signed up for a free gardening seminar at this local nursery. I went home with a free heirloom tomato plant and a free 6 pack of vegetables of our choice. I chose broccoli. While I was attending the gardening seminar, my husband took the kids to the children's activities where they planted daffodil bulbs, bean plants, and a "potato hedgehog" to take home. Although if I remember correctly, the potato went into the compost; it got moldy before it sprouted. (See below picture for our goodies.)

 Check the websites and Facebook pages of your local favorite nurseries to see what they might be offering this spring.

2. Cooperative Extension System
What is a Cooperative Extension System? Per the US Department of Agriculture,
"The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes."
In Pennsylvania, the Coop is through Penn State. Personally, I have benefited quite a bit over the years with the Coop programs and seminars. I have taken seminars on gardening, landscaping, and composting and all of them were either free or extremely inexpensive. In fact, I received a free compost bin (the round one below) at a free composting seminar. Although as states trim costs, the free programs are being replaced with very reasonably priced ones. Along with workshops, our Coop also offers soil-testing and native plant sales.

If you want to find out more information about your state's Cooperative Extension System, check out the US Dept of Agriculture's website. I keep informed of my Coop's schedule of events and activities by following them on Facebook.

3. Township, Borough, or County Programs
Check you local township and county events calendar to see if they offer any seminars, workshops, or events. My township and county have been very active on educating the public on ideas for greener living. Years ago, my county had a special offer of composting bins (the square one in the above picture) for $12. Those bins were about $50 in the stores at the time. My township hosts a plant swap and sale every May where everyone can bring their overages to swap. Every municipality is different, so check your local municipality's website to see what they might offer.

Are you planning on taking a gardening seminar this spring? Let us know all about it in the comments.

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This post is linked to Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage and Frugal Friday.


  1. Our local arboretum also hosts a plant swap, however, I think it's for perennials, not vegetables.

    I shared your great post on my FB site for folks wanting to get started this spring.

  2. Our County Extension Service is a wonderful resource!

  3. Excellent info. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to tell you that I have really enjoyed looking through the website. I have subscribed to your blog feed and I hope you will write a new post again in near future. I am curious if I should really subscribe to comments feed too. Any helpful conversations happening in posts comments?


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