Summer gardening, workshops, farm tours and more

Article Published: May. 24, 2012 | Modified: May. 24, 2012
Summer gardening, workshops, farm tours and more

Organic Gardening 101 will be offered July 30 through Aug. 2.

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This is the time of year to decide on summer plans. If you would like to learn more about gardening, make plans to attend Organic Gardening 101, July 30 through Aug. 2, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day.

This workshop is designed for beginning gardeners or those who would like to switch to organic methods. Classes are held next to a red barn in a beautiful setting in Valle Crucis, at the former Appalachian State University sustainable development farm. Several inspiring garden tours in the area are planned. Topics include garden planning, seed starting, companion planting, how to attract beneficial insects, pest management, soil testing and amendments, composting and vermi-composting, and dealing with common plant problems. Cost is $20 for all four days.

To learn how to put up produce for the winter, hands-on canning classes are offered July 14 and Aug. 18, 1 to 4 p.m. each day, at the Agricultural Conference Center in Boone. Participants will can tomatoes in a boiling water bath and a pressure canner. Cost is $10 for each session.

These workshops are offered by N.C. Cooperative Extension. Register by paying in advance at 971 W. King St., by calling (828) 264-3061 or by visiting

Some of us would rather let the professionals do the work and support them by shopping at farmers’ markets. Discover where and how your food is grown by participating in the High Country Farm Tour Aug. 4 and 5, from 2 to 6 p.m. each day. Around 24 farms will be on the tour, which is self-guided.

The farms are located throughout Watauga, Ashe and Caldwell counties, although Caldwell farms are only accepting visitors on Sunday, Aug. 5. For affordable weekend entertainment, load up a car with your friends and family. Choose the farms that you’d like to visit by looking through the farm tour guide, or online. Be sure to bring a cooler as most farms are selling fresh products on the day of the tour. The tour is organized by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. For more information, visit

Local produce choices are still pretty slim. Some gardeners have rhubarb growing and don’t know what to do with it all. It is also available at farmers’ markets. Watauga extension agent Eddy Labus shared this recipe, made with rhubarb from his garden. It has just the right amount of sweetness to contrast with the tart rhubarb.

Rhubarb Muffins

1 ½ cups whole wheat bread flour
1 cup whole purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg (use to taste)
1 egg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups diced fresh rhubarb (frozen works also)

Combine dry ingredients and mix well by hand.
In a separate bowl beat egg, buttermilk, oil, applesauce and vanilla.
Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Fold in rhubarb.
Fill paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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