Several Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms will offer gardeners new ideas at Home Demonstration Garden Field Days beginning July 27.
Cindy Haynes, the horticulture associate professor who coordinates the demonstration gardens, said each farm will grow annual flowers in the pattern of a quilt block.
“Common flowers such as marigold, petunia and vinca will be planted in distinctive patterns for a not-so-common result,” she said. “This is trickier than it sounds but usually results in beautiful and creative planting designs.”
The farms will conduct a trial with compost from the ISU composting facility. A quarter of the garden will be devoted to growing a variety of flowers and vegetables in soils amended or not amended with the compost.
Haynes said the managers of each farm will compete to see who can grow the largest pumpkin in the Home Demonstration Garden.
“While everyone will be given the same cultivar of pumpkin seed at the essentially the same time, we expect big differences in the size of resulting fruit,” she said. “I have asked all the farm managers to ‘share their secrets’ growing giant pumpkins at the field days too — so who knows what gardening tricks they will use to win this contest.”
A variety of eggplants with different colors and shapes will be on display in the gardens along with unusual plants, such as tomatillo and ground cherry. A variety of coleus and petunias also will be featured.
The Northwest farm will host two garden field days in Rock Rapids and the Sutherland farm. The first will take place at 6 p.m. July 27 at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Rock Rapids. Del’s Garden Center in Spencer, will provide the program for an Aug. 11 field day at the farm near Sutherland, which also begins at 6 p.m.
The other garden field days are set for:
- July 28, 6:30 p.m., Armstrong research farm, near Lewis
- Aug. 7, 4 p.m., Northeast research farm, near Nashua
- Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m. Muscatine Island research farm, Fruitland
- Aug. 10, 6:30 p.m., Northern research farm, near Kanawha
- Aug. 11, 6:30 p.m., Horticulture Station
Locations for the farms are available on the ISU Research and Demonstration Farms website.