The Friends of the Dalton Community Library’s ninth annual Herb Sale will be held at the Dalton Fire Hall Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Sue Scondras, Friends secretary and treasurer, explained the group’s purpose is to raise funds and assist the library however it can. The herb sale is one of many events hosted by Friends for this goal.
“Usually by 11 a.m. we are pretty much sold out of plants,” Scondras said.
The popular event has a variety of plants for sale including herbs. Penn State Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer questions and give advice about gardening.
Glenburn Township resident and Master Gardener Gretchen Ludders plans to be there.
“We will have pollinator-friendly plants and low maintenance plants for sale,” Ludders said. “There will be a wide variety of herbs. We will have gardeners on hand to explain how to plant and when to plant. We can guide people through their herb and plant choices and help them make the best selection.”
She added the Penn State Master Gardener Program is “wonderful.”
“You learn a lot, and it allows you to join with other gardeners who have the same interests, and it gives you the opportunity to help people and share your knowledge,” she said.
Volunteerism and service to the community is part of the program. The Master Gardeners involved in the Herb Sale have a desire to serve members of the community and help their gardens thrive.
“That’s really the best part,” Ludders said. “I can work all day in my garden by myself with my plants, but when I get to share experiences and knowledge about gardening, it’s such a joy. I learn from others too. It’s not a one-way street. We learn from each other, and that is what is so joyful.”
Gardening does not have to be overwhelming, Ludders explained. She encourages first time gardeners to start with container planting and said herbs grow well in containers. The Friends of the Dalton Community Library will have herbs from Rowlands Greenhouse available for purchase at the sale.
Master Gardener Georgiann Eccleston suggests considering the herbs you cook with when deciding which ones to grow.
“Herbs like parsley and basil are easy to grow,” Eccleston said. “Some herbs grow nicely in a little container right on your window sill. Those plants need a lot sun. They need to be protected from frost at the beginning and end of the season. They also need to be trimmed or cut back, even if you aren’t using that particular herb. If you don’t periodically cut some of the leaves and stem off they are going to go to flower. Cut them down a little bit. Just trimming an inch or so down can help the herb plant branch out and then the energy goes into leaves.”
Watering is key when caring for herbs and other plants.
“You need to make sure all your plants are adequately watered,” Eccleston said. “With plants in pots, you can tell by sticking your finger in the soil an inch down. If the soil is dry an inch down, then you need to water.”
Steve Ward, Master Gardener coordinator for Penn State Extension, has been part of the herb sale since it began. Ward shared this year Master Gardeners will offer hanging baskets, some annuals, native perennials and pollinator-friendly plants for sale.
“Pollinators support wild bees and butterflies,” he said. “Pollinators aren’t in people’s gardens as much anymore. We are seeing more and more hybrids, which don’t support the pollination as well as a straight species. People are putting more shrubbery and trees that don’t necessarily benefit wild bees and butterflies. Pollinator-friendly plants are important. One-third of our food is dependent on pollinators to grow.”
Divided plants and flowers are much of what Master Gardeners bring to the herb sale. Plants like irises and day lilies multiply every year and need to be divided and planted elsewhere.
Lackawanna Master Gardeners are willing to take these plants from their own gardens and put them in pots to sell. All proceeds benefit the Dalton Community Library.
Ward explained the gardeners at the herb sale aren’t only there to sell plants, but to share knowledge as well.
“We really encourage people to connect to their environment, even if it’s just a little backyard container garden,” Ward said. “In our society, we are so far removed from our food sources, that we no longer understand the relationship between a healthy environment and healthy eating. We want to develop environmental stewardship where people really invest in making good decisions both short term and long term in their gardens, not only doing what’s best for us, but for generations to come by managing well what environmental resources we have left.”