Skip to main content

Online organic gardening course starts May 9

Raised bed vegetable gardenThe Horticulture Sections’s online Organic Gardening course is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

The course runs May 9 to June 20, 2016, and covers one topic each week. (See course outline below.) With a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, we then explore tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants view recorded presentations, read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. 
Most students spend 3 to 4 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

Questions? Please contact the instructor, Fiona Doherty:

Course outline:

  • Week 1:Introduction: What is Organic Gardening?  Knowing Your Site.
  • Week 2: Soil, Compost, and Mulch
  • Week 3: Vegetables and Flowers: Site Design & Planning for the Season
  • Week 4: Vegetables and Flowers: Early, Mid, Late Season Crops; Harvesting, Herbs
  • Week 5: Maintenance a & Managing Pests Organically
  • Week 6: Trees, Shrubs, and Herbaceous Perennials: The Long-Term Landscape
  • Optional Extra Readings: Advanced Topics for the Adventurous Gardener
More information:

Hortus Forum Easter bulb sale

From Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club:

Don’t miss out on your chance to grab Hortus Forum’s beautiful selection of bulbs for the holiday weekend!

  • 12” Hyacinths, Tulips, Daffodils, Muscari – $10
  • 5” Cyclamen – $6
  • 6” Cyclamen – $8

Pre-orders will be taken only! Please contact, Christian Lesage, at or Sarah Hetrick, at to confirm your order. Flowers may be picked up at the Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouse from noon to 5pm on Friday, March 25th.

Can you smell the hyacinths?

Can you smell the hyacinths?

Pi Alpha Xi horticulture honor society inducts new members

pax keyFrom Mark Bridgen, Professor and Pi Alpha Xi advisor:

Pi Alpha Xi (PAX), the national honor society for horticulture, inducted new members on March 13, 2016. (See photo caption below.) Only the best students in the plant sciences are invited to join this national honor society.

Pi Alpha Xi was founded in 1923 at Cornell University and is the Alpha Chapter. Originally, it was the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. In recent years it has changed and now honors excellence in all of horticulture.

Since its founding, PAX has grown to 36 chapters at baccalaureate-granting institutions. Its mission is to promote scholarship, fellowship, professional leadership, and the enrichment of human life through plants. PAX was very active at Cornell University for many years, peaking in the 1970s. But the chapter went dormant for several years until its revival in 2013.

In 2015 PAX organized a spring bus trip to Canada to visit the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture in Ontario and Highland Park in Rochester, N.Y.  And in 2014, the group helped with the Rooted art installation, planted spring-flowering bulbs around CALS and rejuvenated the planters in the foyer of Plant Science Building. This semester, plans are underway to visit the New York Botanical Garden and other gardens in the New York City area.

2016 PAX inductees

2016 PAX inductees: Aaron Waybright (junior, Plant Sciences), Benjamin Jablonski (junior, Plant Sciences), Isabel Branstrom, (PhD candidate, Graduate Field of Horticulture) Patricia Chan (sophomore, Plant Sciences), Felix Fernández-Penny (sophomore, Plant Sciences), Breanna Wong (junior, Plant Sciences), and Dr. Mark Bridgen, Professor and PAX advisor.

Swegarden goes to Washington

Hannah Swegarden (bottom) made the rounds with a regional group including Mara Sanders (PhD student, Rutgers, left), Harold van Es (Soil and Crop Sciences Section, Cornell University, President of SSSA), and Sally Flis (Dairy One).

Hannah Swegarden (bottom) made the rounds with a regional group including Mara Sanders (PhD student, Rutgers, left), Harold van Es (Soil and Crop Sciences Section, Cornell University, President of SSSA), and Sally Flis (Dairy One). 

From Hannah Swegarden, PhD candidate, Graduate Field of Horticulture, who traveled to Washington, D.C., March 14-15 as one of 18 students nationwide who received the 2016 Future Leaders in Science Award from  ASA, CSSA and SSSA:

The 2016 Congressional Visits Day, hosted by the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies of America was held this week in Washington, D.C. More than 60 participants, including 22 graduate students, four undergraduate scholars, and 14 Certified Crop Advisors, rallied together in a grassroots effort to support USDA-AFRI funding.

Advocates asked for full support of the authorized USDA-AFRI program funding at $700 million. Over 100 meetings were held with members of the House and Senate to highlight the work of agricultural research across the nation.

Nature Rx wants you to take it outside

beebe lake outlet, gorgeSlope Media [2016-03-15]:

“… How can Cornellians stay constantly flummoxed with all this natural beauty surrounding them?

Nature Rx is a new mental health campaign that works to address this issue. Don Rakow, professor of Horticulture, wants to bring this concept to Cornell, and create a program for students to immerse themselves in their natural surroundings as a way to maintain a healthy mental and physical well-being. He, along with co-chairs of the Student Assembly’s Health and Wellness Committee, Carolina Bieri (Atmospheric Science, ‘16) and Matthew Indimine (Policy Analysis and Management, ‘18) have been working to make Nature Rx happen at Cornell.

“At its core, Nature Rx is an initiative making picturesque strolls through greenery a requirement for a revitalized state of mind and body. They are taking on various projects to put this initiative in full force. They created an app called CU in Nature that displays nearby phenomenal scenes of nature, where are the closest ones, what are the features of the near ones, so over time they can explore the whole diversity of natural areas. Additionally, outreach education has created a new credit course for freshmen students called ‘Take It Outside,’ which would be held in the Cornell Plantations and students can explore hiking trails, swim outdoors near campus and take jogs through planned routes.”

Read the whole article.

Elizabeth Bihn named Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell

Betsy Bihn

Betsy Bihn

CALS Notes [2016-03-15]:

Elizabeth “Betsy” Bihn, PhD, has been appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University. Established in December 2015 with a $2 million state grant, the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University is a center unique in its comprehensive approach connecting training and applied research to support the implementation of practices that reduce foodborne illness. The institute will harness Cornell’s existing strengths across food production systems in fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods to help growers and processors meet food safety challenges such as complying with new demands in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

“The Institute for Food Safety is a great opportunity to build on already established programs at Cornell in order to meet new challenges that face farmers, small processors, and the whole food industry,” said Bihn. “These challenges include requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act, buyer demand for food safety practices, consumer demand for local foods grown in sustainable ways, and many other evolving needs that are developing daily.”

Bihn and the Institute are based at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., and she is a minor faculty member of the Graduate Field of Horticulture

Read the whole article.

Happy (belated) Birthday Liberty Hyde Bailey

Happy 158th birthday (March 15) to Liberty Hyde Bailey, the noted horticulturalist, botanist, and first CALS dean! Learn more about Bailey. Visit the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory website.

LHB quote: A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.
Matt Hayes, CALS Communications

Signs of Spring 3

Winter aconites in Minns Garden

Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) carpets Minns Garden outside the Plant Science Building.

Signs of Spring 2

flower bulb research at KPL

Research support specialist Rose Harmon and Dutch intern Jurjen de Jong collect data for the Flower Bulb Research Program at the Ken Post Lab Greenhouses.

Signs of Spring 1

Isabel Branstrom

Isabel Branstrom

Isabel Branstrom, MS candidate in the Graduate Field of Horticulture and teaching assistant for Hands-On Horticulture for Gardeners (PLHRT 1102), prunes shrubs along with the class in a landscape outside of Roberts Hall designed and planted by students in Creating the Urban Eden … (PLHRT 4920/4920) in 2011. More class pruning pictures on CALS Facebook.

Skip to toolbar