Raised bed vegetable gardenThe Department of Horticulture’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 October 8 to November 21, 2014, 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.

Please contact the instructor, Elizabeth Gabriel, for information: erf59@cornell.edu.

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:

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dilmun_hill_open_houseFriday, September 5, 3 – 6 p.m.

Tour Dilmun Hill (Cornell’s student-run farm) and MacDaniels Nut Grove (forest farming research and education center), and have some fun while learning about sustainable vegetable production and agroforestry.

Tours of the Grove, will depart from Dilmun at 3:30 and at 4:30 and will include mushrooms taste testing.

Other scheduled activities include:

  • Pumpkin painting
  • T-shirt decorating (bring your own shirt)
  • Lacto-fermented pickling workshop
  • Tomato taste tests
  • And more

Finger foods provided. Bring a dish to pass if inspired.

Contact: Alena Hutchinson amh345@cornell.edu.


open house poster

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Kondrat and Bond

Kondrat and Bond

“No more pencils, no more books” may have held true for many CALS students this summer, but that didn’t mean they took a vacation from education. Learn more about their stories of the kind of learning that occurs outside of the classroom or lecture hall in this special online only issue of PeriodiCALS.

Among the many familiar faces featured, plant science major Justin Kondrat ’14, who transferred to Cornell when he was already halfway through his undergraduate career. But it didn’t take long for him to become firmly rooted here on the Hill. By his final semester, Kondrat’s feelings were manifested in flowery, ten-foot tall letters on Libe Slope that spelled out “ROOTED.” The purpose? To get students with diverse backgrounds to reflect upon what keeps them rooted at Cornell.

And two years at Cornell weren’t enough for plant science major Mathew Bond. Having transferred from SUNY Potsdam in his junior year, Bond wanted to squeeze in as much time here as possible before heading off to the University of Hawaii to pursue a doctoral degree in ethnobotany. Inspired by the Plant Pathology class that he took with plant pathology professor Bill Fry PhD ‘70, Bond spent most of his summer studying potato and tomato late blight in Fry’s lab.



Also plant science major Celine Jennison ’14. Amidst our “throwaway culture,” standing up for sustainability—well, stand-up paddleboarding, that is. she and her teammates Christian Shaw ‘14, Gordon Middleton ‘14, and Julian Rodriguez set out on a 10-day paddleboarding expedition around the waters of Bermuda in order to increase awareness of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

Read their full stories (and more) in this epic issue of periodiCALS.



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Kao-Kniffin in Landscape and IrrigationVia Michelle Sutton (MS Horticullture ’00), Editor, Taking Root, the blog of the New York State Urban Forestry Council:

Jenny Kao-Kniffin’s lab is featured in the September 2014 issue of the trade journal Landscape and Irrigation. (See page 22.)
In the article, Kao-Kniffin offers advice for how grounds people can manage turf in light of New York’s 2010 Child Safe Playing Fields Law, which restricts the use of conventional pesticides on K-12 school grounds, playing fields and daycare centers.

“Some contractors go overboard with adding fertilizers. This can result in extensive phosophorus application, whereas nitrogen should really be the focus when it comes to turf density in most sites,” she says.

The article also details research by horticulture PhD candidate Grant Thompson, who is comparing polycultures of turfgrass species with monocultures. “In the polycultures, we found some moderate increases in biomass and some moderate retention of nitrogen,” he says. He also found more diverse bacterial and fungal communities in the root zones of the polycultures.

On a related note, research at the Horticulture Section’s Urban Horticulture Institute was recently featured on the Taking Root blog, which has replaced the New York State Urban Forestry Council’s print newsletter.

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'Aromella' grapes

‘Aromella’ grapes

From Bruce Reisch:

The world’s first wine from our 2013 release, ‘Aromella’, is now available from Goose Watch Winery on Cayuga Lake.

‘Aromella’ is an aromatic, muscat white wine grape that ranks high for winter hardiness and productivity.

Read more about the 2013 naming and release of ‘Aromella’ and ‘Arandell ‘ –  the first grape released from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station’s “no-spray” vineyard – in the Cornell Chronicle.

Goose watch describes its Aromella wine as “an aromatic semi-dry white wine with distinctive characteristics unlike any other varietal in the Finger Lakes. It boasts some of the favored flavors from the Muscat grape used in the trending Moscato’s such as peaches and tropical fruits, but with less sweetness which is not typical for these flavors.”

Read Goose Watch’s press release.

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TSF funding helped support and earlier project comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems at Cornell Orchards.

TSF funding helped support an earlier project comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems at Cornell Orchards.

For more than 15 years, CALS has bolstered its sustainability research with a steady stream of gifts from the Toward Sustainability Foundation (TSF), a Massachusetts-based organization founded by an anonymous, eco-minded Cornell alumna.

In its first 10 years, TSF provided nearly $550,000 in funding for approximately 75 faculty and student projects that examine the technological, social, political, and economic elements of sustainable agriculture.

Projects funded for 2014 include research and outreach topics ranging from producing syrup from black walnut trees to organic fertilizer for hydrop0nic systems to urban soil remediation.

View full list of funded projects and contact information for each.

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Belize studentsDo you love chocolate?

Are you curious about the world around you?

Belizean Tropical Plants Extravaganza

  • Field trip to Belize during January break
  • Class meets weekly for 1st half of spring semester
  • 1 credit

You will:

  • Immerse yourself in tropical plants.
  • Learn from an intensive team building experience.
  • Assist in preparing tropical edibles.
  • Help implement interpretation for a natural park.
  • Collaborate with other students, project leaders and mentors.

Info session Sept. 15, 4:45pm
Room 22, Plant Science Building

For more information contact: Marcia Eames-Sheavly, ME14@cornell.edu

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Henrik Sjöman

Henrik Sjöman (Photo: Gustaf Klarin/SR)

Dr. Henrik Sjöman, Post Doctorate Fellow (Bassuk Lab) will kick off the Horticulture Section seminar series September 8 speaking on the topic of Modern plant hunting for urban plants: new perspectives. Sjöman is also a lecturer and researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Malmo, Sweden.

Horticulture Section seminars meet 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. most Mondays when classes are in session in Plant Science Room 404 and via Polycom to Geneva in either A134 or A137 Barton Hall. (See individual listings for which room.)

Seminars are open to all. Refreshments served. Those wishing to take for 1 credit, enroll in HORT 4950 (undergrads) or HORT 6000 (grads).

More info:


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SoHo members Jeremie Blum and Annika Kreye, PhD candidates in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, load the apple machine in its new location in the entrance to Mann Library.

SoHo members Jeremie Blum and Annika Kreye, PhD candidates in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, load the apple machine in its new location in the entrance to Mann Library.

The apple machine is back for the season, but has a new home: Just inside the entrance to Mann Library.

Members of the Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo) hope that the new high-traffic location will boost sales. SoHo members pick the apples at Cornell Orchards as well as manage the machine.

SoHo uses proceeds from sales to fund guest speakers, purchase academic supplies, and support education and outreach programs and other SoHo activities.

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Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

From Lori Brewer:

Registration is now open for the online course Permaculture: Fundamentals of Ecological Design, offered October 6 to November 20, 2014 through the Horticulture section’s distance learning program. Space is limited to 25 participants. Registration closes when limit is reached. Registration fee is $600 and to be paid via credit card at registration. See registration link at course info website.

The study of permaculture helps gardeners, landowners, and farmers combine knowledge of ecology combined with its application to supporting healthy soil, water conservation, and biodiversity. Permaculture systems meet human needs while restoring ecosystem health. Common practices include no-till gardening, rainwater catchment, forest gardening, and agroforestry.

The course is 6.5 weeks long and provides an opportunity for you to build your knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. Participants will explore the content through videos, readings, and activities and complete portions of a design for a site of their choosing.

While the course is online, the format is designed for consistent interaction between instructors and students through forums and live video conferences. Readings and presentations will be directly applied through hands-on activities students will engage with at home.

View the full syllabus for the course and find registration information at the course info website.

Horticulture’s distance learning program offers two other online permaculture design courses:

Completion of a single class gives students a certificate of completion from the Horticulture and continuing education units*. Completion of all three courses gives students the portfolio necessary to apply for an internationally recognized certification in Permaculture Design though the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. Registration opens about six weeks before adult education courses begins.

*Most of our participants take our distance courses for life enrichment or professional development. Participants do not receive Cornell University credit for taking any of the courses. Rather, for each course you will receive a certificate of participation from our Office of Continuing Education and Continuing Education Units. People have tried to use the educational award through Americorps Vista Program and it does not work. No financial aid awards are given or discounts to CCE staff or volunteers.

Space is limited to 25 participants. Registration closes when limit is reached. Registration fee is $600 and to be paid via credit card at registration. See registration link at course info website.

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