A few weeks ago, a friend tipped me off on this yard and gardening event happening near us. The Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny host Garden in Parks Field Day and it’s perfect for all ages. We spent a bit over an hour seeing, tasting and learning about lots of different fun things.

First up, we did some pesto tastings made with different varieties of basil such as Cinnamon, Thai, and Genovese Basil. The pestos offered had no dairy and no nuts (so basically basil and olive oil). Our favorite was the Cinnamon Basil pesto, but the Thai Basil pesto was surprisingly tasty as well. We put a checkmark to indicate our favorite pesto and moved on to some more food.

In between tasting and voting we tried a Watermelon, Basil and Cucumber Salad as well as a small cup of Basil Lemonade (had not considered any of these flavor combos before). Recipes were provided for these delicious and refreshing palate cleansers!

Now onto the garlic tasting! We had the opportunity to try about six different varieties of garlic plus some garlic scapes. All garlic may taste similar, but in my opinion they were different enough to think “Wow! I want more of this particular flavor.)” Again, we could vote on our favorite garlic too, which was fun for the kids.

The volunteers running the tastings were very helpful and knowledgeable about the plants everyone was sampling. It was nice to ‘talk shop’ about how our gardens were doing this year, and what problems we were running into and learning “it’s not just me!”

Garlic Tasting at Penn State Garden in the Parks Field Day (North Park)

On the other side of the large tent, my kids and husband dived into the tomato tastings. Don’t get me wrong, I swear I love tomatoes and I think I found where my childhood distaste for tomatoes came from. I know I ate too many cherry tomato varieties as a kid, which were sickeningly sweet which lead me to believe all tomatoes tasted like that – not true. My kids LOVED the Sun Gold and I think the other was Sun Sugar – oh my SWEET!!! (So not for me.) I had a Snow White which was not bad, and then Dave had me try a Green Zebra Striped tomato that was really good! Lesson learned: I do not like sweet tomatoes, but my kids voted for their favorite and dropped their ballots in.

We made our way to the Welcome Tent and picked up variety of vegetable and flower seeds. I was super excited to finally get some Milkweed seeds because I have had an amazingly hard time trying to find Milkweed plants up here. I have been wanting to make another butterfly garden like we had for the kids in Florida because it was fun looking for all the caterpillars and watching the chrysalises.  Milkweed plants are a very important plant in the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. Monarchs lay their eggs on it and the caterpillars eat the leaves. Sadly, due to pesticides and human encroachment there’s less and less milkweed for the larvae to eat. No milkweed, no monarchs. Visit MonarchWatch.org to find more tips on what you can do to help!

Monarch larvae on milkweed

Moving on, I did not realize the beautiful garden we pass almost every time we go to the park was maintained and designed by the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County. The demonstration gardens feature new or recommended annuals for our growing conditions and have a different theme each year. There was a small scavenger hunt for the kids to do as we walked around the flower beds. We were all given a flag to vote on our favorite plants. Dave voted on this Artist Blue Floss Flower (see below). Not pictured, but I voted for the brown, almost black colored  Pincushion Flower Black Knight Scabiosa.

Voting on Flowers at Penn State - Garden in the Parks Field Day (North Park)

We wandered around a bit more checking out the herb garden, winter gardening with cold frames, local watersheds, composting and then the kids found a table with ladybugs! They did a craft while talking about ladybugs.

Ladybugs: Penn State - Garden in the Parks Field Day (North Park - Pittsburgh, PA)

We did not stick around for samples of ice cream from the Penn State Creamery, but I can vouch for the fact it probably would have been worth it! (Visited there last year for some, YUM!)

We ended the morning with the girls harvesting their own fingerling potatoes! They each got their own to keep, and will probably make for a very small potato salad!

Thanks for a fun morning Penn State Master Gardeners! Looking forward to it next year!

Digging for Potatoes in Penn State Garden at North Park Digging up Fingerling Potatoes: Penn State - Garden in Parks Field Day (North Park - Pittsburgh, PA).

 

 

 

Penn State - Garden in the Parks Field Day (North Park - Pittsburgh, PA) https://www.thesugarpixie.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/wpid-20140816_091649-1024x768.jpghttps://www.thesugarpixie.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/wpid-20140816_091649-300x300.jpgthesugarpixieFamilyevents,gardening,garlic,kids,penn state master gardeners,Pittsburgh,tomatoA few weeks ago, a friend tipped me off on this yard and gardening event happening near us. The Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny host Garden in Parks Field Day and it's perfect for all ages. We spent a bit over an hour seeing, tasting and learning about...Misadventures and fun in the kitchen and beyond