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Home Gardeners School

Rutgers Home Gardeners School

Save the Date! Saturday, March 23, 2019   |   9:00am - 4:00pm   |   New Brunswick, NJ

Plan Out Your Day of Learning at Home Gardeners School!

Home Gardeners School provides expert instruction in the most innovative gardening and landscaping subjects available!

Designed to provide "something for everyone," Home Gardeners School offers 38 individual workshop sessions covering a wide array of horticulture topics. This format allows you to select the workshops that are most relevant to your gardening interests in order to create your own unique, customized schedule for this fun day of learning.

There are two morning workshop sessions (running 9:00am-10:30am and 10:45am-11:45am). A one hour lunch break will feature two keynote presentations. Two afternoon workshop sessions (running from 1:15pm-2:15pm and 2:30pm-4:00pm) conclude the day.

Speakers from our commercial horticulture and landscape design programs will be participating along with Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) faculty and staff, providing you with the opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

These experts will teach you about landscape design, common problems and solutions, annuals, perennials, vegetables, bees, pruning, best management practices, and a whole host of other practical topics designed to prepare you and your garden for the spring and beyond.

And don't forget to visit our book and plant sale for great take-aways!

Before registering, please review the workshop options below to determine which sessions you want to participate in! You can also download a print-friendly workshop grid (PDF format).

Rutgers Home Gardeners School: 2-Minute Video Overview

Donations for 2018!
We are again asking Home Gardeners School attendees to help us feed NJ families by donating non-perishable food through Rutgers Against Hunger (a university-wide initiative working to address hunger across the state). Please bring your donation of canned or boxed food items (no glass items, please!) to the RAH table (look for the green collection bins). We are also collecting for our furry friends this season through Happy Paws Rescue and Scarlet Paws Rescue. Find their table in the hallway to drop off your donations of unopened dry dog or cat food, treats, chews, toys, collars/leashes, waste bags and gift cards, etc. Thank you for your generosity!


Sorry, registration is not currently available.

Would you like to be notified when registration opens for next year's Home Gardeners School?
Here are 3 convenient ways to be added to our mailing list:
1. Click here to join our mailing list (please reference "Home Gardeners School" or Course Code AH0201) 
2. Call us at 848-932-9271, select option 3
3. E-mail us at ocpe@njaes.rutgers.edu

Admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Register early to ensure your preferred workshop selection. If registering by mail or fax, please list your top three choices for each of the four listed time periods in case your first selection is full.

Workshop sessions are held in two buildings, requiring a short walk across a foot bridge. If you prefer to remain in one building for all workshops, please contact a member of our Registration Unit at 848-932-9271, option 2 to discuss the best choices.

Confirmation and directions will be sent VIA E-MAIL only.

Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities: If you require special assistance, please notify our office when you register or no less than one week before the course starts. Every effort will be made to accommodate reasonable requests.

Home Gardeners School Registration Fees
Early Registration Fee TBD  
Registration Fee TBD  
Master Gardeners Discount Fee TBD  
Box Lunch (Optional) TBD  

Substitutions are permitted. View cancellation policy.

You may withdraw from this course in writing(eg. via email) up to three (3) full business days before the class begins and receive a full refund, less a $25.00 processing fee. If our registration unit is not notified in writing at least three (3) business days prior to the start of the class, you will be responsible for the full fee. For payments made by credit card, a refund will be issued back to the same credit card. For payments made by check, cash, or money order, a refund will be issued by check; a Federal Identification or Social Security Number must be supplied to our office to process a refund check. Substitutions are permitted.

Home Gardeners School Location and Parking

GPS systems may not recognize campus addresses. Even if they take you to the correct building, they will not take you to the assigned parking lot. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you use the directions we provide.

Hickman Hall
89 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Directions and Parking Information

Arrival: Check-in activities will take place at Hickman Hall between 8am - 9am. You will receive room assignments for your selected workshops when you arrive.

Parking: Please park your car in the Douglass Parking Deck. If you require handicapped parking, please call 848-932-9271, option 2 to reserve a handicapped parking space at Hickman Hall.

Home Gardeners School Meal Information

Breakfast is not provided; however, there will be coffee/tea available.

An optional box lunch will be available for $13.00. To order, include payment with your registration and mark the appropriate space on the registration form. Please indicate your sandwich preference: Tuna, Turkey, Ham & Cheese, Roast Beef, or Vegetarian.

Lunch boxes must be pre-ordered before March 13. Lunch will not be available for purchase onsite.

Lunch will be served in the courtyard of Hickman Hall. There are no local food courts at this facility, but you are also welcome to bring your own bag lunch.

NOTE: If you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, please alert us at least one (1) week in advance of the course start date so that we can make reasonable accommodations. We cannot guarantee accommodations for special requests made after that time.

View Photos from Past Offerings of Home Gardeners School!

Home Gardeners School Workshops

Click on each workshop title to view and download available materials!
Please be patient; some files may take a few moments to load.

2019 workshops will be posted in the Fall.

View All Workshop Descriptions | Hide All Workshop Descriptions

Session 1: 9:00am - 10:30am

1. NEW! Easy Garden Walkway Ideas: Demonstration Workshop


Robert Bellek, Owner, Lily Pad Ponds, LLC

This workshop will show you basic walkway preparation techniques such as: base preparation, proper aggregate selection and installation, and natural walkway material ideas.

2. Beekeeping 101


Robert Hughes, Beekeeping Specialist, Past President NJ Beekeepers Association

Welcome to the interesting world of bees and their benefits. Discussions will include life inside a colony, products that can be derived from an active hive, benefits to your garden, and plants that will attract them.

3. Easy Drip Irrigation for Your Garden


Bob Dobson, Middletown Sprinkler Company

Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water a garden and easy to install. Learn the basics to grow a bumper crop and conserve water at the same time.

4. NEW! Organic, Low Maintenance Landscape Care


Bill Hlubik, Agricultural and Resource Management Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Middlesex County

Learn how to maintain your lawn and landscape with best management practices and organic pest control methods. Learn how to select lawn varieties that require less water and fertilizer and have built in resistance to many pest and disease problems.

5. "What Plant, Where?" Planning Your Home Landscape


Steve Kristoph, Owner, Steven Kristoph Nurseries

Avoid costly mistakes! This workshop will help you develop a game plan for arranging plants to create an attractive, functional landscape.

6. NEW! Unique Plants for Unique Spaces


Bruce Crawford, Director, Rutgers Gardens

Often times, there is an area of the garden that has an unusual or unique growing condition that requires a plan with specific qualities to ensure success. Bruce will describe several of these unique places and describe a number of plants that will not only ensure success, but a more interesting garden as well!

7. Canning Fruits and Vegetables


Daryl Minch and Sandra Grenci, Family & Community Health Sciences (FCHS), Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties

This workshop will introduce the best practices for successful canning of fruits and vegetables. Various techniques and common mistakes will be demonstrated and discussed.

8. REVISED! Composting and Good Soils: A Gardener's Best Tools


Virginia Lamb, Environmental Educator

When gardeners pay attention to the health of their soil, gardening becomes much easier! Learn the soil health basics and composting tips that will help you create your best garden soil, and your best garden!

9. Introduction to Plant Identification


Ted Szczawinski, Certified Tree Expert; Adjunct Instructor, Rutgers – Newark

This class will focus on the techniques used to identify plants, trees, and shrubs. Ted will teach you how to unlock clues found in the bark, the fruit, the leaves, the flowers, and more.

Session 2: 10:45am-11:45am

10. NEW! The History of the White-Tailed Deer and the NJ Gardener


Christopher J. Markham, President/Wildlife Biologist, New Jersey Deer Control LLC

It’s hard to believe that NJ, the most densely populated state, has wildlife issues, let alone one with such a large mammal, the white-tailed deer. Now imagine that just over a 100 years ago, there were hardly ANY deer in the entire state. Learn how such a drastic population change occurred, who is to blame, and more importantly, what is being done about it. Wildlife Biologist, Chris Markham will educate you on the evolution of the white-tailed deer’s ‘recent’ population explosion, and present some methods that homeowners and gardeners can use to battle this nuisance.

11. Adding Ornaments for Garden Interest


Kirsten Soriano, Landscape Designer

Garden ornaments are no longer limited to cheap chotchkies and knick knacks! Learn how to incorporate beautiful structures and collectibles into your garden design. No matter what size garden or budget, anyone can add a personal touch for a more whimsical and artistic atmosphere in the landscape.

12. NEW! Growing the Perfect Jersey Tomatoes: Favorite Heirlooms & Hybrids


Bill Hlubik, Agricultural and Resource Management Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE), Middlesex County

Learn how to select the best heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties for your garden. You will be provided with tips on growing healthy and great tasting tomatoes to make your neighbors envious.

13. Basic Pruning Techniques


Ted Szczawinski, Certified Tree Expert; Adjunct Instructor, Rutgers – Newark

Proper pruning techniques will keep your plants healthier and happier as well as extend their life cycle! A healthier plant is better equipped to resist disease and stress damage. This is one workshop that you don’t want to ‘cut!’

14. Great Soil, Great Gardens Part 1: Basic Soil Science


Brad Park, Research and Extension Agronomist, Rutgers University

The ‘foundation’ of a great garden is the soil. While most people would never dream of building a house on a flimsy foundation, many people put in extraordinary effort to plant gardens on foundations that can’t support them. Learn why soil ‘ain’t just dirt,’ so you can begin building the garden of your dreams. (Learn more great soil tips in the PM – Workshop #24!)

15. All About Roses


Greg Wolek, Owner, Wolek Garden Design

Roses are a beautiful addition to the landscape. For a long time, they were too difficult for most gardeners to grow, but now, modern advances have made them more manageable and continuously blooming in the landscape. Learn how you can give roses a place of prominence in your garden this year!

16. REVISED! Tips for Early and Late Season Vegetable Gardening


Virginia Lamb, Environmental Educator

Learn how to take advantage of the benefits of spring and fall gardening. Topics include bed preparation, plant selection, season extenders and cover cropping.

17. NEW! Welcoming Migrating Birds Back to Your Yard this Spring


Kim Eierman, Horticulture Consultant, EcoBeneficial

As migrating birds return this spring, is your landscape ready? Learn the best landscaping techniques and choices of regional native plants that provide the food, shelter, and nesting sites these birds need.

18. Freezing Techniques for Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs


Daryl Minch and Sandra Grenci, Family & Community Health Sciences (FCHS), Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties

Freezing produce allows you to enjoy it all year! This workshop will cover equipment, techniques and good safety measures to ensure high quality frozen produce. You’ll also learn about making freezer jam.

19. Plant JEOPARDY!


Game Host: Steve Kristoph, Owner, Steven Kristoph Nurseries

Based on the hit TV game show, contestants working in small groups will compete for top plant prizes. The format is exactly the same as what you’re familiar with; we even have the lock-out buzzer system allowing the group who knows the answer fastest to get first dibs on scoring. 16 person limit

Lunch Break: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife


Nancy Lawson, Author

KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: The Rutgers Master Gardener Program - 34 Years and Growing Strong


Nicholas Polanin, County Agricultural Agent, RCE of Somerset County

Rutgers Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension in its mission to deliver horticulture programs and information to the general public. These local experts staff the state’s 15 county Rutgers Master Gardener Helplines, a valuable resource to their communities. Nick will discuss the history of this great program, as well as how you can join this exclusive community of “green thumb” volunteers. Classes to become a NJ Master Gardener start forming now for the fall semester!

Session 3: 1:15pm-2:15pm

20. Repotting and Maintaining Orchids - Hands-On Workshop


Nicki Graf, Research Farm Supervisor III, Rutgers University, Floriculture Greenhouse

Learn the DO's and DON'Ts of potting and repotting orchids, and take home a beautiful orchid. This hands-on demonstration will also highlight how to mount on bark and wood mediums. (Additional fee of $20 per person - 25 person limit)

21. NEW! Designing Intimate Gardens


Bruce Crawford, Director, Rutgers Gardens

Most gardeners wish to create a place in their yard that is both secluded and enchanting for personal relaxation or for entertaining small groups. The challenge is to make the space feel unique and onto itself, yet not claustrophobic or unwelcoming. Bruce will discuss details on how to develop and decorate such an inviting personal space.

22. NEW! Easy Breezy Succulents


Kirsten Soriano, Landscape Designer

Looking for something new and fun to add to your gardening pallet? Succulents make great landscaping features, container gardens, and house plants. Topics will include indoor and outdoor plant care, design ideas, and a how-to on propagating new plants in your home!

23. NEW! Replacing Invasives: The Best Choices of Native Plants


Kim Eierman, Horticulture Consultant, EcoBeneficial

Removing troublesome invasive plants like Japanese Barberry, Burning Bush, Porcelain Berry, and others is just the first step. Learn which regional native plants are the best and most ecological replacements for your landscape.

24. Great Soil, Great Gardens Part 2: 10 Tips to Great Soil


Brad Park, Research and Extension Agronomist, Rutgers University

Proper soil evaluation can be mastered at any skill level. It won’t break the bank, and will likely save you money in the long run in the form of healthier, more attractive plants. We will review 10 concrete steps that you can take to improve your garden soil starting this spring! (Learn soil basics in the AM - Workshop #14!)

25. Using the Internet to Answer Your Gardening Questions


Ken Karamichael, Director, Office of Continuing Professional Education, Rutgers University

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – oh my! Learn creative ways to explore online resources to enhance your garden design and beauty. Expand your plant knowledge and acquire “lightning fast" search skills during this interactive session.

26. NEW! Creating an Entrance to Your Home for All Seasons


Greg Wolek, Owner, Wolek Garden Design

Learn how to select and arrange plantings to create a pleasing and defining entrance to your home. Multi-seasonal interest plants will be featured. We will integrate one simple planter to move through the seasons with the landscape.

27. NEW! Beds and Borders


Bruce Neary, Owner, BCN Horticultural Services

Using his energetic style, instructor Bruce Neary will take you through the design, installation and maintenance processes relating to beds and borders in small spaces within the residential landscape.

28. NEW! The Wonderful World of Tropicals in Containers


Stephen Schuckman, Municipal Forester, Certified Tree Expert

Forget impatiens, magnolias, and petunias...grow bananas instead! Tropical plants LOVE our New Jersey heat and humidity, grow fast, aren’t expensive, and your neighbors will be amazed! Bring a little bit of Hawaii to your home and feel the Aloha spirit! Pineapple anyone?

29. Plant JEOPARDY!


Game Host: Steve Kristoph, Owner, Steven Kristoph Nurseries

Based on the hit TV game show, contestants working in small groups will compete for top plant prizes. The format is exactly the same as what you’re familiar with; we even have the lock-out buzzer system allowing the group who knows the answer fastest to get first dibs on scoring. 16 person limit.

Session 4: 2:30pm-4:00pm

30. Fresh Flower Arranging - Hands-On Workshop


Anthony Baradhi, Floral Designer, Flower Station, Somerset/Princeton, NJ

Learn how to make and decorate your home with fresh flowers. Basic techniques for flower arranging will be demonstrated. You will take home the beautiful arrangement that you make in class. Please bring floral clippers (and gloves, if you prefer) to class with you (additional fee, $40 per person). 25 person limit.

31. NEW! Site Analysis: Drainage and Compaction Solutions


Bruce Neary, Owner/Operator, BCN Horticulture, LLC

Bruce will touch on how to read the landscape and analyze site conditions; implement proper grading techniques; evaluate soil conditions; and discuss the right tools and techniques needed to solve drainage issues.

32. The Lost Season: Winter in the Garden


Walter Cullerton, Penn State Master Gardener

Skip the doldrums of winter by taking advantage of magnificent indoor gardens and outdoor grounds! Walter will review various gardens, nurseries and arboreta you can visit to rid yourself of the winter blues. Plus, you’ll leave with tips on how you too can have a winter wonderland in your own backyard.

33. NEW! Monarch Butterfly Update and What We Can Do Next


Rick Mikula, Author, Environmental Educator, International Butterfly Consultant

Despite many obstacles, Monarch butterflies have been making a slow comeback. Much of that success is due to the efforts of serious gardeners like you. Do you plant two butterfly gardens? Perhaps you should. Join Rick to get the latest status updates and learn what you can do next.

34. NEW! Garden Equipment 101: Maintenance and Safety (held outdoors)


Joe Clark, Research Farm Supervisor, Rutgers University

Learn how to properly operate your garden tools & equipment. Joe will demonstrate the difference between a healthy-sounding machine and one which needs new spark plugs, oil, or cleaner fuel. Learn proper usage of hedge and string trimmers, sharpening hand pruners, and mower blades and more.

35. NEW! Hardy Bulbs for Four Seasons


Bruce Crawford, Director, Rutgers Gardens

Bulbs are a group of plants that lack total appeal when they are on the shelf or in a bag. However, once they come into bloom, they become the center of attention! Bruce will cover popular and unusual bulbs that provide color from late winter ‘till late autumn. Proper design and culture will also be discussed.

36. Preparing Your Lawn for Spring and Summer


Pedro Perdomo, Registration Specialist, Nisso America, LLC

A must for turfgrass (lawncare) enthusiasts! Learn the basic management practices used to prepare and maintain a healthy lawn all spring and summer long. Topics include fertilization, dethatching, seed selection, and more.

37. NEW! Amazing Chickens: Good for You, Good for the Garden


Maria Brimat, Environmental Specialist/Educator, NJDEP

Learn the basics of chicken keeping, how they are a ‘green pet’ in a garden, and how they can be therapeutic for people. Learn what to do about local zoning and ordinance obstacles.

38. NEW! Growing Herb Blends: Advice from the ‘Herb Lady’


Caren White, Master Gardener of Middlesex County, Herb Consultant – The Rutgers Gardens

Fresh ingredients deserve fresh seasonings. Learn how to grow, dry and mix herbs from your garden to create classic herb blends like Herbes de Provence and Fines Herbes as well as more common blends such as Poultry Seasoning and Italian Seasoning. Copies of all recipes will be available to take home.

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Contact Us!

Program Coordinator:
Rosemary Mende

Administrative Assistant:
Olga Welsh

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