There is a bounty of information to be harvested April 22 and 23 during the Northshore Garden Show and Plant Sale in Covington, the year’s largest horticultural education event for the St. Tammany Master Gardeners Association and the LSU AgCenter, which collaborate for the event.
“I remind my volunteers every year that this event is definitely not just a plant sale,” said AgCenter county agent for St. Tammany, William Afton, head of the 2022 show. “We bring in both specialists and volunteers and offer a wide variety of topics so there is something for everyone. There is a lot that can be learned.”
The show will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, with educational programs from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. daily.
Speakers on April 22 will detail how to grow microgreens and edible landscaping, offer an overview of plant diseases and give an update on new organic products to tackle pesky weeds. April 23 will bring an introduction to the AgCenter’s hemp program and an explanation of stormwater management in the area.
Also on April 23, Afton will present a tutorial on how to properly plant landscape trees. The final speaker will help gardeners earn a Louisiana Habitat designation by planting native plants in their yards and gardens.
Afton said the event began more than 10 years ago to highlight the nurseries in Covington, Franklinton and Amite. “That triangle makes up the second-largest nursery production area in the state,” he said.
The event has grown to include food trucks, kids’ activities, information tables on horticulture topics and the featured educational presentations, he said.
The April dates are still later in the year than the event historically has been held before the coronavirus pandemic, but Afton said he is glad that it is still a little earlier than the 2021 event held in late May. “There may not be too many vegetable plants, but there will still be plenty options at the sale,” he said.
More than 40 vendors from throughout the north shore, the New Orleans metro area and Mississippi will sell plants and other garden-related items.
Afton said there was definitely an increase in the phone calls and emails received over the past two years as residents began to focus on home gardens while spending more time at home and in their yards during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said novice gardeners quickly learned that “working with plants brings you back to the earth, to our instincts as farmers and growers of our own food. But it also requires patience. Anyone who expects instant returns won’t see that in gardening.”
But Afton said there’s nothing “cooler” than the experience of having a backyard garden and getting a firsthand demonstration of food production.
The event will take place at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds at 1301 N. Florida St. There is a $5 gate fee for adults.
Proceeds from the garden show help fund the Bobby Fletcher Sr. Scholarship and the St. Tammany Master Gardener Association Scholarship. Both scholarships benefit St. Tammany students pursuing agriculture careers at a state college or university.
For information on the scholarships or the garden show and plant sale, call the St. Tammany branch of the AgCenter at (985) 875-2635 or visit https://www.lsuagcenter.com/portals/our_offices/parishes/st%20tammany.