SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -- As warmer weather approaches, many Middlesex County residents are eager to return to gardening. However, many people want their gardens to be free of synthetic pesticides as they grow food or care for landscaping.

 If you want your garden and landscape plants to be healthy with little or no pesticides, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County is offering a garden workshop entitled Mastering Organic Gardening and Landscaping.

This free workshop is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5 at the EARTH Center located in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, 42 Riva Ave., South Brunswick.

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The workshop will introduce the concept of Integrated Pest Management and examine how simple practices, such as monitoring for pests and providing adequate moisture, will keep your plants healthy. Interpreting soil sample results and light requirements for various species will also be examined.

The recent interest in alternative approaches to gardening comes from the idea of leading a more “green” lifestyle and lessening one’s impact on the environment. This workshop will address concepts and techniques important to the foundation of this style of gardening.

 To register, call 732-398-5262 by March 28.

Middlesex County Agricultural Agent Bill Hlubik, a professor at Rutgers University, will be the class instructor and explain the values of these planting practices.

 “I encourage residents to attend this informative workshop,” said Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Chair of the County’s Business Development and Education Committee.  “Learning to garden without the use of pesticides will ensure that the County remains a beautiful and healthy place to live.”  

 “The EARTH Center offers a host of environmental services to the County,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “Here, residents don’t only learn about greener approaches to gardening, but can also purchase soil test kits, pesticide application test manuals, or submit pest and disease samples for evaluation.”  

 The County’s Extension Office is part of a nationwide network that brings the research of the State land-grant universities to local people. Rutgers Cooperative Extension offices throughout New Jersey are cooperatively funded by the County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Rutgers University-New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The EARTH Center is located in one of Middlesex County’s most beautiful parks, Davidson’s Mill Pond Park. The Center’s 300-plus acres feature ponds, wooded trails and open fields. Educational displays at the park include a demonstration vegetable garden, hard-scaped herb garden, and a water-conserving rain garden. These displays are used to spark conversation about earth-friendly gardening techniques, local agriculture, and topics that are the focus of Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Agriculture & Natural Resource Management Department. 

 Visitors can also find out more about the Center and its events by calling 732-398- 5262