ITHACA, N.Y. — The arrival and spread of Invasive Jumping Worms has caused Tompkins County’s Master Gardener Volunteers to stop selling choice plant divisions from their home gardens at the upcoming Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale, coordinated by the group as their primary fundraiser since 1982.
A highlight of the season for home gardeners across the region, the 40th Annual Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale will be held Friday, May 13th from 12:00-6:00pm at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market, 545 Third Street in Ithaca. More than 25 area growers and gardening groups (listed here) will bring a large selection of choice stock to sell, including organically grown and heirloom vegetable starts, herbs, colorful annuals, perennials, small flowering shrubs, hardy roses, fruit crops and more.
To prevent the spread of the invasive worms, Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) for several years have triple-rinsed plant roots before potting them for sale in sterile soil, however this year instead of selling transplants they will use the event to educate gardeners about the reason for this shift in focus, the impact of Invasive Jumping Worms (Amynthas spp.) and how to slow their spread. Invasive Jumping Worms alter the structure and chemistry of the soil dramatically, leaving a distinctive grainy soil full of worm castings, and can damage lawns, landscapes and even the forest understory habitat. Prevention is the only known way to manage Jumping Worms, which should be disposed of in the garbage when found and not released into the environment. People unknowingly spread the worms by using them for bait or transporting their egg cocoons on shoes and wheels, in mulch, or via transplanted plants.
Visitors to the Spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale are invited to stop by the MGV booth to learn more about Invasive Jumping Worms and other invasive plants and pests, and garden planning advice for challenging sites such as those with clay soil, dry shade, and deer pressure. Bring your questions, and a sample of your garden soil for free walk-in pH testing (donations accepted). There also will be information on rain gardens and gardening with native plants, a raffle with prizes, a seed giveaway, and sales of a limited number of any spring planted bulbs that may remain from the MGS’s recent online sale.
Admission to the Plant Sale is free. There are no timed tickets but to support social distancing entry will be monitored by volunteers to ensure that the pavilion does not become too crowded. Masks are required, and the first half hour of the sale is set aside for seniors and those who are immuno-compromised, and their helpers. Ages for senior or special admission are self-determined, no questions will be asked. Visitors are encouraged to bring carts or wagons to help transport plant purchases to their cars. Ithaca Farmers’ Market is located at Steamboat Landing, 545 Third Street, off Rt. 13 in Ithaca.
To learn more about Invasive Jumping Worms and other invasive pests and plants, visit the County Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County website. Tompkins County residents with gardening questions may contact the Master Gardener Volunteers who staff our GrowLine at firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include photos of specific garden pests or problems you wish to have identified, and a phone number where you can be reached with a detailed response. For questions about the Tompkins County Master Gardener Volunteer program, contact Margaret Royall, Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, at email@example.com or (607) 272-2292 ext. 146. Sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County Master volunteers.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County