I’ve been an Iowa State University Extension Master Gardener and member of the Story County Master Gardener Association since 2001. My favorite club activity is our annual Plant Sale on Mother’s Day weekend. I enjoy visiting with gardeners and helping them decide what plants would work best in their yards and their plan.

As a child I helped out with the family garden every summer reaping the fruits of my labor with joy. I also remember slipping away during visits to my grandfather’s farm to liberate some of his raspberries. However, gardening is more than just planting a flower, fruit or vegetable garden. We are conservators of the land and have a responsibility to protect the environment with a thoughtful plan for the land we manage.


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A Competitive Garden   (1 comment)




A Competitive Garden
by Andrea Dorn - posted 06/19/13

Now that we’ve all got our gardens planted and can watch our lovely seedlings mature you should think about the Iowa State Fair. What’s that? You don’t understand what one has to do with the other? Well, agriculture, that’s what!


From a very young age I’ve been a competitive sort of person. I blame my grandmother. One August she helped me pick some crabapples from one of her trees and enter them in the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport. Neither of us knew what we were doing but we thought it would be fun. The superintendent of the crop division helped us to identify the variety (Dolga) and set them up for display. The next day we returned to find that our apples had earned a first place ribbon! I was hooked.


For several years now I’ve entered my vegetables in the Agricultural and Horticultural Crops division of the Iowa State Fair. I don’t claim to be a “super gardener” by any means but I have won a few ribbons with my veggies. One year my eggplant took first. I’ve also won ribbons with my vegetable plate, kohlrabi, and even walnuts. The one real challenge to me is to have vegetables ready in time for the fair. I’m afraid I usually plant my garden rather late so my veggies are only barely producing in late August.


So what about you? Will you consider entering some of your veggies, fruits or nuts in this year’s fair? For the State Fair the deadline is coming quickly. You have to send in your entry by July 1st – not your produce, just your intent to enter. They will send you tags to label your entries and any tickets or parking permits you might need. Or you can enter online at https://www.iowastatefairentry.org/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx Then you must deliver your entries by 9 a.m. on Tuesday August 13th , the day of judging.


For all the information you need for entering the Iowa State Fair go to:



I love hearing from you. Please leave a note in the comments if you are going to enter. Tell us what you are entering and if you have ever entered before. I’ll look for your vegetables, fruits and nuts at this year’s Iowa State Fair!





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