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Courses teach secrets of gardening at Cooper-Siegel Community Library

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
During a Thursday presentation at Carnegie Library of McKeesport, Carol Brand discusses the sunlight's effect on vegetable growth. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

Gardening enthusiasts will say the practice has grown a long way from the backyard.

Aspiring green-thumbs with even the smallest space can master the hobby and capitalize on the trend of eating healthier, gardener Carol Brand said.

“I try to teach people to start small so they can manage it with frequent short periods of time,” she said.

Brand will teach two courses this spring at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library on Fox Chapel Road.

“Container Gardening” is at 7 p.m. March 12 and “Veggie 101” is at 7 p.m. March 26.

Both sessions are free.

Brand, a retired physician, has long been tending to her own garden both as a means to grow her own food and a matter of therapy.

She began sharing her passion a few years back with an ulterior motive.

“I spent 30 years urging parents to serve and eat more vegetables with their children,” she said. “After I stopped practicing, I decided to try another tactic.”

A longtime resident of Oakmont, Brand recently moved to South Park but travels around the region to give gardening tips.

She said a lot of people shy away from the hands-on hobby just for fear they don't have enough space.

She started her container class to demonstrate that tomatoes and beans — and lots of them — will grow in even the tiniest spots.

“I owned a house and had plenty of room, but I was hooked (on containers) when I learned I could grow veggies along my walkways,” she said. “I could put my herbs close to my back door and my cherry tomato plants too.

“If I put them where I would be passing by, I could get to the tomatoes just as quickly as I could a cookie.”

She said space is the obvious reason for using containers, but they can also be an answer for people with injuries, age limitations or little time.

The bottom line, Brand said, is that she wants people to get down and dirty with their families whether it's in the backyard or a small patch on their porch.

“I hope to convince them they can have fun outdoors, get exercise and grow good things for their table,” she said.

“When you eat homegrown veggies in front of children, you are doing some important modeling.”

To register for the gardening classes at Cooper-Siegel, call 412-828-9520.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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