Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is a Master Gardener?





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A friend of mine asked me recently, “What is a Master Gardener?”  She has known me for a while, she knows of some of my activities, and she knows that it is part of the Agriculture Extension Program. 

 I wasn’t sure where to begin. 




 

After a few restarts in my brain I decided to tell her the history,   It began with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the reason they started the Extension Services in each county – in my simple terms it was to help those who made their livelihood farming or with livestock.  In the ‘70’s a King County Extension Agent (Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, are in King County) was being inundated not with farmer's calls but with urban horticulture calls. 
 
 

To address this issue, a pilot plan was designed to publicize a 'Clinics' table set up in a Tacoma mall.  Home gardeners would be invited to bring their gardening questions to this table, including examples of their problems, if available.  This pilot was so successful that a training class was set up the next year to train volunteers committed to helping with these kinds of requests.  This was the beginning of the Master Gardeners program that can be found in many County Extension Offices throughout the United States and also internationally.  The point of the program being to teach people about the science and art of growing plants by providing information and technical assistance using research-based and sustainable gardening practices.
 
 


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The lightbulb went off in my friends head.  She talked about the predicament an Extension agent would be in who knew or could find the answers to an urban gardener’s question but did not feel that was how he/she should spend their time.  She said as much and was glad that this Extension Office had created a way to help us urban gardeners.  We agreed that our gardening problems may not cost us our livelihood but does affect our checkbooks and, if you grow to love some of you trees shrubs and other yard plants like I do, it affects our desire to garden.





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So if you are a urban/home gardener and live in the U.S. or another country that provides this free service, call your County Extension Agent (in the U.S.) next time you have a question about something going on in your yard.  Or go to an event that publicizes a 'Clinics' table, like your county fair or Saturday market or special event at one of your nurseries.  If the volunteers there can't help you, they will put you in touch with someone who can.












14 comments:

  1. We actually had an experience at a local fair with a master gardener. My FIL is an avid home gardener and they got to chatting about this and that concerning the garden. For me (who know's VERY little about gardening but wants to learn) it was fun to listen in and glean what I could. It really is an awesome program to have available!

    By the way, love the flower picture you have at the top! It is gorgeous!

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  2. Glad you answered that question! I actually posted a problem with my rose bush on Hometalk and got a ton of responses, some from Master Gardeners. Was not sure what that meant but they had a lively debate in the comment section about what to do about my roses!! They are quite serious about what they know!!

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    1. I'm glad you go lots of advice about your roses. We get great training but life experience is one of the best teachers. What I like best is that we learn about the resources, most of which are on the 'net, but helping people in the right direction is rewarding. And as a bunch of (mostly) retired gardeners, we have a lot of fun.

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  3. I am very new at gardening and most of the things I know came from the internet. It will be great to meet a Master Gardener. The pictures are awesome. :)

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  4. Interesting - I live in a more urban area - It must be nice to have room for a garden. I see more and more in this area using small spaces for gardening.

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    1. Small spaces is how I gardened for 17 years before I moved to a place where I had a yard. On my patio, I named each of my potted plants - the only 2 I can remember now is Lucille and Ethyl for two hanging fuchsia.

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  5. Great info! I love the listings you featured, too. :) We are having a few rough years in our gardening efforts, and we've learned to appreciate certain weeds...calling them herbs, you know. *grin* Chickweed is lovely in pasta salad...

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    1. Three cheers for Chickweed. It is one of the easiest to pluck up but always seems to have its seed planted already. I've heard about it as a green but haven't yet added it to my diet. :)

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  6. Wow, I had no idea something like that existed. What a wonderful service, and an informative and well-written post. Thank you :)

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  7. I didn't know this program existed as well. We sure need some help with our rose bushes. One year my hubby and kids tried to plant a garden. They were crushed when the chipmunks started eating the food. They have not tried again.:(

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    1. I have heard that not every county has the Master Gardener program but do call your County Extension office with rose questions. My husband loves roses and often the issue is finding the rose that is resistant to issues in your local climate. And those little critters, we have a whole class on the four-legged kind and how to protect our gardens from them. The extension office should have information to help you with that as well.

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  8. I am very good friends with my local county extension office -

    I'm a regular "garden tour" aficianado.

    God chose to start life on this planet in a garden.............

    Great post

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  9. very interesting!! I to never knew this program existed. Most of my issues are trying to find the right kind of product that will grow not only in the heat of the desert but will also withstand the cold.

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    1. Hi Kim:

      Try your county Extension Office and see if they can't give you a list of plants and cultivars that would survive in your climate.

      Thanks for reading.

      Luella

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