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Gardeners' Dirt: Master Gardeners seek new members

By Helen R. Parks - Victoria County Master Gardener Intern Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
July 6, 2010 at 2:06 a.m.
Updated July 7, 2010 at 2:07 a.m.

All Master Gardener training classes gain knowledge by touring a major horticultural resource center within the area.  The 2009 class toured the San Antonio Botanical Garden and Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard and Nursery in Elmendorf.  Trainees are shown here learning about olive propagation and production.

What is your earliest gardening memory? Who influenced your gardening knowledge?

Most gardeners learned from hands-on experiences with family members.

Skills and information passed to us from our ancestors followed us through time as we can all call ourselves gardeners.

What it's All About

Local Master Gardeners share knowledge, care for Victoria Educational Gardens and sponsor educational and gardening events. More than 67,000 recorded volunteer hours of service valued at more than $1 million cumulatively since 1997 has been contributed to Victoria County projects by local Master Gardeners.

This is what it's all about, said Dick Nolen, president-elect of Victoria County Master Gardeners. "I enjoy butterfly and hummingbird gardening and volunteer service activities, such as garden tours, plant sales and assisting the public with plant or gardening information."

Gardening attracts people from all walks of life.

If you have ever killed a plant and wondered, "What did I do wrong?" This could be your chance to find out from some of the most knowledgeable people in the field.

"You should learn something about gardening from every plant you kill. Would you repeat the mistake? Check the amount of water or sunshine you gave it and make changes until you succeed," said Roy Cook, 2010 Victoria County Master Gardener president.

Master Gardener Training Class Offered

Victoria County Master Gardener Association - Texas AgriLife Extension is once again offering the 16-week fall Master Gardener training program. Each Thursday, Aug. 5 through Nov. 18, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, participants will learn from the best of the best.

The program provides 25 applicants who have met requirements for the course with 60 hours training in topics from plant growth and development, to soil, water and plant nutrients, to landscaping, to growing fruit and nut trees and vegetables.

Texas A&M University experts share field-tested information each week.

After the course work, a one-year internship and 50 hours volunteer service are required to complete certification. Hours are obtained by attending meetings and training sessions, working on various plant sale committees, the garden tour, planting and weeding at VEG, landscaping projects, writing articles for this column, working with the Junior Master Gardener program - plus various other projects.

The original long-term project of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association is the education gardens, an intricate configuration of mini-gardens designed for the purpose of educating the community on proper gardening techniques, water conservation, composting and other gardening best-practices in a hands-on, handicap accessible environment. The gardens, located at the Officer's Club grounds at the Victoria Regional Airport, each year is toured by hundreds of children and adults.

VCMGA Achievements

Since 1997, the Victoria County Master Gardener Association has received 50 state awards in various categories. Expert gardeners emerge with talents and passions never imagined.

The award-winning weekly column in the Victoria Advocate, (The Gardeners' Dirt), VCMGA website (www.vcmga.org) VEG tours and the community-wide Annual Garden Tour show group's commitment and dedication to gardening in the community.

Additionally, Ed Gregurek, Pat Plowman, Charla Borchers Leon and Roy Cook have been recognized for individual state achievement and leadership with Leon (in 2003) and Plowman (in 2009) selected first place for most outstanding Texas Master Gardener of the year.

Why Become A Master Gardener?

Gardening can stimulate the mind, change eating habits, relieve stress and provide exercise.

Becoming a Master Gardener can help you find hidden talents and make new friends.

Whether you prefer vegetable or flower gardening, yard work, rain harvesting, landscaping, composting or canning fresh produce.

"Being a newcomer to Victoria, the program allowed me to meet many people and become involved in community service projects. I enjoy propagating bougainvilleas and sharing them with everyone," said Cliff Knezek, 2009 Victoria County Master Gardener president.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.



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