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Gardeners' Dirt: Come learn from masters in their field

By Jim Grumman - Victoria County Master Gardener Intern Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
July 12, 2012 at 2:12 a.m.

In addition to hearing from some of the most knowledgeable Texans in the horticulture field, the new training class will have hands-on training at the Master Gardener Victoria Educational Gardens.  Participants will be exposed to the nearly 2-acre educational garden including the water garden with tropical plants, a water fall and koi fish.

I had always appreciated the God-given beauty of living things. I guess this is what led me to the study of human form and function, and eventually to medicine. Working indoors all week long, I enjoyed going outside whenever possible. I also began to be interested in the plant world and wanted to grow a fine lawn, flowers and vegetables around my house.

Creating a natural outdoor environment

I initially started gardening in Northern California where the climate is mild and conducive to plant growth. I met with limited success, however, and realized that, even in a favorable climate, I needed much more information to achieve the desired results of a natural outdoor environment with taste and beauty.

I moved to Victoria 20 years ago, into a more challenging climate, but continued to garden. I had limited success, and eventually, heard of the Master Gardener program. I wanted to start learning right away, but had to wait until my retirement to pursue my horticultural interests. I finished the training program last year, and am now a Master Gardener intern along with 22 of my fellow classmates.

This has enabled me to meet and learn from many of the experts in multiple disciplines. I have made many new friends who were happy to share their gardening knowledge and experience with me. As a consequence, the landscaping of my yard is slowly, but definitely improving.

New class begins Aug. 2

The Master Gardener training class is a wonderful and enjoyable series of weekly, intense training sessions, lasting half a day and, this year, starting on Aug. 2. with our orientation, where the details and requirements of the program are explained. You will meet several leaders of the Master Gardener Association, and get to know many new friends and people who are interested in gardening, horticulture, vegetable and fruit propagation and farming.

Thursday afternoons through Nov. 15

The subsequent meetings are also on Thursday afternoons, from 1 to 5 p.m. through Nov. 15. This year, many topics of interest will be covered including vegetable and herb gardening, pest management, propagation, fruit and nut production, landscape horticulture and the Junior Master Gardener program.

You will learn much, and will have the opportunity to share your special interests with others teaching through several avenues, including The Gardeners' Dirt - this weekly column in the Advocate, presentations and hands-on working with plants in Victoria Educational Gardens, a Master Gardener educational garden located on the grounds of Victoria Regional Airport across from the control tower.

50 hours community service to become certified

After finishing your training, you become an intern and are required to perform 50 hours of approved community service in various programs including, but not limited to, working with plants in VEG, helping with the Victoria garden tour, and doing telephone time (my favorite) answering questions from the public at the AgriLife Extension Office.

Many other interesting opportunities are also available to fulfill this requirement to become a certified Texas Master Gardener. All of them represent opportunities to increase your knowledge through continued contact with all of our Master Gardeners.

Fee covers materials, speakers

The program requires a registration and materials fee of $175. This covers the cost of the program, including speakers and the Master Gardener training manual, a valuable resource that will be of great use for years to come.

The training program is a chance to learn from the masters in their field. Even if you have not had previous experience, this is a wonderful opportunity to expand your knowledge, success and love for gardening.

Space is limited - register now

Applications for the program are available online at vcmga.org, or at the Victoria County AgriLife Extension Office in person at 528 Waco Circle, at the Victoria County Airport. Spaces in the program are limited - so apply as soon as possible. Registration deadline is July 23. Join us in a great and satisfying adventure. Call 361-575-4581 for more information.

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 VictoriaAdvocate.com.



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