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Gardeners' Dirt: 2013 - a year of Master Gardener successes

By By Peter J. McGuill - Victoria County Extension Agent - Ag & Natural Resources and Victoria County Master Gardener Coordinator
Dec. 26, 2013 at 6:26 a.m.

ABOVE: Visitors will often find a few Master Gardeners working at the Victoria Educational Gardens, across from the control tower at Victoria Regional Airport at 333 Bachelor Drive. The gardens are open daily from daylight to dusk and are home to thousands of plants in the 20-plus mini gardens and other attractions.

2014 VCMGA Events

•  Lunch and Learn with the Masters

Second Monday of the month

(January through August)

•  Victoria Garden Tour

More information available early spring 2014

• Victoria Educational Gardens

Open daily from dawn to dusk

For group tour information, visit vcmga.org.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

When it comes to the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, I assume I am not afflicted with the plague of insanity because I am hopeful that this volunteer association does continue to do the same thing time and again, repeating with the same results.

This group of 150-plus volunteers work diligently to educate the public on topics relating to practical and environmentally sustainable gardening and horticultural practices.

In 2013, the Victoria County Master Gardener Association contributed more than 14,700 volunteer hours to assist the public in Victoria and surrounding counties. The recent association graduation and awards program provided an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of this group, which are astounding and certainly worthy of additional recognition.

Gardeners' Dirt column

Ten years and counting is the length of time that this educational column has been printed weekly in the Victoria Advocate. During this time, it has become one of the leading tools to share gardening education and information with the public.

Through the dedicated efforts of the column's editor, committee and numerous association member authors, this column has been named the top in the state several times.

At the recent Texas Master Gardener Association Annual Conference, The Gardeners' Dirt was again awarded first place in the Mass Media awards category.

Lunch and Learn with the Masters

Monthly, from January to August, these Master Gardeners conduct educational programs that are open to the public at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Health Center in Victoria and have been doing so for the past five years.

This free-of-charge lunchtime event takes place on the second Monday of the month and delivers the latest in research-based gardening and horticultural practices to the many citizens that attend.

It is common to have a standing-room-only crowd that traveled to Victoria from counties and towns throughout the Crossroads and Coastal Bend regions to attend these events.

The 2014 Lunch and Learn events will begin Jan. 13 at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro in Victoria. Look for more information in upcoming Gardeners' Dirt columns.

Junior Master Gardener training

It is never too early to begin to teach our children about the principles of gardening and caring for our environment. Through the volunteers that coordinate the Junior Master Gardener program, youth in public schools are learning valuable lessons about food production and horticulture. These lessons also provide practical application of the math and science skills that are being learned in the classroom.

Victoria Educational Gardens

The hidden gem of Victoria County is Victoria Educational Gardens. This oasis that is located at Victoria Regional Airport across from the control tower is a living example of superior gardening techniques and environmentally sustainable practices.

The gardens are open daily from daylight to dusk and are home to thousands of plants in the 20-plus mini gardens and other attractions. Educational classes, field trips, guided and unguided tours and picnics are regular occurrences in the garden.

One will often find a few Master Gardeners working in the gardens who would be thrilled to answer questions or give you a tour of this natural work of art.

New Master Gardeners

The newest members of VCMGA are the graduating interns that recently completed their requirements to become Master Gardeners. We are excited to have this group of highly motivated and engaged volunteers carry forward the legacy of the association and continue their efforts to educate others as members of VCMGA.

Following in the footsteps of those graduating, a new group recently completed a 14-week training program and examination to become Master Gardener interns. This training program consisted of classroom training, tours and hands-on learning of gardening and horticultural principles from the leading authorities in Texas.

The 21-member class of 2013 will each volunteer at least 50 hours of service to Victoria County over the next year before graduating to become a Master Gardener.

Looking forward to 2014

What will next year hold for the Victoria County Master Gardener Association? You can rest assured that this group of dedicated volunteers will strive to continue the tradition of providing top-notch outreach education to share the wealth of knowledge that they have garnered as part of the Master Gardener program to improve the lives of the people of Victoria County.

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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