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Gardeners' Dirt: Come grow with the Master Gardeners

By Julie Moritz - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
July 11, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.

Master Gardener trainees will have 16 weeks of training, including a class field trip, the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show and tours of Victoria Educational Gardens. 2012 class members, from left, are  Larry Kocurek, Frances Chapa, Kathy Toerck, D'Ann Hurta, Kathy Bowen, Mitcheal Maraggia, Debbie Hopper, Melissa Odom, and Jane Blanchett) are shown near the turfgrass demonstration plots in VEG located across from the control tower at Victoria Regional Airport.

Will this be your year? Have you been waiting for the right time or even retirement to take the class? Have you been putting the training on the back burner while accomplishing other things? Do you live in another county? Do you think you don't know enough to even take the class?

Time to apply

It's time to stop the excuses and apply. Gardeners, ranchers, farmers and nature lovers interested and curious individuals are all welcome. Each individual, no matter the interest or expertise, can find a place to bloom and grow in the Victoria County Master Gardener program.

The area training program is offered each year by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and coordinated by volunteer Victoria County Master Gardeners. Classes will be from 1 to 5 p.m Thursdays Aug. 1 through Nov. 14.

The first class is in the Victoria County Extension Office, 528 Waco Circle. Subsequent classes are held in the Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive. Both locations are in the Victoria County Regional Airport complex.

Grow with the class

The training class is the beginning and consider yourself the seed. Perhaps you are more a seedling, cutting or a full-grown shrub or tree being transplanted. Everyone comes with a different background and knowledge of horticulture. Expert speakers from all over Texas plus accomplished Master Gardeners provide the basis, the soil, for your growth.

Topics include plant growth and development; landscape horticulture, containers, xeriscape, working with Victoria soils, home fruit and nut management, Texas superstar plants, identifying and understanding insects, to name a few. See the full list included with this article.

Learn by doing

After the soil is amended, proper amounts of sunshine and water are needed. Class participation in hands-on projects and class tours can be likened to these essentials for growth. Learn by doing. You will propagate plants, work in Victoria Educational Gardens, attend the Farm and Ranch Show, and visit area farms and gardening centers. This is just the start.

Blossom as you go

After being planted in properly amended soil with the correct amount of sunshine and water, full blossoming can begin. The fertilizer to help you bloom your best is the group. Acceptance and encouragement are the norm. A few quotes from last year's class members are:

Expertise not necessary

Get common sense ideas

It's the "all source" of gardening

Hear the truth: "don't do this"

Gives confidence

Camaraderie - share common interest

Generosity of members

The Victoria County Master Gardeners are truly a group of positive, active, giving, talented individuals. Everyone is eager to share.

By the way, when food is included Master Gardeners are overachievers in the culinary department. And there is always a snack or two - or three - at the training sessions.

Take first step

All journeys begin with a single step. This training class is the first step in becoming a certified Victoria County and Texas Master Gardener. This is where all Master Gardeners start. The quality of the speakers is reason enough to sign up. However, so much more awaits as you start this adventure.

I liken this quote from Donald Miller, author of "Blue Like Jazz," to the garden. "I want to keep my soul fertile for changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it's time for them to die." Just like in a garden, change is the only constant.

There are three options for obtaining an application for the training class. You may telephone the extension office at 361-575-4581 and request a form be sent to you; go to the Victoria County Master Gardener Association website vcmga.org and download the form or write Victoria County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, 528 Waco Circle, Victoria, TX 77904 to request an application.

You can also go to the Extension office and pick up a copy. The application deadline is July 18; acceptance notification is July 25.

We hope to have you in this year's class. Will this be your year?

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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