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Gardeners' Dirt: Inquiring minds want to know - about gardening

By By Debbie Hopper - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
July 10, 2014 at 2:10 a.m.

A rainwater harvesting system is used to help water plants at the Victoria Educational Gardens. This collection tank is one of two that collects runoff water from the roof of the Officer's Club, from where it is rerouted to various mini-gardens.  Participants in the upcoming class will learn about rainwater harvesting at one of the fall training sessions.

BECOME A MASTER GARDENER

• What: Master Gardener Fall Training Class

•  When: 1-5 p.m. Aug. 7 through Nov. 20

• Registration Fee: $175

•  Deadline to apply: July 17

• Applications: Visit vcmga.org or go to Victoria County Extension Office, 528 Waco Circle, Victoria County Airport or call 361-575-4581.

Lunch and Learn with the Masters

• Noon-1 p.m. Monday

• Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.

• Free to the public

• Bring your lunch and drink.

• "Water Feature Ideas for Your Landscape" presented by Victoria County Master Gardener Pat Plowman.

Are you interested in growing flowers or vegetables? Do you know what Earthkind landscaping is or what Texas Superstars are? Ever wonder what those bugs are on your plants? Then you should join us for the 2014 Victoria County Master Gardener fall training class.

The Master Gardener program in Victoria County started in 1997 with 23 trainees. The Victoria County Master Gardener Association was later organized in 2000 as a nonprofit entity, and we have about 150 volunteers and interns dedicated to providing horticultural and environmental stewardship education to the community through various programs and presentations.

Requirements

To earn the title of Master Gardener, a trainee must obtain a minimum of 50 hours of classroom training in 16 weeks. The trainee then becomes a Master Gardener intern. Interns must volunteer 50 hours of service through approved projects, work at the greenhouse or Victoria Educational Gardens and do some telephone time, which consists of providing answers and sources of information for inquiring citizens who call the extension office.

These requirements must be completed within one year to achieve the title of Master Gardener. To retain the title, individuals must participate each year in a minimum of six hours of continuing education and complete the required volunteer service hours.

Cost

The cost of the training is $175, which is paid at the end of the first class. This includes the cost of all the speakers, many of which are the most knowledgeable in the state, handouts and the Master Gardener manual, which is a very valuable source of information on all kinds of gardening topics. There is also an optional field trip that is not included in this fee.

Classes

Classes are from 1 to 5 p.m., starting Aug. 7 and continue through Nov. 20. Classes are in the 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive, at the Victoria Regional Airport complex. Classes will conclude Dec. 9 with an awards holiday celebration. Those who complete the 16-week course will become interns at that time.

Study topics

Each week there is a different topic and speaker. These speakers are experts in their field. By the end of the program, you can see how the different subjects all come together to give you a better understanding of gardening.

Topics include plant growth and development; identifying and understanding insects; vegetables and herbs; perennials, roses and bulbs; Texas superstars; plant propagation (some hands-on); working with Victoria soils and results from your soil sample.

You will also learn about the Junior Master Gardener program; home fruit and nut management; sun protection; composting; rainwater harvesting; turf grass, diagnosing and understanding plant disease; landscape horticulture and containers and xeriscaping.

Application

Applications for the 2014 Victoria Master Garden program are available by writing Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Victoria County, 528 Waco Circle, Victoria, TX 77904 or emailing victoria@ag.tamu.edu. Applications may also be picked up at the Victoria County Extension Office, can be found at vcmga.org or by phone at 361-575-4581. Deadline to apply is July 17. Applicants selected will be notified July 25.

My own gardening story

You can ask any Master Gardener what influenced him or her to join, and he or she will likely each have a story. My Grandpa Tot introduced me to gardening as a child. He spent part of his young adulthood as a migrant farm worker in California, picking grapes. Grandpa loved to garden. He sold his produce in the surrounding small towns in South Central Oklahoma, where he later lived. He would barter with those who didn't have money and came home once with a hot pink mailbox. I introduced my two children and four grandchildren to gardening. I know Grandpa would be proud.

I have learned a lot through the Master Gardener program. Gardening is a daily science project. You try different things, hoping for a certain outcome.

Gardening is also an excellent form of exercise and relaxation. I hope you will come on out and join us as we begin a new fall class of gardeners. As one of the class coordinators, I look forward to meeting you.

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.

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