Become a master gardener
June 19, 2016
By Michael Martignoni/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL MARTIGNONI/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
In the upcoming fall training class, participants will learn all about growing and caring for plants. From left are Master Gardener/Greenhouse Specialist Tom Akins, Master Gardener and plant expert Lupe Cook and Master Gardener Intern Eddy Faust tending to desert roses and plumerias in the Master Gardener greenhouse at Victoria Educational Gardens.
Come learn about planting specialized gardens in this year's Master Gardener fall training class. Plants with similar growing patterns and requirements for a particular use or theme can be planted together like these tomato, onion, basil, garlic, oregano and other herb plants in this pizza garden that are creatively planted together at Victoria Educational Garden and also useful together in cooking.
The newly completed butterfly haven is the latest large-scale project in Victoria Educational Garden. It is a hands-on learning environment where Master Gardener trainees in the class can gain information on how to provide lots of living color to gardens with plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
I guess from the very beginning, I was destined to become a Master Gardener.
Fun doing what you love to do
I loved working in the garden with my grandfather, and this got me started to garden at home and begin collecting plants and build my first greenhouse.
I rescued distressed plants from anywhere I could get them. I found I had a knack to revive them and would sell them at market days, which gave me money to buy new plants and supplies - and I have not stopped since.
Learn what to plant where
Have you ever wanted to know what to plant in your flower or vegetable garden to have lots of color and attract butterflies, hummingbirds and all sorts of creatures and bugs to enjoy? I learned all about this and how to bring living color to my garden by becoming a Master Gardener.
Learn what to do better
After completing the training, I came to realize where my mistakes were coming from in the past that prevented me from being a successful gardener. I found it very interesting how a simple little thing could make such a big difference in my results. Simple fixes are easy and give you a big sense of accomplishment and pride in what you have achieved.
Now is the perfect time to make this come true for you, too. Get involved in your community at the same time by volunteering through the Master Gardener program - and have fun doing what you love to do.
Training by experts in their fields
In the class, you will hear from top-notch speakers who are experts in their fields. You will receive a complete overview of gardening of all sorts, including soil fertility, turf grasses, plant diseases, plant propagation, rainwater harvesting, xeriscaping, insects, vegetables, herbs, container gardening, landscaping, lawn care, grafting trees and plant disease diagnosis. These are just some of the topics that will be covered.
My favorite classes when I was in the training program were on plant propagation and grafting plants. I really found it interesting how to graft heirloom tomatoes to new disease-resistant root stock to create a disease resistant heirloom with high yields.
Share experiences with new friends
Meet and make lots of new friends while you learn. There are no strangers among Master Gardeners, and they are always ready to help. Just ask for help on a project - and they are coming out of the woodwork to assist you.
You are never alone or feel abandoned at any time. If you have a question there is always someone who has the answer - or knows someone who will. Everyone is eager to share their successes to help you, and ready to share failures to help prevent you from making the same mistakes.
If you like to eat, there are always homemade snacks and goodies at most training and work sessions. Find your new favorite recipes as everyone is also eager to share or swap recipes - and there are some mighty good cooks in the group.
Learn a lot; grow a lot
I have learned many things through the Master Gardener program. Gardening is a science but not an exact science, so there are many variables that can change an outcome and even new varieties of plants that stem from accidents and mistakes.
I have grown and will continue to grow as time goes on. I urge you to take the challenge to grow yourself as well as your gardens. As one of the class coordinators this fall, I am looking forward to meeting each and every one of you.
Enroll now - don't procrastinate
The 2016 Victoria County Master Gardener Training Program, coordinated by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Victoria County, is once again being offered to those interested in gardening - and is open for applications.
See details on when and where the classes meet as well as how to apply and cost of the course in the information accompanying this article.
I am looking forward to working with all of you who are accepted to the class and choose to get your hands dirty this fall to bring living color to your garden. And we'll have fun doing it, too.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• WHAT: Training classes
• WHEN: 1-5 p.m. Thursdays for 16 weeks, Aug. 4- Nov. 17
• WHERE: Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive, Victoria Regional Airport
• COST: $175 fee includes classes taught by experts in field, scientific-based gardening information, extensive training manual, field trip in the area. Registration fee due at end of first session Aug. 4.