|Msukogee County OSU Extension Educator Mandy Blocker|
Blocker spoke at Muskogee Garden Club last week and said that there are three questions interested students should ask themselves: 1) Do you want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants?; 2) Are you eager to participate in a practical and intense training program?; and, 3) Do you have enough time to attend the trainings and serve as a volunteer intern?
The Master Gardener program is a volunteer training program with the purpose of developing community volunteers. In most areas of the state (and around the country) Master Gardeners are a vital resource for their communities.
The program is designed for anyone who has a genuine interest in horticulture, who would enjoy sharing their experience as well as the OSU research-based information with others. The program covers the latest discoveries, based on OSU horticulture research results, techniques, and practices.
The training consists of 45 to 60-hours of classroom presentations by OSU Extension Educators from around the state, plus Master Gardeners and plant experts. The days, dates and times of the meetings have not been established since it will depend on what works for the Extension office and the potential participants.
In my experience, the best part of the program was learning in a relaxed setting and the friendships that developed. The training leads to life-long learning with others who have a shared interest in gardening as you attend follow-up programs together.
After the classroom training is completed, participants have to volunteer 40 to 60 hours in order to receive their certification. Volunteer hours can be earned answering questions that local gardeners ask, helping put on future trainings, assisting with community gardens, and other projects that Blocker and the interns come up with.
The class that Blocker will be offering in Muskogee will have 30 students. Applications are taken and interviews are held. The interviews are not a test of the applicants’ knowledge. They are to make sure that participants understand the time commitment for classes and volunteering.
The subjects covered in the 45-hour training vary somewhat, but generally include topics such as: Lawns, vegetable gardening, ornamental and flowering plants, tree and shrub identification, harmful and beneficial insects, disease prevention and treatment, weed identification and control, soils, fertilizers, plant nutrition, vegetable gardening, fruit production for the home gardener, water conservation, wildlife gardening, etc.
Some of the many gardening questions that are answered in the program: The difference between acid and alkaline soil; how to identify aphid damage and what to do about it; what to plant in a fall vegetable garden; what Boron deficiency is and how to fix it; how to plant and prune a tree; when to use a cold frame and how make a simple one; why to disbud flowers; how to set up an irrigation system that conserves water; why and when to fertilize; the various types of propagation to make more plants; and, more.
The Tulsa Master Gardener program has a thorough and educational website at http://tulsamastergardeners.org/ and Oklahoma County Master Gardeners have a website at http://mastergardener.okstate.edu where you can explore more details about the program and what it has to offer.
The fee for the program is around $100 and includes a binder about 5-inches thick with resource materials made up of OSU Fact Sheets and supplemental information sheets that participants will use as a reference for years. Payment is made after the interview and acceptance into the course.
For more information about the 2013 Master Gardener Classes