Why call a master gardener?
Why call a master gardener? I’m so glad you asked this question.
Bear with me as I give you a little background. The Master Gardener program is located within the UCLA Cooperative Extension. In 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, which linked the Department of Agriculture to universities across the country. It was established to educate people about “current developments in agriculture, home economics, economic development, and many other related topics.” Information about managing their crops. This created a science-based resource for farmers to improve their practices, equipment and crops. Agriculture has evolved from an art to a science. This was a game changer.
The Master Gardener Program initially began in Washington State when two Cooperative Extension agents became inundated with citizen requests for information and guidance on home gardens and urban gardening. I quote: “In 1971, District Extension Agents David Gebby and Bill Scheer began separate missions in the major metropolitan areas represented by King and Pierce Counties. They focused respectively on urban and commercial horticulture. Public demand for information about plant problems was so intense that Educational programming for either is nearly impossible.
With some experimentation with presentations in the media and other attempts to educate backyard gardeners, it was finally decided that hiring and training experienced and enthusiastic gardeners could meet this need. Three hundred master gardeners began the educational experience, and it is believed that about two hundred graduated and qualified.
The state of California began its program in 1980 by establishing Master Gardener programs in Riverside and Sacramento counties. From there, the program opened in counties across the state. There are now 52 counties with active MG programs managed by Cooperative County Extensions. Master Gardeners of Kings and Tulare Counties began in 1996. Master Gardeners take a 17-week course taught by Cooperative Extension consultants, specialists and faculty from university campuses, experiment stations, community colleges, public university faculty and other industry and experienced experts. Master gardeners. The California Master Gardener’s Guide is now in its second edition (2015). It is available through our offices and through online booksellers.
Being a master gardener means being curious. Most mass groups have a wealth of information about ornamental plant growing areas before they begin training, as this is an area of interest to them initially. Classrooms and libraries make it possible for rallies to research problems brought to them by the public. We also have access to the experts who have taught our classes. Most of the experts I talk to love teaching, and love talking about their area of expertise.
Being a Master Gardener means wanting to promote current, accurate, science-based information about gardening, the environment, pest management, and horticultural practices. The Internet is full of all kinds of so-called “scientific” knowledge. And “they say” is a dangerous path to take when you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with your aunt’s begonia that you’ve kept alive for years but is now starting to look at its peak. It is best to contact someone who will look into the problem and come back with a potential solution backed by reliable information. Not only do groups go to references, we also have experts who we can ask “Why does this tree have such a big crack” or “What’s wrong with this rose with the spots on its leaves?” I had a call a while ago about oak trees that took me a week and a call to the arborist at UCCE Ventura County to find out what the problem was.
What can you do before calling to help us help you? First, take notes. What is the problem and when did it start? How old is the plant in question and has it been recently changed (transplanted, pruned, fed, etc.)? How often and when is it watered? Second, take pictures! In today’s cell phone era, we now have access to a “thousand word” article in the form of a single image. Third, call, email, or visit us in person during our business hours. In Tulare County, MG office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. In Kings County, since there are fewer of us here locally, we are only in the office on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. but you can email us anytime or leave a voice message on our phone helpline!
don’t be shy. We are eagerly waiting to assist you.
Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener? Our next class runs from January 26 to May 24, 2024. We will hold a mandatory orientation on Friday, October 13 at 1 p.m. Direct subscription: https://ucanr.edu/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners/ – Choose “Become a professional gardener”.
Please contact our office with any questions at (559) 684-3300
Tulare Kings County master gardeners will personally answer your questions:
Sept. 16 – Hoffman Plant Nursery Clinic, 12491 W. Lacey, Hanford, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
September 16 – Visalia Farmers Market, new location: North Tulare Parking Lot
Sept. 21 – Kings Co. Resource Fair, Hanford Civic Hall, 5-7 p.m
Sept. 28 – Hanford Farmers Market, 219 W. Lacey, Hanford, 5:30-9 p.m.
Questions? Contact the master gardeners:
Tulare County: (559) 684-3325, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-11:30;
Kings County: (559) 852-2736, Thursdays only, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Visit our website to view previous articles, subscribe to our e-newsletter, or email us with your questions: http://ucanr.edu/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners/
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