Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sign Up for Master Gardener Class, Receive In-Depth Training; County Extension Office Classes Begin in Late July and End in October

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sign Up for Master Gardener Class, Receive In-Depth Training; County Extension Office Classes Begin in Late July and End in October

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Brite DelValle

"Master Gardener" classes are gearing up in Northeast Florida. If you have an interest in gardening and in serving your community, this class may be for you.

"Master Gardener" is a title given to individuals who receive in-depth horticultural training from county extension agents and, in return, give 75 hours of volunteer service helping their county extension office. The program is under the direction of the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Master gardeners join the program for a variety of reasons. Transplants from other climates find that gardening in Florida has special challenges and they want to learn how to duplicate their successes from up north. Some grew up on a farm and are returning to their roots. Others simply enjoy digging in the dirt and want to have a nice landscape. Whatever the reason, there is a common bond among gardeners: They form an eager, nurturing group that loves to share information and plants.

The county extension offices in several Northeast Florida counties train master gardeners in late summer and fall. If you are a resident of Duval, Clay, Bradford, Nassau, St. Johns, Putnam or Baker counties, the classes are open to you.

Most master gardener trainings will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning in late July and ending in October. The cost to attend the program varies so check with your County Extension Office.

Training will include topics such as basic plant science, plant propagation, entomology (insects), plant pathology (diseases), nematology, vegetable gardening, fruit culture, woody ornamentals, turf management, animal pest control, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, irrigation basics and planting/care of common landscape plants. The master gardener training is the most comprehensive horticultural classes offered in our area.

Master gardeners give their volunteer hours to county extension offices in many ways: answering telephone calls about plants in the extension office; troubleshooting plant problems brought into the office; testing soil for pH; conducting plant clinics; teaching 4H youth about plants; planting and maintaining demonstration gardens; teaching groups about landscape techniques to protect the environment; working with school garden projects; helping clients at the Canning/Nutrition Center; and assisting with city beautification projects. …

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