Master Gardeners: Show Yourselves!

Ever wondered what a “master gardener” is? You’ve probably spoken to one if you’ve ever called your county Cooperative Extension Service with a question. Master Gardeners are part of the agency’s volunteer staff and receive special training in exchange for community service in the field of horticulture. When the Master Gardener program began in 1979, volunteers mostly answered telephone requests for gardening information. Today, the opportunities have expanded greatly. Recently, Master Gardeners have created and maintained demonstration gardens; led gardening projects for the elderly and disabled and for economically disadvantaged youth; planned community beautification projects; and managed plant diagnostics labs. Gardeners accepted into the program receive a minimum of 40 hours of training on topics including lawns; ornamental trees and shrubs; insect, disease and weed management; soils and plant nutrition; and vegetable gardening. Once certified, Master Gardeners must volunteer a minimum of 40 hours the first year and 20 hours each subsequent year. In North Carolina, 73 counties offer the program, and more than 3,000 volunteers currently participate. To learn more, call your county Cooperative Extension Service office or visit www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/masgar

If You Think You’re Underqualified …

Some gardeners know a lot less than you do. These are actual questions asked of Master Gardeners, according to Erv Evans, N.C. State University Consumer Horticulturist:

“I have atheists on my houseplant. How do I get rid of them?”

“How do you plant bluegrass sod? Green side up or down?”

“I want to grow kudzu. How do I get started?”

“Can I put formaldehyde on my vegetable garden to kill fusarium wilt on my tomatoes?”

“What is an insexicide?” (asked by a 4-year-old gardener)

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