Tag Archives: Fairfax County

Master Gardener Program: Learn to Garden While Getting Involved with Local Community

The Master Gardener program is a great way to learn more about gardening, meet new friends, and get involved in civic projects.  Conducted throughout the United States, the program usually is managed on a county level through state/county extension agents. Interested gardeners receive a manual and horticultural training from horticulturists and experts in the field. In return, they volunteer to assist the community with a variety of activities such as staffing plant clinic booths, answering phones, teaching, gardening in community areas, helping youth or elderly with gardening, etc. The program was initiated as a means of extending horticultural and pest management expertise of the state extension office to the general public. Usually the fee is the cost of the manual and a promise to volunteer and continue with education for a fixed number of hours annually. Becoming a Master Gardener is like joining a gardening club with many extended learning opportunities. Below is information for the Washington DC metropolitan area. More detail is given for Virginia to illustrate the difference in commitment and schedules across counties. Maryland and Washington DC are similar. All have fees and a registration process.

Virginia

The Virginia Tech University manages the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) program which has extension agents at every county. The extension agent manages the county Master Gardener program. The following is a snapshot of five Master Gardener programs in Northern Virginia to give an idea of the application deadlines, times/days programs are offered, cost, and the commitment in terms of hours. For example, if one works full time in an office and can only attend evening classes one may find a program that offers evening classes and does not limit registration to county residents. Or some programs have one class a week instead of two thus extending the education over a longer time but making it more manageable.

In Fairfax county, there are two Master Gardener programs due to the high level of interest. Green Spring, part of the Fairfax county park system, manages a 13-week Master Gardener program that starts in September and ends in November. The classroom training is held at Green Spring on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00 to 4:00 pm and labs on Saturdays. When the trainees complete the classroom part, they graduate to become Master Gardener interns. They have to complete 50 volunteer hours within one year including 15 hours working at the Master Gardener Help Desk.  They retain their certification by completing 20 hours of volunteer service hours and 8 hours of continuing education in horticulture per year. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/gsg-mastergardeners.htm

The other Fairfax county Master Gardener program has classes at Merrifield Nursery at Fair Oaks. The classes are January through March, one day a week for 3 hours, during the day or evening. To become a certified Master Gardener, one has to complete 30 hours of classroom education per year for 3 years, and 24 hours of community service per year for 3 years. Once a person becomes a certified Master Gardener, one has to complete 8 hours of continuing education and 24 hours of volunteer work per year. http://www.fairfaxgardening.org/join-us/

In Arlington county, classes start in the beginning of September, Tuesdays, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm, and last 12 weeks. Classes are held at the Fairlington Community Center in Arlington and other local garden venues. There is no application deadline and acceptances into the program are determined by mid-August. Residents of Alexandria City and Arlington receive preference and all training and internship hours must be completed in the Arlington/Alexandria. After 66 hours of classroom training, the trainees must complete a 60-hour internship to hone their skills in core Master Gardener educational projects within one year of training. Once the classroom program, internship, and student project are completed participants become certified Master Gardeners. To maintain certification, they must volunteer a minimum of 20 hours and attend 8 hours of continuing education programs per year. http://mgnv.org/about/become-a-master-gardener/

In Loudoun county, classes are twice a week for 10 weeks, from January through March, at 750 Miller Drive, Leesburg. The Master Gardener program requires 60 hours of classroom education and 75 hours of the internship. Certified Master Gardeners must complete 25 volunteer hours and 8 hours of continuing education per year. http://loudouncountymastergardeners.org/become-a-master-gardener/training-requirements

In Prince William county, the program runs from September through December and requires 75 hours of classroom education and 50 hours of internship. To maintain certification, Master Gardeners must volunteer 20 hours and complete 8 hours of continuing education per year. http://www.mgpw.org

Maryland

The Maryland Master Gardener Program is administered by the University of Maryland Extension and each county has a coordinator and its own schedule of classes. For a table of county coordinators’ contact information, see http://www.extension.umd.edu/mg/find-local-mg-program.

Washington, DC

The Master Gardener program is managed through the University of the District of Columbia at 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW. The program is held once a year, from the first Tuesday in February through the last Thursday in March, every Tuesday and Thursday evening, 6:30 to 9:00 pm, for 8 weeks. After completing the program, interns must complete 50 hours of volunteer service. http://dev.udc.edu/college_of_urban_agriculture_and_environmental_studies/master_gardening

 

Two Fairfax County Farmers Markets Still Open to Shop for Holiday Meals and Decorations

marketlogo-largeIn the spring I listed the Fairfax County Farmers Markets partly because many of them have plant clinics. Now that the growing season is ending, most have closed or are going to close now in November. These two will remain open until December:

  • McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon, which is open on Wednesdays, will remain open to December 14
  • Burke, which is open on Saturdays, will remain open to December 17

Plant clinics may not be there but these are great places to stock up for the holiday meals and decorations.

Free Master Gardeners Plant Clinics to Help You With Your Garden

Tomato hornworm, plucked off plant

Tomato hornworm, plucked off plant

School is out, summer is here and the garden is in full swing. Now is the time for gardening questions — what is that bug, why does my tomato look like that, and what should I do about my zucchini! Fortunately for us, the Fairfax County Master Gardeners offer free advice on caring for our gardens. They provide gardening fact sheets, soil test kits, and help us to identify bugs, insects, diseased plants, and assorted problems. It is always best to actually bring a sample of the diseased plant or the bug in a jar to show the Master Gardeners but if not, just talk with them at their plant clinics, no appointment necessary. The Master Gardeners staff plant clinics at the Fairfax County Farmers Markets, several Fairfax County libraries, Green Spring, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension office at the Fairfax County Government Center. Plant clinics at the farmers markets and libraries are open May through September 2015.

Farmers Markets

See the link below for street addresses. Note the times below are for the plant clinics, not necessarily for the rest of the market time; http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets

  • Annandale, Thursday, 9 am to noon
  • Burke, Saturday, 8 am to 11 am
  • Fairfax County Government Center FM, Thursday, 3 to 6 pm
  • Fall Church City, Saturday, 9 am to noon
  • Herndon, Thursday, 9 am to noon
  • Kingstowne, Friday, 4 to 7 pm
  • Lorton, Sunday, 9 to noon
  • Mclean, Friday, 9 to noon
  • Mt. Vernon, Wednesday, 9 to noon
  • Vienna, Saturday, 9 to noon
  • Wakefield, Wednesday, 2 to 5 pm
  • Reston, Saturday, 9 to noon

Libraries

  • Chantilly, Saturday, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
  • Fairfax Regional, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Kings Park, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Oakton, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Richard Byrd, Tuesday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Tysons-Pimmit, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Other Locations

Native Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale for Virginia Residents

Winterberry

Winterberry

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) has an annual native tree and shrub seedling sale, making low-cost native shrub and tree seedlings available to Northern Virginia residents. Seedling packages go on sale each year in January and are available for pickup in early May. Trees and shrubs help cleanse water, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, cool our climate and clean our air. This year’s seedling sale features shrubs and trees from the Plant NOVA Natives guide and campaign, a regional effort to promote native plants. For more information and to download a copy of the guide, see www.plantnovanatives.org. For more information on the NVSWCD shrub and tree seedling sale, including photos and descriptions of the plants, see www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/seedlingsale.htm

The 2015 Shrub and Small Tree Package features 10 seedlings for $16.95. The Tree Package includes 6 seedlings sold for $11.95. A full, nonrefundable payment must accompany your order by Monday, April 22, or until supplies run out. You will receive a confirmation receipt and a map to the pickup site (in central Fairfax County). Orders may be picked up on Friday, May 1, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or Saturday, May 2, 9:00 a.m.-noon.  NVSWCD will start to accept orders for the seedling sale starting mid-January 2015.

Shrub and small tree package includes two seedlings from each of the following plants (photos are my own):

River Birch

River Birch

  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
  • Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum)
  • Eastern red bud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Red chokeberry (Photinia pyrifolia)
  • Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Tree package includes two seedlings from each of the following plants:

  • River birch (Betula nigra)
  • Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
  • Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)

October In My Garden – A Weekly Report

Japanese anemones

Japanese anemones

October is a busy time in the garden; the cool weather and moist soil make it possible to enjoy a multitude of gardening activities. In anticipation of frost, I threw away the eggplants (they don’t fruit anymore) and the remaining cucumber plants, but left the peppers and Swiss chard in the ground.

Octobergarden2014 055

roselle

My zinnias and Japanese anemones are still blooming, the yellow mums are happy with the purple asters (a great color combination), and (finally!) the roselle is blooming (see my September 13 post).

mums & asters

mums & asters

Plants are starting to change color, my favorite hydrangea, oak leaf (Hydrangea quercifolia), has a few red leaves. The panicles of tan and bone flowers are fragile dry but still very pretty (makes great cut flowers for vases that cannot hold water). However, my Annabelles (Hydrangea arborescens) have turned on me; their round flower heads are so black I cut them off and threw them away. The stems will get it in March next year to keep their shape.

oakleaf hydrangea

oakleaf hydrangea

Fall is a great time to get rid of the plants that are just getting out of hand. A few years ago I would have praised balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) as a great kid plant. Just before the petals open, the purple flowers inflate and my kids would pop them like bubble wrap.  A perennial, balloon flower emerges every year and grows to about 2-3 feet tall with arching stems.  In the fall, the leaves turn gold and the large seed pods disperse across the garden. Now, years later, I guess my garden has reached the point of significant mass of seeds, I can see small balloon flower plants all across the front garden, taking up space and creating havoc.  I ruthlessly cut the original plants back to prevent any more seeding and pulled out all the small, baby plants I could find. If you see a plant getting too aggressive, don’t be afraid to cut it back or pull it out.

balloon flower

balloon flower

Fall is also a great time for bean stew and I throw whatever greens I have into the crockpot. This time, I added Swiss chard (leaving a few leaves on the plants so the plants can still photosynthesis and grow) plus dried rosemary and thyme. For another dinner, I harvested the spinach, a cool weather green, and the red peppers to cook with chicken in a skillet.

Fall also is the time to lift and divide perennials. The previous owner had planted purple flowering, bearded irises and when we first moved here, I had divided them to the point that I had enough to fill the two front beds. Every April, a mass of purple would color the house for a few weeks but then for the rest of the summer, the green leaves would just sit there. Sure, they provided a green background for the front garden but now that I want more space for edibles, I decided to re-design the two beds. I cut the iris foliage back to 6 inches, pulled the rhizomes out, cut off the old & diseased parts, and gave the rhizomes to staff at the kids’ school, friends, and coworkers. I re-planted a few irises and I will lift and divide the yarrow (Achillea), red hot poker (Kniphofia), and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) from other beds to add color. In the spring, I will plant herbs and vegetables. Because the beds look a little empty now, the kids and I went to Grist Mill Park in Alexandria, Virginia, to fill bags with wood mulch to cover the beds. In Fairfax County, you can help yourself to free wood mulch year round at certain parks.  Later, as the county picks up the autumn leaves, you can get free leaf mulch, which is good for increasing organic matter. Since we don’t have a truck, we double bagged the Fiskars Kangaroo garden bag with 45 gallon plastic bags (get them at the hardware store). Wood mulch is heavy, we could only fill the bags half full but the leaf mulch should be much lighter, which we will get in November. November is a busy time in the garden; the cool weather and moist soil make it possible to enjoy a multitude of gardening activities . . .Septemberingarden2014 091

Master Gardener Classes Starting in Northern Virginia

The Master Gardener program is a great way to learn more about gardening, meet new friends, and get involved in civic projects. Conducted throughout the United States, the program usually is managed on a county level through state/county extension agents. Interested gardeners receive a manual and horticultural training from horticulturists and experts in the field. In return, they volunteer to assist the community with a variety of activities such as staffing plant clinic booths, answering phones, teaching, gardening in community areas, helping youth or elderly with gardening, etc. The program was initiated as a means of extending horticultural and pest management expertise of the state extension office to the general public. Usually the fee is the cost of the manual and a promise to volunteer and continue with education for a fixed number of hours annually. Becoming a Master Gardener is like joining a gardening club with many extended learning opportunities.

In Virginia, the Virginia Tech University manages the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) program which has extension agents at every county. The extension agent manages the county Master Gardener program. The following is just a quick snapshot of five Master Gardener programs in Northern Virginia to give you an idea; there are similar Master Gardener programs in Maryland and Washington DC. Among these five programs, the application deadlines, times/days programs are offered, cost, and the commitment in terms of hours vary so contact them directly for more detailed information. For example, if you work full time and can only attend evening classes you may find a program that offers evening classes and does not limit registration to county residents. Or some programs have one class a week instead of two thus extending the education over a longer time but making it more manageable.

In Fairfax County, there are two Master Gardener programs because so many people are interested. Green Spring, part of the Fairfax County park system, manages a Master Gardener program that requires a commitment of 100 hours in the first year. The classroom training is held at Green Spring in September and ends in November, usually two three-hour classes per week. Afterward, a 50 hour internship is required (volunteer work). After the first year, the Master Gardener status is maintained by remaining active in the program as a volunteer for 20 hours per year and participating in 8 hours of continuing education in horticulture. The orientation meeting is held in May and applicants are interviewed in the summer. The deadline to apply was this past June 2014 but if you are interested in learning more contact Pamela Smith, Community Horticultural Program Coordinator, (703) 642-0128, pamela.smith2@fairfaxcounty.gov; http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/gsg-mastergardeners.htm

The other Fairfax Master Gardener program has classes at Merrifield Nursery at Fair Oaks. The classes are January through March, one day a week for 3 hours, during the day or during the evening. To become a certified Master Gardener, one has to complete 30 hours of classroom education per year for 3 years, and 24 hours of community service per year for 3 years. Once a person becomes a certified Master Gardener, he/she has to complete 8 hours of continuing education each year and 24 hours of volunteer work each year. The deadline for enrollment is September 8. There will be an open house on September 10 at Merrifield, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, to learn more about the program and obtain applications (free but register in advance just so they can get a head count). For more information contact Maryellen Leister, (703) 821-1146, meleister@aol.com; http://fairfaxmga.org

In Arlington County, classes start in the beginning of September, Tuesdays, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm, and last 12 weeks. Classes are held at the Fairlington Community Center in Arlington and other local garden venues. There is no application deadline and acceptances into the program are determined by mid-August. Residents of Alexandria City and Arlington receive preference and all training and internship hours must be completed in the Arlington/Alexandria area. After 75 hours of classroom training, the trainees must complete a 60-hour internship to hone their skills in core Master Gardener educational projects within one year of training. Once the classroom program, internship, and student project are completed participants become certified Master Gardeners. To maintain certification, they must volunteer a minimum of 20 hours and attend 8 hours of continuing education programs every year. For more information, contact the VCE Master Gardener Horticulture Help Desk at (703) 228-6414 or e-mail mgarlalex@gmail.com; http://mgnv.org/about/become-a-master-gardener/

In Loudoun County, the process starts in the fall but the classes start in February 2015. The Master Gardener program requires 60 hours of classroom education and 75 hours of the internship. The classes are held at the Extension office at 30 Catoctin Circle in Leesburg. Certified Master Gardeners must complete 25 volunteer hours and 8 hours of continuing education. This program has an early bird special where if you apply by November 15 you get a discounted tuition fee. Their application form online has quite a lot of information and there is an open house on November 6, 7:00 pm, at the Loudoun County Extension office, 30-B Catoctin Circle, SE, Leesburg. Call (703) 777-0373 or (703) 857-4575 for more information or e-mail at loudounmg@vt.edu; http://loudouncountymastergardeners.org

In Prince William County, 70 hours of classroom education and 50 hours of internship are required. To remain a Certified Master Gardener you must volunteer 20 hours per year and complete 8 hours of continuing education each year. There is an orientation on Monday, August 25, 6:30 to 8:30 pm in room 202A&B, Development Services Building 5, County Complex Drive, Prince William; and another orientation on Wednesday, August 27, 6:30 to 8:30pm, McCoy Conference Room, Sudley North Government Building, 7987 Ashton Avenue, Manassas. Must register for the orientation by calling (703) 792-7747 or e-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org; http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/vce/Pages/Master-Gardeners.aspx