Tag Archives: Master Gardener

Time to Register for the Arlington/Alexandria Master Gardener Program

The 2017 Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training for Arlington County/City of Alexandria residents is now open for registration. There will be an orientation on May 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington, VA. If you would like to come and learn more about the Master Gardener program, contact the VCE Horticulture Help Desk at (703) 228-6414 or e-mail at mgarlalex@gmail.com. Note that there are other Master Gardener programs in the DC/MD/VA area which operate on different schedules. For more information on the Master Gardener program in general, see the Master Gardener page/tab at http://www.pegplant.com

Free Gardening Handouts from Virginia Cooperative Extension Website

L_HORT-76-JPGAs a garden communicator I am always collecting information for use with my own garden, for other gardeners, and even for future articles. A reliable source of local gardening information is the Virginia State Cooperative Extension office, located at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) website has scores of handouts on gardening–everything from annuals to vegetables to trees and shrubs. Most are short, black and white, pdf files that one can download quickly but some are small, full color publications such as “Fooling Mother Nature: Forcing Flower Bulbs for Indoor Bloom.” Written by George Graine, a local VCE Master Gardener, reviewed by Holly Scoggins, Associate Professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Horticulture, and produced by Lindsey Nelson, Communication Project Coordinator at VT’s Department of Horticulture, this 10-page handout is very easy to read with several color photos of bulbs and charts that provide additional information. In fact, Publication HORT-76NP is so well written that it won a Silver Award of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association’s Media Awards Program this year.

All of the VCE gardening publications are designed for home gardeners but they are science-based and reviewed by horticulturists or experts in the field. All are available for public use and can be re-printed without further permission, providing the use includes credit to the author/photographer and to the VCE, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University. Simply put, these publications can be copied and distributed at garden clubs and nurseries, for seed/bulb fund raisers, for teachers and children who have school-based gardens, and for people who have community garden plots. They are great resources for writing articles and even stimulating ideas for future articles. Check out https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/ every season for timely information!

Peg’s Picks September Gardening Events Washington DC Area

fallgardenAug2014 018Wow! So many events in September, from plant sales to harvest festivals! Below are Peg’s Picks for local events related to edible gardening except for one big event at Monticello, which I described at the end — it is on my bucket list!

Wednesdays, September 3, 10, 17, 24, Arlington Central Library hosts the “Garden Talks” series of free presentations every Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 pm starting mid-March through end of October. The website lists the topics and provides gardening resources for gardeners in the area. 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks/

Thursdays, September 4, 11, 18, 25, Food in the Garden: Waterways & Foodways: 1814-2014. Four different presentations on Thursday evenings in September starting at 6:00 pm in the Victory Garden at the National Museum of American History, Washington DC. Register, fee. http://americanhistory.si.edu/events/food-garden

Saturday, September 6, Weeds, Soil Health and Cover Crops, 9:00 am to noon, “Saturdays in the Garden” at the Teaching Garden at St. Benedict Monastery, presentations are given by VCE Prince William Master Gardener Volunteers. 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136. Free but must register (703) 792-7747. E-mail: master-gardener@pwcgov.org; http://pwcgov.org/grow

Saturday, September 6 & Sunday, September 7, Managing the 4 P’s: Pollinators, Parasites, Predators and Pests, Saturday, September 6, 2:00 to 4:00 pm and Sunday, September 7, 2:00 to 4:00 pm. (presentation given twice).U.S. Botanic Garden, presentation in the Conservatory classroom. Free but must register. 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington DC (202) 225-8333 (general) & (202) 225-1116 (to register for events). http://usbg.gov

Tuesday, September 9, Composting Yard and Kitchen Waste, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Presented by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Walter Reed Community Center, 2909 16th Street South, Arlington. Free but must register (703) 228-0949. E-mail: mkot@arlingtonva.us. http://mgnv.org

Saturday, September 13, Fall Garden Day & Plant Sale at Green Spring, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm

Saturday, September 13, Friends of Brookside Gardens annual plant sale, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Brookside Gardens Service Hill, follow signs on Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, MD. call for more information (301) 962-1435. http://www.friendsofbrooksidegardens.org.

Saturday, September 27, “Living Garden Spaces,” Green Spring Gardens’ Garden Symposium, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA (703) 642-5173. Learn about native plants, attracting native beneficial insects, and managing the unwanted wildlife in your garden. Co-sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society and Washington Gardener magazine. Must register by 9/19 and fee. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/gsg-symposium.htm

8th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival, September 12-13, at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

The 8th Annual Heritage Festival is presented by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello in partnership with the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Thomas Jefferson is often called America’s “founding foodie”. He championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. Each year the Heritage Harvest Festival honors Jefferson’s legacy with this fun, affordable, family-oriented, educational event promoting gardening, sustainability, local food, and the preservation of heritage plants. Participants enjoy tastings, workshops, hands on demonstrations, interpretive walks, and a variety of garden tours and exhibits. Friday and Saturday offer more than 100 programs and workshops, 90 vendors and exhibitors, and sample food from local farms and restaurants. On Friday evening, Aaron Keefer, the culinary gardener of The French Laundry, will offer the keynote speech and there will be a Chefs’ Harvest Dinner on Montalto, Jefferson’s high mountain overlooking Monticello. This year an additional pre-festival program on edible landscaping will be held at Montalto on Thursday, September 11. For more information, including ticket information, see http://www.heritageharvestfestival.com

Jefferson's Monticello, copyright Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, photography by Robert Llewellyn

Jefferson’s Monticello, copyright Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, photography by Robert Llewellyn

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn to Grow Edibles at Grow It Eat It Open House

Next year, make plans to attend one of the Grow It Eat It Open Houses at the Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, Maryland. Grow It Eat It is Maryland’s Food Gardening Network, sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension. Managed by the Montgomery County Master Gardeners, all volunteers, the Grow It Eat It Open Houses are a great way to learn how to grow edibles in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. This year, there was an Open House in March, May, and on Saturday, last weekend.

Cherokee Trail of Tears bean plant

Cherokee Trail of Tears bean plant

salad table in demonstration garden

salad table in demonstration garden

For this particular Open House, there were three concurrent “tracks.” One track was a series of presentations by Master Gardeners or Extension staff. I attended the first presentation entitled “Keeping Your Animals Out of Your Garden” in the conference room for an hour. Master Gardeners Erica Smith and Terri Valenti had an excellent powerpoint presentation and a very informative handout but what really added value was the fact that they have years of experience growing edibles despite many different animals in their area. They could answer questions easily, offer lessons learned, and were more than willing to spend time talking to people afterwards. Erica is responsible for many of the unique vegetables in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden and writes for the Grow It Eat It blog. Terri has many years of experience growing a wide spectrum of edibles, including fruit trees. The second presentation was “Low Tunnels—How to Build and Use” by Master Gardener Gordon Clark. Gordon showed us how to erect a low tunnel, which is a method of erecting plastic over a garden bed to extend the growing season of small vegetables. Because he had been growing greens in the winter with this method, he was able to relate his experience and show us the materials he used. Starting from scratch, he pounded the rebars in the ground, erected the PCV pipes, and covered them with plastic in no time. It was easy to understand and easy to relate to the relatively low cost. I missed the third presentation on “Pests and Diseases” by Pat Lynch because I spent too much time in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden looking at new veggies to try next year and talking to Master Gardeners. According to the brochure there was a presentation on food preservation by Faculty Extension Assistant Karen Basinger (the only presentation that had a fee and required registration), but I also wanted to hit a few farms on the Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale so I had to leave early.

Gordon Clark bending pipe

Gordon Clark bending pipe

Concurrent to the other tracks, “Everything Tomatoes,” was attracting attention in a conference room/kitchen down the hall. Tomato enthusiasts were cutting many different types of tomatoes so people could taste and rate their favorite tomatoes. People were invited to share seeds, tomatoes, and recipes, sample tomatoes, learn how to save tomato seeds, and listen to cooking demonstrations all morning long.

Raising plastic over pipes to create a low tunnel

Raising plastic over pipes to create a low tunnel

The last track took place outside in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. The gardens themselves were very informative, people took time to make sure most of the plants were clearly labeled (which I always appreciate), and some signage had large timelines and photos depicting the plant’s growth. There were vegetables in containers, in beds, climbing up nets, and sprawling across arches; herbs in pots and in the ground; fruit shrubs; intensively planted beds; salad tables; straw bale gardening; flowers and bees and butterflies everywhere. A Master Gardener answered questions about composting; staff from the Montgomery County Recycling Center offered free compost bins and thermometers; and people demonstrated how to make trellises from bamboo. There were tables set up for Master Gardeners to distribute information on pollinators, gardening tools, starting seeds, and diagnosing plant problems. We had great weather and I came home with lots of handouts, ideas, and new veggies to try next year.

up close shot of ripe mouse melon

up close shot of ripe mouse melon

tromboncino squash

tromboncino squash