Dear Christine, Another Master Gardeners Article!
From my article Why Soil PH Matters I got a slammin’ comment from Christine. I was inspired by her comment to write this blog which is an open response to her comment. I think this also answers most questions experienced gardeners might have about whether or not the Master Gardeners program would benefit them.
I think you are right on the money watching your leaves for signs of nutritional deficiencies and attacks. We learn to do exactly that in the MG class. We get a note book full of pictures of leaves and symptoms and signs, and of insects, beneficial predatory and pollinating insects, and harmful ones with chewing or piercing sucking mouth parts! hehe, and much more.
You are already a great gardener with a lot of practical experience. I don’t think I went into the MG program with as much knowledge as you have already, but for me this class has better arranged the knowledge with which I came, filled in my gaps of understanding, and has made concrete for me the belief that I am absolutely on the right path in regards to the environment, and sustainable organic growing.
The Extension teachers have to expose us to everything that the University offers. It doesn’t mean that the teachers don’t see what’s coming, or embrace principles in growing similar to our own, many of them do. Not all the kindred spirits I have met in that program are other students. In any case anyone who goes in to that class at any level, whether conventional or organic in his ways will come out more educated, and better equipped to choose one practice or another. To answer your question directly I think the amount of the class time dedicated to synthetic pesticides and amendments was probably less than five percent.
I think that what the Master Gardeners Program best teaches us is how to efficiently research any botanical or agricultural query we might come up against. Many people go into the program with little or no practical experience with growing here. Those of us who go in with a lot of practical experience are able to glue new pieces of information to stuff we have known for years. It sharpens us like crazy!
Because the Master Gardeners Program was established to make a voluntary corps of garden gnomes
volunteer work is a big part of the obligation. I get to stand around talking about gardening with people who want to know about gardening. I think what I am doing is important, it is easy, and being more knowledgeable in my field will make me more valuable in my work.
And yeah I know I have begun to read like a Master Gardeners Cheer Leader, so I will promise not to write another blog about the same for a while. Rah Rah!