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Posts Tagged ‘Master Gardeners’

We are finally (almost, sort of) back after a hiatus for a hurricane, a wedding, and new job schedule adjustments. The “almost, sort of” refers to a horrible cold that I acquired in my travels that has laid me low for the past few days, but while I may be sick, I’m happy as can be.

Hurricane Irene wasn’t much of a hurricane and, aside from a mad dash to get to New York before her, she did nothing to affect our plans. My daughter and new son-in-law’s wedding in Prospect Park was just perfect — perfect weather, perfect heartfelt ceremony, perfect company. And our family has expanded to include the aforementioned all-round great guy, a new step-granddaughter, and lots of great relatives from the groom’s side. We had a fantastic time and I can’t stop grinning whenever I think about it. Al di là!

MB loves her new job and has just about mastered juggling her garden, her photography, and her work schedule. As a bonus, the job will provide her with some new tips that she’ll be sharing in the weeks to come.

Now, to get back on track, here’s the scoop on some important dates for gardening workshops and such.

Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener? In Orange County, CA you’ll need to attend one of the MG Information Day meetings. Two are scheduled — one is this morning (sorry for the late notice) and the other is October 6th, 9:00 to 10:30. Please note that you MUST attend to receive an application and be considered for a spot in the 2012 class which starts in January. Click here for more information.

If you live in the Durango, CO area, you’ll need to contact the local extension office for information on the class that starts in January. Click here for more information and contacts. Do it now. I’m not clear on the deadlines, but I’m sure they are sometime this month.

For both locations classes are in the daytime on Thursdays and run through the spring. As a Master Gardener you will be expected to do a significant amount of volunteer work each year. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more than you thought possible, meet great people, and get out in your community and make a difference.

Southern California garden workshops for cool season gardening are starting this Saturday. Here’s the info for a really terrific series of five Saturday morning workshops which are presented by the Great Park and organized by the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Orange County. All workshops run from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and are free to the public.

Garden Workshop Schedule
September 17, 2011 — The Edible Landscape
Nicholas Staddon, director of New Plants Introduction at Monrovia Nursery, will show how to incorporate blueberries and other culinary delights into your landscape.

October 8, 2011 – Wicked Bugs
Author Amy Stewart (Wicked Bugs) will discuss bugs gone wild. It’s an A – Z of insect enemies, interspersed with stories that explore bugs’ sometimes odd behavior and our sometimes irrational responses to bugs.

October 15, 2011 –The Salad Bowl Garden
Master Gardener Kay Havens will demonstrate how to make beautiful salad blends. Her seminar will include Asian greens as well as how to make garden additions for flavor and color.

October 29, 2011 — Designing with California Friendly Plants
Wendy Proud, landscape designer and horticulturist, will share her expertise on designing your landscape with California friendly plants. Great tips on creating beautiful natural settings that use less water.

November 5, 2011 – Gifts from the Garden
Join UCCE Master Gardeners for a presentation about herbs. Each attendee will assemble a three-plant herb pot which can be inserted into a pumpkin or basket to give as a holiday or hostess gift.

The Orange County Great Park is located at Sand Canyon and Marine Way, and can easily be reached by the 5 or 405 freeways. For more information, visit http://www.ocgp.org/events or call (866) 829-3829.

That’s it. Please visit us again for Sunday Zen, featuring beautiful photos of our garden blooms and Tuesday’s Tips, an assemblage of tips and recommendations to help you become a more effective and productive gardener.

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Barbara: Yesterday my Master Gardener class went to the amazing Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano. Growers of an incredible collection of California native plants and located on 30 acres at the edge of Caspers Regional Park, this magnificent piece of land is filled with California native gardens, growing fields, straw bale houses and, of course, many, many gorgeous plants. Owner Mike Evans took us for a behind-the-scenes tour of the operation. It was fascinating. And, boy, do they do it right — from the mycorrihzae that they produce themselves and add to their planting mix, to the Sonoran Desert plant collection they’ve added to help keep the pollinators happy enough to stick around in the summer when our native plants aren’t blossoming.

I tried. I really, really tried not to buy any plants. I found one book I just had to have. That was IT I told myself. But then I saw this beauty beaming a million watts of color straight into my lizard brain. “Must have this plant!” it said. And I obeyed.

Blood Flower Milkweed

Besides, it’s highly attractive to Monarch butterflies and it’ll take part shade, which is pretty much all I’ve got. So I took two!

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Artichokes growing in the demonstration garden at the Farm and Food Lab

Barbara: The wonderful UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County are at it again. They’ll be presenting a series of five exciting gardening workshops March 13 — May 15 at the Farm and Food Lab in the Great Park in Irvine (details below and in the sidebar). If you live in Orange County and are a gardener you should go. No excuses!

I discovered these workshops last fall and wrote about my experience in this post, A Morning Full of Surprises. Check it out for pics and more details about the Farm and Food Lab.

Sweet peas at the Farm and Food Lab

Master Gardeners

Do you have gardening questions? The MGs are very knowledgeable and they’ll be available at the workshops to answer any questions you may have. If you stump them, they’ll research your problem and get back to you. And it won’t be just any old opinion either. The answers will be research-based and scientifically accurate information. If you can’t wait for the first workshop on March 13th to talk to them,  you can call or email the Master Gardener hotline for answers to your gardening and pest problems: 714-708-1646 or hotline@uccemg.com

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Master Gardener in Training. And let me just say that this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time! Volunteering is an important part of the program — Master Gardeners are required to volunteer 50 hours a year. At first I thought this sounded like a lot. Now I say, “Piece of cake!”

I’m falling all over myself trying to take advantage of volunteer activities because they’re fun, the folks I’m working with are great, and I learn so much doing them. Two of the best so far have been planting espallier bare-root fruit trees, which you’ll see when you go to the workshops, and grafting persimmon trees. I’ll be doing a post on the bare-root fruit tree planting next week and one about the grafting shortly after that.

Here’s the workshop info. See you there!

Garden Workshops

At the Great Park Food and Farm Lab from 10 a.m.-noon. Admission and parking are free.

Grow it NOW: Warm Season Vegetables — Saturday, March 13
Ready to dig in the garden again?  Now is the time to plant warm season vegetables to feed your family over the summer months.  The Master Gardeners will give you the information you need to choose your crops so that you can follow the #1 rule: plant what you and your family like to eat!  Yum!

Tomato Time — Saturday, April 10
You could plant from dawn to dusk and still not plant every variety of tomato!  Whether you are a novice or a pro, you’ll enjoy learning about tomatoes:  the many varieties, their culture, diseases and pests, growing in the ground vs. growing in containers – and finally, how to use them.  Come hear the Master Gardeners on the “A to Z” about tomatoes.

The Backyard Orchard — Saturday, April 17
Not enough room in your backyard for an orchard?  With a little planning and know-how, it could happen. Learn about the varieties of fruit trees suitable for backyard growing and how to plant and care for them. The Master Gardeners will provide tips for fruit trees in small gardens.   Valuable information…ripe for picking!

Tool Time — Saturday, May 1
Okay, okay – there are some trusty standby tools that you need in your garden.  And then, there are the cool tools – the ones that take your breath away, that you don’t want to live without, that you see in your dreams.  The Master Gardeners will discuss and demonstrate tools for home gardens.  Be there!

Smart Gardening — Saturday, May 15
What does it take to be a Smart Gardener?  Knowledge – and application of that knowledge – about irrigation, soil care, pest control, energy and wildlife.  Sound complicated?  The Master Gardeners will simplify it as they provide tips for you to save time, money and create a healthier garden.   If you want to be a Smart Gardener, attend this workshop.

Garden Workshops will be held at the Orange County Great Park Preview Park in the Farm & Food Lab.  The Orange County Great Park is located on Marine Way off of Sand Canyon by the 5 Freeway in Irvine.  For more information, please visit www.ocgp.org or call 949-724-7420.

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The Conservatory

Barbara: This week marks the fourth week of my Master Gardener training. So far it’s been an incredible whirlwind of learning. In the last few days we’ve been privileged to hear three of the most amazing botany lectures given by two brilliant teachers; John Lenanton, a professor of Nursery Practices and Horticulture at Orange Coast College, and Dr. Jim Folsom, Director of the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

Boy, can these guys teach! The lectures were crammed full of great stuff. I’m agog with all the information. It’s coming at us like a freight train and I’m loving every minute of it. I have learned SO much  — amazing, magical things. I feel like I’ve been given the keys to the kingdom. And what’s even better, there’s more to come! I’ll be posting some of the nuggets soon.

In the meantime here are a few pictures that I took at the Gardens. For more follow this link to Flickr. And the next time you’re in Southern California make plans to spend the day at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino. They are so very beautiful.

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Barbara: I was looking forward to this past Saturday morning ever since I read that the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners would be presenting a fall vegetable workshop at the Farm and Food Lab in the Great Park. Irvine is something of a wasteland when it comes to these sorts of things, so the fact that there was a workshop like this surprised me.

The second surprise was the Farm and Food Lab. I was truly amazed when I laid eyes on it. I’d heard that there was something agricultural happening in Orange County’s Great Park, but more than this I did not know. Well, turns out that there’s a not-quite-year-old, 2-acre farm that has produced more than 6 tons of organic row crops that have been donated to local food banks!

Caption

This 2-acre plot will be substantially expanded in the coming months.

And next to this very productive field are beautiful raised beds brimming with fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, each planted in keeping with a theme — a pizza garden, fruit salad garden, a Native American garden, etc.

Caption

Orange County gardeners explore the Food and Farm Lab.

In the midst of this delightful setting the Park crew set up a large tent for the lecture. And that brings us to the next, and perhaps biggest, surprise. The tent wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the people that showed up! In my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have imagined that more than 20 people or so would come, but there were at least triple that number. Bring me my smelling salts!

Kay Havens, a certified Master Gardener, gave a great presentation. It was informative, funny and full of tips for growing fall crops in containers and small gardens. Afterward, I spoke to Tom Larson, chief landscape and farming consultant, who told me that there are plans for a much larger farm and a community garden.

Things are looking up in OC, people! If you’ve lived in Orange County for as long as I have, you too would be pinching yourself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. I think I’ll stick around to see what happens next!

P.S. There are four more workshops scheduled. See the Great Park site for more information. And come to the next one — you won’t be disappointed.

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