I have a few questions for you. How many people do you know who have had more than 50 hours of instruction in horticulture from well-qualified instructors, most of them specialists and educators from The Ohio State University? Who are these people who have acquired practical skills in pruning, propagating and tree identification? Who among your acquaintances knows a lot about flower gardening, herbs and setting up a vegetable garden? Who has studied botany, landscaping and fruit production?
The answers, of course, are all the same - a Master Gardener.
A new class will be starting Feb. 9 at The Ohio State University Extension Office, 3140 S. SR 100, Tiffin. The group will meet 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through April 6. Most of the instruction will be on-site, with a few possible outings for practical learning in the field.
In addition to the topics mentioned above, there will be classes in lawn care, plant pathology, soil and fertilizers, entomology and more.
Some of these topics may sound intimidating, but believe me, all the information is presented in an understandable way, with plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion with experienced teachers, most of whom have worked with previous classes. In addition to the illustrated sessions you attend, you will receive handouts from each speaker, and an enormous 3-inch binder filled with the answers to most gardening questions.
Once a Master Gardener has completed the classwork component, there is an open-book examination, and then the intern is expected to complete 50 hours of community service in local garden projects during the next year.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Contact her at email@example.com.
Plenty of opportunities are offered to accomplish this, such as planting, watering and caring for the entrance garden beds at the Seneca County Fairgrounds, working the telephone Resource Line with an experienced fellow gardener, doing tree pruning in the area, and helping with the annual plant sale in many ways.
This sale at the flea market in May is our major fundraiser, and there is plenty to be done raising, digging, potting, transporting and selling plants for this event.
But it is not all work.
This is a group of around 30 gardeners who are the most friendly people imaginable. We all share our love of gardening, and we also share seeds, plants, questions, answers, celebrations and good food.
One of our most active committees is education and trips, one which plans programs for the members and also some events open to the public, such as the fairy garden workshop we gave last summer.
We also travel in groups by bus or car pool to gardens, nurseries, parks, arboretums, garden shows and conferences.
On any trip we take, a major necessity is that we use vehicles with big trunks or other cargo space because most of us are dedicated shoppers and feel it impossible to resist the plants we see on sale.
If you are interested, call the office at (419) 447-9722 and you will receive an application packet with all the information you need to apply for a place in the class. The class size is limited because of the hands-on nature of the instruction, so call right away to reserve a space.
No previous experience is necessary, and we welcome men and women from all walks of life.
The cost is $150, which includes the cost of instruction, the notebook and handouts.
I enjoy my participation in the group so much, and have made many close friends in 11 years as a Master Gardener. I urge you to do the same.