Coming up is the third Sunday of the month, which means that Master Gardeners will be at the Greenbelt Farmers Market to answer all your yard and gardening questions. the Master Gardener in charge of this event, GHI resident Janice Wolf, tells me the Master Gardeners find that they learn as much as they teach here – from each other, and from their many sources – so it’s a popular activity for them.
So, what kinds of questions do they get here at the market?
- What to plant in shade, or with deer? (Click here to find out the great plants for deer-infested gardens.)
- One recent problem occurred after the homeowner laid new sod, only to find it pulled back and turned over the next morning. The culprit? Raccoons looking for grubs – they’re smart and good with their paws.
- And the group gets lots of questions about problems caused when plants are put in spots where they don’t get enough sun – because so many of us overestimate the amount of sun our yards really get. Especially with fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, there’s really no wiggle room as far as sun goes; they’ve gotta have a whole day of it.
How the Prince Georges Master Gardener Program is Different
So have you ever considered becoming a Master Gardener yourself? The benefits include learning a lot about gardening, of course, but also becoming part of a team of avid gardeners. They form a wonderful community, and the program here in Prince George’s has these particular advantages that other local programs don’t:
- The diversity that results from holding training classes after work hours – unlike, say, Montgomery County with its training held only on weekdays.
- Training is held twice a year – once in Clinton and once in College Park.
Quick Overview of the PG Master Gardener Program
Purpose: Maryland Master Gardeners are trained as volunteer horticultural experts, who go on to help Maryland residents grow food and beautiful gardens, and to do it in ways that protect and enhance the environment.
The Training: Participants receive 50 hours of basic training from U. Maryland faculty staff and Master Gardeners, and then must complete 40 hours of volunteer service during the first year to become certified Master Gardeners. The cost is $200 for Prince George’s County residents, $300 for non-county residents. If you’re interested, contact Esther Mitchell at email@example.com or 301-868-8781 for an application.
After Becoming Certified: Active Master Gardeners do 20 hours of volunteer service on approved projects and 10 hours of education each year. It’s a great group of gardeners who provide training/workshops/talks at the libraries, Watkins Nature Center, Prince George’s Community College, government agencies and community groups, plus youth groups and schools. They don’t do maintenance work, but will show clients how and when to do it. They help schools put in a garden and get them started. Coordinator Esther Mitchell says that her motto is if you are not having fun, then you are in the wrong program.
In addition to their many demonstration gardens, the PG Master Gardeners are involved with these great teaching gardens:
- Sheridan Street Community Garden. Located at the newly remodeled Center for Educational Partnership next to William Wirt Middle School in Riverdale, the garden has space for families to have their own plots to grow healthy food, as well as a youth garden where students from the neighborhood can learn how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. They also host trainings for Master Gardeners and the general public, and are holding an an event called Growing Community Gardens on March 24. If you would like to get involved, contact Christie Balch at 301/779-2806, ext 706 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s their website and here’s their Facebook page.
- Riverdale Mansion – The gardens and adjacent orchard feature many flowers and herbs, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables representative of the crops needed to support the large family, workers, and livestock living at Riverdale in the early 19th century. If you would like to get involved please email Sarah Urdaneta at email@example.com.
See their Events Calendar to learn about the many, many talks and demos they’ll be providing in local libraries in March and April. Teaching goes outdoors during the growing season.
To further Maryland Master Gardeners knowledge and to complete the requirement of 10 hours of advanced training each year, advanced training courses are offered periodically on subjects such as plant pathology, plant identification, landscape design, methods promoting sustainable gardening practices, and other areas of horticulture.
For more information about Advanced Training Classes/Schedules.
Maryland Master Gardener Annual Training Day
This is an all-day event designed specifically for Maryland Master Gardeners. There is a keynote speaker and several training classes on various topics. A sale area is available where MGs can purchase plants, MG products, and other items.