All Things Gardening forum: Becoming a Master Gardener

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(Zone 4b)
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GardenLiz
Apr 20, 2015 1:17 PM CST
Have any of you gone through the master gardener program in your area? I am interested in doing so but I am deterred by all the volunteer hours it requires--60 in my state I believe. We have three young kids but am staying at home with them for the time being and life is busy busy. For those who are master gardeners--have you been in the same position or do you think it is do-able for someone who is raising small kids? I have only ever seen retiree aged master gardeners in our area so I have been thinking maybe it is not a good idea for the moment but am curious what others think who have gone through the programs. To be clear, I am not opposed to the amount of volunteer hours (I think it is wonderful to be able to volunteer in such a way!) but am just wondering how practical it may be.

Thanks!
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Apr 20, 2015 1:53 PM CST
I applied to the Washington MG program when I left my office job in favor of freelance working from home, thinking I'd be able to juggle both - but it was made pretty clear to me that the MG program needed to have priority over my work schedule (an odd concept to me). It was also a pretty intimidating interview, more so than any actual job I've interviewed for. A whole table full of interviewers (perhaps 8-9), with zero humor. It was actually so off-putting that I terminated the interview after about 10 minutes, realizing it just wasn't a good fit for me. That was a bit awkward, but I was happy to get out of that stuffy room! I think each MG program is different, though, and perhaps yours is a friendlier group.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Apr 20, 2015 2:22 PM CST
From what I've read over the years, and what my Mom told me about doing it, I'm not interested in it because there seems to be a heavy emphasis on chemical use and info about chems. I don't use anything like that for the past 20 yrs. I'm sure I could find that kind of info readily available via search engines & package labels. Mom didn't come away from the program with the "need" to compost, which seems like the very most basic and important thing any gardener could or should be doing.

Regardless of how I feel, you may want to investigate the curriculum your particular group offers, to make sure it's stuff you want to learn, that you think will be of benefit to you and your community.

Deb, unfriendly gardeners? I didn't know such existed. (frown!)
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ‘’โ˜€๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒฝ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฒ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Heucheras Echinacea
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NJBob
Apr 20, 2015 5:15 PM CST
I had done some looking into it , and having a job with a rotating schedule saw no way to do it.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Apr 20, 2015 5:36 PM CST
I never was interested because when I moved into my first home there were lots of plants and trees I was not familiar with. I knew MGs had to do lots of volunteer work. When I called for help the person I spoke to was not pleasant and snottily said that was not something they did. Angry
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
Apr 20, 2015 5:44 PM CST
It's on my Bucket List, after I stop working full time. I wish I could do it sooner while I have the energy. Interesting about the chemicals @purpleinopp, Tiffany. But I think using the knowledge to avoid chemicals would be helpful, too. Sometimes knowledge is power. If I can find a non-chemical way that works, I would have to intelligently argue why a chemical isn't the best answer. And to know that, I would have to learn about them, too.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Apr 20, 2015 6:14 PM CST
The first MG we met was extremely helpful when we first made our compost bins. He was great.

My next experience was a lot like Jennifer's. The guy yelled and screamed at me over the phone...repeatedly.

I have no interest in being a MG. Two of our MG neighbors call me when they have a problem with a plant - like "Why aren't my roses growing".

Could it be that they're in total shade?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Apr 20, 2015 6:48 PM CST
I've never really had an interest in it, either -- because, well, all the time it would take would be time I couldn't spend on my own garden(s) !! And the experiences you all have reported definitely don't make me want to make the time for it Blinking .

I think Dave and DrDawg are both master gardeners, and probably quite a few other members here...
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Apr 20, 2015 7:11 PM CST
I would love to try it, but I would have to drive to another town. I have friends who have done it here and it was a good experience for them. But, I also don't want to have to miss that much time in my own garden.
Name: Duane Robinson
Kerrville, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas
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Poohdaddy
Apr 20, 2015 8:07 PM CST
Sorry to hear of the bad MG experiences. I completed my MG certification in 2009. And yes Master Gardener programs are like all the other volunteer organizations that are out there. They can "get you really busy". My standard answer now is not that I am retired, I quit working for pay!!

Remember that the Master Gardener programs are under the authority of each state's Ag Extension Systems which are tied to the state's Agriculture Universities. In Texas it is Texas A&M. And yes the use of chemicals is in the curriculum. However, most of the seasoned MG will tell you only use chemicals according to the labeling and only in extreme circumstances.

The only chemicals I will use now is Osmocote for fertilizing certain plants and Fire Ant Bait when I have lost the battle with organic methods.

@Cheryl I can't remember would you be in Harris or Montgomery County? Both of those have good organizations.
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
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ShadyGreenThumb
Apr 20, 2015 8:10 PM CST
@Poohdaddy, I am in Harris County. I looked up MG Courses at one time and I would be going downtown Houston or thereabouts for the classes. That alone would be time consuming for me as Kingwood is 35 mins north of downtown on a good day. I can't wait to have permanent "time off" to play with plants and learn more!
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
(Zone 4b)
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GardenLiz
Apr 20, 2015 9:30 PM CST
Thanks for all the replies! The chemical thing did cross my mind...seems I heard something similar to that and I do all organic on our property, but I figure I can take from it what I want and leave the rest.

It sounds like it is pretty intense as far as time goes. I will have to ask around at some of the plant sales this spring and see what the MGs in my area say. Thankfully I haven't had bad experiences with any of them, though a couple haven't seemed all that knowledgeable (but I realize one can't be an expert on everything). Our old neighbor's daughter was an MG and she was super nice and helpful. We always had great conversations when she came over to see her mom and worked in the yard. But again, she was retired.

I haven't looked into it too much to see what exactly they require to even get into the program--hopefully not a lot of interviewers as one of you said! I can't imagine how that scenario would appeal to anyone--I mean, we have to pay for the program itself (though I know some of it is covered) and then do all the volunteer hours and if they make it really difficult or unpleasant to get into, why bother?

If anyone else has any opinions, please share! Thanks again!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Apr 20, 2015 9:48 PM CST
@Poohdaddy, Duane -- I'm glad you chimed in here with a positive experience with the MG program! Thumbs up
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Elfrieda
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida (Zone 10a)
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orchidgal
Apr 20, 2015 9:54 PM CST
We have some great programs in Brevard County. We're required to put in 35 hours of volunteer time and 10 continuing education hours. I get some of the volunteer hours done by helping to maintain a butterfly garden at the Cape, part of the Air Force tourist program; and for a couple of hours once a week at local libraries -- we are there for the public to answer any questions they may have. Sorry that you weren't too impressed Liz.
I help out every year by interviewing the newer "students" who have signed up for the course. Everyone has a different reason for becoming a Master Gardener and I've met some very interesting people. My education hours will be more than made up when I go to the UF in Gainesville and take their "Short Course" (two days of classes and field trips). I've done this a few times now and thoroughly enjoy them.
I learned a very important lesson from day 1; the climate in central Florida is different than north Florida and it is different than south Florida. We help out in the schools (I've taught butterfly gardening) and help them put in raised veggie beds. We're creating a Botanical Garden for the public to use. We hold a big plant sale twice a year; everything grown by the MG's - organically. It can keep you very busy; but I've learned to balance it better so I can spend some time in my own gardens.
โ€œI was just sittinโ€™ here enjoyinโ€™ the company. Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listenโ€
Eeyore
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Apr 20, 2015 10:00 PM CST
Elfie, you make it sound very appealing! I suspect more people have had good experiences than bad... Thumbs up
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Apr 21, 2015 7:53 AM CST
Certainly, we Master Gardeners are not experts in horticultural subjects, other than possibly specific plants that we might propagate and/or grow. Heck, someone with a PhD in a certain field of horticulture has vast knowledge (and sometimes experience) in his/her specific field, but might have little exposure to other horticultural fields. Is there anyone out there who truly expects we Master Gardeners, with perhaps a total of forty classroom hours, to have knowledge similar to someone who has many hundreds of classroom hours?

Many, if not most MG go through the certification process not only to increase their knowledge about many areas of horticulture but also so that they are given the opportunity to give back to their community. I just cannot fathom a MG being rude or snobbish when someone asks him/her a question pertained to horticulture. Ask me a question about tropical plants and more than likely, I can give you an answer, even a correct answer. Whistling Ask me a question about something other than tropical plants........ well, good luck. I have no problem telling someone that I just don't know the answer to their question. I live in a college town with hundreds of folks with PhD's, and I know some PhD's that are very standoffish. Sighing! When it comes to using a chemical or a non-chemical when growing plants, I find that MG are just like the rest of the population. Some grow chemical insecticidal-free, some grow organically, some use chemical fertilizers, and some use chemical insecticides.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
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Bubbles
Apr 21, 2015 11:53 AM CST
I became a MG in 2001. I've said before that I could have been sick and would have still crawled there every Tuesday afternoon for the classes. I loved every minute of them. You know, they really want people/MGs who are not working, so they can answer the phones, spend weekends interacting with the public, giving presentations to clubs and schools, setting up school gardens, etc. There are MGs that still work and spend weekends getting their hours, but it is difficult at times to fulfill those hours. Some groups expect the hours spent to be of a specific nature. Finding those opportunities to volunteer can be frustrating.

I jumped in with both feet. I co-managed the MG greenhouse on the grounds of the botanical garden, was on the MG board, co-chaired the first garden tour (still going strong), travelled to TX A&M four times a year as a state delegate, as well as helping out where necessary. I submitted our club for an award for contructing a greenhouse and we won 2nd place for a large club. I loved it all.

That wasn't the case for everyone in my class. Some took the classes just to gain knowledge about what to grow in Austin. Some didn't quite understand the time commitment and dropped out before getting their hours. Others just couldn't fulfill their continuing hours. I'm not sure about other MG groups but in Austin when I took the classes, if you paid for and completed the classes and the internship, you were considered a Master Gardener and given a certificate and a notebook. To remain active, you had to keep up your hours.

I also belonged to two garden clubs and enjoyed being able to do it all for quite a while. After DH retired, I found I was too busy to take off on a trip or head up to the lake on a weekend with him. I gradually decided to ease out of some commitments. In good standing, I can take some classes and hours to resume being an active MG. But I am still a Master Gardener!

(BTW, my last internship hours happened the morning of 9/11. DH wanted me to stay home, but my phone partner from Hutto would have been there by herself. Not a call came in, we were all standing around the TV at the Extension office and worried about what the future would be like).
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Apr 21, 2015 12:31 PM CST
Great story-line, Sandi. You had a really full plate. None of our six local clubs have male members but they do "allow" me to speak to them every year. Those presentations help me acquire the necessary MGV hours.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Apr 21, 2015 12:39 PM CST
I belong to a garden club that used to be The Men's Garden Club of Austin! So many of us wiley women joined that they had to rename it! It's now The Garden Club of Austin! Whistling

Edited to add: @drdawg Does MS have a MG State Conference each year? It's a great way to network with other clubs in the region.
[Last edited by Bubbles - Apr 21, 2015 1:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Apr 21, 2015 2:01 PM CST
Yes, we have both a state and a regional meeting. I have only been a MGV for two years and haven't been to the state or regional meetings. Being such a small town and having a major SEC university here, with all the sports available, the vast majority of the men spend there time on golf or college sports it seems. I don't have a lot of "business" here in the Starkville area. 95% of what I grow is shipped.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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