That is especially true of my involvement with the master gardening program. I was in the inaugural class of master gardeners in 2007. As there was no program then in San Joaquin County, we trained with Sacramento, Butte, Yolo and other counties in one big training class. Until then, I’d never realized how many gardeners were just a little advice away from achieving the yards and gardens they had always wanted.
I have had the pleasure of helping gardeners from the ages of 9 to 91 (literally), and I am still amazed at how everyone seems to garden, even if the entire garden consists of a potted plant or two.
The time has come now to embark on a new round of training master gardeners, and I hope many people from Tracy will join me in this rewarding organization.
The program is open to new individuals with or without gardening experience who wish to increase their horticultural knowledge and skills. They must also have a desire to serve their community via volunteering, the cornerstone of the master gardener concept. We are very proud of this service and of the many community projects that are made successful through our master gardener volunteers.
As a master gardener, I have answered questions by e-mail and telephone and in person at the Bean Festival, the Pumpkin Festival, the county fair and the Home and Garden Show. I also participated in a composting workshop at Tracy’s City Hall. And master gardeners are involved with the community garden the Presbyterian church is starting and have sent a speaker to the Tracy Garden Club.
Each University of California Cooperative Extension master gardener receives more than 50 hours of training from U.C. horticulturists and other professionals in the nursery landscape industry. Class topics include botany, composting, soil and water management, entomology, plant pathology, fruit and ornamental tree culture and many other facets of landscape and garden planning and maintenance.
While in training, each student learns about the volunteer activities our master gardeners support. Students work with master gardeners who will be part of their education and help them learn to teach others. After completing their training, each UCCE master gardener is required to record a total of 50 volunteer hours in the first year and 25 hours each year thereafter. We seek people who desire to make a long-term commitment.
Applications need to be in by Nov. 19.
The training will begin Jan 19 and will run 19 weeks, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at the SJ County Agricultural Center. More details and applications are available on our website (http://sjmastergardeners.ucdavis.edu/Becoming_a_Master_Gardener/) or by calling the office at 953-6112.
• University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be sent to email@example.com. Marcy Hachman, master gardener program director, contributed to this week’s column.