Merced County Times Newspaper
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Learn how to get a green thumb through Master Gardener program

Informational sessions are scheduled Sept. 18 and Sept. 25 for anyone in the area who is interested in becoming a Master Gardener.

The two Saturday sessions will take place at the University of California Cooperative Extension Office, 2145 Wardrobe Road in Merced.

The Sept. 18 session is scheduled at noon and the Sept. 25 session begins at 9 a.m.

Merced County Master Gardeners are a group of volunteers whose mission involves dispensing research-based gardening information and advice to Merced County residents. The sessions will provide an overview of what is involved in becoming a Master Gardener, including in-depth information about subjects taught during training.

Classes will take place from January to May. Subjects covered include tree and lawn care, home vegetable gardening, water management and conservation, home orchards, weeds, plant pathology, soils, fertilizers, composting, insects, plant propagation and integrated pest management plus many more.

Classes are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 22, Feb. 5 and 19, March 5 and 19, April 2 and 23, and May 7 and 14, at the UCCE site.

New Master Gardener Liz Reyes said the availability of gardening information is what first drew her to the program. “I enjoy growing plants and vegetables,” she said. “There were a lot of teachers from different colleges and universities who gave very good information. They are always available to give advice and information regarding plant education.”

Retired teacher and new Master Gardener Gwen Boykin said three main reasons urged her participation in the program: love of nature, connection to nature through gardening, and being able to share the knowledge she has gained with her children, grandchildren and her community.

Waxing poetic, Boykin said: “I love and admire nature. Gazing at God’s creation is breathtaking. I look at the beautiful sky that pours out both soft and hard rains from time to time; I see the mountains stand so tall; I take in the woodlands and evergreen trees and, in my own backyard, experience the spring blossoms engulfing the fruit trees; I observe the shapely shrubs, colorful flowers, the greenery of summer grass, and the rich life-giving soil. This causes me to want to know more about our environment and help sustain it. Oh, what benefits you receive through the body, mind and soul.”

“I would highly recommend the MG training  because people need to be aware of and value how to take care of our natural resources and sustain them. We can only do this through passing on knowledge and giving opportunities to grow and become better gardeners. I especially liked the MG program because we were all pursuing like-minded goals, to enhance our knowledge and sustain our environment. I also liked the fact we

could share our different gardening experiences. Lastly, the mentors were a great support team,” she concluded.

There are no pre-requisites and no gardening experience is required to enter the program, though curiosity and a willingness to work with the public are important characteristics of a successful Master Gardener. A $200 tuition fee covers all books, supplies and materials. Scholarships are available. Applications for the class are due Oct. 22 at the UCCE Office. COVID protocols will be followed at the informational sessions.

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