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Learn to grow your own as master gardner

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POSTED: January 5, 2011 2:15 p.m.

Would you like to grow your own vegetables but don’t know how? Maybe you know how but don’t think you have the space for a garden?
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is offering its Master Gardener Program from 9 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and Thursday from March 15 to May 17 at the Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens on Hwy. 17 in Savannah to help you solve both problems. The course is team-taught by extension agents from surrounding counties, UGA specialists and area green industry professionals.
Students will learn all the basics about gardening including soils, plant growth, basic plant physiology, pest control, fertilization, organic production, lawn and landscape care. If you live in town on a small lot or in an apartment we can show you how to grow produce in hanging baskets, window boxes and 5-gallon pails.
Last year, I co-authored a new container gardening publication with Gary Hummel. Gary lives on St. Simons Island and feeds his family all their vegetables from the crops he produces in 5-gallon pails. Gary boasts he can grow all the vegetables a family of three would care to eat from 50 5-gallon pails.
Using Gary’s system, we will show you how to make your own soil from ingredients you can buy from the big box stores, the ins and outs of starting and transplanting plants, when to fertilize for maximum yields and pest control without pesticides. If you are concerned about purity and quality of the food you feed your family and want the peace of mind that comes with the control of growing your own provides, the Master Gardener Program is for you.
Maybe you are thinking about improving your home landscape and lawn. The Master Gardener Program will help you understand what your plants and lawn need to perform at their best. It is just as important to get the timing right as it is to get the dosage right. Learning to work with nature rather than against it can save you hundreds of dollars a year in landscape care costs.
After completing the course, master gardeners will provide 50 hours of community service during the next year and can then join the ranks of the Georgia Master Gardeners. Master gardeners provide volunteer service annually to community projects and direct service to their neighbors in 101 of Georgia’s 159 counties.
The Master Gardener Program began as a para-professional cadre to help county extension agents do their job. This started out with answering residents’ questions over the phone and at their homes. As the ranks swelled, master gardeners took on larger projects, like tree plantings and landscaping schools and community parks. Some run community gardens. Master gardeners make it possible to provide enhanced community services without increasing the extension budget.
The class is limited to 30 students, and the cost is $145. Applications are available on both the Bryan County Extension website at www.ugaextension.com/bryan/anr/MasterGardener.html and the Chatham County website at www.ugaextension.com/chatham. Mail the completed application to Chatham County Extension, P.O. Box 9866, Savannah, Ga. 31412.

Gardner is the extension agent for Bryan County. He can be reached at dgardner@uga.edu.

 

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