Calling all gardeners! Now is the time to apply for the 2009 Master Gardener program, offered through the Washington State University’s King County Extension.
The WSU Extension Master Gardener program, founded in 1972, trains volunteers in horticulture basics, and equips them to become a resource for the public through clinics, classes and demonstration gardens they help to run throughout the county.
The 2009 training program will run 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 13 through March 31 at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st St., Seattle. The cost is $135, due upon acceptance into the program. Anyone interested in participating must apply by Oct. 3.
Issaquah resident Roy Oehler participated in the 12-week training program earlier this year, and he called it a “wonderful experience.”
“If I had known I was going to have this much fun, I would have done it sooner,” he said.
For Oehler, the best part of the Master Gardener program has been meeting new people, and getting to learn more about gardening through other people’s experiences. “That’s where you get your ideas and where you really learn from,” he said. “You can’t make every mistake yourself.”
The training sessions provide an overview of the basics — plant and insect identification, lawn care, soil and pruning. Graduates leave the class with “across-the-board general knowledge” rather than any specialized expertise, according to program coordinator Elaine Anderson.
“You’re not going to leave knowing all the answers; you’re going to leave here knowing where to find the answers,” Anderson said.
After the 12-week training, new Master Gardeners must complete a two-year internship before they can be considered veteran Master Gardeners. Interns have to give 90 hours of volunteer time in their two years; after that the requirement is 25 hours a year and 10 hours of continuing education to maintain the Master Gardener certification.
A first-year Master Gardner intern, Oehler volunteers at both of the Master Gardener clinics in his area: one at Squak Mountain Nursery, 7600 Renton-Issaquah Road S.E., and the other at the weekly Pickering Barn Farmers Market, 1730 10th Ave. N.W. (Both run 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 11.)
“I do enjoy being out there interacting with the public,” he said.
The most common issues gardeners ask about are fertilizing, watering and pruning, Oehler said.
Pruning, once a mystery to Oehler, is now one of the easiest questions for him to answer.
“A master pruner taught me that the best time to prune a plant is when you’re standing in front of it, and you have the pruners in your hand,” he said.
Oehler joked that he enjoys gardening with his wife now, too, because when they disagree about how to care for a plant, he can say “but I’m a Master Gardener,” and she’ll respond, “Oh, yes dear.”
Oehler’s advice to potential Master Gardners is to come into the program ready to help others. “If you become a better gardener yourself along the way, great, but the important thing is that you get out there and help other people,” he said.
For more information about the Master Gardener program at Washington State University Extension Office through King Co9unty, visit www.king.wsu.edu/gardening. Applications are available through the Web site, or by contacting Anderson at 206-205-3122 or sending e-mails to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Christine Shultz at 253-872-6600, ext. 5056 or email@example.com.
Master Gardener Plant Clinics
If you’ve got questions about gardening, whether it’s pest problems, lawn care or general information, the Master Gardeners are here to help. Bring your questions to one of the free gardening clinics offered in your area.
• 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays year-round (except holidays) at 206-296-3440.
• 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through October at the Bellevue Demonstration Garden, 15500 S.E. 16th St.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays at Home Depot, 325 120th Ave. N.E.
• 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays at Bellevue Nursery, 842 104th Ave. S.E.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 11 at Pickering Barn Farmers Market, 1730 10th Ave. N.W.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 11 at Squak Mountain Nursery, 7600 Renton-Issaquah Road S.E.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 25 at Redmond Farmers Market, 7730 Leary Way.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 25 at Fairwood Library, 17009 140th Ave. S.E.