We all are born with our own unique personalities, passions, and abilities. We often pursue what our natural inclination leans toward, but sometimes we may like the challenge of learning something new.
I am pretty sure I have a genetic tendency toward gardening, since my father and his father farmed and my maternal grandmother loved all types of flowers, shrubs and vegetable gardening. She was also the lady who propagated everything green in the house and yard.
Although everyone may not have a green thumb, gardening is a skill that can be learned.
There is a program in North Carolina — as well as the other 49 states — that will teach you gardening skills and allow you to share your newly acquired gardening knowledge. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program teaches an extensive gardening course. It covers topics such as botany, lawns, soils, insects, diseases, ornamentals, small fruits, weed identification and management, organic culture, composting, wildlife, propagation, pesticides and landscape design. Program attendees have often said that the training is equivalent to a college course in horticulture. We have an award-winning manual to accompany this training; it can be purchased as a hard copy or an electronic pdf.
The training cost is dependent on your manual choice, ranging from $80 to $125. If you would like to preview everything the class will cover, you can preview the manual, which is available for free online at ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook. The hard-copy book is offered at a significant discount to all class participants. Once the training is completed, you are encouraged to stay with the program and offer volunteer hours to our community and local residents of the great “state of Robeson.” The program is designed to teach you, and then you complement the Extension horticultural office by sharing your newly acquired knowledge at community events, field days, and/or educational exhibits; mentoring a community garden; or teaching or demonstrating gardening to senior citizens, youth or special needs groups.
Gardening is a very practical, therapeutic, and relaxing activity that can benefit everyone. If you have an interest or passion for gardening and a desire to help your fellow neighbor, then this may be just the program for you. We are offering the training this year weekly on Thursday mornings, from 9 a.m. to noon at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. The classes will begin Aug. 16 and finish in early December. We have an outstanding lineup of speakers, each excelling in the topic they will be presenting. We are planning an orientation for those interested, as well as an opportunity for existing Extension Master Gardener volunteers from surrounding counties, to meet our new State Master Gardener Program coordinator, Charlotte Glen, on July 26, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Preregistration is required by Friday. If you are interested in this program or training, please contact me at 910-671-3276 or by email at [email protected]
Mack Johnson, Extension horticultural agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, can be reached at 910-671-3276, by email at [email protected], or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.