Master Gardener Program


In Ohio, where I live, we have a program called the Master Gardener Program, which consists of 10 weeks of classes, and then some volunteer work. Apparently the training is pretty extensive, and there are never enough seats to go around, so they interview everyone to determine who gets in.
I was wondering if anyone here has attended it, or anything like it, and had any comments. I'd be interested in if it was useful, especially for my interests in veggie gardening, or any other insights.
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On 18/08/08 22:27, Poe wrote:

Is the program aimed at practical veg growing? Is that what you want?
Do you have a plot available now that you can plant up with veg? How big is it?
Ed
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Ed wrote:

I won't get the details on the program until fall, and then the classes are over the winter. But my understanding is that it covers a huge range of gardening information - including veggie gardening, but also soil and climate and diseases, and so on. I would like to learn as much as I can, although right now I am into veggies (and fruit).
I currently own about 2.5 acres in zone 5 (Northern Ohio). I have a smallish garden at the moment, with tomatoes, lots of varieties of peppers, eggplant, melons, summer & winter squash, cukes, cabbage, broccoli, okra, and some leafy things like collard and swiss chard. I have another area with herbs, and another small area with berries (blueberries and raspberries).
I've also been learning about preserving - just canned 4 quarts of sweet/sour/hot zucchini relish, and will be making hot pepper jelly in the next few days. My goal is to eat healthy by having a load of produce always in front of me, and to reduce my spend at the grocery - although I also see this as a hobby, so I don't mind some investment. For instance, I did purchase a solar powered deer-fence (give a little zap on their nose), and I have a heated barn with rows of lights for growing seedlings for spring plantings and such. I originally used those to create huge amounts of decorative landscape items to make my yard more pleasing, but now I think they'll be used to get a jump on growing produce. Oh - I'd like to get more into heirloom variants of everything when possible so I can save seeds with predictable results.
Sorry for my long winded answer, but I wanted to outline where I am at with regard to gardening, and my interests.
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On 18/08/08 23:06, Poe wrote:

Wow, wow!! You sound like an expert already!!!! Maybe you should be leading da class ??
But there is always stuff to learn. You just need to check out the details of the course when they become available and see if it offers you anything.
Best wishes, Ed (Ireland)
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Brevity snipped.

I say go for it. Education is never wasted. :-)
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[...]

yep, lots of info conveyed. Seems you've got your first order of business well in hand.
If you've never attended a Master Gardener course, I would think you could learn enough to make it worthwhile. But as Vandy suggested, talking with a past student, (one that currently gardens), may assuage any concerns.
How much space do you currently till? How much could you till?
Would you like to derive income from your excesses?
Do you have interest in maintaining organic methods?
I'm in NE Ohio myself, far enough south I'm usually considered zone 6, (though I plant like it's zone 5). Here's a suggestion for a crop that will flourish in your local, perhaps find many appreciating palates. Look at the varieties and how much they are charging per pound: http://67.199.35.172/ZenCart/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=3 and: http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/boutique.htm
and this fella will buy any excess garlic, even produce retail buyers: http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/fewgood.htm
I'd guess garlic lovers outnumber cigar aficionados by a fair margin ;)
Steve Young
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Steve Young wrote:

I'm glad I am getting this feedback, because it does require a number of hours for the classes, and then volunteer work afterwards. I want to make good use of my time. I am hoping the materials they send me in fall will fill in some of the blanks, too.

Didn't till at all this year, which was a mistake. I've tilled before, but this year I just put down some peat moss that I had hoped would work its way into the soil, and covered with that black landscaping fabric to keep weeds down. Unfortunately I think my soil is rather deficient, as I had tomato blossom rot and somewhat late maturity of a few things. That didn't keep my summer squash down, though, I have enough zucchini to feed a village!
Going forward I plan to till twice a year, beginning and end. At the end of this year's growing season I plan to till in a pile of what I guess amounts to a casual compost pile (I don't tend to it, it is just scraps and garden waste), along with dead plant materials and a couple loads of manure from a horse farm up the street. At least that is what I am currently planning, unless I learn something better.

If I could, sure. I don't know how to go about getting into that, though. I am semi-retired, so I have time at home t work on my garden a lot.

Yes, in fact I have been trying to stay as organic as I can, although I did have to use a store-bought spray for a squash bg invasion. I tried to select a chemical that is deemed fairly safe.

Yummy garlic, one of my favorites!

Probably, and we have better breath ;)

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See if you can locate some graduates of the program and learn their opinions of the course work. For me the program was not enough, but then I already hold a degree in agriculture. I was seeking more information on farming/ gardening in my area. That is not apparently what is taught here.
The price for the course is high, in my opinion. For that kind of money I can buy several good books to study and keep for future reference. My opinion, your mileage may vary.
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