Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Little Gardening Project

As a Master Gardener, I occasionally get called on to help others with their gardening concerns. I got a call from the County Agent the other day to see if I would be interested in a little project and said sure - I must provide at least 25 hours per year of community service to maintain my certification. For those not familiar with the MG program, it is basically a trained and organized group of volunteers that provide a full scope of gardening help to homeowners and institutions as a community service. This frees up the professionals in County Extension to work on bigger issues like serving the commercial farming community, 4-H, etc. I've always said if I can spend a couple of hours helping Aunt Millie with the problem on her single rose bush, that allows the County Agent to spend those two hours helping Farmer John with his 500 acres of tomatoes.

So back to the project. A church in Lenoir City, about 15 minutes from here, has decided to grow a vegetable garden and give the produce to the needy, as a community outreach program. They have a nice spot right on their grounds and plan to put in a one acre garden. Where do I come in – they are a group of enthusiastic, but mostly, non gardeners who are biting off a lot and need a coach. I met with them Monday night and spent about two hours giving them the basics for growing a successful garden – I think they now know enough to know what questions to ask. Since I decided I needed a year off from my own garden, I’ll be able to do it vicariously through them and be part of a worthwhile venture. I admire what they are attempting to do and want to help ensure they have a success.

So far, their biggest issue is getting a late start. They are treating for fire ants and still need to plow – ideally these would have been done in the fall. But they are planting only warm season crops and should have everything in the ground in late April, which will work fine, they’ll just have a lot of turned under sod to deal with. I'm sure this will be a good source of blogging material throughout the summer.

I took a few shots of Almost Heaven South the other day. A classical sign of spring is the forsythia. Another one around here are the redbuds, which hadn't opened when I took these.

The foreground is a patio peach and behind is a yoshino cherry.

When we built our home, bradford pears were popular, so we planted one. At the time I didn't realize how susceptible they were to damage. But ours has survived well and it's the biggest one I've seen - I specifically included the car for reference.

Wow record 85* here yesterday - hope we get back to spring soon. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.



  1. Wow, I didn't know you were a master gardener. I see the announcement in the paper every so often to sign up and take classes. I think about it. But then thankfully decide I don't need another iron in the fire.

  2. I am not much of a gardener, other than the few herbs I grow. I have a forsythia in my back yard, but never new what it was until just now. Thanks.

  3. very interesting... do you know if all county extension programs have the same system in place... Like say my home in Kansas???

    I really want to start an herb garden

  4. Even though you aren't going to do your own garden you will be able to enjoy this terrific program and teach others at the same time. Sounds perfect to me.

    Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing them.

  5. I have a really good friend who is a Master Gardner. She spends her hours planting at City and County buildings in Douglas County. Love the program. Beautiful photos.

  6. Hi Larry, Be careful what you wish for. Instead of 'back to spring'---we may be going 'back to winter' on Friday.. Yipes!!!

    Glad you are helping the church with their project. That's very worthwhile...

    Have a great Wednesday.

  7. Beatiful photos, Larry! I think flowering trees are such a fabulous part of spring - that and the tiny green first leaves. Looking forward to the gardening posts. I'm a neophyte gardener, but I LOVE it!.

  8. No wonder your yard (yard seems to small....your "North 40" perhaps?) always looks so freaking good. Alexis' aunt is a Master Gardner too and I know that is a huge deal. Great pictures, Larry.

  9. I had no idea you were a Master Gardener! I do a raised bed SF veggie garden on my other blog and I am an absolute amateur for sure but I have fun with it and share what I learn. It's probably more like the experiences of the bungled garden LOL, but I have fun with it.

    Gorgeous trees. I am surrounded by flowerless oaks.

  10. Penn State runs the agricultural and gardening outreach for folks hereabouts. As for me, well, I need my "square foot" garden, because I don't bend very well, and I do hate weeding. Your Bradford Pear is very impressive! We planted a pair of them, and one got taken down by a microburst after about 5 years. So we replaced it with the same thing, on the strength that some day they'll be big trees like yours, and then they'll match!

  11. If only I lived closer. I would love help with my garden!!!


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