Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy (Gardening) Friday!

How are you enjoying your spring garden? Are you out there planting vegetable or perennials? Have you picked out a new shrub cultivar? Are you still at the garden center making a decision? Are you sorry the rains have slowed down?

Strawberry pot in early April
I have been out of town for a couple of days, and everything has grown while I have been away. Take, for example, my strawberry pot. Full of strawberries on the sides and cilantro on the top, I have been picking almost daily to keep up. My fall pansies are pretty much gone (shucks, I have to choose something else for those pots!), but my geranium, a hold-over from last year, is going gangbusters.
This pansy was a volunteer and its cheery face pairs well with Carex 'Evergold'
I must say, I am looking forward to spending the entire weekend in the garden. There are tomatoes and peppers begging to be in the soil, and many seeds to sow. I must check on those zinnias I transplanted early in the week. Oh, and I have to find something else to go in those pansy pots!

Hope you have as much fun in the garden as I will!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Bring the Training home

Want to bring some Advanced Training home to your county?

The State Program Office has a challenge for you!

If your county program sends 15 people to Master Gardener University, we'll come to you! We'll schedule a "Creative Teaching Techniques" Advanced Training in your county.
This class meets the "required" course that is part of Silver and Gold Star Advanced Training recognition. It's actually a lot of fun! You never know what you might be asked to wear (look at those LOVELY hats!) or do (Playdough, anyone?)!

Why do we want you to come to Master Gardener University, or pursue Advanced Training, for that matter? We want volunteers who are confident and satisfied in their roles as education partners with Cooperative Extension, and continued opportunities to learn and grow are important to you. We need skilled, knowledgeable MGEVs who will provide programmatic leadership to local Extension education programs, and know that Advanced Training opportunities help develop that skill, knowledge, and confidence. We also know that Advanced Training events foster connections between volunteers and resources across the state. We're all in the business of cultivation, whether it's knowledge, skills, plants, or people!


Master Gardener University 2013

ARE YOU REGISTERED?! (Click here to go to the registration page)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Certified Volunteers

MGEVs often conduct educational projects and programs for youth. In fact, youth programs are the third most popular type of educational project that Georgia MGEVs conduct! We're going to learn about a lot of these types of projects during Get Kids Gardening and Using the Garden as an Outdoor Classroom at Master Gardener University in June. When we extend the garden to youth, these projects become collaborations with the 4-H Extension program area. How exciting it is to pool resources and extend sound programming to the youth in our communities!

Because of this emphasis on youth horticulture, the Georgia MGEV Program has teamed up with Georgia 4-H to offer "Certified Youth Horticulture" training during Master Gardener University! This training follows the 4-H model for certified leader training in other areas, such as 4-H Forestry Field Day Coaches or Certified 4-H Wildlife Judging Coaches. Certified leaders participate in training that gives an overview to Georgia 4-H as well as the essential elements of 4-H programs. They receive significant subject matter training, and they also learn about risk management so that the adult leaders are able to deliver strong programs that are developmentally appropriate for the youth audience. MGEVs who take both Youth tracks (Get Kids Gardening and Using the Garden as an Outdoor Classroom) at Master Gardener University will complete the criteria for certified training and will be recognized as "certified youth horticulture volunteers."

It is our desire that MGEVs partner with the 4-H program staff to deliver quality youth horticulture programs in schools and communities across Georgia. When the MG University training is complete, MGEVs will be prepared to assist with gardening presentations in classrooms or set up an after-school gardening program. Future training opportunities will prepare MGEVs to mentor school garden leaders, such as teachers and parents. There's lots of work to be done in the area of youth horticulture, and MG University is an opportunity to gain ideas and momentum to put those ideas to work!

Master Gardener University 2013

ARE YOU REGISTERED?! (Click here to go to the registration page)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And the winner is...

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to the Hall County MGEV group in Gainesville. What a good time! This group is full of fun and energy, and the meeting was a delight!

I shared at length what Advanced Training is for Georgia MGEVs. We talked a bit about how it is different from the initial training you receive as a new MGEV. We read the "fine print" on the Gold Star project, and talked at length about how to host an Advanced Training.

(And Hall County might want to know this information since they are in the lead for a "Creative Teaching Techniques" training. Did you know about that challenge? More later...)

Why did I enjoy the meeting so much?
  • When I arrived at the meeting, there was a note to sign in, and multiple clipboards and pens were laid out to facilitate this. As a guest, I knew where to go  and where I would find the gardeners!
  • Training classes were "pitted" against each other to see who would win the attendance award! The winner was the class of 2011. After a bit of cajoling, a class representative was persuaded to proudly carry home the "bright" sunflower yard art! (and glue on the ladybug that fell off...the chewing gum didn't quite do the trick!) I think this "yard art" is transferred to next month's winner...
  • Recognition abounded at this meeting...someone won a prize by random drawing in the "Seeds" contest, others won clever door prizes, like that ceramic mushroom pot waterer...I even won some seeds and recipe cards!
  • Mixed in with this fun and silliness was a little serious business, like a questionnaire about the youth horticulture projects going on in Hall County...they had something to do with Robbie's disinterest in wearing bowling shoes...but nonetheless, kudos to this group for taking the time to consider whether these projects should continue as they are or if it is time to morph them into something different.
We had a great time at this meeting! It was nice to see familiar faces and to have that inside look at what MGEVs work on locally. Thank you for inviting me!

Thank you to all of you who have hosted me and taken time to visit with me at length over the past few months!

Now, off to the garden to sow those seeds!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Soils, UGarden, and Sneak Peek

What do soils, UGarden, and a Sneak Peek all have in common?

Master Gardener University, of course!

ARE YOU REGISTERED?! (Click here to go to the registration page)

Those folks registering for both Friday and Saturday sessions of Master Gardener University get to choose a pre-event tour on Thursday, June 6, 2013. We have three tours planned (available on a first-come, first-served basis) ahead of our advanced training sessions to see inside of some great work at UGA.

Soils Lab. Have you ever wondered what happens to that bag of soil once it leaves the local office? How is it handled? What processes does it go through to get those results? How is the report generated? How long does it take?

All of these questions and more will be answered during Thursday's tour of the Soils Lab. Participants in this tour will meet at the Soils Lab and get an in-depth look at the process that is so critical to successful and healthy gardens.

UGarden. As I understand it, undergrad students throughout the University (not just Horticulture students) wanted to know how to grow vegetables. They began asking questions, and those questions made their way to the Horticulture Department. Enter Horticulture faculty, and a lot more students from all over campus, and the project evolves! One thing leads to another, and the students want to grow food on campus. It has expanded so that students gain experience in organic vegetable production techniques, fresh produce is donated to a local food bank, and other students get involved. In 2012, a student-managed project received funding from the Campus Sustainability Grants program (for students, from student green fees) to research and demonstrate the effectiveness of vertical gardening by way of a wall unit installed at the UGArden. The produce will be harvested by Campus Kitchen volunteers and distributed at the Northeast Georgia Food Bank.You can read more about the garden from the student perspective here. 

What is the take-home from this tour? Challenge yourself to rethink your local community or demonstration garden. How can more people learn from the garden? Who can be involved, other than MGEVs, to gain the benefits of growing fresh food, learning new skills, and sharing resources with the community? It's more than just a pretty garden and the thrill of nurturing and harvest!

A Sneak Peek..."An Inside Look at the Planning of a Children’s Garden” at the State Botanical Garden promises to be very exciting! Did you know that the State Botanical Garden was designing and creating a Children's Garden? What a perfect compliment to the garden and programs! This sneak peek is just for Master Gardeners, and will give an inside look at the effort required to plan a children’s garden, including defining the theme and focus, getting input from various experts and the community, choosing the best site, working with designers, relating the garden to surrounding activities, and raising funds. Be one of the first to see the plans for the new Children’s Garden!

This is a great opportunity to hear what staff at the Botanical Garden have learned in this planning process. Apply what you learn to your own demonstration and education projects. You can't go wrong with this event that is followed by a guided tour of the State Botanical Garden (or wander the gardens and gift shop on your own.)

So, we hope that you will join us and have opportunity to be a park of  soils, the UGarden, and a Sneak Peek!

ARE YOU REGISTERED?! (Click here to go to the registration page

Friday, April 5, 2013

Extension, Art, and Gardens

You've probably heard by now about the FANTASTIC training sessions available to you during Master Gardener University. But the training sessions are not the only great things happening during MGU!

Those of you coming to Master Gardener University for both Friday and Saturday sessions are invited to dinner on Friday night in the lovely Magnolia Ballroom at the Georgia Center. Some of you may even have the privilege of sitting at the head table with our keynote speaker, Dr. Diane Relf, Professor Emeritus of Horticulture, Virginia Tech.

If you're thinking you've heard that name before, you probably have! Diane was my mentor, supervisor, and graduate committee chair during my early career with the Virginia Master Gardener program. I have shared with many of you how her vision and direction for horticulture has resonated strongly with me and is a foundation for the vision I bring to the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program. Diane enjoys an international renown and continues to share her expertise and insight with the green industry and supporting organizations all over the world.

But that is not the exciting part! You know how so many of you said, "I can't wait to retire so that I can become a MG" ??  Well, I think Diane said, "I can't wait to retire to become an ARTIST"!!!!

Here's a little bit about our keynote speaker, Diane Relf, in her own words:

Diane Relf -- Artist’s statement:

First and foremost, art is about having fun by creating something I enjoy messing with. Most of my work is never quite finished, as I add to and embellish it. Experimenting with new materials and techniques and making things up as I go are essential elements of art for me. 

My art is about finding discarded objects and manipulating them to explore their potential; then combining the these new objects into statements of appreciation of the mundane. It questions the validity of a throwaway society, the value of always needing new, and the perfection of machinery precision. It celebrates the daily detritus that has lost its meaning and gives it a new opportunity to open eyes and minds. I have long had a love affair with rust and much of my work explores rust’s potential in creative expression in many forms: wood and rust sculpture; rust stained textile and paper backgrounds for rust assemblages; wearable rusted art; metal masks; altered art tiles; photography; and digital graphic “collages”. At the least, my art provides me with many hours of entertainment, challenges me to explore new ways of making art, and provides amusement to my family and friends.

This year I discovered the serendipity involved in alcohol ink abstracts and have been exploring ways to combine the bright, permanent ink colors with rust.

Bio  Born and raised poor in Texas, I learned young to play with discarded items and appreciate the value of things that most people found useless.  A career in academia had demands that derailed me from playing with art. But since retirement several years ago, I have continuously created and recreated my art.

So, if you haven't registered to attend Master Gardener University, be sure to do so very soon (click here to go to the registration page)! We want to see you in Athens in June!