Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 15, 2003

Master gardeners are needed in Howard Lake

By Lynda Jensen

The love of greenery and a willingness to answer questions seems to be two key ingredients for the master gardener program offered through the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Master gardeners are amateur green thumbs who are trained through the university, serving the public by answering questions about horticulture throughout the year.

Gardeners in the Howard Lake area are being asked to consider becoming master gardeners, since there is a shortage in the immediate area.

The deadline is Saturday, Sept. 20. Those interested may call (612) 624-4771.

The need is great, but the rewards are even greater, commented master gardener Catherine Rose of Montrose.

Rose happens to be a professional landscaper and owner of Nature's Nest, which is an organic nursery and bed and breakfast located about two miles east of Montrose.

Most master gardeners are not professional gardeners, but simply people who love nature and enjoy learning about horticulture.

"It's a great way to network and meet people," Rose said.

She enjoys her ties with the university and getting gardening information first hand, she said.

Why did she become a master gardener?

"I wanted to be able to give back to the public what I've learned," she said.

Rose believes that people should pay attention to nature ­ and that even weeds have a story to tell.

"Weeds are tattle tales," she said.

For example, some weeds will reveal if the soil is too compacted.

The most common question for Rose is "Why did something die?" she said.

How it works

Anyone may call the Yard and Garden Line (612) 624-4771, to leave a message for a master gardener. Usually a gardener with a specialty in that area will return the call. There are about one dozen master gardeners in Wright County.

Master gardeners answer questions about bulbs, fruit, house plants, insects, landscaping, roses, trees and shrubs, vegetables, wildlife, and many other subjects.

There are also other services on the Yard and Garden Line, including being able to:

· talk to a plant or insect expert at the University of Minnesota Extension Service Yard and Garden Clinic. 

· order publications from the University of Minnesota Extension Service. 

· listen to a variety of Info-U tapes. 

· get answers to wildlife questions from the Wildlife Clinic at the University's Bell Museum of Natural History. 

· find out how to submit a plant or insect sample for identification or diagnosis, or submit a soil sample to the soil testing laboratory for analysis of soil nutrients. 

In fact, there are answers to thousands of questions on the Internet for the master gardener program, also called the Yard and Garden Line, www.extension.umn.edu.

Another common question is how to kill creeping charlie, she said.

Squash borers are also a common question, since the pests bore into the vine and cause it to die, Rose said.

Good advice for the fall is that gardeners should be careful about leaving air pockets while planting, which will possibly freeze roots, she said.

During the current drought, Rose recommends "water, water, and water ­ especially this fall."

The plants that have been adversely affected are already basically dead by now anyway, she said.

She recommends setting a glass out while watering the garden, to make sure it is filled by two inches or so to ensure deep watering.

Watering deeply is a good idea, especially since it means the gardener won't have to water for another week.


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