Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 26, 2004

Howard Lake ‘Green thumb in training’ gets her chance

By Jenna Erickson

Maureen Hoover of Howard Lake was thrilled to answer some of her first gardening questions at the Buffalo Home and Garden Show recently.

Hoover is an amateur green thumb, in training for the master gardener program. She helped to man the booth at the show, along with several other Wright County master gardeners.

Questions are at the heart of the program, which is sponsored by the University of Minnesota.

Along with helping to answer questions from the public, Hoover was able to meet Bobby Jensen, a broadcaster at KARE-11, which was very exciting, she said.

The show had a variety of booths dealing with land, water, gardening, and maintaining a household.

Gardening since she was in high school, Hoover said she had a real love for plants even then.

Hoover enjoys being with others who love gardening as she does. “It’s a passion we all love,” she said.

How it works

Hoover explained the master gardener training program as a group of volunteer mentors. Within the program, the average gardeners learn about fertilizers, soil composition, and animal control, as well as varieties of plants.

The master gardeners must attend a meeting the second Tuesday of every month, as well as put in a certain number of hours of volunteer work: 50 hours their first year, and 25 the second.

Hoover enjoys being part of the program because she learns more about gardening, as well as meeting people with other experiences in gardening to share.

“It’s just so fun. We’re all interested,” she said.

There are about a dozen master gardeners in Wright County.

Anyone may call the University Yard and Garden Line, (952) 443-1400, to leave a message for a master gardener. Usually a gardener with a specialty in that area will return the call.

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; and

• 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.

A common question is how to kill the plant called creeping charlie, Hoover said. Squash borers are also a common subject, since gardeners want to know how to prevent the pests from boring into the vine and causing the plant to die.

In addition to calling the yard and garden line at the university, there are also answers to thousands of yard and garden questions available on the Internet at www.extension.umn.edu.


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