Will I become a snob?

nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)May 17, 2014

I retired almost a year ago, and didn't commit to a MG class right away, but recently had dinner with a friend of a friend who completed the course, and was encouraging me to go into the program!
I've noticed that several that are here on the forums are adamant that soil tests be performed!
Well, in this county, you have to send the soil out of the STATE to get testing done! We also have different soil , purchased at several different places, making different raised beds!
I'm just wondering if the classes will make me one of THOSE, that insist on soil tests, no Sluggo, etc? Nancy

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Yes, Nancy, it will make you one of "those." Those who know that the best way to understand the soil requirements is to have it tested. But it won't make you a "snob" unless you were one already! ;-)

The Master Gardener program teaches us to take our advice from science based research, not so much from what worked for our Auntie or Uncle or neighbor. Their soil and conditions may be different from ours and therefore what worked for them may not work for everybody. How soil has been treated and fertilized in the past varies widely from site to site.

As far as soil tests go, a lab test gives the most accurate results but there are signs in the garden that can help if a test is not practical. Those signs should be taught in your classes. If not, ask about them or do some internet research, looking for answers from universities, not somebody selling something. I don't know about your area, but sending the soil sample to a lab is not terribly expensive here and well worth the cost.

As to the Sluggo and other products, again it's a question of what the science says works, not what some advertising program persuades you to buy. There are some non chemical remedies for a lot of problems in the garden and that's what we are encouraged to try first, part of Integrated Pest Management, also something you will be taught.

All in all, the MG program is excellent. The people and policies vary from place to place and I've heard some horror stories, just like can be found in anything. But I wouldn't trade my 15 years as a Master Gardener for much else. It has been very educational and extremely rewarding, and in the process I feel I've contributed to helping others become better gardeners.

Hope this answered some of your concerns, Nancy.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 10:50AM
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No need to send soil tests out of state - there are numerous soil testing labs in California. As the leading agricultural state in the country, soil testing services are pretty much a requirement :-)) It is just that the extension service no longer provides that service for free (or for a very reduced rate) like they do in many other locations.

I am not sure I understand the reasons behind why recommending a soil test makes one a snob. Making a suggestion based on knowledge and/or experience is not snobbery, it is just good sense. A soil test may not be necessary in every situation but is often the fastest and easiest way to determine how to amend or improve your soil. And for very novice gardeners, a guideline for what can and cannot be grown easily without changing the soil first.

Here is a link that might be useful: CA soil testing labs

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 7:15PM
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Becoming a Master Gardener will not change your personality. The people I've met in my MG group are very nice. We have a large group, about 300, so there are all kinds of people. What we do in our own gardens is up to us. I never had my soil tested, but some people have. The big rule is that the information we give the public should be scientifically based, not our own opinions or grandma's folklore. Being in California, we rely on UC resources, which are available online to the public.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 8:28AM
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