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Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

Posted by Leekle2ManE Lady Lake, FL 9a (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 22, 13 at 11:57

I found this a little humorous and just felt like passing it along.

This past weekend I was standing in line at the Tree Giveaway in Tavares and just happened to be standing next to a Master Gardener who worked there at the Lake County Extension Office. As we talked I mentioned that I was debating on whether or not to take the Master Gardener class there to learn more about my garden as well as improve my propagation techniques. She informed that propagation really wasn't covered that much by the Master Gardener class but that I would be better off taking different classes through the University.

She also pretty much told me, "If you want a successful garden, do not become a Master Gardener. We Master Gardeners tend to kill more plants than we save because we're constantly pushing our boundaries and trying to find the right micro-climates in our yard to put plants that normally wouldn't survive. And we often fail."

P.S. I ended up with 3 Slash Pines, 2 Live Oaks, a Common Persimmon, a Chickasaw Plum and a Green Ash. I didn't really want 3 pines and 2 oaks, but I had my kids with me and they weren't shy about asking if they could have a tree too. Of course, they couldn't have asked for a Persimmon or Plum that I was really interested in...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

  • Posted by karalynn z9 FL, Inverness, Ci (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 22, 13 at 16:09

That is funny! I have also considered taking the Master Gardeners class but never found the time.

If you ever want more chickasaw plum trees they grow very quickly from seed and only need maybe three years at most before they start producing fruit. At least that's seems to hold true for the wild chickasaw plum trees that are growing in my yard. I started out with one mature tree towards the center of the back yard and I now have at least 4 more trees growing around the perimeter of the yard that range from 5 to 8 feet tall. All of them produce fruit.

Kara


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

That's right about learning propagation. We learned more about turf grass and it's problems. We have had a few propagation classes since. Each county is different. We can request what we want classes once we are MG's. You have to be able to give back 75 hours in a year in my county (Baker). I live just over the border in GA but my ag center only has 4-H. I had to get the ag agent's permission to take the course in another county. They all won't approve of it for some reason. My county allows outsiders to sit in on a meeting. A very good idea. You may not like anyone or many that are already MG's. I have alot of personality clashes with the current MG's in my county. Most are rich ladies. I'm not rich. They can go out and buy whatever they want. I have to and prefer to grow from seeds or cuttings. We have alot of field trips that require eating out. They prefer to eat in expensive places. I've had to back out of a few trips because I couldn't afford to spend that much on lunch. On the bright side, we have gone to other counties for all day classes that only cost 10 bucks and that includes a nice lunch, lots of snacks and drinks. One county has several outside vendors at one class with really cheap plants! We have the opportunity to go to Epcot and serve at the Master Gardener booth. You really should know alot to do this one. No computers. I was told I could do this because I have lived in 3 different zones and I have worked at a garden center and 3 nurseries. Even though I have some problems with it I'm not dropping out. I've learned an awful lot in the last 2 years of MGing.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

Hang around GW and all the other gardening forums long enough, you ARE a 'master gardener' whether you have some certificate saying so or not LOL.
~SJN


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

The lady who told you about MG's and Zachary speak the truth. We learned about local native plants, trees and grasses. We learned the diseases and insects that attack them and how to treat them. We did not learn HOW to grow ornamentals.

If you want that information, get a part time job at a grower's farm or a big growing nursery - you will learn everything you need and more.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

I have been a MG for nearly 20 years. There is only so much they can teach you in the short class time and they tend to stick to basics. However if you take advantage of the advanced training you can learn a whole lot more plus it is much more in depth. Also every county tends to be a bit different. My class learned a lot about propagation and we had a misting bed where we all rooted 3 cuttings we got from the extension office. It is a huge learning opportunity and you get to spend time with people who share your interests. I wouldn't have stuck with it this long if I didn't find it educational as well as enjoyable.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

Not to be rude, but I have not been impressed with the MGs I've met. I've learned much more from people who are just plain interested in plants and growing things than MGs.

I too considered becoming one but the more I learned the less I wanted to become one.

I'd love to hear 'happy' stories from MGs though.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

I think the main problem that people don't like MG's is because they just say what they know or think is the solution. We are taught to ask lots of questions and then tell them we will research it and call them back. It is hard sometimes for me to do this, but I do it anyway. I have always gotten lots of compliments from my contacts. After a few years I see that several questions are frequently asked, so I already know the answer. We do grow ornamentals and so do other MG's. I went to a class in St. John's county, Florida and they had a big open bed and a large greenhouse full of plants that they had grown to sell, plus they had about an acre of different plants planted in a display garden, plus all the landscaping plants they had installed around the ag center. They have 200 MG's there. Each county is different. We have a Spring Festival that we sell the plants at that we have grown either at home or at the ag center. The money we raise pays for our field trips (gas and sometimes admission).


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

The MG's from the Lake County Extension are going to be having a plant sale in March where they will be selling off things they have been growing in the greenhouses (March 23). I'm kind of looking forward to going and seeing what's available.

I did not intend for this to be about bashing MG's, but just to highlight the comment about, "If you want a successful garden, don't become a Master Gardener!"

My personal experiences with MG's has been a mixed bag. I have talked to a couple in stores who were pretty much, "Oh, I wouldn't touch that plant, don't grow it, grow this instead." It seems that their personal preferences get in the way of trying to be helpful (I actually had one tell me I didn't want to plant they native Firebush [Hamelia patens] because they were much too twiggy). But I've also met a couple who took their time to help me get an idea of what kind of conditions I want to look for when planting my plants. Unfortunately, we, as a people, tend to be more influenced by our negative experiences than our positive ones.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

MISTI! I saw your name and had to look to see if it was an old post.It's been a while. How are you doing? How's it going in Texas?
For those of you Newbies, Misti and her husband filmed a moth going for the ghost orchid.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

Here's a tip for your slash pines. If you plant them in a lawn that is constantly heavily fertilized, they will likely die. They hate fertilizer, love poor, sandy soil. So many contractors left or planted slash pines on home lots here, and when the owners started fertiliing the lawns, every one of them died.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

Yeah, I'm not much on fertilizer. Last spring was the first time I got into this whole thing (gardening and landscaping) and like many, I ran to the big box store and bought bags of lawn fertilizer and spread it around. Two months went by and nothing. Even with regular watering (though I was smart enough not to over-water) my grass and yard showed no signs I had fed it. Then we got our first spring rains and it was like a magic wand had been waved over my yard and every yard near me. Suddenly everything was green. I swore at that moment I was not going to bother with fertilizing my lawn ever again. The most I might do is a weed seed inhibitor, but that's about it. Since then I have learned quite a bit more about not only gardening and landscaping but 'responsible' gardening and landscaping. So if I fertilize these days, it's in a contained area for a specific purpose. No more broadcasting fertilizers to any and every plant.

Recently, I read that Silver Springs is no longer the pristine little forest that I remember from my visit in the 80's and that it has become an algae and moss choked 'cesspool' because of all the fertilizers and development going on in Ocala. It doesn't escape me that I was very close to going down that path of feeding the lawn without regards for the water table below us.

And so, my slash pines won't be getting fertilized. I actually found a spot for one of them and put it in ground. It will grow in the middle of one of my mulched planting beds and will some day be a constant provider of pine straw to that bed. The other two are still potted and will remain potted as long as I can manage it until we move to our own land and I have free reign to do what I want.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

I find it amazing that people i meet in fl say that you have to fertilize & fertilize some more to get plants to grow here cos there's nothing in the sand, makes you wonder how them great big lie oaks grow? I got some huge ones & never give em any thing.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

Another MG here....at least I completed the course but I was unable to do the volunteer work due to a medical problem. I did mine in Thomas Co., Ga. and here they require 50 hrs. of volunteer the first yr. and 25 hrs. every year after that to retain your "certificate". I don't need a "certificate".
As for the class....way too much about turf grass! But the reason for that is that many varities of turf grass has been developed at the UofGa. satelite campus in Tifton, Ga....especially that nasty bermuda grass! I wish they had it all back, that stuff is horrible for people who have gardens & flower beds...it gets into everything.
I was raised on a farm in central Ill. and have gardened most of my life. So I ended up teaching many things to my class...they were not things the UofGa. would promote cause I tend to use very little to no chemicals! Monsanto gives grant monies to UofGa. so they promote using chemicals for anything & everything!
The class was interesting and I did get one very helpful item from it....no matter where you live or what you plan to do with your land...GET A SOIL TEST BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE! See what your soils actually need before you start putting things down that won't help or could make it worse. I found that my soils are in dire need of lime. Since we have several acres, I got ag. lime...it is loose (sorta powder form) so it won't go through regular lawn applicators, I've applied it by hand where I needed it. The thing is, it only cost $20 for one ton, but we did have to haul it ourselves. The cost of one ton of pellet lime in bags would be way beyond my budget. The ag lime also tends to last longer in the soils than the pellet.
Most of the MGs in Thomas Co. are also wealthy women and a few men. And since I don't live in Thomas Co. I had another strike against me. My county doesn't give the MG class...it is geared more to field crops, both commidity crops (peanuts/cotton) and field veggie crops.

I've learned more from being on several different gardening boards and asking questions than I learned in MG class. I've also taught a few folks things I already knew.
So don't limit yourself to just one source of information...gather it from every place you go and then weigh it for how it will work in your area. No one has the same exact conditions as anyone else...even the neighbor next door or across the street/road. We all have to learn what works best for our own!


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

I have been a mg for 15 years and I love it. I guess it depends where you are. Classes can teach only so much. In our county we have several committees on which you can work including propagation. Our purpose is to educate and we do that in many ways. Again it depends on the county. I am in Marion and we have a great, active group with a great coordinator. We have continuing ed in many subjects which we can choose to attend. We also Have a summer institute for further ed. We take field trips and have a pot luck lunch after our monthly meeting so it is a combination of work, education and socialization. Every group has some flakes who don't know much but most of us work hard to try to help people. Good luck on your decision.


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RE: Why you shouldn't become a Master Gardener

I have been a mg for 15 years and I love it. I guess it depends where you are. Classes can teach only so much. In our county we have several committees on which you can work including propagation. Our purpose is to educate and we do that in many ways. Again it depends on the county. I am in Marion and we have a great, active group with a great coordinator. We have continuing ed in many subjects which we can choose to attend. We also Have a summer institute for further ed. We take field trips and have a pot luck lunch after our monthly meeting so it is a combination of work, education and socialization. Every group has some flakes who don't know much but most of us work hard to try to help people. Good luck on your decision.


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