5 Reasons to Become a Master Gardener

Inside a local public garden

Back in the fall, I took an online Master Gardener class through the Cooperative Extension of the University of Arizona.  (I think I mentioned it to some of you.)  My goal was to learn to grow flowers and veggies here in Northern Arizona.  For years I’ve tried and failed in this lovely high desert environment where the climate is one of extremes.  On average, over 8 feet of snowfall, starting as early as October and ending as late as June, is followed by months of near single-digit humidity and frequent winds of 40 – 50 mph.  And then the monsoons arrive, providing the region with 40 – 50% of its total yearly precipitation in less than 3 months.  You might begin to understand the depths of my frustration!

During the class, I learned about the area’s many microclimates, the best ways to amend the soil, effective planting methods, organic weed & pest control, drought-resistant landscapes, composting, and much more, and now that I’m doing the required volunteer work, I’m gaining hands-on knowledge.  (To become certified, a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer work is required within 12 months after completing the course.)

My neighbor Andrew’s strawberry plant

According to the website of Washington State University where it all started in 1973, The Master Gardener program, which began as a response to a need for information on gardening and pest management, has evolved into a proactive partner with other agencies in addressing environmental and social issues covering such topics as integrated pest management, natural yard care, and low‐impact development, to name but a few.  Now, Master Gardener programs are available across the US, as well as in parts of Canada and South Korea.  As of 2018, there were over 86,000 Master Gardeners in this country alone, who volunteered over 5 million hours!

There are many advantages to becoming a Master Gardener (MG), and I’d like to share a few.

  1. Learn to grow your own food! – This is an obvious one, but it’s becoming more and more important, in my opinion. Each MG program is tailored to fit the region in which you live. (As you might imagine, gardening at lower elevations or in wetter environments is much different than tending plants in the high desert!) You know from my past posts that eating locally & seasonally is the best way to go and that working with the earth is healing. Plus, call me a weirdo, but I find it thrilling!
  2. Discover useful techniques – I have learned ways of working with plants that I’d never even considered! For example, walls of water are super-effective at absorbing and holding heat for keeping plants warm, whether outside or inside. You can buy small ones made from plastic for use around plants like tomatoes, or make your own to line the walls of your greenhouse by filling milk jugs with water.
  3. Gain a sense of accomplishment – I’m always in awe when a friend shares some of her/his tomatoes, peppers, or zucchini. Wow, you grew these? I am just waiting for the day I can proudly share my home-grown veggies.
  4. Meet new friends – I’ve noticed that as I get older, it’s not as easy as to make new friends. (And I’ve heard others say the same.) Since starting the MG program less than a year ago, I’m pleased to say I’ve already made happy connections with a few people that I believe will last.
  5. Become a part of a caring community – Again, in prior posts, I’ve shared how important it is to be a part of community. (Among other advantages, it improves mental health and increases longevity.) And, the MG community is not just any community; it is one whose members are passionate about working with the earth and sharing information for the benefit of everyone’s gardening efforts. Volunteering at plant sales, garden shows, and public gardens gives new MGs the opportunity to really feel like one of the gang.

My neighbor Andrew’s tomato plants

The act of becoming a Master Gardener has opened a beautiful new world to me.  I am super excited to be a part of this almost 50-year-old tradition. Hopefully, some of you will find its benefits appealing and you’ll want to join me.

Blessings from the Garden,

Lisa

My garden has little sprouts right now

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

50 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Become a Master Gardener

  1. A brilliant post, Lisa! I love what you’re doing and wish you and your garden a delicious success! 😋🌿🌱🥕🧄🥔🥦🥬🥒🥑🌶🍆🍅🍓🍐🍏🍎😋😋🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Ashley, I love all the emojis! And thank you for your good wishes, I need them! I think our monsoons are starting early this year, and we got a bit of hail today along with the rain. Hopefully that didn’t make my little sprouts terribly unhappy! Have a beautiful Sunday, my friend! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very cool that you are able to take the course online now. Way back many moons ago our cooperative extension service through the Michigan State U offered it in a classroom environment and each week brought experts in their field for each section. I love how they are customized to your specific region of the country. I can see where you’re at would need that more than other regions would with the extremes. We also had to do the community service hours. I did mine with a local gardening group and it was cool meeting other “serious” gardeners. That said, some of them were more interested in gossiping about others who weren’t there, so that was offputting. Another thing was how they called the plants by their scientific names instead of common names which made me feel both impressed and inadequate. One thing I truly enjoyed was how comprehensive it was and the mega notebook that kept growing each week when the new chapter materials. This was in the day and age before mass data availability online through digital files. I would highly recommend anyone who wants to grow things and/or grow things better/best to take this course for your region. The more people know how to do for themselves the less they have to depend on others; and with the cost of food ever-rising, it makes money sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, Lisa! I’m happy you still endorse the program even though you had some negative experiences. I guess there will always be people in every situation that feel better about themselves by putting others down. That’s most unfortunate. I, too, have a huge notebook from the class. I printed out all the Powerpoint presentations and made notes on them as the speakers went along. If I hadn’t taken the class myself, I’d never have dreamed there was a way of learning so much info about working with plants in such a short period! I am grateful that 2 of my climbing partners are MGs – their success at gardening inspired me to sign up for the program! Enjoy the weekend! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can certainly identify with the frustrations of trying to garden in Arizona, although my issues in an area where it gets so hot during the summer are different from yours and from everything I’m used to from the Midwest. This year I managed to get a few things to grow: some wonderful romaine, parsley which I dried like mad, and cherry tomatoes. Unhappily my two tomato plants with large tomatoes didn’t fare so well. The tomatoes looked amazing but then I think the heat got them, as they never completely ripened. Next year I’ll try to plant them earlier. I’d love to raise more of my own food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Janet! Maybe when we next get together, we can share veggies! I am planning for success this year. (But, crossing fingers & praying, as well!) We got some rain today, which I’m hoping helped the fire just north of us. I’ll bet you’re spending lots of time with your A/C! 🌞

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      1. I don’t have any to share as they were all done before I left for California a few weeks ago. I did get some produce at the market there the day before I came home. I hope you got a good amount of rain. We got about 6-7 minutes of good, hard rain which for here isn’t too bad. Makes me laugh to write that, but it’s true. I’m very thankful for A/C although I don’t keep it icy inside.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! I have often thought about this very thing, but never actually took the course. You do provide great inspiration here. I love gardening, especially flower gardening. My veggie talents are not as great as many of my neighbors here in Virginia. This post definitely gives me ‘food for thought’. Thank you! 🙂 I have always grown herbs in pots and I have grown tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. My eggplants did not do well!!! Many people in our area have huge vegetable gardens and I get a lot of produce from friends. They actually get too much produce for themselves. (I share my flowers!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Linda! If you’ll click on the first link in the post, it’ll take you to a site that can direct you to a group that is local to you. I love when friends and neighbors grow too many veggies & share with me! And of course, I assumed you’re the type of person who shares your flowers. Too bad we’re not closer! 😊🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this post, Lisa. I work sometimes with the Master Gardner Program out of Oregon State University Extension, and it is an amazing program. I remember learning to grow veggies when we lived in Northern Arizona, difficult, and possible. I spent an hour in the community garden this morning, and will be heading there again tomorrow and Monday to get all my starts in the ground. Excited! 🌱🫑🌶🧄

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The Master Gardening Program sound awesome, enjoy the fruits of your labour Lisa and of course the beautiful flowers too. Thank you for sharing such a great initiative 🌸💕 Happy gardening.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats on earning your Master Gardner status! Linda and I joke that our house is where plants come to die or where they have to spend their sentencing for some horrifically bad plant crime hehehe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lisa your plants are beautiful. It sounds like you’ve made a true commitment to helping them grow in a challenging climate. Congratulations on your beautiful work and certification as a Master Gardner. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good for you Lisa! I didn’t realize you took the class. If I had more time, I would love that. There is nothing
    Lord satisfying than growing your own food and learning about all of the microclimates which amaze me.. even as far as one of my neighbors yards!!! I’m thrilled I moved my fig tree 3 times and it looks like the 3rd tine is the charm and it’s thriving-:)
    💕💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cindy, I think you have a green thumb already! I would never try relocating a tree – or a plant of any kind – for fear of it dying! Glad to hear your fig tree is all good now. I used to love eating figs right off my grandmother’s tree. 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow, that’s good to hear. I wouldn’t either but it was by force in a sense. Me too.. the one is not so juicy but maybe picked to soon. You had a plethora of food from your Grandma’s garden as I remember. 💖💖

        Liked by 1 person

      2. How sweet that you remember my grandma’s garden! I am honored. And I’ll bet those figs will start getting sweet soon. I picked my first radish this morning, the first thing I’ve ever grown to fruition since I’ve been in Arizona! I’m so excited! 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

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