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MASTER GARDENERS HAVE SUCCESS

GARDEN TIPS – Written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Written January 3, 2016

Supposedly Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again, but expecting a different result. I wonder if there is a word for doing something over and over again and expecting the same result? For me, the word are repeated success. This January will be my 37th year of providing training to volunteers who want to become Washington State University Extension Master Gardeners.

This enormously successful program was started by WSU Extension in 1972 as a way to help handle the large number of home gardening and landscape care questions being received in local extension offices. When I came here in 1980, the program had already been started in the Tri-Cities. Back then there were about 20 new and returning or “veteran” volunteers who annually received training and volunteered their time mostly by answering home gardening questions in local plant clinics.

Like any well nurtured seed, the Master Gardener program has grown and blossomed since it was planted. Now there are about 150 new and veteran volunteers every year who receive training and volunteer their service to teach others how to garden. Their volunteer service includes not only staffing plant clinics as before, but also maintaining a 3-acre Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick; teaching gardening to adults and children; and helping establish and mentor local community gardens.

This past spring the Benton-Franklin Master Gardeners decided to build an outdoor classroom within their Demonstration Garden. This classroom, with seating for 50, will be used for teaching classes and community events. A crew of very dedicated and hardworking Master Gardeners built this impressive Waterfall Classroom, lifting 50 tons of landscape blocks during hottest summer on record with their own hands, hard work, and sweat.

The Waterfall Classroom and the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, built and maintained by the Master Gardeners, is a public garden worthy of a visit anytime, but it is at its best during the spring, summer, and fall months when plants are green, growing, and blooming. It is a beautiful place for learning about plants and nature, walking, and taking photographs. You can find it behind the Mid-Columbia Library and adjacent to Highlands Grange Park at 1620 S. Union in Kennewick.

This year the Master Gardener Education Team taught almost 5000 children and adults about gardening. The Master Gardener Food Garden Team helped establish 15 new community gardens and mentored 33 food gardens. New gardeners learned to grow their own veggies for feeding their families. This team is currently working on raising funds to build even more beds next year.

I am immensely proud of the success of the Benton-Franklin WSU Extension Master Gardener program and the many wonderful volunteers over the years who have made that success possible. We will be starting a new training program in late January and are looking for new volunteers interested in becoming Master Gardeners and giving volunteer service to our community as WSU Extension Master Gardeners.

Training sessions are held locally every Tuesday afternoon, starting the last week of January. New participants are required to attend these sessions and also to take an on-line basic horticulture course from WSU. The cost of the training is $115, plus participants are expected to return 50 hours of return volunteer service to the program.

I am excited about this year’s face-to-face training that will include WSU faculty and local experts talking about GMOs, forensic entomology, climate and weather forecasting, irrigation management, water movement in soils, vegetable gardening, weed management, and much more.
Would you like to become a WSU Master Gardener? Contact the local extension office for an application by calling 735-3551. The deadline for applications is January 20th.

MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM HELPING OUR COMMUNITIES ‘GROW’

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
Written – JANUARY 9, 2015

When WSU Extension started the Master Gardener program in 1972, they had no idea how the program would change and grow. The original purpose of the program was to train volunteers so that they could help answer the deluge of calls for help with gardening problems coming into county extension offices around the state.

WSU Extension Area Agents, David Gibby and Bill Scheer came up with the idea of recruiting and training volunteers to staff ‘Plant Clinics.’ They developed a training curriculum to be delivered by WSU faculty and local experts. The basic course included food gardening, lawn care, landscape management, pest management, and the safe use of pesticides.

The first Master Gardener volunteers graduated in 1973 in King, Pierce, and Spokane counties after taking 40 hours of training. They were given the title of ‘WSU Extension Master Gardener’ after they returned 40 hours of service back to the program by staffing plant clinics. The program started in 1975 in Benton and Franklin Counties.

Since 1973 the Master Gardener program has grown exponentially in Washington and the rest of the US. The program has also changed. WSU Master Gardeners still receive quality training, but the basic curriculum is delivered via a quality on-line course and is supplemented with face-to-face training that meets local needs.

Master Gardeners focus on education about research-based sustainable gardening practices. This includes using less pesticides, protecting beneficial insects and pollinators, good soil management, proper irrigation and fertilization, plant selection, and other environmentally sound gardening practices.

Just like the first class of graduates, today’s Master Gardeners staff plant clinics and answer gardeners’ questions, but they assist WSU in providing educational outreach programs in communities:

-They establish and maintain demonstration gardens where they teach about gardening, demonstrate gardening skills, and produce fruit and vegetables for local food banks.

-They provide leadership for the Plant-A-Row for the Hungry program and assist in setting up community and school gardens.

-They mentor community gardeners.

-They teach children about plants and gardening.

-They offer classes on food gardening, landscape care, lawns, irrigation, tree care, integrated pest management, and more.

I have been working with Master Gardener volunteers since 1976. What I cherish about the program are the people, their love of gardening, and their dedication. Not all are expert gardeners, but each brings a unique set of skills to contribute to the program.

In 2014, our local Benton-Franklin WSU Master Gardeners returned 11,895 hours of service helping people solve their plant and pest problems and learn about gardening. They also donated 2128 lb. of produce from their Demonstration Garden to the local food banks. Under Master Gardener leadership, 600 local gardeners participated in the Plant-a-Row program and donated about 21,000 lb. of produce to people in need in our communities. Benton-Franklin Master Gardeners helped build eight new community gardens and mentored gardeners at 24 local community and social service gardens. They also taught almost 3000 youth about plants, gardening, and insects.

Back in 1973, I do not think that Gibby and Scheer could have imagined the growth and evolution of the Master Gardener program into the wildly successful and diverse program it is today. I know they would be proud of the many volunteers. They are an awesome group of people.

Published: 1/9/2015 12:46 PM

EXTRAORDINARY WSU MASTER GARDENERS

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published 1/10/14

Last monty our local WSU Master Gardeners celebrated the 2013 Master Gardener program and recognized the volunteers for their valuable work. It=s remarkable that WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers in Benton and Franklin counties gave over 9,500 hours of service to our local communities this past year.

These hours were spent helping residents in our communities learn to garden successfully. Some assisted with getting the City of Kennewick=s first community garden started, others served as mentors for community gardens, and still others taught gardening classes at our local libraries to children and adults. Also, a large number of Master Gardeners worked to maintain the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick. Have you ever visited the garden? It=s a beautiful place to visit and learn about plants that you can grow in your yards and gardens. Master Gardeners also staffed plant clinics where they provided free advice on solving garden and landscape problems.

The original purpose of the Master Gardener program was to help WSU faculty answer the deluge of gardening questions that the WSU Extension offices around the state were receiving. The program started in King and Pierce counties in 1972 and quickly spread throughout the state and then the nation. The local Benton-Franklin program started in 1974.

When I arrived here in 1980, about 10 to 15 volunteers were being trained every year in the Benton-Franklin Counties Master Gardener program. Today there are usually over 50 new volunteers along with 75 to 100 experienced or Aveteran@ Master Gardeners each year. Since 1980, the program has experienced many changes, but one person has been a constant. Betty Daughtry has helped out as a program assistant for over 20 years, as well as serving as a Master Gardener since 1978. Last month she was recognized for her 35 years of service to the program.

When asked why she has returned for 35 years, Daughtry indicated it is because of the great people that she has the opportunity to work with in the program. In addition, an avid gardener herself, she delights in always learning something new from other gardeners and from the training program. She is an extraordinary volunteer and her milestone of 35 years is awe inspiring.

There are many other remarkable local Master Gardeners. The 2014 Master Gardener of the Year was Bill Dixon. Dixon was recognized for his tremendous number of hours of service and for the leadership he has provided to the Community Garden/Plant-a-Row Team. Bill worked with the City of Kennewick to start the community garden in Jay Perry Park, solicited seed and transplant donations for giving to gardeners who were willing to plant an extra row to donate to local food banks, and organized Master Gardeners who were willing to serve as mentors to local community gardens.

Laurie Barger was recognized as the 2014 Master Gardener Intern of the Year for her willingness to help in a variety of different areas. She helped by teaching gardening classes to children, assisted in constructing an educational exhibit for the county fair, staffed the plant clinic, and helped support the program in numerous other ways.

It is because of the dedication of Daughtry, Dixon, and Barger and many other volunteers that the local WSU Extension Master Gardener program has been able to grow beyond what anyone would have predicted.

Published: 1/10/2014 9:54 AM

WSU MASTER GARDENERS LOOKING FOR NEW VOLUNTEERS AS THEIR SUCCESS SPREADS BEYOND THE US

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
Published 1/11/2013

Did you know that the Master Gardener program started right here in Washington back in 1972? It was a novel idea, training volunteers to help answer the public’s many questions about growing vegetables, houseplants, herbs, landscapes, lawns, and flowers… a hot trend that was here to stay. The ‘green revolution’ of the 70

s was about growing things. Some baby boomers of the day even thought plants could feel emotions.

Today the Master Gardener program has spread across this country and to other countries. This past fall I had the opportunity to attend a conference for Master Gardener coordinators from around the US and even abroad. There was a special contingent from South Korea where they are trying to get a Master Gardener program started.

One of their obstacles in getting the program up and going is that volunteerism is not strongly valued in Korean society. However, their current urban boomers are interested in getting back to the land and growing their own food and flowers.

Just as in the US in the 70

s, these boomers are in need of information and advice on how to grow gardens. Faculty from the their Agriculture Research and Extension Services think that a Korean Extension Master Gardener Program can help provide the manpower needed to help these new gardeners.

One of the things that has made our local Benton-Franklin program strong is the dedication and strong volunteer ethic of the local Master Gardeners. As part of their commitment to the program new Master Gardener volunteers are asked to give 50 hours of service back to the program in return for their training. This year the WSU Benton-Franklin Master Gardeners gave a total of 9161 hours to the program. These hours were served helping answer gardeners’ questions in plant clinics, teaching gardening classes, identifying plant problems, instructing children about plants and insects, staffing educational exhibits, and working in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden.

Many of the new volunteers or ‘interns’ give many more than the required 50 hours. Bill Dixon, the 2012 Master Gardener Intern of the Year, gave over 400 hours of his time helping in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden and providing leadership for the ‘Plant-A-Row for the Hungry’ campaign. This year Dixon will be leading an effort to provide guidance to local groups interested in community gardens. He has already been helping the City of Kennewick in getting their first community garden up and going.

Veteran Master Gardeners are those who return year after year to the program. In December two of our local volunteers, Jeri Schmidt and Walt Allen received pins for 20 years of service to the program. Asked why she has stayed with the program for so long, Schmidt says, ‘Because I like the people and talking with other gardeners about our common interest, plus I’m always learning something new about gardening.’ Schmidt is the chair of the annual WSU Extension Spring Garden Day, a day long program of gardening classes for area residents.

Hopefully, South Koreans gardeners will learn the value of becoming Master Gardener volunteers who find that in addition to receiving great horticultural training, they enjoy the friendship of other gardeners and helping others in their community.

The 2013 Master Gardener Training Program begins January 29th. WSU Extension is looking for new volunteers who are interested in attending the training and then giving 50 hours of their time back to the program. There is a charge of $110 for the training. The classes will be held every Tuesday afternoon from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. for 15 weeks. Anyone interested in the program should contact the WSU Extension office at 735-3551 for more information and an application. Applications are due by January 24th.

Published: 1/11/2013 9:43 AM

FALL A GREAT TIME TO VISIT MASTER GARDENERS’ DEMONSTRATION GARDEN

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

A couple of weeks ago I ran into someone who had been in our local Master Gardener program thirty years ago… long before the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick was started. Her recent visit to the Demonstration Garden was her first. She was astounded at what the dedication and time of many Master Gardener volunteers had accomplished over the last 11 years.

This weekend while our fall weather is so glorious, treat yourself to a visit to the Demonstration Garden. It’s simply spectacular. It covers almost three acres, so plan enough time to see the entire garden. Bring your camera to take pictures and bring a notepad too. It’s a great place to pick up ideas for your own yard and garden.

There are 22 individual theme gardens within the Demonstration Garden. Here are just a few highlights you won’t want to miss on your visit.

It won’t be long before frost will finish the Entryway Garden as you enter the Garden near the library. These planters are filled with ornamental sweet potato vines, purple fountain grass, and both pink and yellow petunias, all donated by Proven Winners. I adore the combination of dark purple sweet potato vines with yellow trailing petunias and lime green sweet potato vines with pink petunias.

A little ways along the path, not too far from the Water Garden, is the Vegetable Garden. Even with a tomato crop failure due to a wilt disease, the Master Gardeners have been able to harvest and donate over 1000 pounds of produce to local food banks. As this garden winds down, note the different ways the Master Gardeners have demonstrated caging tomatoes and supporting vining crops. Check out the intensive ‘square foot’ garden too.

Over the past 11 years, the trees in the Shade Gardens and the Small Tree Arboretum have had time to grow. These three gardens and the rest of the Demonstration Garden let you see what a variety of small and large trees look like and how they perform in our region. While checking out the trees, take note of the groundcovers that help crowd out weeds. I especially like the ornamental strawberries with their pretty pink flowers.

About midway along the garden path is the Japanese Garden. Fall and spring are when this garden is at it’s best. In the fall, beautiful mounds of chrysanthemums are in bloom. These are the same type of chrysanthemums that you buy for planters during the fall, but they have been carefully ‘pinched back’ to encourage a multitude of yellow, orange, pink, and purple flowers.

On the other side of the ‘tea house’ in the Japanese Garden is the Four Season Gardens. It resembles a cottage garden and is full of a variety of perennial flowers. There are four areas within this garden each dedicated to being at it’s best during one of the seasons of the year.

Not to be missed are the roses in the Rose Garden. Oh the roses! There are more than 400 rose bushes in this garden. While the season may be quickly fading, the colors of the blooms are at their most intense during these cooler days.

The Garden is open to the public every day of the year and is located behind Mid-Columbia Library at 1620 South Union in Kennewick. To keep you informed about the Demonstration Garden and WSU Master Gardener program events, the Master Gardeners are available on the Web, Facebook and Twitter. Here is where you can find them:
Web: http://county.wsu.edu/benton-franklin/gardening
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wsumastergardeners
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BFMastrGardener
Published: 10/21/2011 4:13 PM

GARDENERS CAN HELP THE HUNGRY

written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

You know the feeling? The one that you feel deep in the pit of your stomach when you go by a homeless person asking for food. That’s exactly how Alaskan garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels felt after such an encounter when visiting Washington, D.C. over 15 years ago. A person on the street asked Jeff for help because he was hungry. Warned about panhandlers, Jeff didn’t give him any money, but he didn’t like the guilt that followed him home.

When he returned to Anchorage, he decided to do something about the problem. He asked his readers to “Plant-a-Row” of vegetables for the local soup kitchen. The concept was easy… get his gardening readers to plant some extra vegetables to share with those who were hungry and needed help. This idea worked so well in Anchorage that Jeff shared it with other garden writers in the Garden Writers Association (GWA). GWA adopted the “Plant a Row” program in 1995.

The need now is even greater than it was in 1995. Requests for assistance from food banks has increased by 70 per cent in recent years, with adults and children often turned away because of a lack of food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that one of eight households in the U.S. are at risk with many skipping meals or going without food for an entire day.

The Plant-a-Row (PAR) program is so simple. If you’re planting in raised beds and not in rows, just plant a little extra and donate that extra produce to one of our local food banks. Even if you don’t plant an extra row, chances are you’ll have some extra zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, or other produce that you can donate. Our local food banks and soup kitchens welcome fresh, good quality veggies and fruit for their clients.

Imagine if every gardener in this country plants just a little extra in their garden, what an impact we could make on hunger in this country. Since the PAR program started in 1995, over 14 million pounds of produce have been donated by gardeners. That’s the equivalent of 50 million meals. No tax money or government funds have been needed to achieve this. It’s all been because of the hard work and warm hearts of gardeners like you!

You can help by donating garden-grown produce or you can get more actively involved with one of the many local school and community garden projects that are sprouting up. This meeting is being coordinated by Second Harvest to discuss some of the major problems encountered when developing a school or community garden. This first conversation is an excellent opportunity for stakeholders and interested community members to come together and talk about the exciting potential school and community gardens. Another topic of discussion will be the Plant-a-Row program and coordinating the collection of produce for our local food banks.

WSU Extension Master Gardeners from around the state support the PAR program, donating produce from demonstration gardens and providing gardening advice to local gardeners. In fact, did you know that our local Benton-Franklin WSU Master Gardeners donate the produce from their vegetable garden in the Demonstration Garden in Kennewick to local food banks?

Published: 3/12/2011 2:58 PM

VOTE NOW FOR LOCAL ROSE GARDEN TO BECOME BEST IN U.S.

written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

What’s your favorite rose? There are zillions of rose varieties, but my favorite has always been ‘Peace.’ When you shop for new roses from a catalog or at a nursery in early spring, it’s difficult to tell from pretty photographs whether you’ll like the variety once it’s growing and flowering in your garden.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but seeing the real thing is even better. I recommend that you visit the magnificent Rose Garden in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick. They don’t have every rose variety under the sun, but they do have over 100 varieties for your enjoyment. This garden is a treasure for would-be rose shoppers who want to check out rose varieties before they buy.

On display at the Master Gardener Rose Garden you’ll also find the current year’s All-America Rose Selections winners, as well as recent winners. The All-America Rose Selections (AARS) group is a nonprofit association with the primary goal of introducing and promoting the best of the best new rose varieties.

In 1938, AARS established a program for testing roses to encourage and challenge the rose industry to develop better roses, roses that are more disease resistant, easier to grow, and more beautiful. ‘Peace,’ my favorite rose variety, was honored by AARS with its selection in 1946, the year it was introduced. That’s before I was born!

This year, for the first time in 20 years, only one rose was honored with the AARS distinction. ‘Easy Does It’ is the only 2010 AARS winner. It’s a distinctly different floribunda with ruffled petals and double rich mango-orange, peach-pink, and ripe apricot colored flowers. It’s a gorgeous rose with a mildly fruity fragrance. Plus, the plant is both disease resistant and vigorous.

Just what does it mean to be a AARS rose winner? AARS rose winners go through two years of extensive testing in 23 test gardens nationwide. ‘Easy Does It’ excelled in 15 categories including overall beauty, disease resistance, and ease of maintenance. The AARS red-rose logo designation means that ‘Easy Does It’ should be easy to grow for gardeners around the country.

Local gardeners might wonder if any of these test gardens expose roses to the types of conditions found in our part of Central Washington. The answer to this question is a resounding “yes” because one of those 23 test gardens is also located right here in our Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. Every year the local Benton Franklin Master Gardener group receives about 200 roses from AARS . The roses are planted in test beds and evaluated for two years before being removed to make way for new “contestants.”

Take time this week to tour the Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden and seek out the Rose Garden and the Rose Test Garden so you can enjoy the over 600 beautiful roses planted there. It smells wonderful. After your visit, you can thank the Master Gardeners by helping them win the “America’s Best Rose Garden” competition sponsored by AARS. This nationwide competition’s purpose is to identify the best public rose gardens in the US. The top garden will be presented with a plaque, $2,500, and national recognition for our local garden. It’s easy, just go on-line at http://www.rose.org/votenow/ and click on the VOTE button. Look for Washington’s “Master Gardener Demonstration Rose Garden” and vote for it.

Published: 6/19/2010 9:40 AM

THIRTY YEARS OF MASTER GARDENERS AND COUNTING

written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Next Tuesday on January 19th, I will be leading my thirty-first Master Gardener (MG) training program here in the Tri-Cities. Like always, I’m excited to meet the new trainees and the returning “veteran” MGs. It’s a program where we train volunteers to provide gardening information to area residents, but it’s more than that.

The Master Gardener program is a real social network, not the virtual kind found on computers through Myspace, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s people who share the common interest of gardening, who like to chat about gardening, and who are willing to help others learn how to achieve gardening success. I guess that’s why after thirty years I keep coming back and why the program is still so successful. It’s the people.

You might think that only longtime gardeners participate in the program, but there are also relative novices, like Sarai Williams, a 2009 MG intern, that gets the opportunity to hone their skills alongside longtime gardeners. It’s fun to see the delight of these younger neophytes as they learn from the experienced experts. It paid off for Sarai. You should have tasted the beautiful heirloom tomatoes that she raised in her garden last summer. Drizzled with a balsamic vinegar dressing, these tomatoes were what home gardening is all about.

However, the novices aren’t the only ones that take delight in the new knowledge they gain through the MG program. Last year, Om Parkash came to the program as an enthusiastic and energetic gardener who already excelled in growing all types vegetables, flowers, and just about anything else. You should have seen the five-pound turnip he grew in his garden! Om was very excited to learn the science behind many gardening practices.

Over the years our local MG program has certainly changed. When I started here in 1980, there were about 30 MG volunteers and the program only focused on staffing plant clinics to help local gardeners solve their pest and other gardening problems. Today, there are about 150 MGs in the program. The volunteers still help staff plant clinics, but they’re also charged with helping educate area residents about sustainable gardens and landscapes. No longer are WSU Extension MGs simply telling people how to identify and kill pests. Today, they help local gardeners learn environmentally sound practices for managing pests and growing gardens, lawns, and landscapes.

One big example of this is the 2.6 acre garden that the MGs established in Kennewick behind the Mid-Columbia Library on South Union. The MG volunteers raised all the funds needed to establish the 22 theme gardens, including a rose garden with over 400 rose bushes. It’s definitely a lovely place to visit, but it’s also an outdoor classroom used to teach others about growing herbs, vegetables, native plants, ornamental grasses, perennials flowers, roses and so much more.

The concept of the program is simple, we teach people about gardening so they will teach others. To be part of the program, new Master Gardener volunteers pay a training fee and training deposit of $100 and agree to return 50 hours of service to the community. In return, they receive over 50 hours of quality training, share their gardening passion with other gardeners , and help others in our community learn about gardening.

Published: 1/16/2010 2:57 PM

CARING GARDENERS HELP OTHERS

written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

It’s a season for giving and sharing, so this is a good time to talk about gardeners sharing with others. Our local WSU Extension Master Gardeners regularly donate the produce from the vegetable garden in their Demonstration Garden. It’s a simple act that can have a big impact.

Making a great big impact is the “Plant a Row” or PAR program started by garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels in Anchorage, Alaska. Lowenfels used his column to ask gardeners to plant a row of vegetables for Bean’s Café, a local soup kitchen. This effort was so successful that Fell introduced the idea to the Garden Writers of American (GWA)as a national program.

A little slow at first, it took five years to reach the first million pounds of donated produce. Then it grew like Jack’s beanstalk, taking only two years for the second million pounds. Since 1995 over 14 million pounds of produce have been donated by PAR gardeners across the country. PAR estimates that each pound of food supplements four meals. No federal subsidies and no government involvement was needed to make this program a success, just gardeners helping others.

In the coming year, PAR hopes that Amercian gardeners will donate one million pounds of food. This can happen if 40,000 gardeners each donate 25 pounds of produce. This is approximately one full grocery bag of produce. It’s easier than you think. You may not even have to plant an extra row or extra plants in your garden, just pick your produce regularly and keep the plants you have producing.

America’s Grow-a-Row is a very similar program. It stresses not just feeding the hungry, but feeding them with healthy produce. Their mission is to add fresh vegetables and fruit to low budget diets. America’s Grow-a-Row was started by Chip Paillex a volunteer who decided to answer the call of the local food pantry in Pittstown, New Jersey. The food pantry requested that local gardeners donate their extra garden produce. Paillex did more than that. He grew an entire garden, donating about $3,000 worth of produce by the end of the season.

Paillex, realizing that there was only so much he could grow with his little garden patch, contacted a local farm and asked for some help. They donated a quarter acre of space, vegetable transplants, and seed. Another farm also donated garden space. Members of Paillex’s church stepped up to help tend all this new space. By the end of the second season, they had raised and gleaned over 14,000 pounds of food for the food pantry.

Like PAR, the America’s Grow-a-Row was an idea that caught on. The group received more free seed and offers of help throughout the community. In 2008, an astounding 110,000 pounds of “fresh, healthy produce” were donated. All because one gardener wanted to help.

Here in Washington, garden personality and seed purveyor, Ed Hume has been supporting gardeners’ efforts to help the hungry by supporting GWA’s Plant a Row program. Ed Hume Seeds has donated at least 10,000 packets of seed (mostly carrots) in support of the program since 2002. They also donate about 1,000,000 packets of year-old seed to international charities and last year they donated approximately a ton of seed to charities in New Orleans to help with rebuilding. Imagine how much produce resulted from a ton of garden seed!

So as we reflect on our blessings during the holiday season, let us keep in mind that just one gardener can make a big impact on hunger in our community. Consider planting a little extra for others as you plan next year’s garden. Happy Holidays!

Published: 12/19/2009 2:23 PM

MASTER GARDENERS HELP WITH GARDEN PROBLEMS

written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Having a garden or landscape problem? WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers are ready and willing to help you with them. All you need to do is ask and they’ll try and help you determine the cause of the problem and recommend a research-based solution. This service is available to everyone in Benton and Franklin counties at no charge. Because the number of Master Gardener volunteers are limited and there are so many folks with plant and insect problems, the volunteers staff clinics where you can come to them with your questions… or you can call them at the Benton County WSU Extension office. (I’ll tell you where and when they’re available later.)

It’s been a tough summer for gardens and gardeners. The WSU Extension Master Gardeners have been busy helping diagnose scads of problems. You might be curious to know the current “top five” problems that they’ve been seeing in the clinics:

1. Leaf scorch is characterized by crispy brown edges on leaves of trees and shrubs. The complaint is most common on trees and shrubs planted within the last several years. Leaf scorch tells the Master Gardeners that the leaves aren’t getting enough water, but a lack of adequate water is just one of the causes. It’s also often related to how it was planted and a lack of root growth after planting.

2. Excessive lawn thatch becomes a problem in mid-summer when temperatures get hot and large areas of lawn start to turn brown no matter how water is applied to the lawn. When samples are brought into the Extension office clinic, the presence of thatch can be confirmed.

3. Blossom end rot where the bottom of a tomato develops a brown, leathery area. We discussed this here already a month ago, but it’s still plaguing gardeners. This is a calcium deficiency within the fruit, but is usually not a caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. This is most often related to watering problems, either too little or too much… or fluctuating between the two. Even soil moisture is the best prevention. Other veggie garden problems are heat related woes, such as bitterness in cucumbers, lack fruit set, and uneven ripening of tomatoes

4. Squash bugs are elusive, but they’re the most likely cause of the suddenly wilting and dying of squash, cuke, and melon plants, especially if the soil moisture is adequate. At dusk, check at the base of the plant and vines. Although, it’s important to note that these vines will normally wilt during mid-day extreme heat and then perk back up as temperatures cool off in the evening.

5. Lawn and garden weeds are a common problems seen by the Master Gardeners. The two most common ones in the clinics right now are crabgrass and bentgrass.

Published: 8/8/2009 10:11 AM

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