Many newcomers and inexperienced gardeners in Arizona need advice to successfully grow flowers and vegetables in our desert climate and soil conditions.
Often, that expertise in home horticulture is provided by Master Gardeners through educational programs and projects. The local program, based at the Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC), is under the auspices of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Science Cooperative Extension program for Pinal County.
During a rigorous 12-week course, Master Gardeners become trained volunteers working to provide the public information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping. One of the many ways they assist the Maricopa community is by creating and maintaining a demonstration garden and orchard to showcase new developments in plants and trees, planting methods, grafting, composting and irrigation methods. In addition, Master Gardeners also work with schoolchildren, teachers, seniors, community gardeners and homeowners.
Recently, the Master Gardener group held a series of classes at a local help center on what to grow and when to grow it, how to properly read seed packets, planting and tasting micro greens, irrigation set-ups for growing in pots and raised beds as well as planting seeds and transplants.
More classes scheduled at the Maricopa Library and Cultural Center will focus on building raised beds, improving soil makeup and discussing which vegetables and plants are best suited to our desert environment.
You can become a Master Gardener by attending fall classes at MAC to learn how to apply your gardening knowledge and skills to the community by answering garden questions and otherwise educating others. Your involvement will lead to an increase in knowledge and skill in yourself and those you reach. You will use your knowledge of plants to improve the lives of others and the local community. This, ultimately, will lead to a bigger change in the world around us.
Al Brandenburg is a Pinal County Master Gardener.
This column was first published in the February edition of InMaricopa magazine.