Marin IJ Articles
Making Master Gardeners work for you
|October 15, 2011|
There is a lot of mystery and mythology surrounding gardening. Should you plant your vegetables depending on the phases of the moon? Will Juicy Fruit gum deter gophers? Is it bad to water in the middle of a hot day? It's difficult to find horticultural experts who can separate fact from fiction — or who can tell you if the latest elixir on nursery shelves is more about marketing than it is science. That's where the Master Gardeners come in.
The beauty of getting advice from the Master Gardeners is that it comes with the full backing of the University of California.
This means the recommended strategies and products have been tested and proven, which takes some of the guesswork out of gardening. It also means you will be receiving advice tailored to our region, which consists of microclimates and conditions unseen throughout the rest of the country.
There are numerous ways to get help from the Master Gardeners, whether you prefer the convenience of connecting online or relish face-to-face interactions. Here are the key ways:
• Online — The easiest way to stay connected is to subscribe to the quarterly Leaflet, a free e-newsletter that debuts this month. The Leaflet features seasonal reminders and advice, invitations to classes and events, and answers to common problems. The first issue includes step-by-step instructions for growing asparagus, a link to a video that showcases the easiest way to replace your lawn, and a checklist of fall gardening chores and plants you may want to try. "The Leaflet allows us to elaborate on the issues and questions that we know are top of mind for Marin gardeners," says Marin Master Gardener co-president Linda Thompson. All Marin residents are eligible for a free email subscription; just go to www.marinmg.org.
The recently overhauled website is full of gardening advice and information. It is a portal for gardeners to delve into the full arsenal of UC research. It also highlights Marin Master Gardener projects and provides hundreds of growing tips and techniques.
The website includes the popular Plant Selector Guide, which makes it easy for gardeners to choose plants that will work for their particular growing conditions. The website also includes all of the IJ articles written to date, searchable by topic.
• In person — If you've never visited or emailed the Master Gardener help desk in Novato, you should consider it the next time you're stumped. It's where gardeners go for personalized horticultural help, from identifying what's eating your hosta leaves to figuring out how to get an army of ants off your fruit tree.
Whether you email in a photo or bring in a live sample, your problem will be diagnosed and a solution will be recommended. The help desk is at 1682 Novato Blvd. in Novato. Call 499-4204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For gardeners looking to save water, the Master Gardeners will come to your home and show you how. This service is co-sponsored by the Marin Municipal Water District and is free. Call 499-4204 to schedule your Bay-Friendly Garden Walk. But call soon, because the program shuts down
• In the community — During prime growing season, Master Gardeners are on hand to answer questions at farmers markets in Novato, Larkspur and the Civic Center. There are also a number of events and classes offered throughout the year, such as the upcoming "Garden for All Seasons" at the Marin Art & Garden Center on Oct. 22. At the Marin County Fair, the Master Gardeners staff an award-winning booth that features a variety of speakers and demonstration gardens. These events are a great way to learn, and always provide a forum for questions. Subscribers to the Leaflet enjoy
There are many Master Gardener projects open year-round that allow curious gardeners to gain expert insight and experience. For instance, the garden at Blackie's Pasture in Tiburon features a beautiful combination of California natives and other water-smart plants.
The gardens at the Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael feature water-wise plants from around the world. For gardeners looking for expert advice on growing edibles, look no further than the Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden in Novato, where a bountiful crop of delicious vegetables is harvested year round.
Go to www.marinmg.org for more information about all of the Master Gardener projects, including workdays to which the public is invited.