The word master just seems to conjure up expertise in any thing it is placed in front of. So logically, master gardeners are masters at gardening. How true. In order to become a master gardener, in my opinion, you have to first and foremost have a deep love and passion for gardening. Of course, my opinion will not get you certified and you truly don't have to have a deep love of gardening to become a master gardener. You don't even need a working knowledge of gardening. You need only visit or call the local extension office and see Karla Kean (or whoever the agent is for your county) for information regarding the master gardener class and to sign up!
Classes are offered periodically throughout the year, usually at a convenient time in the evening. You will receive 40 hours of training in a wide variety of gardening subjects to include but not limited to the following: composting, insects, plants, pesticides, cultivating needs, pruning, lawn maintenance and a whole host of other subjects. It has been a while since I took the class (more than 10 years) so I might not be up on all of the subjects anymore.
Once you successfully complete the training (yes, it does include a test to ensure you 'mastered' the subjects taught), you then have to complete volunteer hours within one year of completing the course in order to become a certified master gardener. Volunteer work is a committment and may seem easier than it sounds, but you truly have to work to complete the hours required.
Montgomery County is lucky to have an active Master Gardener Association. They conduct activities regularly, have plant sales, trips, improve the community by completing projects, and sponsor garden tours. They collectively provide a great benefit to the community by sharing their expertise free of charge to all who need it in the form of manning the telephone at the extension office during certain periods of the week. If you have any type of gardening question these wonderful people are happy to assist you in answering it, free of charge. The Montgomery County Master Gardeners have volunteered a total of 1190.20 hours and driven 7875 miles in 2007! That is a lot of free hours helping our community! If each master gets paid an average of $15 an hour, you do the math and find out just how much free labor master gardeners provide our community.
Here are some links for further information: http://mastergardeners.tennessee.edu/ and http://www.utextension.utk.edu/mastergardeners/montgomery.
The Tree Steward class scheduled to begin next week is STILL looking for a few good volunteers. The information you learn has been invaluable to me, now is your chance as it is not too late to sign up. Call Karla Kean (931) 648-5725.
in the garden....trying to be a master.