Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

County’s master gardeners ready with growing advice

April 12, 2007

Having a problem growing strawberries? Are your lilacs wilting? No need to worry. Just dial the K-State Research and Extension-Leavenworth County master gardener hotline, and a gardener will attend to and answer any gardening question you have.

Charlotte Van Wormer, president of Leavenworth County's master gardener program, said graduates of the program man the hotline from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from April through October.

"There may or may not be someone operating the phones on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but people can always leave a message and we will call them back," Van Wormer said. "We will answer any question."

All master gardeners volunteer to join the program. Those who are in the program receive 40 hours of research based horticulture training from Kansas State University horticulturalists, extension agents and experts on specified gardening subjects.

After the training is complete, the master gardeners are able to help with other gardening projects in the area and answer hotline calls.

"There are about 70 master gardeners in the Leavenworth area," Van Wormer said. "We are always looking for new people."

Master gardener classes begin in September. Students meet one day a week for 9 consecutive weeks at the Extension Office in Leavenworth. Cost of the class is $125, and enrollees get $50 refunded for finishing their training and volunteer hours in one year.

The class focuses on gardening basics such as annuals, perennials, vegetables and fruit, lawn maintenance, trees and shrubs, organic gardening, plant diseases, soils and weeds.

JoNell Thomas, office manager at the K-State Research and Extension-Leavenworth County, said anyone interested in the program should call with their name and address, and the office will send them an application in August.

After the gardeners finish their training, they are required to work 40 hours of community service.

"Fifteen hours of that community service is conducted on our hotline," Thomas said.

The master gardeners attend to many projects in and around the area. The gardeners maintain the area outside the Carnegie Arts Center in Leavenworth and the enabling garden outside of the extension office.

The gardeners also help at the Leavenworth Farmer's Market and have a speakers bureau where people can ask master gardeners to give presentations on horticultural topics to groups.

"They had been working on the gardens downtown, but that area is being renovated at the moment," Thomas said.

In addition to the projects the master gardener's are continually working on, they began work on a new project this year. The master gardeners are making a monarch watch station and butterfly garden in the education garden at the extension office.

"Students from St. Mary's are helping us," Wormer said. "We are working on it right now."

The garden should be blooming in May.

To find out more information about the master gardener program, to place your name on the list for enrollment or to get help from the master gardener hotline, contact the Extension Office at (913) 250-2300.


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