The UT Extension Institute of Agriculture held their annual Master Gardener Winter School February 26-27, 2015 at the Lane Agri-Park Community Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This years' theme was “The Good Earth" with a variety of educational seminars, lectures and poster events highlighting the importance of good soil, encouraging natural pest control and increasing the habitat of native plants to increase the population of beneficials.
Attendees from the Big Spring Master Gardener Association included Michele Bradley, Sandee Cook, Martha Fluharty, Darlene Moore, Jeanie Jackson, Teresa Uhls and Virginia Williams. Melody Rose, Extension Agent of Greene County and Master Gardener Coordinator was a featured speaker delivering a general session workshop on the topic of “Grow Your Organization with Better Understanding of Personality Profile and Group Dynamics. This educational exercise was well received by the audience and delivered a memorable learning model.
The two day conference was filled with breakout roundtable and concurrent sessions highlighting projects statewide master gardener groups had accomplished for 2014. Many of the UT professors including new Tennessee Extension Master Gardener State Coordinator, Dr. Natalie Bumgarner, demonstrated their passion for pest, plants and people. Dr. Frank Hale presented a theme of one must know or understand the pest in order to manage it. Dr. Bumgarner joined with the grafting group for tomatoes and apples. Everyone came out of that class with grafting starts for their own garden. There was great emphasis on new pests invading our state and what trees and plants are and will be affected. Many have no natural control developed as yet which poses a problem. Dr. Allan Windham, discussed hydrangeas and how to treat and care for them. Dr. Hale also lectured on the use of pollinators, predators, parasitoids and microorganisms. The planting of beneficial attractants was stressed and use of native plants to encourage good insect populations was highly recommended. Debbie Joines manager of UT Soil, Plant, and Pest Center presented ideas on plant fertilization which included site, sun, shade, soil depth, drainage, slope, water availability, disease and insect population and plant nutrition. It was encouraged to test the soil prior to application of any amendments to determine what if any fertilization is required. Boxwood blight and Rose rosette were two of the many diseases discussed. A panel discussion on GMO's was well received as an educational platform to make sound decisions in crop selection and future plant engineering.
Many of the sessions focused on the role of the Master Gardener and what they could do to make their organization more creative and stronger through continued education and networking with those from other geographic areas. Winning projects for excellence on a statewide basis were received with enthusiasm and encouragement. The conference was a success in generating a common spirit with an incentive to share ideas and implement additional programs.
If you are interested in any subject listed in this report or want to know how to become a Master Gardener please contact the UT Greene County Extension office at 423-798-1710 or visit the Master Gardener website at www.bsmga.com.
Submitted by Jeanie Jackson
Big Spring Master Gardener Reporter
Seven Big Spring Master Gardener Association members attended the annual “Master Gardener Winter School” held at the Lane Agri-Park Pavilion in Murfreesboro, Tennessee February 25-27, 2015. Darlene Moore, Virginia Williams, Sandee Cook, Martha Fluharty, Michele Bradley, Jeanie Jackson, and Teresa Uhls attended various leadership and educational sessions aimed at both growing volunteer leaders in their communities and cultivating unique educational opportunities for clientele they represent.
Master Gardeners across the state convened to meet the newest addition to the statewide Extension Team, Dr. Natalie Bumgarner, Residential and Consumer Horticulture Specialist, who was recently hired in October. She brings energy, enthusiasm, and creative ideas to the table as many positive changes are expected for this program in the coming years that will further add value to the counties in which Master Gardeners are providing leadership and educational opportunities.
Master Gardeners were introduced to several experts in their respective fields to become more comfortable and competent in their advising and mentoring of the local Master Gardener Program. Some of the sessions attended were: “Plant Fertilization Strategies”; hands-on grafting workshops for both apples and tomatoes; a discussion on GMO’s; “Hydrangeas in the Landscape”; “Balancing Pesticide Use with Biological Controls”; and “Plant Scouting Techniques”.
Those in attendance also participated in a personality profile workshop that allowed them to interact with those different from their own personality, illustrating the importance of working together in group settings. The culmination of the Winter School ended with key-note speaker, Janet Carson, Extension Horticulturist Specialist from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Ms. Carson shared the local vision of the Arkansas Master Gardener program, and provided powerful insight, inspiration, and motivation to the audience in attendance.
Lastly, Master Gardeners across the state came together to share great ideas, learn from one another, and network with Extension professionals to gain both personal proficiency in their educational endeavors at the local level and determine new and unique ways to cultivate the Master Gardener program at the county level.
The BSMGA is involved in several exciting and worthwhile community gardening projects throughout Greene County. Projects include: maintaining the Greeneville/Greene County History Museum landscape; participating in weekly gardening seminars at the Boys & Girls Club; maintaining the New Hope Cemetery landscape; growing and maintaining the Soup Kitchen gardens; facilitating educational seminars for the Food Bank; designing and implementing historic, period-era gardens at the Dickson Williams Mansion; growing the landscape beds at the Greene County Fairgrounds; hosting a Plant Sale on May 9th at the Greene County Fairgrounds; and a Farm2Fork dinner on June 12th at the Andrew Johnson Clubhouse, as well as participating in Greene County Fair events; participating in community events such as Kid’s Day on the Farm; the Greene County Christmas Parade; and being available to answer questions in the Master Gardener lab at the Greene County UT Extension Office every Monday and Thursday from 10 AM – 3PM.
For additional information on the BSMGA, please feel free to contact the Greene County UT Extension Office at 423-798-1710 or e-mail Melody Rose, Extension Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out the BSMGA website at bsmga.com
This and other programs of the University of Tennessee Extension are open to all interested persons. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs.