GLASGOW – With the time for the next series of classes for people who want to participate in the Master Gardener Program approaching, a few local existing master gardeners were putting in some volunteer work hours on a trial flower bed at the Barren County Extension Service building this week.
They talked about the project at hand but also chatted about things like tomatoes, canning and quilting.
Enrollment is open now and will continue for at least two more weeks for the series of classes beginning Sept. 5, but for those who may be want to participate but aren't sure it's the right program for them, an interest meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at the extension office, so people can get more information without committing to anything.
A minimum of 10 registrants is required for the class to move forward, but the maximum is 25.
Whether or not a person wants to take the classes or join the Barren River Area Extension Master Gardener Association, which has membership from Barren, Metcalfe and Monroe counties, anyone interested in finding out about the association's trial garden at the extension office is welcome to a Walk and Talk tour with discussion of it on Sept. 17.
Jewell Lay said the bed of all annuals along the east end of the building was started by Andrea Stith, Barren County's extension agent for horticulture, as part of a larger project of the University of Kentucky.
“We helped plant it and we've been watering it and taking care of it,” she said.
“The whole purpose of this garden,” said Pat Baker, president of the association and a member for about eight years, “is to have one that mostly takes care of itself.”
It's supposed to be representative of one the average person might plant.
“They wouldn't necessarily fertilize or deadhead or fuss with them, so we have not given them a lot of TLC," Baker said. “It's been a fun project. We've seen some new varieties."
Deadheading is the removal of spent blooms, which helps promote growth of new ones.
They also have a couple of flower bed sections alongside the raised-bed garden, which has herbs, tomatoes, vegetables and flowers, at the back of the building. They do the raised-bed garden each year and try new plants, new methods and use it as a demonstration for raised beds, irrigation, etc., she said.
Baker has been in the program eight years.
“I love to garden,” she said. “The benefit of this is being with so many other people that love gardening as well. Everybody in the group has a different level of passion for gardening. We have monthly meetings. We share successes. We share failures. We try new things. We have a program at each monthly meeting. It might be something on gardening photography, or it might be composting or growing herbs. It's just a lot of fun to share with all these people. The camaraderie is awesome; it's just great."
About 12 to 15 members are active and normally attend the monthly meetings, Baker said.
About once a month, the master gardeners set up a booth at the Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market with information, and they usually do a child's project, like making a flower pot out of used newspapers and planting seeds in them or making tissue-paper flowers, she said. The group also sets up a booth at the Farm, Home and Garden Expo to share information and expertise.
“We learn a lot, too, when the public asks us questions. Sometimes we don't know the answers, so we can reach out to Andrea or we may have to do some research to get answers,” she said. “We have done some school programs, the Junior Master Gardener Program, where we go in and actually work with the kids at school. We have worked with some of the kids in the past at Barren County Middle School with their raised-bed gardens. All those opportunities are a chance for us to learn as well.”
The activity Tuesday by four of them on the experimental garden was separate from their regular meeting.
“We do plan extra work details,” she said, using that time as an example and adding that maintenance on the raised-bed garden is done on a rotational basis, one person has it each week.
Sandy Moss, who's been a member about four years, two years less than her husband, Morris Moss, said she loves learning about all the different gardening techniques, and especially about native-plant gardening. Morris said it's a good opportunity to learn how to help others in the community through the extension program.” He named answering questions at the expo booth as an example of that.
Lay said the classes are a 12-week commitment, but very, very good and taught by experts, and she enjoys the volunteering aspect. She's a transplant to Metcalfe County from from southeastern Kentucky, so “the neatest part” about the program to her is “meeting a lot of new people, making new friends and sharing information, plants and seeds.”
Stith said applications will be available at the interest meeting and available on the extension service's website a day or two afterward probably.
“I think that the master gardeners offers an opportunity to network and find like-minded people and bring and share knowledge with others,” she said. “I think it's also an opportunity to give back to the community for those who are civic minded in ways they want to do it. They get to choose the projects, and so that way they get to vote on what they think the community needs, but it's something they want to spend time doing. I think that's important.”
UPCOMING EVENT DATES
• Master Gardener Program interest meeting
6 p.m. Aug. 15
• Master Gardener classes
6 to 9 p.m. every Thursday except Thanksgiving, Sept. 5 through Dec. 12
• public Walk and Talk tour of trial garden
5:30 p.m. Sept. 17
– All take place at the Barren County Extension Office, 1463 W. Main St., Glasgow