I have a question for all you gardeners who are facing long, gray, cold days this winter. What are you going to do all day?
I have a suggestion: Join the class for new Master Gardeners. The group will meet Wednesdays from Jan. 29 through March 26, with one Saturday class Feb. 1. The sessions run 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with an hour for lunch.
Most of the instructors are from The Ohio State University, with some local experts adding their talents. Every one of us can find a great deal to learn in these hours of instruction, in the pleasant company of fellow gardeners.
The list of topics to be covered reads like a syllabus in horticulture and related fields and includes sessions in soils and fertilizers, soil testing, perennials, botany, tree identification, lawns and landscaping, fruits and vegetables, pesticides, composting, invasive insects, entomology, herbs and propagation, ornamentals and pruning, plant pathology, diagnostics, annuals and house plants.
The instructors bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their presentations and are always ready to answer questions.
The Seneca County Master Gardeners run a resource line from April until October, and you would receive instruction in working with this community resource. A growing library of reference material is available at the Extension Office on SR 100, where the classes and our monthly meetings are conducted.
The requirements for applicants are the intent to attend nine weeks of classes, a fee of $175 that covers an extensive manual, speaker fees, etc., and a security check. An exam is given on the last day of class, but is non-threatening, with open books and the involvement of the entire class.
Once the educational part has been completed, a new Master Gardener will be asked to complete 50 hours of service to the community before the end of December 2014. There are many opportunities to accomplish this, with work at the fairgrounds entrance flower beds, the annual plant sale, staffing the resource line, writing for the newsletter, attending meetings and so on.
The program is under the direction of the Ohio State Extension, who state their purpose as "designed to train volunteers and utilize their expertise to teach people more about plants, their culture and their importance to the environment and to our quality of life."
You do not need to have any previous training or experience to join our ranks. Every one of us has something to learn, and you would find a company of gardeners anxious to support and help one another.
If interested, call (419) 447-9722 and Cindy will answer any questions, and send you application materials. Or call me at (419) 618-7069 if you would like any more information before deciding.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.