Extension Office to host Master Gardener courses

By EMILY REED / Special to the Reporter

Those interested in becoming a Master Gardener will have the option to attend courses offered by the Shelby County Extension System beginning Aug. 2.

The purpose of the nationwide Extension education program is to train interested gardeners to help others solve their home horticulture programs, according to a release from the Extension System.

The Master Gardener course is designed for non-professionals with an interested in increasing their gardening skills and helping others with the knowledge they have gained.

Currently, there are 65 active Master Gardeners throughout Shelby County, according to Alabama Cooperative Extension’s Regional Extension Agent Nelson Wynn.

“The only requirement we have is that you have to be out of high school,” Wynn said. “We found that it just works better if you are out of high school, and there is usually a good mix of people with some that are retired and some that are still working.”

The classes will meet once a week on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. for 12 weeks.

After completing the course, Master Gardener interns will do 50 hours of volunteer service to the Extension and their communities.

Any volunteer effort that relates to gardening will be accepted including giving garden club programs, community garden projects, diagnosing plant problems or assisting the local Cooperative Extension Office in some way.

Interns have to average a 70-percent on exams to be certified, according to the release.

All of the classes will be held at the Extension Office in Columbiana, located at 54 Kelley Lane.

Instructors are specialists from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University Professors, Regional Extension Agents, Master Gardeners, and friends of the Extension system.

Topics covered in the courses include, annuals, perennials and bulbs, woody ornamentals and invasive plants, soils and plant nutrition, plant physiology, entomology, plant pathology, care of landscape plants, landscape design, plant selection, lawn care, weed identification, houseplants, vegetable gardening, home orchards and plant propagation.

Wynn said once a Master Gardener completes the required coursework, the certification of a Master Gardener is valid for one year. A Master Gardener remains certified by completing 25 hours of coursework each year.

Class size is limited to 20 individuals, so Wynn encourages those interested to sign up early.

For more information about the classes or for an application, contact 669-6763 or by emailing Wynn at wynnnel@aces.edu or by visiting www.aces.edu/mg to print an application.