Dedicated gardeners, who are willing to volunteer in exchange for expert training, can apply for a series of classes which will begin in January. Applications will be provided at an orientation meeting on Tuesday, September 1 from 10 am to noon in the Balboa Park War Memorial building. To receive a letter with directions to the meeting site visit www.mastergardenerssandiego.org and add your name to the mailing list or call the MG office at 858-694-2860 on week days from 9 am to 3 pm.
Don’t be put off by the title. Master Gardener doesn’t mean genius gardener. MGs are equal parts experienced gardener, generous volunteer and lifelong learner. Membership introduces you to some 200 folks with a passion for plants for sure but not every plant. What you don’t know about succulents for example, another knowledgeable member of the group will and will be glad to share. Through the training course, monthly meetings and volunteer activities, you get to rub shoulders with friends in San Diego’s enthusiastic and growing gardening community. You become part of the local MG Association, now more than 25 years old, and in the process you will have a lot of fun. Interested? You need to submit an application that details your gardening and volunteer experience. A group of current Master Gardeners then interviews candidates to select those invited to join.
If you are invited and accept, you will begin a training program Jan. 5 of classes that meet from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm every Tuesday through June 15. Topics range from basic botany to citrus culture and pest control. Class instruction is free but there is a $180 materials fee. In case you are wondering, no you don’t have to know plant Latin and yes, there is a take home exam that you must pass. When you do, you will be certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer by the University of California Cooperative Extension.
In your first year after graduation, you are asked to donate at least 50 hours, participating in various MG public education activities, including staffing the popular MG hotline. There you will field phone and email gardening questions from the public, which is both a teaching and learning experience. Whether answering a hotline inquiry or staffing an MG booth at various events or mentoring a school gardening program, you will be sharing your love of home gardening and helping others.