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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Gardener program is a chance to grow

September 15, 2021 at 3:12 a.m.

The last time we checked, the growing of a fine tomato does not separate society along racial, cultural, religious or political lines.

Perhaps that is why we rather embrace all things extension. That would be the Cooperative Extension Service, which has experts of various stripes that can tell you what you're doing wrong with your weepy fudge as well as what kind of pesticide would be best for your 1,000 acres of cotton. In many ways, the service is the keeper of the flame.

And you, too, can get in on a little of the action. Registration is now open for the Master Gardener training program. And if the idea of crowding into a classroom with other people at this moment in time is not that appealing, you are in additional luck because the training is online.

As the extension service put it, "A Master Gardener is a person who enjoys the rewards of gardening and sharing that knowledge and expertise to better their community through volunteer service." They might could have shortened that and just said a Master Gardener is a person who enjoys life. If you know one, you know what we mean.

The way we understand the program is that once you graduate, you are expected to share what you learned with others. If that's not a little self-pollinating enterprise, we don't know what is.

The program includes 40 hours of training on topics such as landscaping lawns, fruit trees, bushes and vines, vegetables and flower gardening, alternative gardening methods, soil treatment and insect, pest, fungus and herb controls.

This is a continuing proposition, as well, with graduates being exposed to additional programs and methods as they become available.

Such a class fits in well with where we are today -- a world where depending on oneself makes a lot of sense. If you have even the tiniest little patch of ground, you can grow some of your own produce or some flowers and learn which flowers are good for butterflies and that the butterflies you attract are good for your garden.

If you want to supercharge your interest in taking the class, the Master Gardeners are holding tours of their demonstration garden on Thursday at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. that will include the herb, butterfly and vegetable gardens, as well as a greenhouse that the members built.

The group is finishing up its summer crop of tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, okra, peas, blackberries, watermelons, cantaloupe and pumpkins. And soon, the gardeners will be planting their fall crop of turnips, mustard, kale, radishes, collards and carrots. Visions of cornbread are dancing in our head.

If you have the slightest interest, now's the time to jump in. You might just discover the green thumb you never knew you had.

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