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On Master Gardening

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By Teresa Odle

Every gardener has questions. How many times have you struck up a conversation with a neighbor or co-worker about a gardening triumph or more likely a problem?

Gardening can be frustrating but always fun and rewarding. I didn’t pay much attention to it as a child, even though my mother was a terrific gardener. My earliest memory is that one of the flowers was called a “touch-me-not.” Mom adapted easily when we moved from the humid sea level zone of South Carolina to the hot desert of Phoenix and she and my father created their own oasis in the back yard of their new suburban home.

But it wasn’t until I settled down with an avid gardener in Albuquerque, N.M., that the bug really hit me. I wanted to learn more and attended four months of master gardener training. The program was terrific, taught by state and county cooperative extension agents who really know their stuff. I got a certificate and a T-shirt but can’t call myself a Master Gardener because I couldn’t continue with required courses and volunteer hours when I took a full-time job again.

What do you think was the greatest lesson from the training? It wasn’t the soil type or when our first and last freeze occur, although that’s helpful information. The greatest lesson is this: experience still is the best teacher. All of the courses armed me with tools but I learned more from problem-solving when residents called the hotline, from riding around with the extension agent when he made visits to peoples’ lawns and from my own time in the garden. And I still learn from my husband and my mother, who never had any training but who have more experience than me.

So come to this blog for some gardening tips and answers, but most of all, get out there and garden. Trial and error will help you master your garden.