Master gardener

Master gardeners lead a seed-planting activity at the K Street Head Start wellness festival last summer.

A frigid, frosty day is a great time to stay indoors and enjoy a good book, a warm fire in the fireplace and a hot cup of cocoa. But for gardeners, winter it's also time to dream and plan next summer’s gardens.

Many gardeners are already looking through seed catalogs, and making up their 2019 seed orders. But for Nebraska Extension Master Gardener volunteers, winter is also a time to gather new knowledge, reinforce knowledge from years past and prepare to share their knowledge with others.

What is a Master Gardener?

They are people who love plants and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. At Nebraska Extension, we teach adults and youth in many different settings, from the county fair, to classrooms, and demonstration landscapes. So do our Extension Master Gardeners.

After training, Master Gardeners assist Extension staff to provide clientele with information by teaching in demonstration landscapes and assisting with other youth or adult programs. Master Gardeners also answer questions phoned in to the Extension Office or at an "Ask a Master Gardener" table at a farmer's market, diagnose plant samples and help maintain community gardens.

Through the program, you will meet many great people who share your love of gardening and as a volunteer, you’ll be making a contribution to your community, creating beautiful, sustainable greenspaces.

The Extension Master Gardener program’s goal is to provide Nebraskans with the knowledge they need to create and maintain beautiful, healthy, sustainable landscapes, while conserving water and protecting themselves and the natural environment from exposure to improperly applied or excessive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers.

How to get started

Complete and submit an application. Two Master Gardener programs are available for residents of Lancaster county and surrounding areas.

Evening training classes: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Classes are held from early February through May at Kiem Hall on UNL’s East Campus, 33rd and  Holdrege. Complete an application online at http://MasterGardener.unl.edu, click on “Become a Master Gardener.” Or contact Teri James, email: tjames2@unl.edu, (402) 472-8973. Program cost is $190 per person. Application deadline is Jan. 11.

Weekday training classes: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes are held from mid-February through early April, at the Lancaster County Extension Office, 444 Cherrycreek Road. Complete an application online at http://go.unl.edu/mgapplication, or contact Mary Jane Frogge for more information. Email: mfrogge2@unl.edu, (402) 441-7180. Program cost is $190 per person. Application deadline is Jan. 18.

2018 highlights

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New this year, Master Gardeners instructed Head Start teachers how to grow and manage an educational vegetable garden. The teachers used this new knowledge to lead their students in the growing and harvesting of vegetables.

For several years, Master Gardeners have been instrumental in maintaining a teaching garden at the People's City Mission. They teach mission residents how to plant, care for and harvest garden crops, encouraging them to grow some of their own food in the future when their living arrangements allow.

Master Gardeners also maintain the Backyard Farmer garden on University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus. Many viewers of the television show visit the garden each summer. Visitors are amazed at how ornamental and edible crops mixed and woven together can create such beauty! It gives many visitors great ideas to try in their home gardens.

Finally, Master Gardeners teach composting basics to home gardeners. Over the last four years at our composting demonstration site at Pioneer's Park, Master Gardeners have shown over 250 participants how easy it is to created and maintain a composting pile or bin at home.

Please join us!

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Sarah Browning is an extension educator with Nebraska Extension. To ask a question or reach her, call 402-441-7180 or write to her at sarah.browning@unl.edu or 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528.



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