Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm A New "Master Gardener"

I have just become a Master Gardener as part of the Master Gardener Volunteer program. I completed the coursework the end of March and now am required to volunteer 40 hours to meet my MG requirements. I loved the classes sponsored by the Extension Office in Hall County. Our instructors were impressive including horticulture educators from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Nebraska Forest Service, and County Extension offices.

Our role is to support the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in meeting the needs of our State in the area of consumer horticulture by assisting with educational programs, diagnosing plant problems and making cultural and pest management recommendations.

I'm so new that the general description seems somewhat intimitating but through the volunteer work, I will become more comfortable with my knowledge and the resources available to help me.

We had so much information presented to us in two weeks but it was all fascinating especially since much was relevant to my own yard. Trees were my favorite topic.

When Mark and I lived in California, we lived in a 3 story apartment building. Our apartment was on the second floor with our master bedroom on the 3rd. It felt like a treehouse to me because outside our living room with patio was a 40' pine tree that gave us dappled shade and a beautiful green view all year as well as being a freeway for the neighborhood squirrels.

Outside our dining room window was a glorious crepe myrtle which shaded the room from the south sun and you can imagine it in full bloom. It looked much like the picture above. I could reach out the window and clip crepe myrtle blossoms. One Saturday morning before going to the Farmers Market, I opened the blinds and to my horror there was no crepe myrtle tree. I looked out the window to see that it had actually been "topped". I rushed outside to try to stop the gardeners from further massacre and asked them why they topped the tree. Their answer was so it would grow more & blossom better. OMG!  It already was as high as our second floor window and in full bloom; what-were-they-thinking?!

This is what our crepe myrtle looked like on that Saturday morning! It made me cry.

Please please if anyone suggests that you top your trees, run away from them. Topping induces heavy, rapid production of poorly attached suckers or 'water spouts' which weakens the tree. The stubs allow woody rot fungi and decay to enter the tree and it looks UGLY. You will end up losing the tree which is sad because it can be prevented.

Remember the more canopy, the healthier the tree. Ideally 66% of the tree is canopy and 33% is trunk. That proportion should be maintained throughout the trees lifetime. We have been carefully pruning our trees according to techniques learned in class. Our next big project is putting in a new front lawn.

I will share things I learned as we move through the seasons. Hopefully you will find the information useful.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow...........congratulations............and, thank you for showing us Lacey. I wonder how big she will get.

Janet said...

Forgot to congratulate you on being a Master Gardener. I admire your passion for gardening and learning all you can to continually improve what you grow, what works and what doesn't. Look forward to all the pictures tht will be coming this summer as the garden grows.