Gardening Girl is GO!

This week I got great news – I was accepted to do the 2011 Master Gardeners Program with Santa Clara County.  The course is only held every two years and has only 50 places.  This year, I was told, there were 172 applicants, so I am well pleased that I was one of the candidates accepted.  Now, maybe I’ll learn how to grow bigger veggies than Al!

Perhaps the fact that my compost is “cooked” will also help.  It seemed to do nothing for months on end, then one day I checked, and bingo – it had turned into this lovely, crumbly compost, ready for the garden.

 A full bin didn’t go that far, but it is better than the shop bought variety.  You can see how much richer it looks in comparison.

It’s been a slow harvest – my summer veggies are still ripening and I haven’t pulled them all out yet, so I feel like I’m behind in getting my winter veggies into the ground.

I had great fun last Saturday at the California Native Plant Society plant sale up at Hidden Villa.  I used to weed non-natives at Edgewood Natural Preserve and though I don’t go anymore, (The long drive totally negates the whole environmentally friendly aspect of it.) I feel like the Prodigal Child when I meet the fantastic folk who still volunteer up there.  They always give me such a big welcome.  The Edgewood Weed Warriors do an incredible job, not just of weeding but of educating people who volunteer with them.  That’s how I first got interested in California native plants.  So, when I arrived at the Hidden Villa and my friend Howie was manning the car-park, I was excited to find out from him that a lot of the rest of the Edgewood crew were volunteering at the event too.

Here is Ken and Howie having a well deserved break.

The event at Hidden Villa was excellent.  The prices were reasonable, the proceeds going to a great cause (CNPS) and the plants were lovely and healthy, and so well labelled that complete beginners, like me, could find what we were looking for.

If you couldn’t find something you wanted, there were plenty of experts on hand to give advice. Ken Himes managed to sell me a plant, that to all intends and purposes, looked dead.  But I have complete faith in his word that the Asclepias speciosa, Showy Milkweed, is dormant at this time of year and will grow back, though I know my husband took a second look at the withered stem.

Here, Paul is trying to extend my education some more, though I was so concentrating on getting the photo that I’m afraid I have no idea what he has in his hand! 


Another fabulous thing about the Hidden Villa sale was the free talks they held.  We went to one about planting and maintaining native plants.  I learned a lot from this talk, but two things in particular:

1) Dig the hole for your new plant an inch and a half shallower that the pot it comes in (i.e. the root ball) so that it sticks up above the garden’s soil.

2)Make sure that the root ball is saturated with water before planting it.  I kind of knew to do this, but never really knew why.  Apparently, the garden soil, being drier and usually more densely packed, wicks away water that you apply after planting.  A water soaked root ball will attract water because of water’s cohesive nature.  A good way to get the root ball really soaked is to have a 5 gallon bucket of water and put the plant into it after you take it out of its pot.  When it sinks you know that all the air pockets are filled with water and its good to plant.

Last Sunday it rained.  We were headed on vacation for a few days.  Typical to get rain the one day you are going away!  But it was good to go and know that the temperatures were cooler and that there was some water, though our neighbors are great about looking after our plants when we are gone.  Next week, I’ll tell you all about that trip.

I aim to start putting my natives into the ground in the next couple of weeks.  My Mum is coming to visit then – it’s always good to save some back-breaking work for visiting family members!

Byddi Lee

11 replies to Gardening Girl is GO!

  1. Congrats from a fellow MG!! I've always thought the M should stand for Maniac…as all Master Gardeners are incredibly into gardening.
    Good luck with your course, you'll love it and enjoy meeting other like-minded gardening enthusiasts!

  2. Congratulations on your acceptance to the MG program Byddi! 🙂 I keep thinking that some day I should do the same. Can't wait to see your bigger veggies!

  3. My compost is moving oh so slowly. I have two massive bins filled, and no sign of anything occuring. The compost is currently going into a trench where next year's bens should go!

  4. Mine went slowly till I started to water it…

  5. Oh, I wish I'd known you'd be there! We could have met! Well, I wasn't wearing the mouse ears so you probably would not have recognized me ;-> Congrats on the master gardener acceptance. I've heard so many good things about that program.

  6. @ Town Mouse – I thought you'd be there. We should plan it better next time…It would be cool to meet in person.

  7. Your compost looks great! I'm new to composting and I still can't get over the fact that a whole bin full of organic material produces so little compost. However, I am happy to get the little that I do get because I know the plants will be so happy about it. That plant sale you went to looks awesome.

  8. I want to do master gardeners sometime, when I have some time – I also was planting my native plant sale purchases and just blogged about that. I would like to have gone to the Hidden Villa sale but it was just too far for me. I hope we can do things like that at our sale in Santa Cruz sometime. Nice your mum is coming. I'm going to the UK to visit my daughter's family there for Xmas! Excited to see my grandchildren especially, after 2 years!

  9. Your Christmas plans sound so lovely. Hope it isn't too chilly for you… I know how easy it is to get 'soft' with the Californian weather! You'll have a ball.

  10. Congrats, and hope you learn lots of new things!

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