Boost Your Oregon Gardening Skills With The Free Master Gardener Virtual Series

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CORVALLIS – As more people discover the joys of gardening during the pandemic, Oregon State University’s Extension Service Master Gardener program has introduced a new series of free monthly virtual classes.

The Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up series will air via the Zoom webinar at 3 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month through November. Classes are free but registration is required. To make them accessible to those who cannot attend the live session, the lessons will be recorded and available on the website for anyone to watch.

The courses, which include topics as broad as Dazzling Dahlias to Adapt Your Garden and Landscape to Climate Change, are for those with a bit of gardening under their belt, said LeAnn Locher, OSU Extension Master Gardener Outreach Coordinator.

“The classes took place as Master Gardener staff across the state saw the public influx of information about gardening during COVID,” she said. “The courses offer a twofold answer: one is to give master gardeners the opportunity to continue their studies and the other is to respond to the great public interest in gardening knowledge and public support. “

Prior to the pandemic, this series would have been held in person only as continuing education for Master Gardeners, but the webinar format allows the sessions to be delivered to the public. The first class – Understanding the characteristics of seeds taught by OSU Extension horticulturalist Nicole Sanchez – attracted 336 people from 24 counties in Oregon, as well as other states and Canada. About 9% of attendees were not master gardeners and the organizers hope to attract more audiences for future webinars.

“The courses are specifically based on topical issues and priorities of the Master Gardener program, which include native plants, soil health, climate change and local food,” Locher said. “We called it Growing Oregon Gardeners because the knowledge is specific to Oregonians. I hope participants will get information based on finding a trusted resource to be more successful as a gardener.

The content, taught by horticultural experts from across the state, aims to address current issues such as wildfires, climate change, and pollinators.

Here is the programming:

Multifunctional hedges (February 9) – At the edge of agricultural fields or along the rows, there are often rows of trees, shrubs, flowers and herbs called hedges. These living fences produce food, shelter wildlife, conserve water, manage weeds, and look great year round. Find out how to design and use these multifunctional plantations as a means to achieve multiple land management goals.

Dirt Gone Bad: When Your Soil Amendment Has Been Contaminated (March 9) – Herbicides sometimes end up in the regional composting system and unsuspecting gardeners buy compost and potting soil contaminated with herbicides, resulting in damaged plants. This course will teach how to recognize damage, what to do about it, and how to avoid the problem. Also learn how to use compost in the vegetable patch, landscape and lawns.

Dazzling dahlias (April 13) – Learn all about this popular plant, including which varieties are doing well in your area, how to prepare a site, and how to plant, care for, and care for dahlias throughout the season. The session will also cover how to identify, plan and deal with common pests and diseases. Dahlias need a little love and support, but reward gardeners with large, beautiful flowers that make long lasting bouquets.

Gardening at water level (May 11) Learn a style of gardening that uses little or no additional water in your garden, saving money, time, and natural resources. The instructor will review the basics of water efficient gardening and offer some examples.

Unique winter vegetables to grow (June 8)Immerse yourself in the cultivation of some of the most underrated winter vegetables, including covering garlic, radicchio, celeriac (turnip), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cabbage , winter squash and purple sprout broccoli. The basic techniques of winter gardening will also be discussed.

Fire-rated landscaping (July 13) – As the population of the western United States continues to grow, more homes are creeping into the forest and rangeland areas known as the Wild Urban Interface. The number of forest fires combined with this urban sprawl can potentially increase the number of landscapes prone to fires. Learn the basics of fire behavior, ways to reduce fuel load, and freehand landscape design, including plant breeding.

Season extension techniques (August 10) – Season extension is a set of techniques used to provide an earlier and / or later harvest in the garden. In this webinar, learn about a variety of season extension tactics available to gardeners and compare how they can be used differently to meet regional needs. All of this just in time for the fall planting.

Gardening with native plants for pollinators (September 14)Native plant gardening has been ranked among the top three landscape and garden trends in recent years, in part because of the benefits it offers to pollinators. This talk will share research conducted by the OSU Garden Ecology Lab on the link between natives and pollinators, as well as native plant recommendations for gardeners in western Oregon.

Adapting your garden and its landscape to climate change (October 12) – Gardeners and landscapers in the Northwest are used to our Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. With climate change, we can expect more weather variability with more frequent and intense weather events. How will these extreme events affect your plants? Learn strategies for adapting your garden and landscape to these new conditions.

Use life cycle analysis to understand the sustainability of your gardening products and practices (November 9) – Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an approach used to estimate the environmental impact of the production, distribution and disposal of manufactured products. Recently, researchers have modified LCA to assess the sustainability and environmental impacts of different farming systems. In this talk, we will review the building blocks of LCA in farming systems and examine how they apply to our own gardening products and practices.

– Kym Pokorny, [email protected]


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