Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Auburn Master Gardening School 2010

I had a fantastic time on Tuesday at MG School. We learnt how to:
  • incorporate native plants into the landscape
  • identify plants by their scientific names, and the benefits thereof, primarily referencing the plant outside the home area
  • attract and maintain wildlife in the garden *my absolute favorite session*
  • identify plant fungus and appropriate treatment
  • install water gardens step-by-step
  • install a drip irrigation system
It was a very long day but well worth it. The presenters are all Auburn lecturers, but I didn't feel lectured at. Some presentations were hands on and informal enough that questions were addressed during the sessions rather than at the end.

One of the most interesting things that stood out in the Gardens for Wildlife session, is how to apply for your home to become a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Essentially, you must have 2-3 sources in each of the following sections:
  • Food
    • Providing a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, nectar, pollen, and supplements like feeders and suet
  • Water
    • e.g. birdbaths, ponds, butterfly pudding area, stream, etc
  • Cover
    • protected areas from weather, predators e.g. bramble patch, rock pile wall, shrubs, etc
  • Shelter
    • safe places to raise young e.g. trees, nesting boxes, toad abodes, birdhouses, host plants, bat houses, etc
  • Go Green
    • mulching, less turf areas, native plant use, drip irrigation systems, rain barrels, use of composting, reduced use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc
You can learn more at http://www.nwf.org/.

To do it right (i.e. not staging rock piles and erecting bird and bat houses all over the place) I have a few seasons to go. A few trees need to mature and a few more shrubs need to be planted, but this is definately a medium-term goal for me. I'm so excited.

Master Gardeners of Pike County are required to receive 20 hours of training each year, although as I understand it, some volunteer work counts toward this. In any event, last Tuesday's training counted for 6 hours. I didn't know this, nor had I planned to generate any 'real' hours this year (being unofficial and all), but now I'm considering going for the other 14. I'll have to discuss this with my two-year old and one-year old of course, so we'll see how it goes.

P.S. I didn't have to harass any Auburn agricultural professionals about my roses as I received my report from the Diagnostic Lab in record time. More on that later.

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