Learning for those yearning to garden

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

If the past three years are any indication, the 2011 Master Gardener Learning Series classes should fill up in a flash.
“This series just gets more popular each year,” said Susan McGukin, program associate for volunteer management at the Lee County Extension Service. “We generally have a capacity crowd for each class.”
This year, a total of 11 hour-long classes will be offered. All are on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and all but the last one are at the Lee County Extension Service on Cliff Gookin Boulevard. (The last class is at the Research and Extension Service in Verona.)
“In 2010, vegetable gardening was definitely the hot topic,” McGukin said. “We expect it to be again this year. But it’s amazing – all the classes fill up. We have room for only 55 in each class, so advanced registration is necessary, even though the classes are free.”
Some new topics this year include building birdhouses and lasagna gardening.
“Lasagna gardening has nothing to do with cooking,” McGukin explained. “It has to do with layering organic materials. It’s a no-dig gardening approach.”
She said she had many requests for a program on roses, so one on “Old Garden Roses” will be offered in August.
“The very first class on Jan. 11 is also an important class,” McGukin said. “Shrub and tree maintenance are often done incorrectly. The class will also cover the basics of gardening for those who don’t want to till gardens.”
Two vegetable gardening classes will be offered – one in February and the other in July.
“Gardening is a popular leisure-time activity in Northeast Mississippi,” she said. “And the economy is forcing people to garden. They want to grow their own vegetables. Seed-saving also helps economically. The class on holiday decorating usually fills up in a day or two. People want to make and create their own decorations.”
To register for a class or to learn more, call McGukin at (662) 841-9000.

2011 Learning Series
All hour-long classes are at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Lee County Extension Office on Cliff Gookin Boulevard except the last class – Nov. 8 – which is at the Research and Extension Service in Verona.
■ Jan. 11: “Raised Bed Gardens for Beginners;
Tree and Shrub Care.” Presenters are Jay Crouch and Reggie Rose.
■ Feb. 8: “Vegetables: Whether You Are a Beginner or a Pro, We can Help You Make It
Grow!” Presenters are Carl Oglesby, Lonnie Neaves and Sandy Witt.
■ March 8: “Gardening on the Wild Side.” Presenter is Sherra Owen.
■ April 12: “Square Foot and Organic Gardening; Lasagna Gardening.” Presenters are Russ Hutcheson and Donna Tucker.
■ May 10: “Propagation: More of a Good Thing.” Presenters are Carl Oglesby and Donna Tucker.
■ June 14: “Making Birdhouses: Home for Tweeters.” Presenters are Mary Nell Gardner, Carl Oglesby ad Lonnie Neaves.
■ July 12: “Fall Vegetable Gardening.” Presenters are Bill Fisher and Russ Hutcheson.
■ Aug. 9: “Old Garden Roses.” Presenter is Bill Fisher.
■ Sept. 13: “Seed Saving.” Presenter is Tina Betts.
■ Oct. 11: “Container Gardens.” Presenters
are Sandra Caldwell and Charlotte Lindley.
■ Nov. 8: “Decking the Halls (and the tree, too!) with Nature’s Gifts.” Presenters are Tina Betts, Mary Nell Gardner, Charlotte Lindley, Kay Johnson, Sherra Owen and Delois Page.