BY: Julie Conrey, Mobile County Master Gardener I www.mobilecountymastergardeners.org
Which of the following tell us spring has arrived along the Gulf Coast?
a. There are no available parking spaces at local nurseries and big box stores.
b. We spy tiny burgundy leaf-buds that pop up overnight on dormant crepe myrtles.
c. The smell of freshly cut grass and blooming trees means your Sudafed isn’t up to the challenge.
d. You hear the staccato tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker burrowing into a pine tree.
e. You spot Old Man Winter driving his packed convertible, with the top down, on I-65, heading somewhere north of the Mason Dixon line.
If you were torn among the five choices, you’re a great candidate for the 2022 Mobile County Master Gardener Class. And we’d love to hear from you!
Master Gardeners are community service volunteers. We provide sound, research-based gardening information to residents of Mobile County. We work under the direct supervision and in partnership with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, to help residents take care of their gardens, lawns, and trees in the place all of us call home. You can always pick up good gardening tips from Master Gardeners, too. Although we can’t recommend specific products, a few of our members are quite vocal about their preferred gardening tools, plus a certain variety of clogs that will keep your feet dry and clean in a wet yard.
Please don’t let the title “Master Gardener” intimidate you. Few of us can boast of taming the complex and constantly changing world of horticulture, but all of us share a love of learning to understand and share how and which plants and trees grow well along the Gulf Coast.
Master Gardeners come from all areas of Mobile County, and from all backgrounds. Our gardening interests vary from citrus trees to horticulture therapy, from vegetable gardening to growing annuals and perennials from seeds, and much more. Our educational events reflect this breadth of interests.
So far this year, we have taken a field trip to a camellia farm in Lucedale, Mississippi to learn about camellia grafting. In preparation for the Mobile Botanical Gardens Spring Plant Sale, we visited MBG, and were given a comprehensive tutorial on plants that did well in the sun, and shade. Along with the students at Bryant Technical Career Center, we participated in the 2022 Festival of Flowers at Cathedral Square. Last month we visited with Jeremy Sessions at his family’s large farm in Grand Bay. He spoke to us about the many challenges and joys of growing citrus and vegetables along the Gulf Coast.
In late April, we hosted our first Spring Educational Seminar since 2019, titled “Exploring Our Food: Farm to Fork.” We listened to chefs Chris Rainosek of Noble South and Jim Smith of Hummingbird Way Café tell us how they support local growers and cook with produce, fish and meat sourced from entities within 150 miles of Mobile. We also heard from Kristin Wilde, a nurse who teaches health-conscious cooking classes; Doug Ankerson, who owns Double D Oyster Farm on Mobile Bay in Bellefontaine; Will Maston, who owns and operates Local Appetite Growers in Baldwin County; and ACES Extension Agent Antionette Hamilton as she discussed eating for health and fitness.
Within the next 60 days, we’ll learn how Keep Mobile Beautiful works in the community, how to grow and care for orchids, plus skills to identify dangerous tree defects in your landscape in preparation for the 2022 Hurricane Season. We’ll also visit Flowerwood Nursery in Loxley to learn how a local, family-owned nursery grows product for regional distribution, and hear from Sweet Grown Alabama, a non-profit organization that connects Alabamians across the state to locally grown meats and produce. We’re also celebrating our 30th anniversary in September and plan for a contest titled “Stump the Master Gardener” with our Baldwin County counterparts.
If you’re interested in gardening, making friends, and life-long learning that you pass on to others, become a Mobile County Master Gardener! Please call 251-574-8445 to register and for more information. The 13-week session begins August 11, 2022. Fee includes all materials needed for the class.