I Finally Made It!

After several years of wanting to take the Florida Master Gardener course, and having multiple conflicts, I was finally able to fit my schedule to theirs, and enroll in the 2017 class with 16 other gardeners extraordinaire. Before beginning this course, I had planned to use this blog as a journal of what I was learning as a way of sharing the knowledge, but I was so busy during that 3-month course, I didn’t have time to make any posts at all. It was hard work, but I loved every minute. Would I do it again? You bet I would!
Here are some of my classmates during a portion of our final exam where we had to plant some poinsettias, demonstrate proper pruning of trees and shrubs, etc. The written test was much tougher. As usual, I was behind the camera.

It’s All About Community Service
Each new class of graduates is considered to be interns for the first 12 months, during which time they must complete 75 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education units (CEUs). After the first year, all Master Gardeners must earn 10 CEUs and complete no less than 35 volunteer hours annually. The next training class for our county is scheduled for spring of 2019.

GIBMP?  What’s That?

That acronym stands for “Green Industries Best Management Practices”. It’s extensive training in using and advising people on the proper use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides. During the course, our class also received GIBMP training, and we are now GIBMP-certified by the State of Florida.
I will be sharing a lot of what I have learned in future blog posts. I hope you enjoy each of them. For now, here are just a few little tips:
  • Be sure to remove the coverings over your plants as soon as the temps are above freezing, especially if they are in the sun.
  • Resist the urge to remove freeze-damaged portions of plants for now. If we have another freeze, the damaged portions will shelter any tender new growth down below.
  • Your warm season grass is either dormant, or going dormant this time of year. This means its roots become much shorter, and it needs no irrigation. Do not apply nitrogen to dormant turf grass. Over time (several years), applying nitrogen to warm-season grass during winter will damage your lawn. Excessive nitrogen attracts and feeds chinch bugs. More on that later. For now, please just trust me.
  • Some folks like to over-seed dormant grass with winter rye grass. Please don’t do this. Dormant grass does not need water, but winter rye does — this  will damage your dormant grass. The rye seeds also get into your neighbors’ yards through wind and bird droppings. 
  • In the event of another hard freeze, do not use plastic bags or tarps to cover your tropical or tender plants — everywhere the plastic touches the plant there will be freeze damage. Overturned plastic pots that plants come in can be used to cover small plants because they don’t actually touch the plant. Placing a rock or brick on them will (a) keep the pot from blowing off in strong wind, and (b) cover the drainage hole, thus keeping out cold air.
Coming Up

I’ve been working on a blog post about which of my flowers and foliage plants survived our recent nights of freezing temps. It’s not quite done yet, but it will show photos of those that survived. Another post will show those that did not do well.  Hint:  the flowers that did best were the snapdragons.

4 responses to “I Finally Made It!

  1. Way to go Miss Ria!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations Maria, becoming a Master Gardner is quite a feat! I enjoy your blog and look forward to more helpful information. I am attempting to learn how to garden in Central Texas (Austin) after gardening in Minnesota most of my life; it’s a real challenge. Michele Olson


    • Thank you, Michele. What a big change! I have relocated cross-country, too. It’s always an adjustment. If I have my figures right, Austin is in Zones 8b and 9a. So your gardening should be similar to mine here in central Florida. I’m in 9a. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog. Thanks for visiting. See you in the garden.


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