“Groundwork” column for Jan. 6, 2013

The LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Master Gardener Volunteer Program offers the public a wonderful combination of horticultural training and leadership opportunities.

Designed to recruit and train volunteers, the program is open to anyone with a willingness to learn and a desire to help others. Training is tailored to instruction for beginners as well as experienced gardeners.

Classes are offered in more than 21 parishes across the state, with 54 parishes benefiting from Master Gardener volunteer involvement. Master Gardener classes offer 40 to 50 hours of instruction on a variety of interesting horticultural topics.

As a Master Gardener, volunteers will learn about insects and diseases, ornamental plants, fruits and vegetables and soil fertility, as well as how to diagnose plant problems.

In exchange for horticultural training, Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their parish LSU AgCenter Extension Service offices to develop and enhance community programs related to horticulture.

Participants in the program not only become better gardeners, they learn how to help youths and adults with gardening needs. Depending on the community needs, this may include environmental improvement activities, parish fairs, plant health clinics, civic meetings, and community and school gardening programs.

Enjoy the satisfaction that more than 2,000 residents across the state are experiencing as certified Louisiana Master Gardeners.

For more information on the program, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office, visit the LSU AgCenter Master Gardener website at http://www.LSUAgCenter.com/Master Gardener or contact Bob Souvestre at bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu or (225) 763-3990. Applications are being accepted for the East Baton Rouge Parish program at Burden. Application deadline is Jan. 17. Class size is limited.

Gardening series

The East Baton Rouge Parish Master Gardeners are offering a Basic Gardening Series at the East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library on Thursday and also Jan. 17 and Jan. 24.

The programs are designed for the public, both beginning and experienced gardeners.

The research-based educational programs will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Two topics will be discussed each evening.

Topics to be covered and the schedule are:

Thursday:

“Landscape Planning Made Easy” — Ready for an outdoor makeover? This workshop will introduce you to landscape design and guide you in rethinking your surroundings.

“Ferns: Get Out of the Searing Sun!” — Summer heat can be unbearable, so retreat into the shade to tend your fern garden. Learn how to select and grow these shade-loving plants.

Jan. 17:

“Hedge to Hedge Carpeting: Turf Grass” — Understand types of turf grass that grow best in south Louisiana and what it takes to keep your lawn healthy and weed resistant.

“Butterfly Gardening: Color in Motion” — Butterflies fascinate and calm us. A garden with butterflies is a healthy place. Learn how to attract these super pollinators and enjoy their company.

Jan. 24:

“Garden Hand Tools — Selection, Use & Care” — Can you tell a spade from a shovel? Find out how to select garden hand tools your grandchildren can inherit. Discover how to use and maintain hand tools.

“A Stroll Through the Shade-Dappled Garden” — Baton Rouge is one of the nation’s most forested cities. Shade provides relief from the hot sun but poses some challenges for gardeners. Learn about shade gardening.

Should any scheduled event be canceled due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled to Jan. 31.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.