By Terri Flagg
DOBSON — Surry County Master Gardener volunteers will be helping grow a new crop of gardeners at a series of workshops kicking off next week.
“This will be the third year they’re offering a lot of horticulture topic type workshops for the public,” said Joanna Radford, local agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension.
Two workshops are coming up in February.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. a plant propagation workshop will be held at the Surry Center of the extension at 210 N. Main St., Dobson.
Students will learn the basics of growing new plants from pieces of existing ones.
The cost of the workshop is $10 which covers all the materials, including new plants to bring home in a special container called a forsythe pot.
“The plant propagation workshop kind of starts their year off,” Radford said of the series.
“One of the things the Master Gardeners did was look to see what are the topics that people have questions about and also fit in those questions with what time of year do we need to talk about these things to be most helpful, most beneficial, for the gardener. This is a great time of year to start thinking about propagating plants.”
Plant propagation can be a cost effective way to expand both indoor and outdoor gardens, but can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with the techniques.
“To some extent you have to know what you’re doing, but once you get a feel for what the plants are and how they actually reproduce and grow it’s not too hard, especially if they come to these workshops,” said Radford.
Propagation is also useful if a gardener hopes to preserve a particular plant.
“Maybe it’s sentimental reasons,” said Radford. “Maybe their great-grandmother had given it too them so it had some kind of special value that way and they wanted to to preserve it and they wanted more of them.”
The students will work with a variety of plants, learning how to take cuttings and plant them in an environment that will foster root growth.
The forsythe pot is a container filled with potting soil with a small clay pot set in the center to be filled with water, Radford explained.
“Water will go through the clay and get in the soil, and that will help keep moisture to the pieces of plant you’re trying to reproduce,” she said. “Once the roots start to grow from those pieces of plant that are in there, you can take it and transplant those and you basically have a new plant.”
Participants will head home with seven to 10 potential new plants, Radford said – “If they take care of it. They still have to water it. It’s not a magical plant.”
Pruning workshop set for Feb. 11
The Master Gardeners have also scheduled a free pruning workshop for Saturday, Feb. 11 at noon at Ken Holdaway’s home on 1085 Doe Run Rd., Ararat, Virginia.
It aims to provide students with hands-on, guided instruction on how to prune fruit trees, smaller fruit plants and more.
“That’s one of the biggest questions that we have, how do you prune this or that,” Radford said. “They’re afraid they’re going to prune too much or not enough and harm the tree, especially a food plant, bush or tree. You have it there because you want the fruit it produces and you want as much as possible.”
Students should plan on getting dirty at the workshop because they will have the opportunity to actually prune, Radford said.
“Really getting in there and doing it themselves, sometimes people learn a a bit better like that and they can take it home and maybe remember a bit better,” she said.
Pest and disease management options will also addressed during the class.
“That kind of goes hand in hand with why you’re there pruning,” Radford said. “Is there any pest that may have damaged my tree is there any disease that I can see,” she continued, “so you’re looking for that too.”
The workshop gives participants a low-risk method to get some experience.
“The Master Gardener is there to show them,” Radford said. “They’re sharing their knowledge, their past experience and research-based experience.”
Registration is required for workshops. Call 336-401-8025 to sign up or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.