Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yesterday's MG Class

Yesterday, from 9 til 2, I spent at my Master gardener training class. It was a great class! We had two speakers, a grafting demo, and came home with plants and seeds! Woo hoo!

The first speaker introduced us to Maryland's "most dangerous" species of exotic invasive insects. We learned how to identify the insects at various life stages, as well as how to identify the damage they do. And of course we were instructed in ways to treat infestations (often the infected plants must be destroyed) and prevent their spread (one of the biggies here was Don't Transport Firewood!). Did you know that several of our biggest problem insects arrived in this country in wood packed around cargo in ships to prevent the cargo from shifting during transit? Serious bummer!

Our other speaker was a beekeeper. A tiny little man with an ardent passion for bees. In fact, he had requested to speak to our MG class. And boy was he a gem! I learned that honeybees originated in Southeast Asia. They did not arrive in North America until brought here by colonists. He also told us that while bees help pollinate many crops, there are about 90 crops in the US entirely dependent upon bees. Almonds are a big one. I looked it up. According to the Almond Board, there are 550,000 acres in almond production in the US, all of them in California. Almonds are the number one horticultural export of the US; and they're entirely dependent upon bees for pollination. Wow! And that's just one crop out of 90 that depends upon the bees.

One of the beekeeper's main thrusts was to encourage Master gardeners to consider plants that bloom at times of the year when the nectar flow in our area is slow, such as mid-summer. He recommended a number a plants, especially flowering trees, and even gave us seeds. I took seeds for two trees, the Golden Rain Tree and the Bebe Tree (Korean Evodia). Both flower in the middle of summer. I don't know what I'll do with more trees; but I'm sure I'll find places to tuck them in here and there. Libby and I have recently been "noticing" open spaces around town that are ripe for guerrilla gardening. Shhh...

Anyway, the rest of class was devoted to a grafting demonstration by one of our class members who is the propagation manager at a local nursery. It was an excellent lesson. The lady knows her stuff! Plus, she is always bringing us seeds, and today, cuttings. I came home with cuttings of lemon scented geraniums and a plant she referred to as Vick's Vaporub plant, as well as seeds for winter aconite. How cool is that?

Inspired by class, I came home and potted up the oca tubers that have not yet gone bad. I had really hoped to plant them directly in the garden, but it's so wet here I decided to try to get them started so I don't lose them all. Wish me luck! I should have snapped a picture before I planted them. They're interesting little tubers. They come in different colors. The ones I received seem to be either a red or pink variety. Some of the tiniest tubers were white, but I think they just hadn't matured enough to develop color. I'd be happy to get some of the white or yellow ones though. Stay tuned for oca developments.

1 comment:

Meg said...

Agh! See, you're learning so much! Thanks for sharing. Fascinating about the bees. I had no idea that they came over with colonists and that almonds are the number one horticultural export from the US. I would never have guessed that. I recognize the Golden Rain Tree and Korean Evodia from working at the Conservatory. We had them in the park (well, they're still there). I can see why you were stoked after class! It sounds awesome. Keep with the updates--Plant dorks want to know!

Also, thanks for sending me to that blog with the newborn foal! The horse my aunt is fixin' to bring me I met as a foal. She was a little stinker--which is how I like 'em : )