No green thumb? New to Delaware and can’t decide which native species to plant? Fear not.
University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension provides intensive training to certify the state’s Master Gardeners. And they are there to help you.
There are over 300 master gardeners, otherwise known as “volunteer educators” in Delaware, donating greater than 20,000 hours each year for Delaware residents looking for answers to a wide variety of questions and home horticultural quandaries.
Following a rigorous 16-week course during which they all follow the same curriculum but can also choose to specialize, master gardeners are quite committed to teaching others the love of gardening. To become certified as a master gardener, some of the required courses may surprise you: everything from plant identification to turf management.
Following completion of this intensive array of courses, master gardeners agree to volunteer their expertise and research skills to Delaware residents as requested. They are involved with children’s educational programs, gardening workshops and they even field questions from helplines. They will even test your soil.
Primarily, master gardeners’ focus is on residents or neighborhood groups of residents.
A myriad of resources is available on the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension website. Topics include:
- Plant diagnostics
- Soil testing
- Vegetable gardening and selection
- Sustainable landscaping
- Beneficial insects
- Native plants and pollinator gardens
- Water conservation
There’s even advice on houseplants or how to construct a raised garden bed.
University of Delaware also trains Master Naturalists whose expertise is the environment, water quality and native plant species and land conservation issues. In addition, the extension trains Master Food Educators who encourage nutrition and well being for Delaware families.
If your grandkids show an interest (or you’d like them to) in gardening, UD offers a Junior Gardener program for kids K through 3. Most of those programs are school-based, but they do offer family-friendly garden tours with children’s activities.
All three counties in Delaware have their own headquarters, demonstration gardens and classrooms. Sussex County’s beautiful facility is in Georgetown.
Before you potentially spend money for a landscaper, perhaps you should reach out to the master gardeners of Sussex County and the University of Delaware. For more information, contact 302-856-7303. Then, go enjoy your summer garden!