will get you started in the right direction

July 08, 2011

by Chip Stelpflug , Victoria County Master Gardener Intern

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Gardeners' Dirt
Field trips are included in the Master Gardener training program. Last year's class visited Bohuslav Pecan Farm in Hallettsville and was introduced to the principles of pecan management, including harvesting and shaking pecans. Pecans are shown here falling from a tree being shaken by a pecan shaker.
Hostyn Hill Greenhouses, owned by Doug Janda, were visited by the 2010 training class that toured this wholesale and retail nursery, which annually raises more than 10,000 garden mums and poinsettias, along with more than 2,000 vegetable flats and various other blooming plants.
Hands-on gardening by master gardener trainees takes place at Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG) in the fall. Shown in bloom are bluebonnets, the seeds of which were sowed last fall in the garden.
Do you remember your first time in a garden? I can. I was about 10 years old when I sent off for a seed sales kit offered through an issue of Boys Life. All I had to do was place my order, then sell those seeds to every neighbor brave enough to answer their door. So simple, a 10-year-old could do it, right? I did manage to rid myself of several packets, but my friend and neighbor Ben Schultz rescued me.

Ben, along with some negotiating and wrangling, purchased the remaining vegetable seeds. I came to realize soon after, he probably made the best deal. As part of that negotiation, I had to help ready his garden for those very seeds I sold.


Ben worked a beautiful garden with his well-worn hoe and his side-kick distraction. However, that garden didn't work itself, and I remember most days helping him inside the fence of that thriving vegetation by ridding unwanted weeds and bugs from their unwelcome trespassing.

Ben grew sweet corn, pole beans, squash, melons and just about every other vegetable I didn't care to eat at 10 years of age. Still, the excitement that garden provided as I watched my seeds sprout and grow has stuck with me all these years.

It was from those hands-on experiences, along with Ben's guidance, that I learned some valuable lessons in life. "You reap what you are willing to sow." If you want to add another gardening memory or freshen up an old one, I have an offer for you.


The 2011 Victoria County Master Gardener training program coordinated by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Victoria County is once again being offered and is open for applications. It will be at the Victoria County 4-H Activity Center from 1 to 5 p.m. each Thursday for 16 weeks, Aug. 4-Nov. 17.

Participants will learn gardening tips from some of the best. The scheduled presenters this year are experts in their fields.

The group will work together, share knowledge, learn to care for the Master Gardener Victoria Educational Gardens, and eventually sponsor gardening events.

This program has been so successful, noting that since it started, more than 70,000 hours at an estimated value of more than $1 million has been contributed to Victoria County gardening projects.


This year's topics include: "Vegetable and Herbs, Plant Growth and Development, Texas Superstars, Plant Propagation, Fruit and Nut Management, Composting, Roses, Rainwater Harvesting" and many more. An added bonus gives you an opportunity to mingle and meet the best gardeners in our area in a friendly "Master Gardener" learning environment.

The program provides about 20 applicants who meet requirements with 60 hours training in Plant Growth and Development; Soil, Water and Plant Nutrients; Earth-Kind Landscaping; Plant Health Problems; Home Fruit and Nut Production; Vegetable and Herb Gardening; Landscape Horticulture and Lawn Care. Texas A&M University local and area experts share field-tested information each week.


Following the 16-week training, a one-year internship and 50 hours of volunteer service are required to complete certification as a Texas Master Gardener.

Hours apply to attending meetings, holding training sessions and working on various plant sale committees, garden tours, planting, weeding, landscaping and working with the Junior Master Gardener program.

You may even want to write an article about your garden.


Registration and materials for the 16-week training program is $175 per person, averaging about $10 per week, due on the first class day. Applications are online at or may be picked up at the Victoria County Extension office, 528 Waco Circle on the grounds of Victoria Regional Airport, or call 361-575-4581 for information. Applications are due by July 19.  
CLICK for copy online.

Even if you haven't gardened before, but always wished you had, this course will get you started in the right direction. Now is your chance to learn from the masters in their fields. The rewards are bountiful - and like hundreds have discovered, rewarding results are only a class away. The garden is calling you.

OBTAIN APPLICATIONS FROM: ~ -->Application <--
or 528 Waco Circle, Victoria, TX 77904 (at Victoria Regional Airport)

Tuesday, July 19


Lunch and Learn with the Masters

WHEN: Monday, July 11, from noon-1 p.m.

Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria

Free to the public

Bring your lunch and drink

"Fall Vegetable Gardening," presented by Victoria County Master Gardener Roy Cook
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at