Becoming a Master Gardener ~ Plan B

Garden books SG

Back in June, I shared with you that I had applied for the Master Gardener program sponsored by Clemson University. (See “I Want to Be a Master Gardener.”) A couple weeks ago, I had a phone interview with one of the Master Gardeners who helps with the program. It was an informative conversation that is taking me in a different direction.

The phone call came a few days before my scheduled in-person interview, and we talked for a half hour. The program sounds very exciting. However, she was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the course. Because I work four ten-hour days, I explained that I can have the in-class lecture day off each week throughout the course; not a problem. Well, it seems that’s not the big problem. There are several extra-curricular activities and assignments that need to be done during the week, lots of homework, quizzes, exams, etc. She said that most students who work full time, like me, don’t make it through the class because their schedules can’t accommodate the workload. She also said that the slots for the course are very limited, and preference is always given to those applicants whose schedules are most flexible.

I’m glad she couldn’t see my disappointment and frustration through the phone. We tried to figure out any way that might work for me; but after all the discussion, I realized she was correct. It would be too much for me with my work schedule AND my garden.

We agreed to cancel my in-person interview. In an effort to help me, she did suggest I look into the online course as that might be better for me. She didn’t have much information on it, but she did send me the link at Clemson University. Unfortunately, the workload, assignments, and deadlines for the online course are just as stringent as the in-person course. Darn!

After moping around for a few days, I decided that this was most likely God’s way of steering me in a different direction – one that wouldn’t cost as much and would allow me to do it on my own schedule. So, I started looking into other options and creating my Plan B.

I discovered that I can purchase the Master Gardener manual online for $50 (vs. $300 for the course and certification) if I want to study that. Also, I’ve been discovering more and more information online, from books to free webinars/videos to agricultural forums. The past three years in the garden have been a result of being self-taught with “on-the-job-training” (and sharing much of that with you here), so why not just continue down that road? I’ll just kick it up a notch and make it more “formal” with studying topic by topic.

I’m looking forward to my Plan B – self-education with my garden as my own laboratory. I can take my time, learn what I want in the order I want, experiment in the garden, and then share everything with you. I really don’t need a piece of paper certifying me as a master gardener. I’d be completely satisfied if my garden itself showed the world that I’ve mastered the art of growing.

How do you learn about mastering your garden?

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3 comments on “Becoming a Master Gardener ~ Plan B

  1. Good for you and your positive attitude! Sometimes, trying to meet other’s expectations can suck the joy right out of doing what you love. Just ask any artist. Before you know it, you will be retired and able to devote all your time to the Master Gardener Program and really be able to enjoy every moment. In the meantime, you can continue to learn, experiment and be even better prepared.
    Garden on!

    • Thanks, Peggy. That’s so true. Besides, what I want to learn is the “beyond organic” approach to farming/gardening…what I found is called “new agriculture.” It’s all about the soil and ways to actually test your plants and fruits to tell what’s happening in the soil and adjust accordingly with minerals and nutrients. Fascinating reading so far. You know I’ll be sharing things as I learn them and put them into practice! That’s half the fun!

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