Part of becoming a Master Gardener in Pennsylvania includes attending an intensive training program that covers all phases of gardening, from soup to nuts. As part of this training program, the Master Gardeners in association with many Penn State faculty and extension educators, have adapted material from the original Penn State Extension Master Gardener Manual, the Maryland Master Gardener Handbook, the Virginia Master Gardener Handbook and various Penn State Extension publications to develop a new manual that serves as the reference resource for the training program.
I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of the 783-page manual and found it to be extremely well organized and written with wonderfully clear and concise tables, figures and hundreds of color photos. Each chapter begins with a set of learning objectives that gardeners should be able to answer after going through the material presented. There are 22 chapters, followed by a glossary of terminology and a bibliography for each chapter. Chapters include basic botany, plant propagation, soil health and fertilizer management, composting, controlling pests safely, basics of entomology, plant diseases, invasive species, garden wildlife, gardening equipment and more. In reviewing each chapter, I found a wealth of information that gardeners need to know as they attempt to engage in a facet of horticulture, whether it is vegetable gardening or lawn care. This is the same information that we attempt to teach our students in the Plant 220 Gardening for Fun and Profit class.
The Master Gardener Manual is available from Penn State Extension for $75, plus shipping and sales tax for residents of Pennsylvania. Orders can be placed by calling 877-345-0691. The publication number is AGRS-139 and it can be reviewed on the website, which is http://extension.psu.edu/publications.
For more information, contact Dorothy Snoberger, an administrative staff assistant with the Publications Distribution Center College of Agricultural Sciences at 865-6713.
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This is certainly one publication that every serious gardener should have in his library. It could also be an excellent Christmas gift for the special gardener on your list.
Bill Lamont is a professor and extension vegetable specialist in the department of plant science at Penn State and can be reached by email at email@example.com.