03/12/06 — Master Gardener plant clinic open

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Master Gardener plant clinic open

By Turner Walston
Published in News on March 12, 2006 2:03 AM

Got a gardening question? Master Gardeners are here to help.

The 2006 Master Gardener Plant Clinic is now open at Wayne Center. The clinic runs through September, and will be open three days each week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., except for holidays.

The program, run by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, allows local gardeners to speak with master gardener volunteers about plant, insect and disease problems. Two master gardeners will be available at the clinic.

Gardeners with questions can come to Room 100 at the Extension office at Wayne Center, and may bring plant samples for examination. They can also call the clinic for answers to their questions at 731-1433.

Jessica Hyatt, horticulture agent at Cooperative Extension, said she assists master gardeners with more difficult questions.

"Master gardeners are a big help at the plant clinic by volunteering their time to answer gardening questions, allowing the Extension Service to provide assistance to more people in Wayne County," Ms. Hyatt said.

Experienced master gardeners volunteer at least 30 hours annually at the plant clinic. "It's a way of keeping our education up," said June Hoyle, 74, a master gardener who has volunteered at the clinic since 2003.

Mrs. Hoyle said she gets as much out of working at the plant clinic as clients get from her advice.

"It's lots of fun," she said. "I'm learning what to do with what I have at home."

The questions answered at the clinic aren't always easy, Mrs. Hoyle said. "A lot of it is what I call 'dirt knowledge;' what you learn from doing it."

Depending on the time of year, the clinic can get busy, master gardener Dan Vinson said. "You can have anything from one call to 12 calls in three hours on a busy day," Vinson said. "And four or five walk-ins."

With spring approaching, Mrs. Hoyle said gardeners are getting to work.

"With the temperatures going up, people are getting anxious to get started outside," Mrs. Hoyle said. "People want to know 'when can we put stuff out, or when can we get somebody to do it for us?" she said with a laugh.

In addition to volunteering at the plant clinic, master gardeners maintain the gardens on the grounds at the Cooperative Extension office and gardens at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.

But the plant clinic offers them the opportunity to give advice to their fellow gardeners.

"A lot of times they'll call back and say, 'hey, that really worked,'" Mrs. Hoyle said.

Ms. Hyatt will begin this year's master gardener class March 21. The class consists of 40 hours of training, mostly from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Graduates then perform 40 hours of volunteer work in the year following initial training.