Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Zebra longwing butterfly / Inzilbeth @ wikimedia

Florida Master Gardeners Program
, Week 1, Broward County

Our inaugural class started at 8 a.m. with participant sign-in and reference-materials distribution, followed by a previous-knowledge survey. Once this was completed, there was a program introduction, which covered “master gardener” policies and ethics, then a how-to on maneuvering through the online campus; this is where the class syllabus, lectures, informational links, quizzes and in-class tests are located.

After the basics were covered, we were formally introduced to extension staff: Dr. John Pipoly, extension agent; Julio Perez, Broward County master gardener coordinator/administrative specialist; Adam Pitcher, administrative specialist; current master gardeners; finally, current program participants introduced themselves.

This took the better part of the morning; our class is quite full at 38; I believe full capacity is 40. It was very interesting to me to find out the various backgrounds and age ranges — college-attending young adults all the way to retirees. One participant is an out-of-state master gardener who recently relocated to the Sunshine State! I am excited to get to know each one better as the weeks progress; I’ll have plenty of time, because the Broward County Master Gardener Program runs for 15 weeks.

We had three lectures today. Lectures 1 and 2 were on Butterflies and Butterfly Gardens; Lecture 3 was Plant Identification. Plant Identification was intense, and served as a reminder of why I didn’t pursue a degree in biology. All in all, I’m glad to be in the program, and still excited.

Daily Class Materials for Master Gardeners:
Laptop computer/tablet, camera/phone, reference materials, and don’t ever forget your hand-lens!

5 Fun Facts about gardening  

  • Deadheading: A clean cut is better than a tear. This is a friendly reminder for those who never make it from the car to the front door without walking through their garden just to “check” first.
  • Remember to clean your gardening tools, especially your shears. You wouldn’t want to “help” a plant disease spread throughout your garden.  Rubbing alcohol will do the trick.
  • Water and your garden: Never prune a garden when it’s wet, and remember to always water before dawn, especially in a butterfly garden.  There are many reasons for this practice, including reducing the chance of spreading micro-germs, and the like.
  • No Florida strawberries are germinated in state. Although we have optimum conditions for growth, our strawberries get their start outside our state, in neighboring Georgia — and even Canada.
  • Gumbo limbo can be considered a fire hazard; turpentine exudes from cuts into its wood.

Monthly Meetings for Broward County:

First Tuesday of the month: Broward County Master Gardeners

Second Monday of the month: Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council of Broward County (RFVC)

Second Tuesday of the month: Broward County Butterfly Chapter (BCBC)

Disclaimer: I am attending the Master Gardener course in Broward County; therefore, information I share will be from, and within, this county. Please feel free to share “monthly meetings” from your county with us, and we will be glad to pass on the information and help to share awareness of the valuable Master Gardeners Program.