Avid gardners ply their trade year around

March 27, 2015

By Rosemary Horvath

Some consider gardening addicts lucky. While the rest of us shiver in winter, they warm up studying seed and flower catalogues as snow flies.
Of course, this time of year as spring slips in and out, they can’t wait to plow through vegetable and garden beds layered with carpets of dead leaves and packed soil to begin spring planting.
Coldwater Township resident Carol Neeper says she enjoyed the winter respite pouring over seed catalogues and is anxious to get gardening.

Neeper and other certified Master Gardeners volunteers recently completed four sessions of the Introduction to Smart Gardening offered by Clare County MSU Extension.
Marybeth Denton, County Master Gardener Program coordinator, hosted the on-site pre-recorded webinars.

Neeper said to become a certified Master Gardner in the first place requires completing a 12-week program. Volunteers are then expected to maintain a certification with annual educational hours.
Learning about Smart Gardening fulfilled that requirement as well as certifying participants in Smart Gardening.
“Now we can volunteer at events like Earth Day and disseminate information about Smart Gardening,” Neeper said.

MSU Extension educators and specialists began the Smart Gardening initiative to educate homeowners about earth-friendly, research-based lawn-care and gardening techniques.
Access the Smart Gardening website at www.migarden.msu.edu to find
fact sheets, watch videos and leave questions for Ask an Expert.

Neeper has learned to experiment with different approaches to gardening. Her project this year is square-foot gardening. A slew of Internet websites explain the technique. Basically, a raised bed is grid of into square 1-foot sections.
“Everything is very calculated,” said Neeper.

Having researched the methods, she has seeds ready for planting.
According to Neeper, gardening has many different methods. She likes to experiment with something different every year.
She and husband Larry are Michigan distributors of fiberglass greenhouses from their North Brinton Road home.

The greenhouse they have set up for their own use affords ample opportunity for experimenting with what grows and what doesn’t, she said. Last year, she experimented and got juicy strawberries and early green lettuce.

For more information about the greenhouses, go to www.migreenhouse.com.

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