Recently, I decided to make a career change. After years of working in the Service Industry, I came to the realization that my long-held fascination with horticulture was a more rewarding past time than most I could name. When the opportunity presented itself, I made that proverbial leap.
Despite my difficulty with the infamous Texas heat, and that bright, burning, gaseous star we call our Sun, I found myself recently laughing with Liz, deep in the boughs of a fig orchard, at the whims of both heat and light, happier than I had been in a while. In that moment, that leap seemed more like a skip.
Much like that famous feline, my curiosity often runs rampant. So many questions I can’t immediately answer without a smartphone. How do you take a fascination, a hobby, and become not only an asset to your new pursuit of conservation, but more importantly, uncover the answers, and even solutions, to all of those burning questions? Clearly, I had to start reading, and maybe even take classes.
Education, and my path to it, is what I am going to discuss in these blog journals. I mean to take you on a journey in my quest to become a mystery-solving, Latin name-knowing, Horticulturist, with a gorgeous green house, and some really wacky hats.
As my photography professor, the late Lynn Jones, always told me, if you want to do something, talk to the best. So I began considering my options, and kept coming back to the famous Master Gardener Course. It is a program affiliated with The American Horticultural Society, and in Texas, is connected with Texas A&M.
Excited, I went to the website for the chapter for Travis County, and happily, the classes are held in Austin. I then learned I was too late. Not only is it taught but once a year, registration, and acceptance deadlines were in May 2014. The classes begin in September. Also, each year there is no guarantee that classes will be held. But, in the spirit of leaping, I signed in to receive updates, and throw my hat in the ring. I can, and will wait. To quote the website, ” The program offers a minimum of 50 hours of instruction that covers topics including lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease, and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production; garden flowers; and water conservation. (The training is offered at various times during the year at various locations across the state.) ”
So, undaunted, I turned to my next option, Treefolks. my obsession with trees is legendary, having spent much of my life up in one dreaming, this seemed a no-brainier. Treefolks is a local organization that donates and helps plant trees in and around Austin, 10,000 to date. They have tree stewardship classes, and volunteer opportunities that appealed to me immediately.
Also, recently, Liz forwarded me an email from the folks at Agrilife detailing a lecture/workshop in September on fruit-bearing trees of Central Texas. Taught by Agrilife Extension statewide fruit specialist, Monte Nesbitt. It will cover not only your standards, but also olives and citrus. More on my obsession with olives later. The website’s link states, “From site selection, soils, fertilization, and pruning to sustainable production practices and dealing with particular insects and diseases—we’ll cover the production basics, as well as unique specifics. This workshop is only offered semi-annually and is not to be missed!”
So, as you can see, this, and next month are already ripe with possibilities. That, and my favorite season, Fall. Updates soon, new pencil boxes, and Latin dictionaries at the ready.