The Williamson County Master Gardeners know February is a good time to start thinking about and planning for planting and caretaking. Thanks to these expert community volunteers, aspiring gardeners and homeowners have a ready resource of information to keep yards and gardens healthy.
As you might imagine, early 2021 meetings focus on where it all starts—healthy soil. Master Gardener Jim Williams explained how diversity creates healthy soil, and how we can all help the planet by maintaining healthy soil via natural means like compost, manure, minerals, and chopped up leaves. The January session, dozens of archived topics, and a schedule for future lectures are available at TXMG.org/williamson.
In Williamson County, Master Gardeners (MG) are trained by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Everyone benefits because the program includes intensive study followed by a 40 hours of paying it forward by being expert volunteers in the community as representatives of the Texas AgriLife Extension. MGs host or participate in monthly meetings and lecture series, work on personal or community gardens, conduct research, and support many local projects. Extension Agent Kate Whitney adds, “These folks are truly experts in and committed to the field; they complete 12 hours of continuing education and 40 hours of volunteer service every year to maintain their certification.”
Participants in the Master Gardener program prepare,
over 16 weeks, to teach about:
- Lawn care
- Ornamental trees and shrubs
- Insect, disease, and weed management
- Soils and plant nutrition
- Vegetable gardening and home fruit production
- Garden flowers; perennials and annuals
- Water conservation.
MGs also benefit the community by educating on much more than just plants. Video presentations and newsletters, available online, include information on a wide variety of natural topics; tree problems, pollinators, shade gardening, landscape aesthetics, and even some garden-to-table recipes when you’ve grown your own produce.
Kate says monthly meetings are not for Master Gardeners, but rather by them, to help members of the community who wish to glean expert knowledge of all of these topics, plus conditions and horticulture opportunities specific to Williamson County. All meetings are open to the public, regardless of gardening experience.
If you can’t attend a meeting but have questions about your lawn or garden, you may call the Master Gardener Help Desk on Tuesdays from 10am-2pm, and beginning in March, they will add hours on Fridays. (512-943-3300)
If you would like to see them in action, the Demo Gardens at 3151 SE Inner Loop are a showplace for many varieties and progress in all seasons. The MGs maintain an herb garden, divided into sections and managed by different teams, and a vegetable garden from which they donate produce to local food pantries. There is a drought-tolerant garden that cultivates native plants and, new this year, a dry garden, with no irrigation at all and growing a variety of cacti.
The garden is open to the public every day, but you can visit with MGs who tend to them on Tuesdays and Fridays and ask questions about their work. You may also visit them online to request a speaker for a community or club presentation, and check their Facebook page for updates on their annual plant sale.
The Texas Master Gardener program is an educational volunteer program conducted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service of the Texas A&M
University System. Visit TXMG.org for 2021 education opportunities.
100 Wilco Way, Georgetown • 512-943-3300