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Growing great greens seminar to be held Wednesday

Posted: December 9, 2011 - 12:01am

During the long winter months, Juneau residents who are already dreaming of fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers can join a group of garden enthusiasts who are already anticipating next year’s gardening season. Next week, the Southeast Alaska Master Gardener’s Association will be relaunching its winter monthly series of lunch seminars.

The first seminar will focus on “Growing Great Greens,” presented by Susan Cable. Cable is a Juneau Master Gardener, and she holds bachelor’s degrees in horticulture and agronomy, a master’s degree in plant breeding, and a certificate in permaculture design. She is a local greens gardener who is eager to share her experience with other Juneauites who would like to grow their own vegetables.

“Greens are the easiest thing to grow in this climate,” she said. “In fact, here in Southeast Alaska, we can grow over 40 varieties of greens.”

Cable will present a slideshow about the different varieties of delicious and nutritious greens that thrive in Southeast Alaska. Her presentation will discuss intensive greens gardening and how to lower inputs and increase yield per area. The free seminar will take place from 12:05 to 12:55 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14 in Centennial Hall’s Hickel Room. The series will continue every second Wednesday through the month of April. A tentative schedule of topics includes perennial ornamentals in January, growing plant starts and building soil in February, growing in raised beds, tunnels, containers, and other space-saving techniques in March, and growing in greenhouses and high tunnels in April.

The winter lunch series is a great opportunity for anyone to come and learn about gardening, regardless of experience level -- and an opportunity to meet and speak with Juneau master gardeners before the growing season begins. For some, gardening can be a solitary activity with individual gardeners tending to their yards or garden plots.

“It’s easy to feel lost in gardening,” Cable said. “Newer gardeners might be intimidated or think that experienced gardeners might not help, but this isn’t the case. It is good for people to realize that the master gardeners here in the community are willing to share their ideas and assist the public with their gardening needs.”

Cable said attendees are welcome to stay and socialize after the Wednesday talks.

“We want to revive more of a gardening camaraderie in the community.”

The Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Association provides access to gardening information and encourages use of this information by individuals, communities and horticulture professionals with the purpose of promoting human well-being, protecting and enhancing the environment and encouraging community stewardship. Other events organized by the association include the annual community plant sale in May and a citywide garden tour in June.

Members of the association are participants in the Alaska Master Gardeners Program offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. Master gardeners are volunteers who receive classroom and hands-on training and assist home gardeners by providing information and technical data to answer their questions. The prerequisites for becoming a master gardener include a season of gardening in Alaska and a commitment to return 40 hours of volunteer time by providing gardening information to others or becoming involved in community gardening projects. Ongoing projects include gardening education for the public, working with the garden classroom at the Johnson Youth Center, and running test plots of different crop varieties at the Juneau Community Garden.

This past year’s projects included building an employee wellness garden at the Southeast Regional Health Consortium’s Juneau campus, growing tomatoes at the city greenhouse, launching a community garden in Douglas, organizing a 4-H garden club, supporting gardening projects at local schools and assisting with the Glory Hole garden.

The next Juneau Master Gardeners course begins in early 2012. For details or to sign up, visit the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Juneau office at the 1108 F Street, Suite 2130 near the Juneau-Douglas bridge, or call 796-6221. More information can also be found on their website at www.uaf.edu/ces/districts/juneau.

For more information about the garden seminar series, visit www.sealaskamastergardeners.org.

• Jennifer Nu is a freelance writer based in Juneau. Contact her at jennu.jnu@gmail.com

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