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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Master Gardener Program Has Advice For People Trying Hand At Gardening During Pandemic

Speaker 1: 00:00 Grab and go. Gardens are being distributed at four sites within San Diego County. Each garden has a tomato and lettuce seedling along with instructions in English and Spanish and how to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Nan Sterman, host of a growing passion on KPBS TV, hopes the packages will sprout a new generation of gardeners Speaker 2: 00:19 to introduce children to growing and feeding themselves. There's a satisfaction to that. That is, it's very hard to put into words. Speaker 1: 00:29 Also encouraging us to try our hands at gardening as the university of California master gardener program in San Diego County. They've launched an online tool to answer gardening questions. Joining me to discuss this as summer Cardiay one of the programs. Master gardeners. Welcome summer. Speaker 3: 00:45 Thank you, Mark. I'm excited to be here. Speaker 1: 00:48 So first, give us an overview of this new tool. Speaker 3: 00:51 Okay. So with this new tool, we've acknowledged that people's lives have changed and with the stay at home orders, it makes it really difficult for us to get out in the community and educate people about home horticulture and pest management. So we've made an a OneStop, uh, where you can find all of the information in one place on our website and that, that master gardener, sd.org you can also Google us and it'll pop right up. And then on that site there's a link and it says let's grow San Diego. So you click on that and you'll find this beautiful tomato plant with several different tomatoes representing different topics you can learn about. So what you'll do is you'll click on one of those topics and that topic will give you a plethora of information on everything you might need to know about that. Speaker 1: 01:36 Well, if someone has a question they can't find the answer to on the site. Speaker 3: 01:39 So we still have our ASCA master gardener program running, so they can either call the hotline and that number is (858) 822-6910 or they can email us@helpatmastergardnersd.org and someone will get back to them with any questions that they have concerning any specific things to their own gardens and anything they can't find on the website. Speaker 1: 02:05 Okay. Now, it seems a lot more people are gardening since the pandemic began, it kind of invokes memories of backyard victory gardens in world war II. Is that something you're seeing? Why do you think that's happening? Speaker 3: 02:17 Oh exactly. Yeah. I've actually, I know on a personal level I've been receiving lots of calls from friends and family. Um, I think what's happening is that this pandemic is forcing people to reassess their lifestyle and consumption choices and a lot of people are realizing how dependent we are on others for just our basic food needs. And so I think what they're trying to do is reclaim some of that control. And uh, beyond that, some people are just looking for opportunities to teach their children something that's educational and fun while they have them at home. Speaker 1: 02:47 In two thirds of San Diego are renters and may not have much space for gardening. What are some good things to grow in a limited amount of space? Speaker 3: 02:55 Okay. So that's actually one of my favorite questions if they are reality is that that San Diego is expensive place to live and people are in apartments. So what I suggest is using your vertical space and using compact plants so people can easily grow things in hanging containers, hanging baskets, whether that's strawberries, herbs, ornamental flowers. They can also grow a smaller variety tomatoes and five gallon pots on a patio. Or if they don't have a patio, they don't have space outside at all. They can create little a windows, they'll gardens, maybe growing some micro greens which can be harvested in as little as seven days or growing some herbs on a window seal. Speaker 1: 03:34 And for a complete newbie, he wants to just get started in gardening. What advice might you have? Speaker 3: 03:39 So my advice is to start small, choose a few varieties that you like to eat and then start to learn about those plants. And you know, through trial and error and a little, um, reading up online or educating yourself. You can learn about those you plants. And then from there expand, um, I also really recommend that you go to our online tool. The let's grow together San Diego tool and choose the tomato that says beginning vegetable gardening. And on there, it's step by step guides to how to start a garden. But it's even great for the more experienced gardener. There's a lot of information, detailed information on plants, um, a variety of plant on pest management. So it's really a great place for all gardeners. Whether a newbie or experience Speaker 1: 04:23 on that online tool that master gardeners launched. There's activities to do with kids and they're doing schooling from home now these days. Can you give us a few examples? Speaker 3: 04:32 So if you're a stay at home mom or dad right now? Um, I think it's a really great idea to get the kids outside in the sun and involved in gardening. Um, research shows that a lot of gardening actually connects kids to academic concepts and makes it, uh, more, more tangible for them. So some of the things they can do is they can sprout seeds and watch them grow through the different stages that a plant goes through. And what's fun is I've noticed with my, my children at the boys and girls club, and I see my sister doing this at home. When a child cares for a living thing and they watch it grow, they're super proud and excited to eat that plant once it's ready. And so we find that more children are eating healthy, nutritious vegetables that they may not have already tried. Speaker 3: 05:13 Another fun one is, is learning about the life cycle of a butterfly. What kid doesn't like butterflies and get excited when they see them flying around? So what's really cool with this project is it teaches them how to create a paper plate craft showing the different life cycle of the, of the butterfly or the stages. And one thing that I've done with children that I find they really love is taking it a step further and actually raising the Monarch butterfly with the kids. So they gather it from the larval stage of the Caterpillar stage and watch it go through the various stages to the point where it emerges out of a Chrysalis as a beautiful Monarch butterfly. And then the kids get to gently handle those and release them out into the wild. Speaker 1: 05:54 There's something called reminiscence, gardening. What's that? Give us a few examples. Speaker 3: 05:58 So these are examples of things you can do with elderly. They're especially great for people with dementia or Alzheimer's. Some examples might be planting a tabletop garden in a pot. So this one's fun because they get to have all their senses stimulated, whether it's working with wonderful fragrances to the very textures and sensations of the leaves to the bright beautiful colors that really pop out in the flowers. It's something that helps them engage wind down, maybe release stress, and sometimes it even connects them the smells even to something that maybe they, they used to work with when they were, when they were younger. We also have an option on there for them to grow micro greens. So that's a lot of fun because micro greens can be ready to eat in as little as seven days. Speaker 1: 06:44 Now any last words of wisdom for those of us testing out our green thumbs? Speaker 3: 06:47 Absolutely. I think starting, like I said, starting out small, uh, choosing to grow things that you love to eat. I think that's really motivating. When you're watching something grow and you're waiting for it, you're excited to try that and, and then that time comes, we actually get to harvest it. I think also taking the time to slow down and reconnect again with ourselves and with nature is really important. I think people are gonna find that the motivation might be to grow their own food and reclaim some of that control. But on the other side of that, they're also going to find that it's very therapeutic and they're going to connect in ways with their natural environment that, that maybe forgot that they could do. Speaker 1: 07:25 I've been speaking with summer Cardiay, a master Gardner in San Diego. Thanks very much. Speaker 3: 07:30 Absolutely. I hope everybody has a lot of fun getting out there and, and grown some food. Speaker 1: 07:34 Sure do too. Thanks.

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The University of California Master Gardener Program in San Diego County has launched an online tool to answer gardening questions. Sommer Cartier, one of the program’s master gardeners, joined Midday Edition to give us a glimpse into what the program hopes people take away from it.
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