Even as summer produce ripens and farmers gather their harvests, the indefatigable Extension Master Gardeners of Buncombe County continue their mission of educating the public on good gardening practices using research-based information provided by the North Carolina State University Extension Service throughout the fall.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, and again Saturday, Oct. 8, Master Gardeners will offer free instruction and advice in two locations at the WNC Farmers Market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. At Jesse Israel and Sons Nursery and Garden Center at 570 Brevard Road, instructors will explain how to get started composting at home. Several compost systems will be on display, including a worm composting bin. Free samples of “black gold,” as well as printed instructional materials, will be available.
Across the way, in the area between the two retail buildings of the farmers market, Master Gardeners will answer gardening questions and diagnose plant problems. Area residents are encouraged to bring in good-sized plant samples for evaluation. Free soil test boxes will also be available. As Cooperative Extension community gardening coordinator Megan Gregory writes in the Master Gardeners’ fall newsletter, “Fall is an ideal time to test your garden soil.”
On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Master Gardeners will field gardening questions and weigh in on plant problems from 8 a.m. to noon at the Asheville City Market at 161 S. Charlotte St. At that event, the book A Gardening Guide for Our Mountains will be available for $10.
The Master Gardeners also offer assistance through their helpline at 255-5522, which operates from March through October. Hours for the service are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. Gardeners with questions may also visit in person during those hours at 49 Mount Carmel Road.
Western North Carolina Gardening Symposium
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the organization will host its Western North Carolina Gardening Symposium at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville at 115 Hendersonville Road. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Our Gardens in a World of Change,” and informational sessions will focus on strategies for developing resiliency.
Soil scientist Laura Lengnick, who is known as a leader in sustainable agriculture and climate resilience planning, will be the keynote speaker. She will open the day with a talk titled “Cultivating Resilience in a World of Change” and close the program with “What Path to a Resilient Future?” More information about Lengnick, a Swannanoa resident, and her work is available at www.cultivatingresilience.com.
Tamara Houston, of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will speak on climate and weather variations in WNC. Meghan Baker, small farms extension agent in Buncombe County, will discuss pollinators at risk, and Linda Alford, Buncombe Extension Master Gardener volunteer, will outline ways to thrive in the face of change.
This program offers five hours of continuing education credit for Extension Master Gardener volunteers. The fee is $55. All registrations must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 5, and the registration form is available at www.buncombemastergardener.org.