Gardening: Series of horticulture classes offered

So we are off and running into 2013. The holidays are over and it’s now time to start looking toward things we gardeners can do to keep ourselves from going stir-crazy until it thaws out.

Winter is when a lot of gardeners look for classes and workshops so they can bone up and learn about all the latest and greatest new garden plants and ideas.

The WSU Spokane County Master Gardeners are offering their biannual horticulture class series starting Jan. 10. This is the same basic education the Master Gardeners go through but without the volunteer time commitment. The classes will run through March 28 and will cover Spokane climate and growing conditions; basic botany; soil science; vegetable, small fruit and berry production; fruit tree management; perennials, pruning, turf grass management; diseases; insects and integrated pest management; weeds and weed management; composting; and waterwise landscaping.

This year for the first time the turf management, plant diseases and weed management classes will be offered for pesticide license recertification credits. The pruning class will be offered for arborist recertification credits.

The course is $275 per person for the series or $15 per class. Check out the WSU Master Gardeners website – www.spokane- county.wsu.edu/spokane /eastside/ – for a complete list of the classes, dates and a registration form. Registration by check or cash will need to be mailed to WSU Spokane County Extension, 222 N. Havana St., Spokane, WA 99202.

If you find you have a question about your houseplants or any other gardening topic, the WSU Master Gardeners are available by phone through the winter. Volunteers pick up messages and emails on most Wednesdays and will get back you with an answer. Call (509) 477-2181 or email mastergardener@ spokanecounty.org. The clinic will reopen March 1 for walk-in visitors.

While the days are slowly getting longer, most houseplants are pretty much dormant until the light levels increase. Because they are dormant most plants are going to need very little watering. Check each pot before you water by inserting your index finger into the soil up to the first joint. If the soil is dry, add enough water to lightly moisten the soil. Too much water will cause root rot and unfortunately the symptoms of root rot – wilting and turning yellow – are very similar to a plant that needs water. If in doubt, hold off for a few days before you water.

By the middle to end of February, the light levels will have risen enough that you can add a half-strength fertilizer and begin watering more regularly. Late February is also a great time to repot any overgrown plants so they can take advantage of the room to grow as spring takes hold. Keep a sharp eye out for bugs and mildew, especially if you had your plants outside for the summer. The bugs just love your nice, warm house and the free salad bar offered by your plants. Treat problems as they arise with the appropriate control method.

Master Gardener Pat Munts has gardened in the Spokane Valley for more than 35 years. She can be reached at pat@ inlandnwgardening.com.

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