That's why Hawkins County Agricultural Agent and master gardener Jack Price is utilizing Tennessee's dirt guru former Cherokee High School instructor Jim Wells to kick off this year's course.
He basically wrote the soils manual for soil judging for the state of Tennessee, Price told the Times-News Tuesday. He's the guru of dirt. He was also very instrumental in taking a lot of FFA (Future Farmers of America) kids to Kansas, Oklahoma, and other places to compete.
Price is hosting a Q&A meeting about this year's Master Gardener course on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the UT Agricultural Extension Office, 850 W. Main Street in Rogersville.
The goal is to begin the 18-class, 40-hour course in late October.
A lot of material is covered during that time period. After the section on soil and water there are sections on basic botany, plant pathology, entomology, vegetable production, small fruit and nut trees, IPM (integrated pest management), weed control, wildlife management, fertilizer use and composting just to name a few..
And then I have what I call the fun subject, like container gardening, small area gardening, and this year we're going to do what I call organic gardening, Price said, The instructor calls it biological gardening. The difference is she doesn't use any kind of pesticide.
Classes are taught by agricultural agents, vocational teachers, and a few doctorates from UT.
I use a variety of people, and I do try to tie in some local instructors as well from Cherokee and Volunteer High Schools, as well as other master gardeners from Northeast Tennessee, Price said. I try to use as many local people as possible. There's a lot of talent right here in Hawkins County.
The class will average about two meetings per month, and is expected to conclude in April or May.
The Tennessee Master Gardener course is about community service through horticulture.
You're going to get a good knowledge base of research based information, Price said. You are going to learn some new topics. We hope that you'll correctly learn how to used different defense mechanisms in and around the yard, and in your garden. And hopefully when you become a master gardener, if someone has questions you'll be able to answer them with confidence.
And then there's the volunteering aspect. The course itself is 40 hours of instruction. In order to become a Tennessee Master Gardener you must also perform 40 hours of community service, and then perform another 25 hours annually to maintain certification.
There are a variety of locations available to earn those hours, such as the community garden in Rogersville managed by the UT Ag Extension Office; or the Church Hill community garden which is managed by Master Gardener instructor Marcia Van de Mause.
The fee for the course is $150 per person or $275 per couple. The fee covers the training materials and other course expenses.
The course is limited to the first 20 people who register.
Anyone who is interested in the course but unable to attend the Oct.. 4 meeting can call Price at 423-272-7241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.