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Class offered to gardening enthusiasts

Gardener looking for disease on tomato leaf

The master gardener course is returning to Bonneville County this January. The program is for anyone who enjoys gardening and wants to become an expert in their backyard plants.

The program is a 14-week evening course that begins Jan. 14. Registration ends Jan. 6. Classroom topics will include basic botany, composting, soil, plant pathology, vegetables, landscaping, small fruits, pruning and ornamentals.

In addition to horticultural skills, attendees will be educated on resource utilization and healthy lifestyle choices. University credits also can be earned through this course.

Ron Patterson, the horticulture extension educator at the University of Idaho’s Bonneville County Extension office, will lead the class.

“It’s much more than just a gardening class,” Patterson said.

This year will be the first time the class is web-based. The new process means that, while some lectures in Idaho Falls will be given in person by Patterson, other classes will be led by different instructors across Idaho and broadcast live to the classroom.

According to the university, 80 percent of United States households participate in a form of gardening. Yet many still rely on the internet for help, often resulting in these budding gardeners receiving a mix of accurate and inaccurate advice.

By taking the class, participants will have the opportunity to become a certified master gardener. However, in order to do this, master gardeners must agree to volunteer at a variety of gardening education programs and events after the class has ended.

“It’s about giving back to the community,” said Patterson.

Participants who become certified master gardeners will have a portion of their course payment refunded in exchange for the community service hours.

“It’s for people who love gardening,” Patterson said. “A lot of studies show that gardening makes people happier.”

All classes will be conducted in the Bonneville County extension community outreach classroom. Those interested should call the office directly at 208-529-1390.