Get to Know: Doug Dana, Master Gardner Program

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1. How did you become involved with the Master Gardeners program?

I’ve had an avid interest in gardens for many years. My folks had a showpiece rose bed and that got me going. I saw a Gazette Record article on the group and decided to try it out. This will be my third year of involvement.

2. What do you enjoy about being a Master Gardener?

For me the enjoyment is two-fold. First is the fascination with all the God-given natural processes and wonders that go on in the process of a garden. To learn about all the subtle interactions is amazing. Second, the people in the group are wonderful and have become good friends of mine both in the garden and in my personal life.

Doug Dana, Master Gardner

3. What types of things/ projects are you responsible for as a Master Gardener?

Personally, my responsibilities as vice-coordinator are mainly organizing our seasonal plant clinics and producing a monthly newsletter. The group as a whole does a myriad of activities. We conduct a series of classes to qualify a new MG, we answer garden questions, educate the public in several ways (the aforementioned plant clinic, demonstration gardens, teaching youth) and provide a reach-out program to seniors in need of garden help.

4. What is the time commitment like?

The required is easy to acquire. One starts with a series of classes given by garden experts and University of Idaho faculty. The classes begin Feb. 5 with an orientation. They run twice a week until the end of March. Once certified, we have a monthly meeting. An MG must complete six hours of training annually and then volunteer hours at the plant clinic and/or approved projects until the minimum is met. It truly can be done with ease and there is help every step of the way.

5. Why would you recommend someone consider becoming a Master Gardener?

I would recommend folks to join because of the vast amount of garden help and information available to members. Others’ garden experience and problems take one to new worlds of interest in nature. Also, the group has fun meetings, activities and field trips. We usually have a jolly good time.

6. Is there is something you’ve learned during your tenure as a Master Gardener?

Yes. How little I know about the wide world of plants. As I mentioned, all of the natural mysteries are very interesting to unravel, or at least attempt to. Also, the groups contains bright people and it is good to problem solve with others with more experience.

7. What does one have to do to become a Master Gardener?

This is also easy; just sign up for our upcoming round of classes. There is an application form available by calling any of the following: Angel Ross, co-coordinator, 245-3861; Benewah County Extension Office, 245-2422; or me, 582-6367.

8. What is something gardeners do in the wintertime to prepare for planting in the spring?

Ah, the winter in Idaho. If one joins MG, we all get together once a month for group therapy. We drool over those shiny new plant catalogs, salivating on our 2015 garden launches and secretly plotting how to make weeds grow in straight rows (in the neighborís yard). Seriously, not much. There is lots one can do in fall to get the garden prepped. Join us, and I’ll tell you.

9. What is the easiest thing to grow in the area? The hardest?

The question of easiest and hardest to grow depends on several variables: the length of our season (short and cold), the varieties chosen (numerous), your personal micro-climate at your location and the many means to alter and/or extend our number of growing days. We do well with root veggies, fruit trees, berries, many ornamentals, etc. Anybody plant potatoes? The tough ones are the tender crops and varieties. Some, like tomatoes, flourish one year and strangle the next. Key is our Zone 6 (generally) location. MGs can help you with this.

10. Who is the best gardener you know?

There are many great gardeners in this group. We grow everything from Christmas trees to tender tropicals and everything in between. I will mention several names who have been of great help to me. Ellis Vawter, Angie Morrow, Gwen Edwards, Penny Carpenter, Rich Hurley and Almeeta Jarvi are all in the running for ‘best’ to me. Hope to see you on Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. at the Community Presbyterian Church (1100 College Avenue in St. Maries).

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