This article was written and submitted by Gary Cobus, UMN Extension Master Gardener, Wright County
I have enjoyed gardening since I was 5 years old and had the honor to be asked by my grandfather to help him in his garden. He grew vegetables, but he also had apple trees, pear trees and some peonies and a huge clematis.
He would explain to me how each plant grew, what kind of conditions each plant needed and I learned a lot and had fun. Then, several years later, I asked my mom if I could plant a garden. She said “yes,” but I had to do the work. She didn’t have the time. So I did all the work by hand – we didn’t have a rototiller. The first time I harvested some veggies fresh from the garden, I knew I had to always have a garden. Then much later in college, in the summer after my third year, I had a friend offer me some garden space at his farm eight miles out of town. I was a poor college student with no car, but I did have a bicycle, so I rode it out to the farm and back every day to tend my garden. Gardening that summer was so beneficial because near harvest time I was laid off from my job. Being a struggling college student I was able to enjoy the fruits of my labor and did not have to resort to only Ramen noodles. I think my garden saved me that year! After college I moved to the Austin, Texas area and lived on a 450-acre ranch, renting the house along with a large garden space.
I had a very large and productive garden, but I also got heavily involved with playing music in two bands. Music has been a huge part of my life since, so when I moved to Minnesota, I started going to music jams and one happened to be at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The Master Gardeners had a table there and I went over to talk to them just to find out just how someone becomes a Master Gardener. They explained the process to me and I thought, “I think I can do this and learn a lot more about horticulture at the same time.” Well, here I am 20+ years later and being a Master Gardener is a huge part of my life and will be for the foreseeable future. I have met so many wonderful people on my Master Gardener journey!
Looking back it is interesting to see the connections that brought me to become a Master Gardener. I have even played in Julie Weisenhorn’s band: The Abiders, at the Arboretum a few times! Combining both hobbies successfully!
We are currently accepting applications to become a Master Gardener, and will be until October 1st. You can apply at z.umn.edu/mg2021app. Please contact Adam Austing at (320) 249-5929 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to learn more about the Extension Master Gardener program. You can also learn more about the program at extension.umn.edu/master-gardener/become-master-gardener.