Mark your calendar for the Master Gardener Plant Sale from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Komohana Research and Extension Complex in Hilo.
According to Master Gardener Mark Neider, the UHCTAHR East Hawaii Master Gardeners, this will be the first in-person plant sale since the start of the pandemic. Plants that will be for sale (cash only, please) include natives, perennial edibles, vegetable starts, and a variety of ornamental landscape plants for your home garden. UH Seed Lab developed seeds will also be available. There will also be tables with information from Master Gardeners and guest vendors including Ant Lab, 4-H, UH, and Hilo Orchid Society. Through the program’s website at http://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu, you can also order seeds online and during the Friday Helpline Hours.
For details, contact the helpline from 9 AM to noon at 808 969-8203. To get involved in the Master Gardener program, contact Russell Galanti, Master Gardener Coordinator at the Komohana Ag Complex in Hilo. The number is 808-746-0910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to community outreach, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture Extension Service is comparable to the way Peace Corps reaches out to folks in other countries. The Master Gardener program is an important component of the UHCTAHR Extension Service. That program is set up to assist local folks with home gardening issues.
Hawaii is unique in its horticultural blend of plants and landscapes. Although we live in the tropics, gardening is heavily influenced by the ways of Europe and the Americas. This plus Asian, Polynesian and African agricultural influences have made landscaping and gardening fun but a bit complicated.
Fortunately, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has been active in the development of the Master Gardener Program in Hawaii County. If you decide to get involved with the program you will have 45 hours of classroom and hands on horticultural training plus on going continuing education.
Course topics include basic botany, native plants, nutrition, insect and disease management, propagation, pruning and much more. Once you finish the course you will become a local expert to assist others to be better gardeners.
Master Gardeners also have several outings each year and get involved with community landscape projects. Registration for future class series will be announced if enough folks sign up, so keep in touch with our UH Extension agents in Hilo and Kona. A past class series field trip included the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary in Kaloko Mauka. There Master Gardeners have planted native hibiscus and collected seed of the famous Blue Marble, (Eleaocarpus grandis) trees used in the making of Buddhist prayer beads. This tree is closely related to our Hawaiian specie, Eleaocarpus bifidus or Kalia. Hawaiians made cordage of the inner bark and used the branches in constructing pili grass houses according to Marie C. Neal’s book, “In Gardens Of Hawaii.”
The Sanctuary is open to the public by appointment only. You may check out the website at konacloudforest.com or call (808) 491-2369 to arrange guided tours. The Sanctuary is a 70 acre tropical cloud forest dedicated to teaching living forest friendly and to remind folks that our forests are the lungs of the planet. Most of the land is native forest, but 15 acres that were originally pasture are now totally reforested with a variety of plants and trees. These were donated by plant societies and Hawaii’s Department of Wildlife and Forestry. Trees were then planted by Master Gardeners, 4-H, Scouts and local plant societies. Once the aggressive Kikuyu grass was suppressed by shade, many native plants began to reestablish themselves. Hawaii Island Land Trust and Moku Keawe Land Conservancy are cooperating in preserving the Sanctuary forest.
To learn more about the Master Gardener program in West Hawaii, contact Ty McDonald, UH Extension agent at 322-4893 or by email at email@example.com.