About the Master Gardener Program

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Why Join the Program?

Do you enjoy gardening and want to share your knowledge by educating & volunteering in the community? Take this course to become a Maryland Master Gardener in Charles County! The sessions are taught by University of Maryland Extension specialists, educators and other horticulture professionals. The next course will be held in the spring of 2023.

By joining the program, you'll have the opportunity to learn new gardening skills as well as hone your existing skills. You'll also learn how to solve gardening problems, and be able to teach others to do the same. Best of all, you'll meet new people who enjoy gardening just as much as you do!

Who Can Become a Master Gardener?

Any Maryland resident, 18 years of age or older, who likes working with people and plants and has a thirst for knowledge.

  • MG Volunteers
  • MG Class for Youth 2

What are the Steps to Becoming a Master Gardener?

Step 1 to Becoming a Master Gardener

Determine when the Master Gardener Basic Training will be held in your county/city by visiting our Local Programs webpage. Basic Training classes are typically offered once a year in the spring, at each county or city office. Class dates and times vary by county.

Note: We strongly recommend that you complete the Basic Training classes in the same county in which you reside. In particular cases, you may be able to take the Basic Training classes in a different county than where you reside.

Step 2 to Becoming a Master Gardener

Contact the Master Gardener Coordinator in the selected county or city to learn more and receive an application package.

The fee to enroll in a Master Gardener Basic Training course differs by county and ranges from $150.00 to $300.00. This fee pays for the mandatory Master Gardener Handbook and covers additional costs to support the program. Scholarships may be available to offset the fee in select locations. For more information, please contact the Charles County Master Gardener Coordinator, Kaitlyn Baligush, at kbaligus@umd.edu.

Step 3 to Becoming a Master Gardener

A Master Gardener Trainee is required to attend at least 75% of the Master Gardener Basic Training classes and pass the final exam. Master Gardener Trainees are taught about a variety of horticultural subjects by specialists, educators, and other horticulture professionals. Topics may include:

  • Botany

  • Composting

  • Diagnosing Plant Problems

  • Ecology

  • Entomology

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

 
  • Lawn Care

  • Vegetable, Fruit, & Flower Gardening

  • Organic Gardening

  • Pesticide Use and Safety Precautions

  • Soils and Fertilizers

  • Tree and Shrub Care

Step 4 to Becoming a Master Gardener

Once a Master Gardener Trainee has completed the Master Gardener Basic Training and the passes the final exam, they become a Master Gardener Intern.  Interns must complete at least 40 hours of approved volunteer service before achieving the status of Master Gardener.  

To remain an active Master Gardener, each calendar year individuals must complete

1) a minimum of 20 hours of approved volunteer service, and
2) a minimum of 10 hours of approved continuing education.

Continuing education hours may be completed through classes, webinars, seminars and other educational activities offered by UME, plant societies, botanical gardens and arboreta, colleges, nature centers, etc.

Here are our Graduates!

If you have questions regarding the Master Gardener Program and how to join in Charles County, please contact the Master Gardener Coordinator, Kaitlyn Baligush, at 301-934-5403, ext. 200, or kbaligus@umd.edu.

 

Charles County Master Gardener Projects

Annual NatureFest (Neighborhood Creative Arts Center)

When:  NatureFest held annually in the spring (April)

Project Leader:  Marlene Smith

Contact info:  nikhaven@comcast.net

NatureFest is an annual community event for Charles County children ages 4-12. Charles County Master Gardeners contribute plants and seeds, horticulture-related activities, and digital activity books and videos. The inaugural event was hosted by the Neighborhood Creative Arts Center at Tilghman Lake Park in La Plata and was attended by 297 individuals.

For NatureFest 2021 digital content, please visit the following:

CCMG Website Resources (click on Just For Kids Activity Books and Videos)                

University of Maryland Extension - Charles County YouTube channel

NCAC NatureFest 2022

 

Annual Plant Sale (Waldorf and La Plata Farmers Markets)

When:  Plant sale held in May

Project Leader Name:  Terry Thir

Contact Info: thirccmg@aol.com

Annual fundraiser to create a fund for yearly MG projects and activities.  The MG plant sale is held at both the Waldorf and La Plata Farmers Markets on the 2nd Saturday of May.  MGs grow annual flowers, vegetables, and herbs by seed to sell.  We also sell all types of plants (houseplants, ornamentals and edibles, heirlooms, perennials, and annuals).

Ask a Master Gardener Plant Clinic

 When:  Third Saturday, May-October

 Project Leader Name:  Vacant                       

MGs answer questions from area residents on a wide range of plant-related topics.  Residents may bring in samples of diseased plants for diagnosis or some with questions about their lawn or garden.  Master Gardeners also provide Extension brochures and information to clientele.  Plant clinics are held at the farmers markets and other public events.

Bay-Wise Certifications (Yard and Vegetable Gardens)

Project Leader Name:  Rose Markham & Tima McGuthry-Banks

Contact Information:  mcgranejanet@gmail.com, rosemarkham@comcast.net

Invite a team of Charles County Bay-Wise Master Gardeners to your home to evaluate your landscape and give you advice about native plants, ways to control storm water runoff and other Bay-Wise information.

The Bay-Wise program is a landscape education program that focuses on water quality and conservation efforts in protecting Maryland waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.  It comprises a set of environmental topics, that when used in landscape management, protects the quality and quantity of the water in Maryland.  The program educates homeowners and businesses by providing a landscape yardstick and vegetable garden yardstick identifying best practices.  The landscape owner fills out the yardstick and an application.  The homeowner checks off and receives inches for following best practices.  If the homeowner reaches 36 inches, an appointment is made, and Bay-Wise master gardeners meet with the owner at the property and certify it as a Bay-Wise friendly landscape.  

 

Dr. Mudd House Herb Garden

 

When: Volunteers meet first Wednesday of the month April-October at 10:00 a.m.

Project Leader:  Rose Markham

Contact Information:  rosemarkham@comcast.net

This is a historic property.  Master Gardener installed and maintain the herbal garden which was commonly found in gardens in the 1800’s. MG also maintain the iris border, pruning, and garden clean-up.

Extension Office Demonstration Gardens

When:  On-going

 Project Leader(s):      Terry Thir                         Kathleen Jenkins

 Contact Information: ThirCCMG@aol.com      kgjenkins@comcast.net

The Charles County Extension Service Demonstration Gardens is located on the front lawn of the UMD Extension Office in Bel Alton, Maryland.  Sections of the front lawn will include at least nine different gardens that incorporate a variety of themes and/or purposes.  The demonstration gardens will provide education for the public, including signage, tours, training, and information about the content of each garden.  One garden has been completed at this time, which is considered a Historical Garden, which was designed to mimic a riverside/costal spring landscape. We are currently working on a Bay-Wise demonstration garden and planning for the Native Pollinator Demonstration Garden. Future guided tours by a Master Gardener will be available to the public, schools, and other organizations.

 

Melwood Horticulture Therapy Programs

When - Year round

Project Leader Name – Terry Thir

Contact Info:  thirccmg@aol.com 

MGs work collaboratively with the Manager, Horticulture Therapy Programs, Melwood Horticultural Training Center. MGs assist with hands-on seasonally focused therapeutic horticulture activities with Melwood participants (and planning and/or teaching classes).  The activities range from learning about indoor plants and tropical fruits and healthy living skills in the winter months, to three-season outdoor gardening and pest control, simple production greenhouse skills, nature studies, creative expressions, seasonal eating to teaching basic horticulture skills and pre-vocational market gardening and landscaping. Program sessions take place predominantly at the Melwood Recreation Center in Nanjemoy. MD. May also take place at Melwood’s Waldorf campus location in Pinefield, at community garden partnership sites in Charles and PG counties, and in the DMV region through field trips. Indoor and outdoor classroom settings include outdoor vegetable and Pollinator gardens. The Melwood Recreation Center greenhouse, and indoor classrooms, activity areas and kitchens.   

Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor’s Garden - Puppet Show

When – As requested

Project Leaders Name:  Terry Thir, Gail Walker

Contact info: thirccmg@aol.com   gail.enid.walker@gmail.com

Come see Peter Rabbit, Mother Rabbit, Farmer McGregor, Ripley Rat, and other insect cast members role play the 40-minute puppet show.  We have been preforming this education puppet show for 4 years. This is an incredibly fun interactive puppet show that teaches elementary children about eating nutritious vegetables, how vegetables are grown, how they are used in recipes and foods they eat daily. A key lesson is also taught to listen to your parent’s instructions and stay out of Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden.  Request for the puppet show are received from schools, homeschoolers, organizations, public libraries, and the county fair.

 

Rebuilding Together Charles County (formerly Christmas in April)

When:  As requested

Project Leader:  Carol Teets

Contact info:  carolnwbrg@aol.com

This project is dedicated to rebuilding & repairing homes of elderly, persons with disabilities and low-income residents.  MG Volunteers participate by pruning, planting, mulching, and sharing the proper methods of performing this task with other volunteers

Southern Maryland Food Bank

When – April - October

Project Leader – Brent Burdick,

Phone and Email: B361220601@comcast.net

The project is to provide assistance to the Southern Food Bank & Outreach Services’ Community Learning Garden.  Their garden is used to demonstrate home gardening; to educate youth and other activity groups, to include home schoolers; and to harvest produce for use in their Food Truck operation and to provide fresh supplements to their pantry bags.  MGs and Interns provide advice and help to maintain the Community Learning Garden; plan and conduct education sessions; and assist in harvesting produce for Food Bank use.  The garden area and beds are relatively small and are located behind their offices in Waldorf.  In 2019, educational activities were conducted during weekdays at various times over the summer.  MGs and Interns delivered educational activities in informal class training, presentations, and hands-on activities in the garden, displays in the garden area, and through the demonstration garden itself.  Maintenance and related activities for the demonstration garden were conducted during days/evenings and weekdays/weekends as needed throughout the growing season.

 

Victoria Park Senior Living

When:  As requested

Project Leader: Michelle Chenault     

Contact info: vmchenault@gmail.com

CCMGs answer gardening questions and provide educational materials to the residents (clients) of the buildings in the complex.  Some residents use outdoor garden boxes, others have plants on their balconies, others have house plants or herb gardens in their apartments.

 

Community Outreach Annual Events

  • Celebrate La Plata - April

  • Charles County Fair

  • Cobb Island Appreciation Day - June

  • Cobb Island Monarch Mania Festival -September

  • La Plata Fall Festival

  • Rain Barrels and Composting Exhibit – in partnership with CC Government – May

Master Gardeners set up interactive information both to respond to resident’s questions on yard landscapes, gardening, and integrated pest management (IPM), native gardening for pollinators and other horticultural related questions.

  • Various requests are received from Charles County Park and Recreation, DOD Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Public Libraries, etc.,

  • Master Gardeners give talks, presentations, and guidance.

Past Projects

  • Artsfest

  • Charles County Arts Alliance

  • Charles County Detention Center

  • Christ Church Meditation Garden

  • Dr. Mudd Elementary School

  • J. C. Parks Elementary School

  • Lions Camp Merrick

  • Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center

  • Port Tobacco River Park Native Garden

  • Soil Conservation District Office

  • St. Mary's School, Bryantown

  • Thomas Stone High School Garden Club

  • Thomas Stone High School Green Project

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