Master gardeners are involved in many things nationwide. I recently read an article about product research that couldn't have happened without the help of Master gardeners.
Several state universities in the Midwest wanted to test a new garden product.
Was it really worth the cost or was it no different than shredding dollar bills and tilling them into the garden? The universities turned to their master gardener programs for help with the research project.
There were several test plots in three states. Some of the plots were at botanical gardens, some at universities and some on private land. The research project was scheduled to last for at least four years, so this was a long-term commitment for all involved.
The plots were divided up so that there would be a control plot with none of the new product applied and two or three other plots with varying amounts of the product applied and tilled in. Master gardeners helped divide the plots by erecting fencing. The perimeter fencing helped to keep out deer, rabbits and other hungry critters that would surely eat the test results.
Vegetables and flowering plants found in many home gardens were planted by the master sardeners. The plants were fertilized only at planting time. Plots in loamy soil did the best (that's no surprise) and plots in sandy soil did not fare well, even with the addition of the new product.
They spent their summers watering, weeding and looking for pests and diseases.
They took notes and photographs of the plants, weeds and bugs. They tracked the progress of the plants in each of the plots: height, width, bloom production and amount and weights of produce harvested. All produce was donated to a food bank.
The product test couldn't have happened without the help of volunteer master gardeners. Nationwide, there are about 100,000 master gardeners and the hours they contribute to their respective universities and communities are worth over $100 million each year.
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