Local gardeners hope Web site cultivates interest

Internet growth spurt

Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006


  Elizabeth Garr trims a lilac bush in her front yard on Kenai's Fern Street Friday afternoon. Gardeners are sprouting into action as the temperature climbs. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Elizabeth Garr trims a lilac bush in her front yard on Kenai's Fern Street Friday afternoon. Gardeners are sprouting into action as the temperature climbs.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Two local green thumbs are hoping to cultivate a new Web site as a forum for sharing information on gardening in the central Kenai Peninsula.

“It’s still being built, but it’s been up and running for over a month now,” said Sue Kent of Soldotna, who, along with Jo Scott of Clam Gulch, is responsible for the inception of the site, www.cpcgardeners.com.

Kent said they built the site as part of meeting the program requirements for becoming an Alaska Master Gardener through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

Essentially, an Alaska Master Gardener is someone who volunteers to serve as a gardening educator to assist home gardeners by providing information and technical data and making themselves available to answer questions.

The title isn’t given out to gardeners — no matter how experienced — without their doing and giving something in return.

First initiated in the state in 1978, the program requires that gardeners receive 40 hours of instruction on a variety of subjects, such as botany, plant taxonomy and physiology, outdoor and greenhouse gardening and pests and pest control. They must then pass a final exam on these subjects.

In addition, gardeners are committed to returning 40 hours of volunteer time in a manner that provides gardening information to others.

“For our 40 hours of community service, we decided to make a Web site for local gardeners on our local conditions,” Kent said.

She added that the site is much needed, since although there are numerous sites on the Internet devoted to gardening, and even gardening in Alaska, few, if any, deal with gardening in the central Kenai Peninsula area.

“We need a local site because our local weather and soil create unique, and often challenging, growing conditions,” Kent said.

There are multiple branches to the site, she explained, each budding with slightly different information.

“We have a forum where people can ask questions, give advice on what works and doesn’t work, and trade seeds and plants,” Kent said.

“We also have a calender where garden-related events are posted,” she said.

Already on the calender are the dates and locations of several local farmer’s markets where produce and flowers are offered for sale. The dates of the Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik are also posted, since garden-grown goodies are always a staple of this annual event.

Kent said she hopes that as gardeners in the community become more interconnected through the site, events like lectures and garden tours may be listed on the calender.

“We’re also sponsoring a (container) contest,” Kent said.

The theme of the contest is “moundy-pointy-frilly” in that gardeners are asked to send in photos of containers with at least three plants — one round or mound-shaped, one that has points or looks spiky, and three others that are frilly, fluffy or dangly.

Any combination of plants can be used in the contest, including annuals, perennials, grasses, herbs or even vegetables.

“We’re not sure what the prizes will be yet, but they’ll be announced soon,” Kent said.

As to if the gardening community will reap the benefits of what they have tried to sow with their Web site, Kent said he hoped so.

“I think this is a great idea, but it can only work if the community gets involved. We have a lot of gardeners and gardening activity here, but a lot of it is done individually. Hopefully, this will serve as a resource to make gardening more communal,” she said.

Get growing Visit the local Web site, www.cpcgardeners.com.

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