Summer gardening tips, and who are master gardeners?

Guest Column

By Porschea Pearson, Intern, Newport News Master Gardeners

Even with the heat of summer upon us, there are still plenty of gardening chores to be done. Here are a few gardening tips to consider this summer.

  • Fertilize warm-season grasses.
  • Water lawns early in the morning on hot days. Set your sprinkler to produce large droplets instead of a fine mist to help prevent evaporation.
  • Start selecting your favorite bulb varieties. It is time to order your bulbs for planting in the fall.
  • Avoid deep cultivation in your flowerbeds during hot dry days. This may reduce water uptake by increasing loss of soil water and damaging surface roots.
  • Plan changes in your perennial plantings. Autumn is the best time for moving and dividing perennials.
  • Clean up fallen rose and peony leaves. They can harbor disease and insect pests over the winter if allowed to remain on the ground.
  • Pick summer squash and zucchini every day or two to keep the plants producing.
  • Seed winter vegetables now.
  • Remove plants that have gone past their prime to prevent diseases and pest problems.

Who are the Master Gardeners and what do they do in our community?

Community service through gardening is what the Newport News Master Gardeners are all about. The Master Gardener program is comprised of specialized training through classroom and online learning, lectures, hands on experience and 50 hours of pouring service back into the community.

Some of the volunteer opportunities that Newport News Master Gardeners work with are the Newport News Children’s Festival, City Center Farmers Market, plant sales, Grin and Grow Learning Garden, partnerships with Newport News Public Schools, horticulture therapy for seniors, speakers bureau, Go Green Expo, rain barrel workshops and other classes, the Phone and Email Help Desk and so much more.

During the 2019 Newport News Children’s Festival, a collective effort of Master Gardeners and Master Gardener interns served more than 1,700 participants by assisting children and adults with planting zinnias, petunias and vincas in environmentally friendly paper cups for Mother’s Day.

Newport News Master Gardeners created the Grin and Grow Learning Garden in Riverview Farm Park, which offers stimulation for the senses and an outdoor classroom. Those who visit can expect to experience nine different themed beds as well as a brochure box with plant information.

The Phone and Email Help Desk is an important public component of Newport News Master Gardeners. At the Help Desk, community members can call with a variety of gardening questions. We’ll help you find the answer to your garden, lawn, soil test and other general horticulture and natural resource-related questions free of charge.

As Master Gardeners, we become involved in our community, bringing life through gardening and horticultural efforts to kids, families, the elderly and everyone in-between; no matter the activity we become involved in, our key goal is to educate.

Porschea Pearson is an intern with the Newport News Master Gardeners (NNMG). For additional information about the Master Gardeners program and other ways to serve the community, call the Newport News Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) office at 757-591-4838.

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