Monday, November 2, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Alabama Master Gardener volunteers have been involved in conducting practical, applied research that answers questions related to their gardening experiences. Some of this research has been conducted on outlying units of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. This experience has introduced a group of citizens to field research and has created closer ties between the community and the research unit. As a result Master Gardeners have become more involved in field days and volunteer to help with other projects on the research units. An example of applied research was a multi-year project with garden tillage research that demonstrated soil compaction from traditional garden tillage and the benefits of reduced or no-tillage in the garden. Another series of experiments at two locations demonstrated that additional P fertilization was unnecessary for blooming plants on soils that already test “very high” in extractable P. A 2008 experiment involved more than 30 Master Gardeners growing potted ferns for an entire season at their home. Each gardener was a replication and maintained 6 soil treatments that showed rather conclusively that Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) did not improve the color or growth of Boston fern or East Indian holly fern even when the potting soil was marginally low in Mg. By involving Master Gardeners in practical research to answer their own gardening questions, we have established closer ties between the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Agricultural Research Station, and the community’s citizens.