Information presented in greenhouse management courses has changed in response to several factors. Increasingly, students must learn about:
new technologies such as the use of computers in crop management, and new techniques such as implementation of biological pest management;
regulations like the EPA/OSHA chemical safety laws;
experimental procedures, to be able to assess future technologies and techniques during their careers; and
professionalism (industry leadership, ability to work with the media, knowledge of how to impact law).
Changes in course content and procedures over time, and methods of teaching increased types and amounts of information, are discussed through results of a survey of current instructors of greenhouse management courses.
Master Gardener programs were conducted through 10 of Maine's 16 county offices in 1993. In an effort to reduce the number of identical presentations given by the limited number of instructors, 5 of the 10 sessions were conducted via interactive television (ITV), while the remaining 5 sessions were held locally. Participants (n=215) were surveyed about their learning experience in fall 1993. Data compare the local ITV audience vs. 7 distant audiences viewing sessions in real time vs. 2 audiences viewing taped sessions at a later date, on test scores of material presented, and on attitudes about the program. Data also summarize the types of projects on which Master Gardener volunteer hours were applied, and participants' attitudes about how volunteer programs could be made more effective.
Five of the ten training sessions for Maine Master Gardeners (MGs) were taught using interactive television (ITV) in 1993. Trainees at one location participated in the sessions live; trainees at seven locations participated in the sessions from distant locations but in real time; and trainees at two locations viewed videotapes of the ITV sessions at later dates. Trainees (n = 215) were quizzed weekly to assess their level of learning and surveyed about their learning experience 6 months after completing their training. ITV distance learners' quiz scores and hours of volunteerism were equal to those of local learners. More than 90% of all respondents would enroll in a MG program again if it were conducted and taught locally, while 83.9% would enroll in a program taught half locally and half using ITV.
Penobscot Co. (ME) Master Gardeners initiated a highly successful demonstration garden in 1994, on the university's sustainable agriculture farm. Five factors for the garden's success are suggested for consideration by groups planning similar projects: 1) The garden has a permanent site with excellent road visibility, on a public farm that supports public service; 2) The farm manager tills the plot and manages cover crops; 3) 10 to 12 Master Gardeners and two extension educators commit significant ongoing labor to the project; 4) Local businesses supply plants and other materials; 5) A vital statewide Master Gardener Program assures an ongoing supply of volunteers, ideas and enthusiasm.
The Penobscot County (Maine) Master Gardeners (MGs) initiated a demonstration garden in 1994, on a 0.75-acre plot at the Univ. of Maine's sustainable agriculture farm. In addition to producing public education through on-site events, newspaper articles and weekly television broadcasts, the garden is the venue for these program successes. 1) New MGs see the garden as an on-going volunteer project and 2) grow as gardeners by working in the garden. 3) The Garden helps develop the camaraderie that begins among MGs during their training. 4) Advanced training is easily accomplished in the garden. 5) The garden provides an infrastructure for new project, 6) accomplishes positive public relations for Cooperative Extension and the MG program, and is an excellent MG recruitment tool.
A 2-year field study was initiated in May 1994 to show the effects of alternative weed control methods on weed suppression and cut flower yield. Cultural and economic analyses evaluate the feasibility of various management decisions. Gomphrena globosa cv. Woodcreek Pink seedlings were transplanted at 12-inch spacings with the following treatments: 10 mm chopped straw mulch, 10 mm shredded paper mulch, 1.25 mm black plastic mulch, bare soil with postemergent herbicide (Glyphosate) and bare soil with hand weed control. First-year results of the study show weed control was statistically equal between plastic, herbicide, and hand control. These methods provided significantly better barriers to weed growth than shredded paper and oat straw. Economic analyses show variation in the cost efficiency of these methods, however. It is expected that the results of the first year will be corroborated in 1995 for the herbicide, hand control, and plastic treatments, but will reflect change in the chopped straw and shredded paper treatments due to improved focus on experimental design and material selection.
Our future horticulture students are growing up in an electronic world, and are gaining knowledge increasingly from computers, videotapes and television, and decreasingly from books and other written media. We need to understand their interests and motivations in order to determine how to market our educational programs to them. This study profiles our future students on several career-oriented factors, including their plans after high school, their academic interests, their impressions of and experiences in agriculture and horticulture, and the sources of information they look to when seeking assistance in choosing a career track. Results compare male vs. female students, urban vs. rural students, regional differences, and differences between fifth and tenth graders (critical ages in career decision-making).
Organic and conventional greenhouse growers in Maine were surveyed to determine the research needs of growers who may produce organic ornamental bedding plants. Organic growers were also asked to identify their greatest motivator to determine whether they feel that there is a greater market for organically grown ornamental plants. The greatest percentage (75%) of organic growers indicated that they choose to grow plants organically because “it's the right thing to do.” The second greatest percentage (36%) of organic growers choose organic production techniques for ornamental plants because they grow food crops organically and consider it convenient to use only one production technique. A relatively small number of organic growers (7%) considered the market for organic ornamental plants to be a strong motivator for growing organically. Organic growers were asked to select production issues that pose the greatest challenge for them from a list of common production problems. They considered insect and disease management and organic fertility, substrate, and pH management to be their greatest problems. Conventional growers primarily avoid organic production techniques because they consider organic fertilization or organic insect management to be too big of a challenge. Because organic and conventional growers consider insect and fertility or substrate management to be challenges facing organic growers, these topics should be top priorities for future research on organic greenhouse production.