Master Gardeners, Cooperative Extension transform Methodist church courtyard into Learning Garden
By Shanna Cummings
The Methodist church courtyard has undergone the first stage of a transformation into a learning garden, thanks to Master Gardener Joy Scott and the Culberson County Cooperative Extension. Along with the already well-established purple Wisterias and three raised beds for growing produce, Scott – together with visiting Master Gardener Carol Ann Goodwin, Culberson Extension’s Zack Schaefer and County employee Devon Ortega – planted six different varieties of Earth-Kind rose bushes on Tuesday morning.
“We hope to provide experiences for the youth – and all other interested community members – to expand their awareness of gardening and the environment, and food, and nutrition, and everything else that goes with it,” Scott said.
Two of the raised beds have cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, radishes and garlic. When these crops are ready to harvest, Scott plans to grow different types of peppers and some flowers.
Earth-Kind roses are cultivars of roses designated by the Texas A&M University Agrilife Extension as “demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance,” according to the Extension webpage.
“They require no pruning, no spraying, no deadheading,” Scott said. “I mean, I’m a little bit skeptical, but we’ll see.”
As tempting as the vegetables and flowers may be, Scott asks that visitors leave the vegetables and flowers to grow. The team is working with the church to determine when the courtyard will be open to view.
The Master Gardener program involves coursework as well as volunteer projects like the church garden, and planting native shrubs around the cemetery gazebo last November.
The team got creative with the materials, as well, looking for alternatives to hardwood mulch, Schaefer said. They used cotton debris left after the harvest, wood shavings from the recent stock show, and hay from stalls in the area, to see how the materials help the soil retain moisture. “That way, we don’t always have to go to the store,” he said. “We can recycle some things, too.
Scott said she plans to expand to the other side of the courtyard next year.