Helpful Spring Gardening Programs, Informative Books & the Latest from the Master Gardeners

Posted on April 11, 2023 at 6:00 am

By Crystal Miller

Spring is upon us and that means there’s a new crop of gardening programs on offer at our libraries, fresh gardening books on our shelves, and seed libraries to visit.

Our long-time community partner, the WSU Extension Spokane County Master Gardeners, has been presenting gardening programs and hosting a plant clinic at libraries for years. We value the knowledge and enthusiasm they bring to the gardening classes they teach in our communities.

To learn more about what the Master Gardeners offer and what they’re up to, I interviewed Jackie Sykes, the Master Gardener Plant Clinic Coordinator.

Q&A with Jackie Sykes

Crystal: When was the WSU Extension Spokane County Master Gardeners group founded?  

Jackie: Spokane County became the second Master Gardener Program in 1974. WSU Extension began training volunteers to serve as community educators in 1973. This year the Master Gardener Program is celebrating its 50th anniversary. You can see our promo video on the WSU Extension Spokane County website.

Crystal: What’s the location of the Master Gardeners office?

Jackie: We’re located at 222 N Havana St, in Spokane. You enter the building on the north side, and the Master Gardeners office is upstairs and to the right.

At this location, the Plant Clinic and Resource Center is open from March 1 through October 31, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Crystal: Who runs and funds the group? 

Jackie: WSU is a land grant institution, which means all programs at WSU are required by Federal Acts to “Teach, Research, and Extend Knowledge.” Some funds are provided by federal, state, and county governments.

Locally, funds are raised through our annual Master Gardener training, horticulture series, and spring gardening series classes. The Master Gardener Foundation of Spokane County has fundraisers annually and contributes to the Spokane County Master Gardener Program.

Crystal: What resources does the Master Gardeners group provide for the community?

Jackie: The main resource the Master Gardeners provide to the community is the Plant Clinic and Resource Center. Our satellite plant clinics at Cheney and Shadle Libraries are smaller versions of the Plant Clinic.

The WSU Extension Spokane County Master Gardeners and Extension staff are available to assist you with your gardening questions and to offer research-based information to help you. The Master Gardener volunteers also provide fact sheets and publications on plant, weed, and insect identification; plant pests and diseases; landscape, fruit, and vegetable gardening; drought tolerant and native plants; and many more horticulture topics. This is a free service to the community.

The Master Gardeners are community outreach educators, presenting talks at your local libraries, teaching adult and youth classes, introducing school age children to gardening through Youth Outreach Programs, helping many community gardens in underserved areas, and answering questions at local events. Look for the WSU Extension Spokane Master Gardeners information booths.

In 2022, the 148 WSU Extension Spokane County Master Gardeners donated 7,338 hours and helped 10,776 residents in Spokane County.

Crystal: How does the Plant Clinic at the Cheney Library work?

Jackie: Master Gardener volunteers answer questions about a wide variety of horticulture issues, including plant selection, installation, and maintenance; environmentally sound gardening practices; and effective landscaping practices. Some problems like pest identification and plant problem diagnosis require taking plant samples to the main Plant Clinic.

Crystal: Are the Master Gardeners looking for volunteers?

Jackie: Yes, each year we accept applications for Master Gardener Training Program from April to October 31 for the next year’s classes that run January through April. Visit our website to learn more.

Crystal: Does the group have any upcoming events?

Jackie: You can visit the Master Gardener Foundation of Spokane County website for more details about Cabin Fever, a virtual event starting March 18 and running through May, Garden Fair and Plant Sale, which is by appointment on April 28 and 29, and Fall Bulb Sale.

Crystal: Do you have any tips for gardening in this area, for new gardeners?

Jackie: The Inland Northwest can be challenging for gardeners because of our long winters, limited rainfall, late frosts in spring, and early frosts in fall, just to name a few. The WSU Extension Spokane County Master Gardener website has a downloadable fact sheet that has helpful tips developed for Spokane County and neighboring communities.

We also have a wide variety of gardening programs coming up this month and next at SCLD locations that are free to attend and don’t require registration.

Gardening Programs

To find out more about these programs, you can see full program descriptions on our events calendar or in Engage, available online and at all our libraries.

Weed Control in Your Garden

Tuesday, April 11, 6:30–7:30pm

Tuesday, May 23, 6:30–7:30pm

Tuesday, May 30, 6:30–7:30pm

Vegetable Gardening 101

Wednesday, April 12, 6:30–7:30pm

Master Gardeners Plant Clinic

Friday, April 21, May 5 & 19, 1–5pm

Pruning Your Garden: How, When & Why

Tuesday, April 25, 6:30–7:30pm

Tuesday, May 9, 6:30–7:30pm

Raised Bed Gardening

Wednesday, April 26, 6:30–7:30pm

Best Plants for Container Gardening

Tuesday, May 2, 6:30–7:30pm

Propagating Plants from Seeds & Cuttings

Wednesday, May 3, 6:30–7:30pm

Appreciation of Bonsai

Tuesday, May 9, 6–7pm

Wednesday, May 10, 6–7pm

Wednesday, May 24, 6–7pm

Wednesday, May 31, 6–7pm

Plant Starts Swap

Saturday, May 6, 1–4pm

Saturday, May 13, 1–4pm

Saturday, May 13, 1–4pm

Saturday, May 20, 1–4pm

Take-and-Give Seed Libraries

As you start to plant your garden this spring, please consider setting aside some of the seeds you sow to contribute to the library’s five seed libraries.

A seed library is a place to freely share seeds that have been successfully grown in our region. It is a place where members of the community can bring heirloom seeds that they have collected from their own gardens to share with other gardeners.

Anyone can visit our seed libraries, located at:

Each person is allowed to take home up to 12 seed packets, at no cost.

This means the continuation of our seed libraries depends on you—gardener, seed saver. Each fall and spring, our seed libraries need help to replenish our seed drawers with heirloom vegetable and flower seeds for future growing.

You can bring your saved seeds into any of our libraries (even those that aren’t a seed library). Dried seeds (heirloom only) can be in any type of container and should be clearly labeled. We can divide them into seed envelopes, or if you prefer, you can pick up some of our seed saving envelopes on your next visit to one of our seed libraries and divide them before you bring them in.

We accept seed donations year-round, during open hours. However, please don’t place your seed donations in the book drop (they won’t survive the onslaught of heavy books!).

Check Out These Gardening Books

You can find gardening inspiration on this OverDrive booklist curated by our librarians: Cultivate This! From Garden to Table. You can enjoy eBooks and audiobooks from OverDrive on your mobile device and eReader with the Libby app.

On our shelves are the following gardening books, more recently added to our collection that are available for you to check out or place a hold on:

Whether you have green thumbs or are a novice gardener, I hope these resources, classes, and information help inspire you as you begin the spring gardening season.

Librarian Crystal Miller

Crystal Miller is a Business and Career Development Librarian at Spokane County Library District as well as the Community Librarian for Cheney Library, creating library programs, connecting with the Cheney community, and supporting local businesses and job seekers. In her free time, she enjoys her daily walks with her two dogs, trying out new recipes, and listening to audiobooks on the Libby app!

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