Corrales’ Sam Thompson reports that the Master Gardener program has had “some major adaptations to make during the year,” to put it mildly. In the middle of the Intern Training Class of 2020 the group went into a lockdown.  “Our mentors learned to conduct sessions with their interns via Zoom.  And it worked just fine.  And the 2020 interns stayed with us, joining projects and committees. Now a year later, some are helping conduct Zoom sessions and mentoring members of the 2021 class,” as Thompson put it.

Along with adjustments to the pandemic, the group was renamed the Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners by New Mexico State University, to keep nomenclature consistent across the state. Its former website became defunct. And then the County horticulture Extension agent, Lynda Garvin, was transferred to Valencia County. A new Sandoval County agent has not yet been named.

Thompson was uncertain that any new interns would sign up in 2021, but 26 did.  “What we hadn’t realized is that having virtual classes, all of which are recorded and made available the same day, allows those that are working to join the class, many of whom are younger people.”

Another benefit of Zoom experience, is that the Master Gardeners have begun to offer Zoom classes to the public, thus reaching far more people than in the past. Thompson notes that 72 people registered for “Amending Desert Soils “ from all over the state, and a few from out of state.” Online classes and corresponding recordings will continue to be available on the website: http://sandovalmastergardeners.org. Click on Classes for Zoom material.

Do note that on April 13 at 2 p.m., Thompson is presenting “Growing Tomatoes in the Desert Southwest.” “The challenges facing the tomato grower in the desert southwest include heat, intense wind, high UVs, low fertility and a variety of pests and disease.  Discouraged?  You don’t need to be, because there are helpful strategies that can allow you to grow tasty tomatoes in your backyard."

The Pollinator Garden started next to the Corrales Library by local Masters is “coming right along,” according to Thompson. “Rick and Jacob Thaler are making a bench for the space using wood from a felled tree on Pete Smith's property.”

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