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LSU AgCenter offers free home gardening course

Pictured are examples of Sarah Bernhardt Peonies (photo credit: Longfield Gardens).

LAPLACE — Horticulture agents with the LSU AgCenter are providing a free online course for new and experienced gardeners alike.

The course, which allows all participants to earn a certificate, will last 10 weeks and cover the following topics: soil testing, garden planning, botany, plant propagation, plant nutrition, pesticides, garden pests, beneficial insects and pollinator protection, plant disease, weeds, native plants and their uses, vegetables, herbs and home fruit protection.

Classes are pre-recorded. Participants can complete modules at their own pace, re-watch lessons and start/stop the videos as needed. There is a slideshow for each topic as well, so note taking is optional. The classes will require a time commitment of 90 minutes to two hours per week.

“One of the silver linings of the quarantine is that many people are planting gardens for the first time or are now able to expand and develop existing gardens,” an LSU AgCenter spokesperson said. “Similar to the WWII Victory Gardening Movement, gardening is a great activity for the whole family and a great way to produce food at home. You can complete this course weekly on your own schedule.”

This course will draw from the Master Gardener curriculum. Gardeners who earn their certificate will be well prepared to apply for the Louisiana Master Gardener full course when it is available in the future.

This course also allows lapsed or inactive Louisiana Master Gardeners to become active members again. Master Gardeners can expect to log 15-20 hours total from this course.

Video modules will be posted weekly and a pre/post test will be required to help horticulture agents gauge student learning objectives. These grades will not factor into earning the certificate.

Online publications and resources will be posted for each topic as well to support video lesson content for further reading, if desired. A discussion board and some web-based live Q&A events will also be available. Several “DIY” assignments will also be posted and not graded, but will support content taught by the horticulture agents.

The first two modules and the pre-test are posted and will be due Thursday, June 11.

Two modules will be posted per week on Fridays and will be due the following Thursday.

The basics covered will benefit home gardeners anywhere, though some topics will be Louisiana-specific. No purchases of books or materials are necessary. Each week’s DIY lab activity is designed to utilize either common household materials or your own power of observation outdoors. Participants will not need to purchase anything to complete this course.

For more information, please email atimmerman@agcenter.lsu.edu.