May 26, 2020
K-State Garden Hour Takes Root Online
Kansas State University gardening experts launched a one-hour webinar series on May 20 to what appeared to be a receptive audience.
The first-ever K-State Garden Hour was held online from noon to 1 p.m. with more than 400 viewers tuned in by computer. Pam Paulsen, a K-State Research and Extension horticulture agent in Reno County, gave a presentation on how to add native plants in the home landscape.
“It was great to see the gardening enthusiasm that people have, and it really showed up in the conversations from our participants,” said Matthew McKernan, a horticulture agent in Sedgwick County. “I think people are outside in their yards and gardens, now more than ever, and looking to improve their green spaces. It was great to see people’s interest not only in the beauty of their garden, but in its sustainability and benefits to pollinators, birds and other wildlife.”
McKernan is part of a team of K-State employees across Kansas that has organized the weekly series, which is free each Wednesday during the lunch hour. Participants must register for each weekly session, which will be recorded and posted at that same website afterwards.
Normally at this time of year, Kansas Extension agents and Master Gardeners around the state would be getting their hands dirty right along with others trying to learn more about growing local foods and plants. The K-State Garden Hour is a way to still do that, while respecting ongoing efforts to keep social distancing.
Brooke Garcia, a K-State graduate in horticulture currently working in the university’s Department of Entomology, kicked off the series by welcoming participants to the unique format.
“We can’t be with you face-to-face right now, so we wanted to find a way to still be involved with you,” she said, noting that the K-State Garden Hour is for gardeners of all abilities.
“We are living in a virtual world right now, and we have one big thing in common with our participants: we have a passion for horticulture and gardening,” Garcia said afterwards. “It is our hope that we can continue to provide this education virtually, and maintain engagement with our stakeholders across the state.”
The series shifts to ‘Taking Care of Tomatoes’ on May 27, followed by presentations on supporting pollinators in the garden (June 3), indoor plants (June 10) and a discussion on bug-related pests (June 17). More sessions will be announced soon.
“The K-State Garden Hour is a unique way for people to learn about many different aspects of gardening, while also hearing from a wide variety of Extension experts from around the state,” McKernan said. “Each K-State Research and Extension presenter has the opportunity to share their passion about gardening, and I think that enthusiasm for each subject will hopefully be something that the audience can experience.”
McKernan added that he hopes the excitement will continue to build each week.
“Gardening impacts our communities in so many ways, from increasing physical activity and improving mental health, all the way to improving property values, reducing crime rates and creating healthy ecosystems for pollinators and wildlife,” he said.
“There’s always some uncertainty in trying new things,” McKernan added, “but we were very pleased with the initial, overwhelming response this series has received so far.”