Glenda Bavier, a master gardner, checks wine grape plants at the Pima County Cooperative Extension.


Time is running out to apply for the next Pima County Cooperative Extension master gardeners class.

Applications are due Sept. 1 for the 50-hour session that will run January through April.

Master gardeners are specially trained to help people with their gardening questions and teach good gardening practices to the community.

They're required to put in 50 hours of volunteer service yearly and continue their education.

While the program's primary goal is to educate the public, becoming a master gardener also is a good way to learn about successful gardening techniques for where they live.

Anita Fancon feels that way.

The 14-year master gardener answers questions over the phone or by email. "In the plant clinic we have to do research, so I learn from just doing that," Fancon says.

After learning about desert gardening, Fancon decided to pull out her high-maintenance rose plants for a container garden. "It's a lot more practical," she says.

People don't need to know how to garden to participate in the program, says Peter Warren, the extension's urban horticulture extension agent.

"The main thing you need is a desire to volunteer," he says.

A program change now allows people with full-time jobs to become master gardeners, says Warren, so past applicants who were turned away because of work can apply again.

Applicants will be interviewed to fill about 30 available slots. Students must pay $150 for the course and materials.

Class topics include basic plant science, plant identification, plant care and water conservation.

The estimated 180 master gardeners in Pima County volunteer to staff the plant clinic, maintain the extension's demonstration gardens, give talks and work on special projects.

"It really is worthwhile if you have the time to spend," says Fancon.

For information, call 626-5161 for Tucson-area residents or 648-0808 for Green Valley-area residents. An application is available online,; click on "Pima" on the map.


At least 19 vendors will sell exotic succulents, leafy landscape plants and locally grown herbs at Tohono Chul Park's annual summer sale July 26 and 27.

"A lot of the vendors bring in succulents, cactus and weird things," says park general services director Lee Mason. But there also will be popular landscape items. The park's greenhouse also will be open.

All of the sellers are based in Arizona, providing a source for answers to local gardening questions, Mason says.

Admission to the park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, is free during the sale, 4-8 p.m. July 26 and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. July 27.


Horticulturists at the Tucson Botanical Gardens suggest these tasks for July:

• Plant summer wildflowers or monsoon-season crops such as beans, corn and squash.

• Adjust irrigation schedules. Skip a watering after heavy monsoon rain.

• Prune drooping tree limbs, wind-damaged branches and suckers.

• Inspect water harvesting systems after a heavy rain for needed repairs.

• Use mosquito dunks in standing water to kill the insects.

• Fertilize container succulents with half-strength solution.

Contact Tucson freelance writer Elena Acoba at