JoAnne Skelly: Learn the secrets of high desert gardening

My colleagues at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offer excellent classes for aspiring gardeners. “Selecting & Growing Fruit Trees” will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 5 at Bartley Ranch in Reno. Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer and certified arborist Michael Janik will take you on a journey from winter through fall and discuss fruit tree needs in Northern Nevada including soil, U.S. Department of Agriculture zones and chill hours, watering and pest control. He will list fruit varieties suitable for our area.

There will be eight “Grow Your Own, Nevada” classes this spring to help Nevadans who want to grow and preserve more of their own food.

“Anyone can become a better gardener by attending these classes,” Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist Heidi Kratsch said. “From the beginner to the advanced gardener, everyone can benefit from a ‘Grow Your Own, Nevada’ class.”

The workshops provide gardeners and those interested in growing healthy foods with a “back-to-the-basics” guide to great harvests in Nevada.

Classes are held from 6 to 8 p.m. live in Reno and via interactive video to Cooperative Extension offices statewide including the Carson City office, 2621 Northgate Lane, No. 12. To find out more or sign up, contact Jenn Fisher at, 775-336-0249.

Here are the spring 2019 program class topics in case you want to mark your calendar now:

April 2: Edible Landscaping

April 4: Nevada Soils

April 9: Raised Bed Hoop Houses

April 11: Vermicomposting and Hot Composting

April 16: Fruit Tree Pruning

April 18: Nuisance Weeds in the Vegetable Garden

April 23: Growing Grapes in Nevada

April 25: Nevada’s Bugs

For more advanced horticulture training, become a master gardener. You’ll be trained in the finer points of gardening to improve your knowledge and to share it with others. You can then provide free, research-based horticulture information to Nevadans. Training covers gardening topics including botany; soils and composting; identification and control of insects, diseases and weeds; diagnosing plant problems; lawn and tree care; pruning techniques; edible gardening; and water-efficient landscape design. Master gardeners volunteer 50 hours per year in a variety of projects, including answering telephone inquiries, conducting plant clinics and consulting at school and community gardens.

The course is offered weekday afternoons each fall in Reno over six to nine weeks. If you’re interested, get on the interest list early because classes quickly fill up. A fee is charged to cover program costs including a comprehensive Master Gardener Handbook. Contact Leilani Konyshev at 775-336-0274 or for information.

JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at


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