On Monday, August 17th, I took the Gage County Master Gardeners and some fun guests on our 2nd Annual Gage County Master Gardener Tour. It was a rainy day, but we still managed to have a great time and learn some things on the way. It is such a joy for me to get to work with these wonderful people all the time because they are so eager to learn about horticulture and they are so much fun to be around as well!
The first stop on the tour was to Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, Nebraska. This was neat to see how they work and how they develop, package, market, and ship out so many different types of wildflower and native grass seed throughout the entire country. It was interesting to hear how they harvest and sort the seeds from all of the “fluff” to get a good Pure Live Seed Number for their packaging so that people are getting mostly seed in their orders without other materials filling the weight. We got to see the equipment they used to sort the seeds and we got to see the enormous amount of seed they had in their facility. I was astonished at the enormous bags of clover seed that most of us are trying to rid from our lawns, but in a naturalized area of an acreage it is a great plant to have. They even had a bag of crabgrass seed that is used in the Southern parts of the United States for a forage plant for horses and other livestock. This was odd for us horticulturists who are working all spring and summer to keep it out of our lawns and gardens. The rain did disrupt our tour a little, as we were not able to go out and see the fields of wildflowers and native grasses, except what we saw from the shed or on the bus ride among the fields Stock Seed Farms owns. It was an enjoyable experience that many of us will never forget.
After lunch in Ashland, we ventured on to Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha. This was an awesome experience. We took the tram tour through the gardens so we were able to see all of the gardens with much less walking. We didn’t get to go through all of the individual gardens this route, but since it was raining, the tram tour was a good choice. The trams were covered so we didn’t get too wet. I enjoyed the Model Train Garden, the small bridges were very unique and well-made. The whole garden was very interesting and it could take an entire day to thoroughly get through it all. We definitely didn’t have enough time there, but it was still great to get to see some of it and see how many different types of plants available to Nebraska growers. The best part is that it is always growing as the tour discussed with us future plans for new gardens.
Finally, we were able to join up with the Douglas County Master Gardeners at their HOPE Gardens. The HOPE garden was started in 2003 by Nebraska Extension in partnership with Faithful Shepherd Presbyterian Church as a vegetable garden project to Help Omaha’s People Eat (H.O.P.E.). This garden provides fresh produce to the Heartland Hope Mission food pantry in Omaha. In 2014, the garden produced over 9,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to this city mission. It was a very interesting garden to tour. The Master Gardeners who work on this garden work very hard!! They start all the plants from seed in their homes and they planted a lot of crops! They have all types of different vegetables, fruits, and now a pollinator garden to help with pollination. Everyone needs fresh produce!
The day was a huge success!! Great fun and we learned a lot. Plus, the day ended beautifully, after all the rain all day, we saw a full, double rainbow on the way home. I was able to catch a photo of it, but seeing it in person was much better. Thanks to all of the great Master Gardeners and guests for making this day fun! Hopefully we can find some great places to go next year, I know that the participants are already starting to come up with ideas for another trip next year.