Gardeners start to think spring and plan for this year’s gardening season

Find out your options for garden learning in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Vegetable garden
Interest in gardening is growing. Check out options for expanding your green thumb knowledge.
Contributed by Viv Williams

As spring is approaching, gardeners of all skill levels are thinking about getting outside and growing their own fruits and vegetables.

 Experts at North Dakota State University are making sure that anyone interested in having their own gardens has access to educational information by offering their online Spring Fever Garden Forums , beginning March 20. 

“We want to connect everybody and NDSU for free to have access to information,” said Tom Kalb, extension horticulturalist for North Dakota State University. “We want everybody in North Dakota to learn what’s the latest going on at NDSU and we want everybody to have direct access to the researchers at NDSU.”

 The topics covered include vegetables, fruits, flowers, bugs and soil health.

“This helps to empower them to be a better gardener, to be able to care for their landscape in a more sustainable way to have a more productive garden to have a healthier diet,” said Kalb.


And for those looking to grow a more in-depth knowledge of gardening, hundreds of gardeners are turning to the Master Gardener programs offered in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

“It has become very popular in the last few years, more and more people want to learn more about gardening, growing food locally has been very popular, also looking at gardening as a healing activity,” said Jackie Froemming, Extension Educator and Horticulture and Master Gardener Volunteer Program Coordinator at University of Minnesota.

This year, the state of Minnesota has around 3,000 certified master gardeners. To become a part of the program, participants must complete training courses. This year, the program saw the most interest ever, with over 550 people applying.

In South Dakota, around 100 people will be attending the South Dakota State University Extension Master Gardener and Home Horticulture course this month to become members of South Dakota’s master gardener program.

“The training happens once a year, so this is people’s chance to become a master gardener,” said Prairey Walkling, Master Gardener program manager for SDSU Extension.

Master Gardener programs help participants not only improve their own gardens, but also take their green thumbs out into the community by providing multiple public educational opportunities throughout the year, as well as volunteering.

“We don’t have staff everywhere in South Dakota so they really help us reach more people because we have those different clubs and they can just help us reach more people,” said Walking. “They also help increase public awareness and understanding about topics like healthy soil, integrated pest management, native plants, water quality, just how to take good care of our environment.”

“People learn from their neighbors. So, if your neighbor is a certified gardener and has a beautiful pollinator garden, neighbors will learn by just looking at a garden and that’s what we are finding out,” said Froemming. “A lot of the education, a lot of the learning is happening at a local level.


You can learn more about each of the Master Gardener programs on their websites:

North Dakota ( )

( )

South Dakota ( )

If you are interested in attending the NDSU Spring Fever Garden Forums ( registration is encouraged, but not required. The courses will be held Monday evenings from 6:30 - 8 p.m. CST from March 20 to April 10. Sessions will also be recorded and published online to access at any time.

Ariana is a reporter for Agweek based out of South Dakota. She graduated from South Dakota State University in 2022 with a double major in Agricultural Communications and Journalism, with a minor in Animal Science. She is currently a graduate student at SDSU, working towards her Masters of Mass Communications degree. She enjoys reporting on all things agriculture and sharing the stories that matter to both the producers and the consumers.

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