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Marjorie Bensie named Tri-State Area Master Gardener of the Year

WVU Extension Hancock County Master Gardener classes begin March 2

TOP HONORS — Marjorie Bensie, right, was chosen as the Master Gardener of the Year for 2019 by the Tri-State Area Master Gardener Association. With her is Doris Musselman, association president. -- Contributed

NEW CUMBERLAND — The Tri-State Area Master Gardener Association has chosen Marjorie Bensie as the Master Gardener of the Year for 2019.

A resident of George’s Run in Jefferson County, Bensie has been a West Virginia University Extension Certified Master Gardener since 2013.

Herb gardening, aroma therapy made from flowers and herbs, and growing fresh tomatoes are just a few of her favorite areas of gardening.

“I love growing my own food with no pesticides because I know what’s in them,” Bensie said.

Among her tips for would-be gardeners are:

– If planting tropicals outdoors in the summer, realize they need a lot of water. A good example of this is the popular “Elephant Ears.” They require a lot of water because they grow huge and have massive leaves that take in a lot of moisture.

– Don’t use pesticides. “There is a lot of information out there for alternatives to using chemical pesticides. Just simply hosing down your tomatoes can knock off a lot of bugs,” she suggests.

– Grow a lot of flowers to attract pollinating bees and butterflies, which is good for them and good for us.

Bensie noted that she makes “a simple and delicious” spaghetti sauce with fresh basil, garlic, oregano, tomato paste and fresh home-grown tomatoes, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese and onion. “Just experiment with the amounts of things, adding water, salt and pepper as needed, and until you have the sauce to your liking,” she advises.

Individuals who enjoy gardening are encouraged to consider involvement in the WVU Hancock County Master Gardener Program. It starts on March 2 and runs for 12 weeks, according to Ann Bailey, agricultural and natural resources program assistant, WVU Extension Service, Hancock County, in New Cumberland. The office is in room 203 at 104 N. Court St. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Meetings are held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays at the First Christian Church on Main Street in downtown Weirton.

The classes are taught primarily by WVU Agricultural professors. They include botany; square-foot gardening; composting; gardening for life; garden animals — good and bad, entomology (bugs), pesticides, plant propagation and plant diseases.

“When you complete the classes, you will take a test,” Bailey explained. “Then you are required to do hours of volunteer work in the community. There are endless ideas of volunteer work you can do and are solely based on your personal interests. Then after you’re certified, you have to do 20 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of education per year,” Bailey added.

Those interested in taking the classes may contact Bailey at the WVU Extension office by calling (304) 564-3805.

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