Four Seasons Gardening Webinar has been an important state-wide program offered by University of Illinois Extension for over two decades. Using technology, Extension horticulture educators are able to teach current horticultural information to a broad audience in Illinois and beyond. Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle, horticulture educator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties recently presented her first Four Seasons Gardening Webinar.
She delivered a lesson about winter sowing of seeds to 142 devices logged on to the live webinar. Some devices represented a small gathering of learners watching the presentation together. More than 30 of those devices were from our four-county unit. Additional learners will be able to watch the recorded presentation via the Illinois Extension Horticulture YouTube channel at go.illinois.edu/fourseasonsrecordings. To date, the 2019 webinars have been viewed an average of 464 times.
“I taught participants how to start seeds in containers outside in the winter,” explained Flowers-Kimmerle. “We talked about what type of seeds work well for this, how to upcycle a container into a “mini-greenhouse,” and when to place them outside.
“Winter sowing requires relatively few inputs and relies on natural conditions of the environment to produce garden-ready healthy seedlings. It is effective and allows for a natural hardening off. Because the seedlings were grown outdoors, it is not a difficult transition from the container to your garden.”
Throughout the hour-long session, Flowers-Kimmerle touched on both the scientific data as well as the practical information. “During the cold, gray days of winter gardeners can do some meaningful gardening using this technique,” stated Flowers-Kimmerle.
“After listening to the webinar, I started four or five large containers of seeds for my garden,” mentioned Laurie Acuff of Manito. “I am excited to see how they grow.” Thirty-eight participants completed the a follow-up survey. The data collected indicated 89% of respondents are likely or very likely to attempt winter sowing with containers that they upcycled into “mini-greenhouses.”
Additional survey data indicates:
· 89% of respondents reported increased knowledge to a high or very high level of the basic principles of winter seed sowing.
· 78% of respondents said their knowledge increased to a high or very high level regarding types of seeds to use in winter sowing.
· 94% reported an increase to a high or very high level of their understanding of methods to prepare containers for winter sowing.
For Extension Master Gardeners, these webinars are an opportunity for continuing education. The train-the-trainer concept allows Extension Master Gardeners to learn from Extension horticulture educators and use it to fulfill their mission to help others learn to grow.