When I say Phil Painter is an optimist, I’m not referring to the local nonprofit club. Instead I’m sharing that he radiates positivity, which is always welcome as we fall headlong into winter! Phil completed Level 1 about the same time he began a lawn care/landscape maintenance business. He, like many Master Gardeners, combines his interest in gardening with his work life. His business has been so successful that he has little time to garden or volunteer, although his spouse gardens. This summer his wife had enough beefsteak and roma tomatoes, generated in pots, to give many away. She also raises herbs for cooking. The weekly weeding, though, falls to Paul. They plan raised beds for spring 2019 with a few intended goals: so the Chesapeake Bay retriever cannot dig their labors and to utilize less city water. In the past they have grown corn, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, squash, and broccoli.
He was included and even at times forced into gardening his parents’ 20×60-foot plot. His mother found the pursuit much more challenging in Harlowtown than her native California. Eventually he recruited her to the MG program, which she did in Helena. Sometimes knowledge flows upstream!
The welcoming, open format is what Paul cherishes about Master Gardeners. Prior to his enrollment, he struggled to find correct regional information, and he appreciated learning the why to many of his questions. Much of the prior information he was supplied, even locally, was opinion rather than fact, so he was hungry for accuracy.
He finds value in the attitude of sharing information plus the broad range of topics explored. He freely and frequently gives Amy’s number to customers. His advice to new gardeners? Call the Extension Office and sign up for Master Gardeners’ classes. We have a super cheerleader! He hopes the direction of the program will be towards youth, suggesting the Boys and Girls Club or Scouts, to give young people a sense of accomplishment. Even though he has little time to volunteer with our various activities, he has enjoyed observing the number of volunteer options blossom.
His company does not spray because to do so requires special licensing. This factoid alerted me to the notion that if a company does spray, the client might want to check on their licensing. I’m relieved that spraying necessitates licensing. Of course homeowners can spray at their own familial and pet risks.
We discussed brands of equipment, which I won’t endorse herein, and the services he provides: mainly mowing, then power raking, clean-up, and fertilizing with non-pesticide products. He only does sprinkler blowouts for his customers. For landscaping and tree pruning, he makes referrals. Wise enough to limit his scope of practice to what he can successfully manage, Paul devotes this time of year to blade sharpening and oil changes. Specific wisdom he shared with me included that there’s no need to water lawns until July (yards don’t like “wet feet,” aka wet roots), and the many lovely tall grasses so popular lately need thinning every 3 to 5 years. Also trim lilacs after blooming rather than eliminating new blooms in the spring.
So if you crave witness to one of the successes of our program, contact Phil Painter for inspiration and information!
Submitted by Bess Lovec