He knows what grows

LeMasters is county's new garden guru

LeMasters is county's new garden guru

March 17, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

Eric LeMasters knows he has big garden boots to fill as he begins his work as the new horticulture consultant in Washington County with the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland.

"My first task is to get to know people and let them know I'm available," he said from his office at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike.

LeMasters' predecessor, Sandy Scott, retired in October after 14 years of helping other people with their gardens and yards.

A native of West Virginia, LeMasters, 31, earned his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Central Florida. For a year after graduation, he worked at his alma mater. He spent the next 31/2 years at the W.Va. Experimental Farm in Kearneysville, all in research.


"Mainly, I was studying ornamental and small fruit crops," LeMasters said.

He designed greenhouse irrigation systems, specifically for strawberries, in an effort to extend their growing season.

For the past 21/2 years, LeMasters worked in the commercial sector at Lovell's Nursery on the Leitersburg Pike.

"People coming in there taught me a lot about gardens, both flower and vegetable," he said. "It's all about learning."

In his new job, LeMasters will be available for calls and visits whether they concern insects, lawns, flowers, trees or shrubs.

At the time of her retirement, Scott said about 3,000 calls were fielded in her office each year.

"I'm planning to promote composting because I believe it is very important," LeMasters said.

As far as what growers can expect this summer in Washington County, LeMasters was quick to say he doesn't like to predict.

"Even now, you never can tell what will happen in May," he said.

Even though the area has gotten more rain and certainly more snow than in past years, it is too soon to predict what's ahead.

"The last two summers were very dry but this year, we don't know what we will have," he said. "But it should be an interesting summer."

For more information or to inquire about a horticulture question, call 301-791-1604.

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