This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
In many states, extension schools of horticulture are held for the purpose of carrying special horticultural instruction to a neighborhood. Such schools often consist of lectures and demonstrations in a subject of immediate interest. For example, just previous to harvesting a fruit crop a school in fruit-packing may be held. The methods and advantages of proper packing are presented by means of lectures. This is followed by practical laboratory periods in which those in attendance learn to do the work of proper packing. In a similar way, pruning, spraying and other phases of fruit-production are being taught in brief periods of one or two days or a week, the time varying with the needs of the community and the character of the subject taught; or situations with vegetable-growers and florists may be met.
Some schools teach courses in horticulture by correspondence. Certain subjects are capable of being taught in this way. Outlines for the lessons are mailed to the student. Prescribed reading is required and directions for observations and original work and study of plants are formulated. Examinations usually consist of written reports made by the student, embodying a statement of the results secured by him. These reports usually show whether or not the student has grasped the subject and wherein he may need further suggestions and study.
A movement that is destined to have a very profound influence is the organization of boys' and girls' clubs for the study of subjects relating to horticulture. Often this club work takes the form of contests in gardening or in the production of some special garden crop, such as tomatoes. Organization is best effected through cooperation with the schools or somebody that can direct the work of each local club. Printed sheets are mailed the club members, from time to time, giving instruction in the details of the work and the conditions governing the contest. Prizes are usually awarded at the local contests and sometimes the prize-winners.compete in a state contest.
A very efficient means of promoting the productive growth of any horticultural interest is by means of cooperative demonstrations conducted on the grounds of some energetic grower, whose conditions fairly represent the neighborhood. The ground may be leased by the institution or offered by the local grower. Experiments are carefully outlined to test some problem of interest, such as spraying, comparison of methods of pruning or of cultivation or planting, the use of fertilizers, determination of the merits of particular flowers or vegetables, or other question which the community needs to have worked out. A representative of the horticultural staff visits the grounds as often as is necessary to oversee proper conduct of the work and to record the results of the experiment. Whenever results are secured that are of benefit to the growers, a meeting is held for the purpose of explaining and observing these results and demonstrating the methods for the benefit of those who may profit by adopting them. This form of extension affords the means not only of presenting to the grower facts and methods already known, but it also works new problems out for the neighborhood by securing results that are adapted to their special local requirement.
It makes the work convincing; the growers themselves have a hand in it and feel that it is their own; they grow into an understanding of it as the work grows; it gives a new pride and a new power in working for superior methods. While this is perhaps the most productive form of extension work, its scope is, of course, necessarily limited by the fact that working force and funds are not available for handling more than a limited number of the pressing problems in a state at one time.