For more than 25 years, we've offered horticulture classes to the community, and we are pleased to do so again, starting later this month. Homeowners should take notes as these classes with cover such topics as how to take care of turf and landscape plants as well as growing food, including vegetables and fruits, saving time and money. We emphasize water conservation and non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.

The classes have also been attended by many in the turf and landscape industry, since we offer research-based information on how plants grow and up-to-date information on pest management and irrigation practices.

Representatives from homeowners' associations and real estate professionals may also wish to attend to pick up tips on evaluating landscapes, using appropriate terminology to request work from landscape contractors, and evaluating work that is done.

A Master Gardener I class will be offered Monday evenings, beginning Aug. 20 and extending 16 weeks. Topics will include plant selection, soil science, landscape design principles, and pest management with an emphasis on organic and IPM methods, as well as sessions on vegetable crops, deciduous fruits and citrus. A syllabus is available.

A Master Gardener II class is planned for Thursday nights, beginning Aug. 23, running for 16 weeks. Topics will be additions to those covered in the introductory class.

We ask those interested in either class to contact the Cooperative Extension office at or 868-6200, to reserve a space and help us track class size.

Cost of each 16-week class session will be $70, same price as in recent years. Actual registration will be handled at the first class meeting. (Although we refer to these locally as Master Gardener classes, we don't sponsor the Master Gardener program with its volunteer component.)

John Karlik is an adviser with the UC Cooperative Extension in Bakersfield.