For more than 25 years, the University of California cooperative extension has offered horticulture classes to the community, and we are pleased to do so again starting in August.

Upcoming classes can benefit homeowners by conveying knowledge of how to take care of turf and landscape plants as well as how to grow food, including vegetables and fruits, saving time and money. We emphasize water conservation and nonchemical 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 Tuesday nights, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Aug. 20 and lasting 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 IV class is planned for Monday nights, also 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Aug. 19, also for 16 weeks.

Topics will be additions to those covered in the introductory class.

Those interested in either class should contact the Cooperative Extension office at or 868-6200, to reserve a space and help track class size. Cost of each 16-week session will be $70, same price as in recent years.

Actual registration will be handled at the first class meeting.

(Although classes are locally referred to as Master Gardener classes, the extension doesn't sponsor the Master Gardener program with its volunteer component.)

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