The winter months are often viewed as dreary and bleak and aren’t generally pictured as a great time for gardening. Although New England’s cold weather during this part of the year makes it difficult to engage in agricultural hobbies, it’s still possible to enjoy them in indoor settings.
On Wednesday, Jan. 28, the University of Maine and University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension programs hosted a webinar on optimizing plant growth with indoor lighting. The lecture portion of the webinar focused primarily on the science behind growing plants. Emma Erler and Jonathan Ebba, two local experts in horticulture, hosted this webinar. Ebba spoke for about 40 minutes on the use of lighting to help grow plants in an indoor setting. Ebba is a field specialist with the UNH extension program, and has a keen interest in commercial horticulture. He also has a background in teaching greenhouse management and crop production, and has managed ornamental and hydroponic greenhouses at UNH in the past. Ebba’s portion of the lecture described the definition of and science behind light and colors, photosynthesis and saturation. After the lecture portion of the webinar, Ebba and Erler took a 20-minute Q and A session, giving the 185 viewers a chance to ask an expert on how they can better grow plants in their homes.
This webinar was able to happen thanks to the cooperation between the UMaine and UNH extension programs. Pamela Hargest, a horticulture professional with the UMaine extension program, provided a brief description of the program and its importance.
“UMaine Cooperative Extension is your doorway to University of Maine expertise. For over 100 years, we’ve been putting university research to work in homes, businesses, farms, and communities — in every corner of Maine,” Hargest said. “Our educational efforts focus on the Maine Food System and Positive Youth Development through 4-H programs with a focus on the STEM disciplines. We are part of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System, which works through the land-grant universities in each U.S. state. Maine’s land-grant university is in Orono at the University of Maine. In addition to our state offices in Orono, we have a network of county-based offices staffed by experts who provide practical, locally-based solutions for farmers, small business owners, kids, parents, consumers and others.”
The UMaine Cooperative Extension, like many other organizations, has had to adapt during the pandemic, taking their webinars and workshops online. This particular webinar was part of their winter gardening series, and is only one of many more workshops open to the public.