Resources to help Kansas City gardeners find advice on growing

Audrey J. Powers

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Heather Gray-Johnson, left, and Keisha Mitchell sit together in Heather Gray-Johnson’s vegetable garden in Kansas City on Thursday, April 14, 2022. Gray-Johnson and Mitchell are avid home gardeners and members of the Kansas City Area Gardening Group on Facebook.

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A beginner’s guide to gardening in Kansas City

Have a green thumb — or just a new hobby? Take it to the next level with these gardening tips based on local conditions and opportunities.

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Heather Gray-Johnson joined the Kansas City Area Gardening Group on Facebook after her husband died in 2015.

For her, the community has been essential to her gardening success and has helped with mindfulness.

“Honest to God, it was very helpful to me,” Gray-Johnson said.

Since joining, she’s met fellow gardeners, swapped plants and even held garden parties before the pandemic. Now, the group is a thriving online community of more than 9,000 people, where Gray-Johnson and other have been able to connect and build community.

Kansas City has an array of gardening resources available from University Extension programs to social groups dedicated to local gardening. Here are some of the other best local resources for those looking for advice and community.

Kansas City Community Gardens

Kansas City Community Gardens has helped Gray-Johnson learn more about how to start and maintain a vegetable garden.

For a small fee, KCCG provides local growers with discounted plants, equipment and even offers rental plots around the Kansas City area.

The nonprofit organization also has a retail space in Swope Park at 6917 Kensington Ave., where people can come and shop for their gardening needs.

“I’ve been a member of it ever since my husband passed, and I wanted to start vegetable gardening. I knew enough but I wanted to learn more to be successful,” said Gray-Johnson, who said she mainly had experience with flower gardening before she began planting vegetables seven years ago.

Gray-Johnson said since joining KCCG, she’s added raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes and a peach tree to her yard.

“[KCCG] is a way for me to be able to buy the plants super cheap. So that I can have a vegetable garden, you know?” she said. “They’re an amazing group.”

KCCG membership fees are based on family income and include classes, seeds, tilling supplies, soil, fertilizer and more perks. To learn more call the headquarters at 816-931-3877.

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Vegetables begin to grow in several garden beds at Heather Gray-Johnson’s home in Kansas City on Thursday, April 14, 2022. Gray-Johnson is an avid home gardener and member of the Kansas City Area Gardening Group on Facebook. Emily Curiel [email protected]

University extension programs

Kansas Citians have access to both the Kansas State and University of Missouri extensions.

“So there are a lot of resources…nobody has to do this alone. It’s a lot of fun. It’s worth it,” said University of Missouri-Extension horticulture specialist, Tamra Reall.

Both extension programs offer soil testing, classes and master gardener programs. Master gardeners typically study horticulture and are trained to help local gardeners understand research-based approaches.

Both schools also offer a master gardener hotline for those just looking for help:

You can contact Missouri’s hotline at 816-833-8733 or [email protected] Kansas’ hotline can be reached at 913-715-7050 or [email protected]

If you are starting a new garden, there will be a webinar on the five most important things you need to know. The webinar will be on April 28, starting at 6 p.m. People can register on the extension’s website.

There will also be an in-person class on how to plant a raised bed garden on May 14.

If you have more questions or want to learn how to join any of the University of Missouri’s gardening programs, there is a weekly Garden Hour where residents can ask questions. Visit here to learn more: ipm.missouri.edu/townHalls.

Online communities

Kansas City Area Gardening Group is a great start if you are looking for fellow gardeners in Kansas City. There are a few other Facebook groups to consider joining as well.

Many groups are private and may require you to meet some standards before you can join.

If you decide to join a group, make sure you live in the area that it is trying to serve and follow any guidelines set by the group as well.

Did we miss any great gardening resources? Let us know at [email protected]

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Kynala Phillips is a Service Journalism Reporter at The Kansas City Star, where she works to answer readers questions about the resources and services in the community. She attended the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and is originally from Madison, Wisconsin.

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