Marlis Doud – Master Gardener for fun, community betterment and profit

It’s an annual labor of love – not to mention perennial – when Marlis Doud plants over 2,000 seeds, which will later be transplanted as seedlings and relocated from her basement to her 12’x16’ greenhouse.

Doud has been raising plants for an estimated 30 years now, but this is only the fourth year she has been doing so on the grand scale of using a full-fledged green house. Her husband, Rick, built it for her and he is still often recruited to help in the maintenance of the petunias, marigolds, moss roses, many other types of flowers and the many varieties of vegetable plants.

Doud is a Master Gardener. This title comes through completing more than 60 hours of special training from South Dakota State University. The learning requirements include volunteering a minimum of 50 hours of service where she is helping the local Extension programs.

A Master Gardener has many ways to use their skills to help their community. Doud has given gardening presentations for various interested groups. She has answered many inquiries in how to help people with lawns, shrubs, flowers, gardens and shelterbelts. She has made house calls to offer advice on ailing plant situations and on pre-planting lay-outs. If she doesn’t know a good solution, she can refer contacts to other master gardeners whose specialties complement hers.

Master gardening is much more than “just planting flowers in front of a person’s home,” said Doud. It includes analyzing soil surveys, examining shelterbelts, to recommending plants. “I prefer to stick with what grows here easily in South Dakota,” said Doud. “I am not into prize-winning plants. I am not a rose person; I love to look at them, but they are a whole other science.”

Doud took the Master Gardener course “because I have a desire for education. I wanted to learn more about plants, seed preparation, and more about using my own greenhouse.” Doud suspects that she may be the only from-seed grower in western South Dakota other than Rapid City. Do farming community customers really create a market for a greenhouse? “They do, they really, really do,” Doud said.

For her greenhouse, Doud orders seeds from several different companies. An ounce of pin-head-sized seeds constitutes ordering in bulk. She starts “those tiny, little guys” in a sterile medium toward the end of January. and she is now in the process of transplanting.

“Once I start them, I have to check on them every day. I am somewhat tied here. I have to maintain the temperature, water and fertilizer. Once they are in the greenhouse, it occasionally has to be opened up to cool, because on average days this time of year, it can reach 80 degrees in there,” Doud said. She would like to work out there year-round, if she could keep it above freezing. “It can’t be year-round, because I don’t want to spend that much money on fuel,” Doud said.

“Selling young plants and hanging baskets in the Milesville and Philip area is not terribly profitable, but it does pay for my own stuff. It’s something that I really enjoy and it keeps me out of trouble,” said Doud.

For more information on benefiting from or becoming a master gardener, contact your county extension office.