Need Help with Your Gardening Questions.

May 27, 2009

Free Help with Your Gardening Questions -The Cooperative Extension Service

There can be so many technical questions to ask about your yard and garden, your plants and trees, and your soil and water, but you don’t know who to go to for the answers or your budget can’t afford a private horticulturist or technician.  Fortunately, you can find answers available through the Cooperative Extension Service.  The Cooperative Extension system is associated with every state land-grant university and is a network of local or regional offices which are staffed by one or more experts-Extension Agents-who can provide answers to lawn and garden technical questions.  Their expertise can provide practical, useful and research-based information. 

Cooperative Extension Agents provide teaching, research and informational services to the public regarding many aspects of plant horticulture, plant physiology, entomology, soil science, botany, and fertilizer and pesticides.  They are available to answer questions, provide diagnosis, and provide training and information based on the local area based on years of experience and research.  Best of all, they are accessible either in your local or regional area and generally provide their services for free or for a minimal fee.

Areas of technical expertise provided by the Cooperative Extension Service include gardening, fruits and vegetables, trees, bees, lawns, plant health, insects and pesticides, soil sampling and fertilizer, water quality and plant disease.  A few examples of the services that are provided include: 

  • Every lawn and garden has different care requirements to grow the healthiest and most productive plants.  Generally, this begins with a soil sample to determine the type of soil, the fertilizer requirements, and the water usage needed.  An Extension Agent can instruct in how to properly collect a soil sample and then assist in getting the sample tested.  From the information received, they can further advise on the types of soil nutrients needed and the best type of application to use.   
  • Plants and trees can be susceptible to insects and diseases which can be difficult to diagnose.  The result of infection or infestation is a plant that does not produce, does not look healthy or dies.  An Extension Agent is trained to analyze the insect or disease and give instruction for the best type of treatment.  The Cooperative Extension Service’s is especially helpful when insects or diseases are new to an area because of their continuing study and research in this area.
  • For gardening enthusiasts, many Cooperative Extension Services have a Master Gardener Program.  This program provides extensive classroom training in horticulture, entomology, soil science, botany, plant pathology and pesticide safety.  In exchange for this training, the Master Gardener agrees to further volunteer their time to
    the community using the knowledge they have gained.  This program provides valuable training and is very rewarding.  

To grow a yard and garden that is beautiful and enjoyable requires the gardener to have a wide range of technical knowledge.  This knowledge would cover all aspects of plants and plant growth, plant nutrition, insects and disease and general plant care.  To gain this knowledge can require dedication and time.  We are fortunate to have experts to assist us who are trained and available to the public without requiring a costly investment on our part.  Generally, the only charge is for materials and outside services, i.e. sampling or lab fees.  If you have questions about your yard or garden, consider contacting your local or regional Cooperative Extension Service-they are available to help you.


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