Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excellent Watson!

The web is great for finding garden information - all kinds and at all levels of expertise.  For a reliable source, be sure to include your state's university extension site.  Many of their publications are free and on-line.  Most have books available to order on-line. 

The Master Gardener's program and 4-H are but two administered through the extension programs.

The university extension offices use academia's latest research and test results.  They inform about laws and regulations.  Most literature is available in Spanish.  They have sections devoted to the health issues in regards to gardening.  They include vegetable, ornamental and commercial gardening topics.  

They know their insects, diseases, and solutions.  I don't always agree with their methods for control as they have, in the past, been heavily chemical based.  That is primarily because most extension offices are a major resource and research for farming/agri industries and operations.  They are becoming more friendly to other non-chemical options.  Their resources give you choices now days.
Pocket Guide to Good Gardening
Most of the garden specific literature comes with pictures.  I know that sounds grade school targeted but with gardening - a picture is worth a thousand words.  Insects are often very difficult to identify since there are so many that look the same.  To the average gardener, a description of a plant disease can be difficult to visualize in real world situations.  Most of their extension garden literature has full information for the non-professional gardener. 

Most have become user friendly web sites (simply google your state university's extension). The University of Illinois Extension Office has a gardening facebook page that posts a topic most every day.  Some are text and others are short video demonstrations.

In this part of the Midwest, these colleges have extension offices:  University of Illinois, Purdue University, and Iowa State University. 

The interesting and reliable thing about your local state's extension literature - it's focus is conditions in your state.  Sounds obvious but have you ever searched the web for a solution to a garden problem and thought you found the perfect one?  Only to find it was targeted for another climate and not adaptable to your area? 

My local extension is not the only source I use, but, I certainly use it for my baseline information.  I know if I go to a site that has totally different/conflicting information - chances are it's either terribly misinformed, only advertising their own product, or is a scam.  Most states have an extension office in each county (although there has been some major financial funding cuts recently).  Stop by with questions or for literature.  The quality of county extension offices depends on the quality of the local extension director.

Take advantage of this wonderful resource - it is excellent!

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