PULLMAN, Wash. — When should you pick apples from your backyard tree? What should you do if you spot black lesions on your tomatoes?
Answers to these and hundreds of other garden and landscape questions may be as close as your computer at a new Internet website launched by Washington State University Cooperative Extension for plant lovers in Western Washington. The World Wide Web address is http://gardening.wsu.edu.
“It’s a 24-hour service providing credible, university-backed gardening advice,” said Van Bobbitt, WSU Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.
Master Gardeners are university-trained volunteers who serve as educators in their communities.
“While most people still get gardening information by phone, bulletins or Master Gardener clinics, an increasing number have computers and Internet access,” Bobbit added. “We felt we needed to move ahead with this new technology.”
Information is available in a variety of formats at the site. Answers to frequently asked questions are grouped under general headings: fall topics, flowers, fruit, houseplants, lawns, ornamentals, vegetables and miscellaneous.
You also can search all of the information at the site by typing in a key word or go to the library and leaf through online editions of numerous extension garden publications. A number contain color illustrations to help you identify insect pests and diseases plaguing your yard.
If that doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, sign on to the Master Gardener Forum. “Master Gardeners moderate the forum, making certain that the advice provided is credible before it’s posted for public viewing,” said Sharon Maier, project coordinator.
Want to find a source of gardening expertise near you? Check under “Local Opportunities” for a list of extension garden experts in the 19 counties west of the Cascades and find out how to get in touch with them. You also will learn if Master Gardeners have planted a demonstration garden in your area and find out about opportunities for you to become a Master Gardener yourself.
Like many new websites, portions of this one are still under construction, including a calendar and a section called “Stewardship Gardening,” which will provide advice on composting, integrated pest management, and preserving water quality.
The site has links to other interesting sites on the web as well, including Composting with Red Wiggler Worms, a Canadian site, and the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Seattle.
The new site supplements the services of the more than 2,000 Master Gardener volunteers in Washington.
Last year across the state, Master Gardeners volunteered more than 100,000 hours and helped more than 314,000 people with their gardening problems.
The Master Gardener concept originated in Washington about 25 years ago. It has since spread to all 50 states and four provinces of Canada.
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