PULLMAN, Wash. — Gardeners can get free professional advice 24 hours a day at three web sites sponsored by Washington State University Cooperative Extension.
“These sites provide people with another option to get good, scientifically sound gardening information,” said Van Bobbitt, coordinator of WSU’s 25-year-old extension Master Gardener program.
Separate sites serve gardeners east and west of the Cascades. “We created separate sites just because of the different gardening conditions,” Bobbitt said.
Gardeners on the west side of the state can find abundant help at Gardening in Western Washington. Users can leaf through a library of electronic publications on such topics as selecting the right plants for your yard, lawn renovation, native Northwest plants, plant diseases, and basic landscape skills. A garden calendar helps gardeners plan activities month-by-month.
Users can follow a moderated discussion of garden topics in the “Master Gardener Forum.” (The discussion is moderated to make certain that the advice provided is credible.)
You can join in by getting a password and I.D. (There is no cost.) Discussions are free-ranging and not necessarily confined to the Evergreen State. Recently a resident of a turn-of-the-century building in Mexico City sought advice to stop mice invading her kitchen from a vacant apartment next door.
If you tire of virtual reality and want to talk with a Master Gardener in person, click on “Local Opportunities” to find the phone numbers and hours of Master Gardeners in 19 western Washington counties.
Under “Local Opportunities,” click on ,”South Puget Sound Farm Market Guide” to search for sources of fresh produce and flowers. You will find extensive information on some 30 farmers markets and almost 90 farms that sell direct to consumers in King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Mason counties.
Before leaving this site, explore some of the 22 links, including links to WSU’s extension publications. Extension bulletins can be viewed, down loaded and ordered directly from this site. The chain of links also includes Cornell University’s biological control site, the University of Washington’s Medical Herb Garden, and the Pacific Northwest Gardening Home Page.
“Hortsense,” a text-only site, provides answers to nearly 700 common problems of lawns, ornamental plants, small fruits, tree fruits and vegetables.
Go to http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/ and follow simple menu instructions leading to descriptions of problems and options for pest management including cultural, biological and chemical remedies that are legal in Washington.
The three web sites supplement the services of more than 3,000 Master Gardener volunteers in Washington who last year helped more than 318,000 people. Master Gardeners are avid gardeners who volunteer a minimum of 50 to 60 hours of their time to serve the public in exchange for 50 hours of training offered by Washington State University faculty.
The Master Gardener concept originated in Washington 25 years ago as a means for Cooperative Extension agents to respond to a growing number of inquiries from the public about home gardens and landscapes. The concept has since spread to every state.
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