One of the best items in the tool belt of gardeners is local knowledge. If you recently moved to a new area, or you are just getting started and donít know anyone to answer your gardening questions, the best source of local gardening knowledge is your local Cooperative Extension Service.
Regardless of which state you live in there is knowledgeable help available on a local level. When you begin gardening you will find many of the tasks are the same everywhere. If you donít know how to plant a seed itís easy to get on the web and search how to do something like planting seeds. Planting seeds is the easy part, the more difficult questions are when should I plant them, and what variety grows well where I live.
Sitting at a computer in the frozen north when our last frost can be around Memorial Day, itís difficult to tell someone in Alabama when they should be planting petunias. While I can tell you what has worked best for me when starting petunias I donít have enough local knowledge about your specific area to tell you when to start the process. On the other hand, your local Cooperative Extension Agent can tell you when you should be planting specific seeds and which variety will grow best in your local area. Your local Cooperative Extension Service Agent has a vast source of information available to be able to assist in your specific environment.
As a Master Gardener, I am very fortunate to have an outstanding extension office and
agent that is just a phone call away. In addition, the same is true for the Extension
Agent. It is very difficult for one agent to be able to do site visits to everyone who
wants one while being available for phone consultations. This is where the Master Gardener and the Extension Agent work as a team. Extension Agents use the Master Gardeners to assist with site visits, or answer gardening questions when the agent is not available.
In the event you call the local extension office and you get referred to a Master Gardener, that means the Master Gardenerís area of expertise or interest is in solving problems similar to what you have described when you called in. I might be a little biased, but I believe a site visit by a Master Gardener is better in some respects because they have more time to spend concentrating on your specific problem. In addition, they also have all the information in the Extension Service system including the Extension Agent at their disposal in addition to other Master Gardeners they can call on to help solve your problem.
The link below directs you to a map, click on your state and you will go to the extension service for your state. Many states have local county extension offices which are there to help in your gardening adventure. For example, Oregon has 39 county extension offices listed on this link, and Pennsylvania has 67 county extension offices ready and willing to assist the county residents.
Monty, Master Gardener