Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

August 10, 2013

Ag Forum: Extension has help for home gardener

TRAVERSE CITY — Whether you are looking to save money, love fresh flavor or just enjoy working with nature, Michigan is a great place for growing fruit, vegetables, flowers and other landscape plants.

As we roll into August, our gardens are overflowing with fresh produce, and the phone lines at local Extension offices are lighting up with questions about one pest or another. New and seasoned gardeners alike are bound to have gardening questions at some point. Whether you’re wondering what your local frost-free date is, how to take a soil sample, what native plants are well suited to your garden, what’s causing holes in your zucchini leaves, or have another gardening dilemma, contact the gardening experts at Michigan State University Extension for research-based answers to your questions.

The MSU Extension consumer horticulture staff has developed several tools aimed at providing answers to your questions when you need them. In fact, you can ask the experts your gardening questions 24/7 by calling the toll free Lawn and Garden Hotline at 1-888-678-3464 (1-888-MSUE-4MI). The Gardening in Michigan website is another resource you won’t want to miss. The gardening in Michigan website (www.migarden.msu.edu) houses a plethora of resources tailored for beginning and advanced gardeners in Michigan. Sections focus on vegetables, fruit, flowers, trees and shrubs, lawns and soil with numerous fact sheets for each subject area. There are also over 30 online gardening classes and short, topic-specific videos for more in-depth learning experiences.

With increased interest in home garden soil testing, MSU Extension offers an easy-to-use soil test self-mailer kit coupled with a user-friendly soil test interpretation site. The soil test kit can be obtained online from the MSU Extension Bookstore or from your local county MSU Extension office for $25. The test will determine your soil type, pH, level of organic matter and existing levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. You will receive an email about two weeks after your soil sample is received by the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Lab letting you know your results are available at www.msusoiltest.com.

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