Spring has sprung with many plants from woody perennials to trees leafing out. It is past time to get out in your garden and see what is going on. It is best to find problems early so that corrective measures can have time to take effect.
So what if you do find something in your garden that is a potential problem or is puzzling you? You can take advantage of the mostly free services of the Colorado Master Gardeners who operate under the Colorado State University Extension program. Master gardeners are well trained in all aspects of gardening through 11 weekly, intensive day-long classes. They also are mentored their first year by experienced Master Gardeners.
Our primary approach to addressing gardening concerns is through our diagnostic teams. Montrose, Delta and Mesa counties have an all-volunteer diagnostic team operating in their respective extension offices. The Delta County team meets on Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m. but questions and samples can be taken by the extension office any weekday.
Master Gardeners can help you now and all the way through September on any gardening problem including ornamentals, vegetables, fruit trees, annuals, perennials, soils, you name it. And for the most part our services are free. All you need to do is call the extension office in Delta at 874-2195 or visit the office on Dodge Street, behind the courthouse. But in order to insure you get a speedy and accurate diagnosis, we need your help.
Some problems are pretty straight forward. But for others we need information that only you can provide. We also often need a good plant sample. For a proper diagnosis we will need either a good description of the problem, or a picture showing the problem or a plant or soil sample. All of the above may be necessary to solve your particular problem.
Knowing about past gardening practices, when the problem first appeared, what the area around the problem plant looks like, are all key elements of a good information package. If you have a lawn problem such as brown dead spots appearing, don't just give us a few dead blades of grass or even a sample containing the dead grass with soil attached. We need that sample to be taken at the edge of the problem area to include both healthy and unhealthy grass with their soil. Otherwise we may only be able to confirm with you that your grass is indeed dead. Not the answer you were looking for!
Once we can identify the problem, we often can find solutions that only require a change in your gardening practices. Sometimes all that is required is a change in your watering program. But there are times we will have to recommend a pesticide such as a herbicide, insecticide or fungicide and maybe fertilizer as well.
If the information and samples in hand do not provide a ready answer, master gardeners will suggest a house call. We often see something that helps solve the problem that you as the client can't readily see. We currently charge $25 per visit. These monies go into a scholarship fund to help defray our costs for attending additional training courses or educational workshops.
So the next time you suspect you have a gardening problem or just a gardening question, please give us a call. Don't pass up our generally free help.
Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Gardener.