Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Your questions answered by local experts

by Mark Amara
| September 4, 2020 1:00 AM

With the current emphasis on staying at or close to home with the new normal conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, gardening has become a more popular activity for individuals and families. The WSU Master Gardeners are eager to help. There are lots of publications and services available.

Master Gardeners have been providing public outreach in Washington state for almost 50 years! Washington State University Cooperative Extension started the first Master Gardener program in 1973 in the greater Seattle area to provide assistance with urban horticulture and gardening advice. The program has grown to offer Master Gardener programs in all 50 states as well as in eight Canadian provinces.

The WSU Master Gardener program came to Grant County, Washington, in 1982 when four interns were certified after completing rigorous training through the Cooperative Extension office. By the third year of the program, the number of certified Master Gardeners had grown to 32. Numbers have fluctuated over the years because to remain certified, Master Gardeners must take annual educational training to expand their knowledge and keep current on gardening issues. In addition, Master Gardeners are required to annually volunteer in a variety of public outreach activities that support the program.

Currently, there are about 20 Master Gardeners and interns here in Grant and Adams counties under the auspices of the WSU Grant County Extension office who can help you with your home gardening questions. The Master Gardeners have been trained by WSU Extension and local industry specialists in subjects such as taxonomy, plant pathology, soil health, entomology, cultural growing requirements, sustainable gardening, nuisance wildlife management and integrated pest management.

How do you find local Master Gardeners?

WSU Grant-Adams Master Gardeners are available to answer your questions through a free online service. Our answers are based on using science-based research produced by Washington State University or other university extension programs.

Right now, we offer a year-round email help line: ga.mgvolunteers@wsu.edu. WSU Master Gardeners staff the helpline via email and phone. Individuals may contact us through this medium with questions, and if digital pictures of their gardening and landscape issues or of plants or insects are provided, we can identify them and offer recommendations for controls or management. Additional information can be accessed by going to: https://extension.wsu.edu/grant/gardening/master_gardeners. We are available via phone (509) 754-2011, ext. 4313, email (above), and videoconference, when available.

We hope that plant clinics at farmers markets or other venues will resume and that Master Gardeners will be available to speak at public events after the health emergency has passed. Currently, only virtual classes, clinics or online services are offered, in addition to distribution of our quarterly newsletter.