Cooperative Extension has Valuable Resources for the Home Gardener

 Pat Simpson
Adams County Master Gardener

Due to the increasing interest of homeowners in creating their own backyard gardens and habitats, one of Penn State Cooperative Extension's fastest growing services is horticultural help for the home gardener. Cooperative Extension offers numerous free fact sheets geared to the home gardener. These fact sheets contain information about household and garden pests, plant diseases, wildlife control, landscaping, lawn upkeep and renovation, soil maintenance and composting, flower and vegetable gardening, fruit production, and backyard habitats.

The public is welcome to stop in at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Center and browse through our information racks. This information can also be accessed by logging on to our website at and going to the horticulture link. Here you will find information about Adams County Extension staff and programs as well as garden fact sheets and publications from Penn State University. The extension office also offers home gardening "for sale" publications such as The Small Scale Fruit Production Guide and Herbs for the Home Gardener. Soil test kits are available for purchase as well.

After weeks of rain, the sun has finally made a welcome appearance; but gardeners now find themselves dealing with many different plant diseases and insect problems. To help diagnose these problems, the Adams County Extension Office has a brand new addition-a high-powered microscope to aid in plant disease and insect identification. According to Mary Ann Ryan, Horticulture Assistant, this new piece of equipment will speed up the process of getting accurate identification from Penn State University experts. The microscope is equipped with a digital camera enabling it to take a magnified picture of a plant or insect specimen and then emailing it directly to Penn State for analysis.

Gardeners may drop off their plant and insect specimens anytime during extension business hours between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If you choose to drop off a plant specimen, please supply specific information about the type of plant, condition of the plant, growing location of the plant, your concern, and your name, address, telephone number or email. Example: flowering dogwood, growing in a dry location, close to the foundation of the house. Concern: Leaves are browning at the tips and dropping.

If you drop off an insect for identification, please put it in a jar or sealed plastic bag. A dead insect should have all its parts intact and be in an identifiable condition. If you cannot bring the insect in right away, preserve it in a small sealed container of alcohol. We will call or email you with results and information as soon as possible.

A most valuable resource at extension is the Master Gardener program. These Penn State volunteers are trained to find information and answer questions pertaining to garden and landscape problems. At this time of the year, we try to have a Master Gardener available to answer your questions on Mondays and Fridays from 9AM to 2PM at the extension office. Customers can stop in or call 334-6271.

In addition to this service, Adams County Master Gardeners hold numerous programs and seminars throughout the year.

  • Compost workshops are held in the spring and fall. Attendees are provided with a large compost bin to help get them started.

  • The Green Thumb Gardening Seminar, held in March, is a series of talks given by Master Gardeners over a period of 4 weeks.

  • During the spring the Master Gardeners invite the public to go along on their annual bus trip to one or two regional gardens or arboretums of interest.

  • The ever popular Rites of Fall Seminar, to be held this year on October 18, 2003, is an annual event featuring national and local gardening speakers as well as workshops and vendors.

  • Demonstration gardens are maintained by the master gardeners. Trial Gardens are used to test and document the growth of new varieties of plants. The Native Garden, a work in progress, gives a representation of different plants native to our geographical area. The public is invited to visit these gardens from dawn to dusk during the summer months at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Center. Evening walks and talks are given by Master Gardeners and an Open House will be held in August. Call the extension office for dates and times.

To get timely garden tips and information on all these events, we invite you to read our quarterly home horticulture newsletter, The Garden Thyme. You can sign up for a mailing through our website or by filling out a mailing form at the extension office.

Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Building at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8AM to 4:30 PM. We welcome you to stop by for a visit.

Read other articles by Pat Simpson