Get Yard Smart by Extension
While things are quiet in the yard with winter’s chill taking hold, it is a good time to shine a spotlight on the local and state Cooperative Extension offices and the myriad services they offer year round.
Cooperative Extension services were first launched more than a century ago to help support rural farmers through dissemination of land-grant university research and training. Today they are also a user-friendly, reliable and authoritative resource for home owners, families, teachers and landscapers on every topic from basic lawn care to nutrition.
Why won’t my Christmas cactus bloom? When should I fertilize the lawn? Where should I place my backyard garden? What’s eating my roses? You can get answers to these and thousands of other questions on your state Cooperative Extension office website.
They offer blogs, newsletters, digital and print publications, and curricula and lesson plans that can easily be accessed with the click of a mouse. If you don’t find the info you seek online, they also respond to phone calls and emails, and in certain situations may even make house calls.
Want to dig deeper on a particular topic? Sign up for a class or workshop. Learn to graft apple trees in north Georgia. Go to Canning College in Knoxville. Or attend an irrigation workshop in southeast Alabama.
You can become a Master Gardener or a Master Beekeeper. Learn how to compost or control landscape pests. Send your child to 4-H camp or take a homebuyer education course. The opportunities are endless.
Soil & Water Testing
One major benefit of your state Extension office is access to testing. You can have drinking water tested for purity or creek water tested for contamination, for example. You can also send in soil samples to check for nutrient levels and acidity. The results will help you know what amendments to put on your garden or yard for happier vegetables and grass.
State & Local Offices
Each state has an Extension service associated with a land-grant college, like University of Georgia, Auburn University or University of Tennessee. Their websites will have the most thorough information when you’re looking for resources.
However, each county has an affiliated Extension office as well. This is where you will want to go for localized information or for classes and workshops. Find your county office through the following links: Alabama, Georgia, or Tennessee
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