Now that things are beginning to quiet down in the yard, it is a good time to get acquainted with your local and state Cooperative Extension offices and the endless list of services and information they offer year round.
Extension services were first launched more than a century ago to help support rural farmers. Today they are also a user-friendly and reliable resource for homeowners, families, teachers and landscapers on every topic from basic lawn care to nutrition.
Why won’t my Christmas cactus bloom? 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 in addition to curricula and lesson plans. A wealth of materials can be easily 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.
Are you into horses or are you considering buying one? The Extension office provides information about evaluating horses for conformation, proper nutrition, bit selection and much more.
If you have a pond or plan to install one, the Extension office can help with information about pond management as well as caring for fish and aquatic plants. Explore stocking methods and learn how to cope with drought, algae and other issues.
Want to start a beehive? The Extension office offers programs and information to help you from equipment to honey processing. Explore the types of equipment you’ll need. Learn about honey bee biology and best practices for bee health. Discover how to buy or move a colony. You can even take classes to become a Master Beekeeper.
Soil and 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 have soil samples from your garden or yard checked for nutrient levels and acidity. The results will help you know what amendments will lead to happier vegetables, ornamentals and grass.
State and 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.