Gearing up for gardening
The sunnier days and warmer temperatures are getting the gardener inside all of us ready to go and pumped up for another summer of gardening in Minnesota. We made it through probably the worst winter has to offer and I am finding that there are many gardeners who have been starting their seeds indoors. This is truly exciting news. Remember, that there are many avenues to get your gardening questions answered this growing season.
The first route to go is contact your local Master Gardener. A list of gardeners is usually kept at your local U of M Extension office. Master Gardeners go through training with professionals and professors from the U of M. We are ready to help you answer your questions! In Lyon County we have quite a few so rest assured we are here to help out our fellow gardeners!
The U of M Extension gardening website is another great place to find the information that you are looking for. The website is located at https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden. The theme this year is Garden Smarter. We sometimes make things harder than they need to be when it comes to our gardens. The Garden Smarter theme not only provides timely information on gardening problems that come up from week to week or month to month but it also has great information for us to read or video’s to watch. The Yard and Garden newsletter and the U of M Extension Garden blog can also be accessed through the website. Read what you need, and leave the rest.
There are also three other areas that you can access through the same webpage or go to them individually. The first is a heavily used one called “What’s wrong with my plant?” which can be found at http://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/. You can go into this website and it will help you narrow down your choices to the most common problems of those plants. The second webpage is called “What is this insect?” So if you have an insect that is eating all of your cucumbers plants as they come up, you can go to this webpage and it will help you figure out what is going on. This webpage is located http://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/insect/.
The third and last webpage is called “Is this plant a weed?” located http://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/weed/. This page will help you look up any weeds in your garden and if it is something that needs to be taken care of right away and also how to get rid of that particular weed.
If you keep the Master Gardeners and these webpages in mind this growing season, it will help you have a much more successful gardening season with less frustrations too. There is one final website to go to which will be important once the final snow melts on our gardens. This is the soil testing lab site. This is located at http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/. Soil testing information and baggies are often located at your local extension office for gardeners to use. This is a great way to take the guessing out of your garden soil this year. This may be even more important this year since we have had such wet growing conditions last year. It would be a shame to find out that the reason why your garden, whether it is a perennial garden or vegetable garden, was poorly performing was because you needed amendments to the soil. The test can be taken once the soil has thawed out and it takes about two weeks to get the results back. A typical garden soil test is around $17 and will come with helpful tips on what to do to get your garden soil back on track.
If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, we would like to hear from you. This is a volunteer opportunity with the U of M Extension service where you will receive training right in your own home with an online course. Residents will volunteer 50 hours the first year and only 25 hours each year thereafter. The Master Gardeners will also be offering classes soon! Check out the Marshall Community Services brochure and stay tuned to learn more about our up and coming Garden Day in April.