Contributed by Susan Horan,
Master Gardener Volunteer Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County
Putnam County residents have questions about their soil, home landscape improvements, plant selection, wildlife control, plant care, eco-friendly garden practices, pest management and composting.
Where do they go for evidence-based advice? Master Gardener Volunteers staff the Horticulture Hotline and Diagnostic Lab to provide answers to these and other questions. They also identify plants and insects, test soil samples, and supply sound control recommendations with local conditions in mind.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County Horticulture Hotline receives over 500 calls a year and 100 plant, insect, disease and weed samples are brought in for diagnosis. The abbreviated list of calls that come in include questions about plant, tree and lawn care, vegetable and flower gardening, and home and garden pest management.
Though they may look sinister, these are harmless firefly larvae. Master Gardener Volunteers were able to identify these insects, even as the homeowner was poised to spray them simply because they did not know what they were.
Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) answer many specific (and sometimes crazy) questions like, how do I stop the woodpecker from ruining the siding on my house, or how can I make the tree frogs outside my window be quiet at night?
Anita Conway, an experienced Master Gardener who volunteers on the hotline, feels that she is providing a very important service to the community whether she is helping someone save their dying memorial Japanese maple or if she is talking to a new gardener about environmentally safe gardening practices.
The examples mentioned above are a small percentage of the type of situations our Master Gardeners in the lab deal with. In one case a community member brought in just the leg of an insect in a plastic bag and the MGV was actually able to figure out what the insect was and to offer help, suggesting ways to get the insect to stop eating the garden. Using evidence based recommendations Master Gardener Volunteers help community members with least-toxic pesticide management options, invasive species identification, ecological lawn care, propagation of plants and tons of questions regarding why the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are invading homes in such large numbers.
As you can see, the hotline has a broad reach and is utilized extensively by the community. Our Master Gardeners tackle every challenge small or great – one leg or two. We hope you’ll call us with a question this year!
The Horticulture Hotline and Diagnostic Lab are open 9am to Noon weekdays (845)278-6738. If you wish to bring in a sample for testing or identification, please see our website here: www.cornell/edu/putnam and read the “horticulture diagnostic forms” for specific instructions.
CCE Putnam Master Gardener Class of 2014
Currently seventy-five Master Gardeners volunteer in Putnam County, extending Cornell Cooperative Extension’s education mission into our community. After an eleven week training, these volunteers go on to share their enthusiasm and knowledge, and extend Cornell resources in our communities. Our next training will be held in Fall of 2016. If you have questions about the program, please call Jen Stengle, community educator, at (845) 278-6738.
UPCOMING EVENTS with CCE Putnam Master Gardeners
3/23: Healthy Soils, Healthy Crops at Mahopac Library, 7:00pm
4/6: Planning Rock Gardens and Stone Walls at Mahopac Library, 7:00pm
4/11: Beginner Vegetable Gardening at Tilly Foster Community Garden
4/20: Container Vegetable Gardening at Mahopac Library, 6:30pm
5/16: Plant Sale! CCE Putnam, Brewster, 8:30-12:30pm
5/23: Planting Root Crops CCE Putnam, Brewster, 10am
5/30: Vegetable Garden Planting at Patterson Library, 12:30-2:30pm
For more information about these events contact email@example.com.
Master Gardener Volunteer Program, CCE of Putnam County
Terravest Corporate Park, 1 Geneva Rd, Brewster, NY 10509
Photos: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County