August 20, 2014

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Master Gardener hotline available for questions
Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:08 AM

PAULDING – With gardening season here again, quickly come the questions: Is this a bad bug or good bug? What’s wrong with this cabbage plant? How does one transplant petunias? Can these two plants grow side by side? How much water is too much?

To help the public with gardening questions a Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) helpline will be available again this year through The Ohio State University Extension Office in Paulding. Community members can call, email or even stop in with a sample plant or bug for volunteers to look at and diagnose.

This free service will be available from May through mid-October from 9 a.m. until noon each Tuesday. Volunteers will help the public figure out what the problem is and answer their questions. If they cannot help, they will refer people to one of The Ohio State University experts.

Questions can be called in to 419- 399-8225 or emailed Walk-ins may be brought to the office, located at 503 Fairground Drive in Paulding.

When calling the helpline, supply as much information as possible. The more data provided, the easier it is for the trained volunteer to assist.

Personal visits with plant samples are encouraged. In many cases, seeing the problem makes diagnosing the horticultural concern easier. When bringing a sample to the extension office, make sure it is of sufficient size: a branch 1- to 2- feet in length, a piece of sod the size of a dinner plate or several leaves of a plant. Samples that are completely dead are not as useful as portions of plants that are just beginning to show symptoms or withering.

E-mailing a question is very helpful in identifying a plant or plant growth problem. When e-mailing, attach low resolution photos so the problem can be seen.

The helpline program gives the public an opportunity to get answers to their gardening, insect, tree, flower, herb, wildlife, pond, landscaping and fruit questions from trained volunteers. Master Gardeners’ vast knowledge is backed by The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources research faculty, allowing call center operators to respond with the latest and most pertinent information. A network of resources is available to them including numerous informational fact sheets, an extensive library and electronic technology.

The Master Gardener program is sponsored by The Ohio State University and Extension programs. Master Gardener volunteers receive a base training of horticulture information plus continued training to help prepare them for this project. They have completed rigorous program requirements, communally logging hundreds of volunteer hours working in gardens, answering landscape and environmental questions.

The Paulding County Extension program currently has 14 volunteers. During 2013 more than 1,000 hours were donated to community service projects including the services of the Master Gardener helpline.

In addition to the gardening season hours, helpline assistance is available year round, but it may not be staffed in person.

“Don’t just trust anyone with your growing concerns but go directly to the experts for the best research based answer to your question,” said Sarah Noggle, Paulding County’s Extension Educator.