Cooperative Extension agents, Master Gardeners offer gardening advice

Cooperative Extension agents, Master Gardeners inform the public on gardening, extension programmingUniversity of Delaware Cooperative Extension agents, specialists and Master Gardeners headed to Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, Delaware, on Saturday, May 10, to give a brief presentation on successful gardening methods.

The team was on hand to discuss good plant health and identification of both insect pests and beneficial insects in local landscapes, and to answer any questions that the customers had when it came to their home gardens. 

They were also there to inform the public about the many free and beneficial services Cooperative Extension offers to the community. Brian Kunkel, an extension specialist, and Carrie Murphy, extension agent, attended the event along with Jane Adams, Betsy Rosenberger and Bob Deming, all Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Murphy said the program was successful as it provided “another great opportunity to take Cooperative Extension and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) information directly to home gardeners, in their community garden center.” Kunkel said he answered mostly insect- and pest-related questions, as he brought with him a variety of insects and examples of diseased plants. “We had a table where I brought pinned insect specimens, various wasps and bees, because that’s often a common question I get from home owners — what can I do with my bees? So I was able to say, ‘Look, all these bees that you’re seeing here are not pests. However, they can be a nuisance and in some instances you may need to do something, it just depends on your own physiology and what your own tolerance levels are,’” said Kunkel. Kunkel said that while it was important to educate those who were at the garden center about insects and plant disease, there also was a larger goal of informing them about the many Cooperative Extension services that are available. “We provide a service at no cost to home owners and I think a lot of the industry is fully aware that we are there, and they use us when they have the need, but homeowners aren’t always aware that there is actually help out there that is reliable and that they don’t have to pay for,” said Kunkel. “Our goal has been to try and increase Cooperative Extension awareness, and that it’s not going to cost anything and that we’re willing to help you out.” As far as the services Cooperative Extension offers homeowners, Kunkel mentioned insect and plant disease diagnoses, plant identification, soil sampling — to let homeowners know what type of soil they have and what plants will perform the best in their gardens — and household insect identification. Murphy added that the team provided information about the Master Gardener program, including the garden line (302-831-8862), home gardener workshops, the home horticulture advice program, and demonstration gardens, and information on “sustainable landscapes and implementing an IPM plan in your landscape to help sustain its health.” An open house, integrated pest management (IPM) walk and talk will be held on Thursday, June 19, from 6-8 p.m. at the New Castle County Cooperative Extension teaching and demonstration garden. Kunkel, Murphy and the Master Gardeners will take participants on a plant, pest and beneficial insect walk. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Cooperative Extension Lawn and Garden website. Article by Adam Thomas Photos by Evan Krape This article can also be viewed on UDaily.