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What's bugging you? August 12, 2015

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Did you have a chance to visit the Delta County Fair in Hotchkiss this last weekend? If not, you missed out on a fun experience and a chance to talk with the gardening experts. The Colorado Master Gardeners from the Tri River area were there all three days manning a booth, complete with many informative gardening publications, just waiting to answer your many challenging questions.

I was there Thursday morning and again Saturday afternoon. If you know me, you would know that I love to talk gardening and am always interested in learning about your gardening experiences. What fun!

One observation that struck me the most was how many of you were unaware of the master gardener program and most of all, what we could do to help you in advancing your gardening endeavors. This applies to both newcomers to this area as well as to long-term residents.

As Colorado Master Gardeners, we are volunteers representing Colorado State University Extension. We are the vehicle used to extend the reach of CSU to more folks out in the towns and into the countryside. For newcomers, we can help them learn the uniqueness of our alkaline, salty, clay soils and our need to utilize our precious water wisely. We can direct them to the best plants for our area and how to plant and maintain them.

For both newcomers to the area and longtime residents, we can also help solve the many problems that can develop in our gardens no matter how green a thumb you might have. We have many diseases, insect pests and weeds that can challenge our gardening skills. We can help you there. Sometimes overwatering is a greater concern than underwatering. And yes, sometimes we can love our plants too much!

We have basically three ways we can help. We can answer your questions either through a phone call or through a visit to your local extension office. You can also bring your problem plants to our Delta extension office for us to look at and advise on a course of correction. Our best day of the week is Wednesday morning when members of the diagnostic team gather to solve the week's many plant problems.

Last, but not least, we can do a house call where a master gardener will visit your yard to provide first-hand diagnosis and solutions for what is ailing in your garden. A house call does cost, starting at $25. This money goes into our scholarship fund to provide financial support for continuing education for our master gardeners. I've made several of these house calls in the Surface Creek area this year and feel that not only did the client get their money's worth, but I grew in knowledge as well and hopefully gained another gardening friend.

Before I close, I would like to provide two links to sites that have considerable gardening information in the form of fact sheets. Maybe these will be sufficient to solve one or more of your problems. The following is the home page of CSU Extension in the Tri River area. This area encompasses Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Ouray counties. Just choose Western Colorado Entomology or Gardening and Horticulture from the left-hand column. http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/TRA/PLANTS/index.shtml. Another useful link would be to Plantalk: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/index.html.

So whether you get your gardening questions answered by visiting one of these sites or making direct contact with a master gardener for expert advice, you can be sure that you will be well taken care of with information backed by reliable research. We are here to help you become a satisfied Colorado gardener.

Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Gardener.

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