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The information presented on this page was originally released on February 23, 2012. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Technology can lead to gardening advice
The temperatures are warming up, and the daffodils are blooming. My 2012 gardening adventure is under way. I am confident that my neighbors think I am excavating my backyard in hopes of finding buried treasure. Little do they realize that the buried treasure is none other than tree roots and stumps. Trying to tame the wildness that is my backyard requires tenacity, hard work and access to good information.
The best source of information is your local county Extension office or your local Master Gardeners group. Master Gardeners are volunteers that have been trained in all things related to gardening. From proper soil acidity levels to the best plants for our climate, they know it all.
The Master Gardeners and I have a tacit understanding with each other: they don’t try to solve any computer problems, and I try not to kill the plants they recommend for me. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you would like garden advice from the comfort of your computer chair, consider searching the MSUcares.com website. There are more than 3,000 articles and videos related to gardening. I am a big fan of the tips and tricks for creating container gardens.
If, like me, you have major landscaping to do, consider using a landscape planner. You can download the Extension publication Home Landscape Design for step-by-step information on measuring your landscape and planning your design.
When you are ready to select and place your plants, you can use the paper-and-pencil planning method described in the publication, or you can map it out online at the Lowe’s or Better Homes and Gardens website. The Better Homes and Gardens planner can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bhgplanit. If you are planning a small vegetable garden, consider the Gardener’s Supply Company planner located at http://tinyurl.com/gardenersupply.
Heirloom seeds can be difficult to find, but the Seed Saver’s Exchange offers numerous varieties. Go to http://www.seedsavers.org/ or swap seeds with other gardening enthusiasts at the National Gardening Association’s seed swap site located at http://www.garden.org/seedswap/. Get connected with other gardeners on the social website http://myfolia.com. This site gives gardeners the ability to ask others for help in identifying plants, swapping seeds and journaling about their garden’s particulars.
Insects and diseases can thwart even the most avid gardener, so if your plant’s demise has you scratching your head, try the Mississippi State University Extension Service Plant Clinic at http://www.extensionplantclinics.msstate.edu/.
Growing tomatoes is a favorite pastime in the South, and when tomatoes get sick, understanding what is causing the problem is just as important as fixing it. Consider consulting the Texas Aggie Master Gardener Problem Solver for Tomatoes at http://tinyurl.com/tomatoproblem.
Taking your computer or laptop out to the garden would be rather cumbersome, but your smart phone can easily make the trip and even be useful. Consider a brightly colored safety case for the phone so that it is easier to find amongst the plants and soil. There are many gardening apps available for both the iPhone and the android smart phone.
Using the computer to plan and manage your garden this spring can save you time and money.