How often do gardeners ask other gardeners “what did you plant over the weekend?” This past one certainly was warm, and I suspect many...

How often do gardeners ask other gardeners “what did you plant over the weekend?” This past one certainly was warm, and I suspect many of you planted both ornamentals and vegetables. I spent part of this past warm weekend writing nutrient management plans for Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension’s Grass Roots program clients. Grass Roots is one of several programs and services offered by the Cooperative Extension Service.

Many of you may not be familiar with the CES and its purpose for the citizens of Virginia. It is often said that knowledge is power. The purpose of the CES is to put university knowledge into the hands of people through a network of educators, research experts, extension agents and specialists, and trained volunteers. In Virginia, the two land-grant universities are Virginia Tech and Virginia State. The network also includes 11 agricultural and extension research centers as well as six 4-H centers. At the local level, there are 107 offices, one for each county and 12 cities. CES provides information on agricultural and natural resource, as well as, family financial management, parenting, child development, food safety, family nutrition, and 4H youth programs.

In Chesterfield, the office is at the government complex located behind the historic courthouse and adjacent to the county museum. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and can be reached by calling (804)751-4401. A Master Gardener is on duty daily to answer questions. Walk-ins with garden or landscape issues are always welcome. If you suspect your plant has an insect or disease, call the office first. A Master Gardener or CES staff member will advise you on collecting and bringing in a proper sample for analysis. If you are not available during the day and cannot call or stop by the CES office, the website www.ext.vt.edu is always available for searching solutions to garden issues. Another way of connecting is through the ask an EXPERT program. Click on the ask an EXPERT icon on the right side of the home page at www.ext.vt.edu. Select your location from the drop-down menu and type in your question. The experts strive to have answers within two business days.

Like many successful organizations, CES relies on volunteers to disseminate information. In 2016, nearly 30,000 CES volunteers provided more than 1,000,000 hours of volunteer service throughout Virginia. Now that is something to be proud of. Much of the information is free or available for the cost of materials. You, the taxpayer, paid for the research, so it’s an opportunity to collect the return on your investment.

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