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Master Gardener Joan Horak examining plant material. (Submitted Photo)

Like everyone else, I am awaiting warmer weather to begin gardening in earnest. I’ve learned that gardeners here in Adams County are a hardy bunch that grow bountiful flowers and vegetables despite less than optimum weather conditions and other gardening challenges. But even the most experienced gardener can use a bit of help from time to time.

In your armory of tools needed for successful gardening, remember the Adams County Garden Hotline. The hotline is only a phone call, email or visit away. It is operated by a team of fifteen Penn State master gardeners who provide research-based information to help you resolve your gardening woes. The master gardeners working on the hotline can help with a wide variety of issues; in 2021, master gardeners assisted 107 homeowners to solve a wide variety of problems. The hotline is a free service to home gardeners.

This year the hotline will operate three days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. through Sept. 30. On Mondays and Fridays, you can come into the Extension Office and meet with a master gardener in person (except holidays). On Wednesdays, master gardeners work from home and will respond to questions by email.

If you plan to visit the Extension Center to get help in the identification of a plant, a plant disease or plant pest, please bring a fresh sample of the plant and pest. Collect the plant sample right before your visit. Bring a diseased or infested portion and some material from the same plant that is not diseased or infested, if possible.

For turf questions, please collect at least one 4-by-4-inch square cut out of the lawn that includes the entire plant with roots and soil. When you meet with the master gardener, you will be asked to provide your name, phone number and email and pertinent information about the plant including identity (if you know it), age, location, when you first noticed the problem (such as date of disease onset or insect infestation), cultural conditions such as sun and wind exposure, treatment such as feeding and watering, and anything you have tried to mitigate the problem. Please note that it is best if a master gardener is able to look at the sample soon after you bring it in. Refrigeration of a sample for more than a short period may impact the ability of the master gardener to diagnose the problem.

Identification of insects is easiest if you can capture the insect and bring it into the Extension Center. If you cannot, please provide a picture or pictures. Place insects in a plastic bag, jar or plastic container. Be careful not to crush or otherwise change the appearance of the specimen as that will make identification more difficult. Write down information from your observations of the insect, including whether this is a single insect or an infestation, where you found the insect, and any activity you observed.

If you cannot visit during hotline hours on Mondays or Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. you can drop off your samples during office hours, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The master gardener on the next Monday or Friday will look at the sample. You can email your questions any time; emails sent outside of hotline hours will be addressed by a master gardener during the next hotline shift. Please include in your email a picture of the plant, insect or problem you are asking about and include as much information as possible to help with identification and diagnosis.

Monday Videos: Visit us on Facebook at Penn State Master Gardeners in Adams County for our Master Gardeners’ Monday Videos. Timely and relevant topics will be discussed on a weekly basis keeping readers up to date on current horticultural issues.

Hotline: The Master Gardener Hotline is open April through September, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. Master Gardeners can take your samples on Mondays and Fridays. Please send an email (with pictures if possible) to adamsmg@psu.edu with your gardening questions, or stop by Penn State Extension, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg.

Wellness in the garden: Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., join us for yoga, qigong, tea and light refreshments, and a garden tour. Learn about the benefits of this type of exercise and teas that you can grow in your garden. Registration: https://extension.psu.edu/wellness-in-the-garden, fee: $35

Pam Haze is a Penn State Master Gardener from Adams County. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, phone 334-6271.

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