How many times have you found a damaged leaf in your garden and wondered what caused the damage?
Or wondered about that fruit tree that’s failing to thrive?
Of course, social media allows us to ask questions of a broad cross-section of the population, but sometimes you just need an expert.
Preferably someone who knows your region well. Enter the USDA.
This system is available to the public and offers a variety of services, varying by state.
I couldn’t begin to list all of the services offered through the Cooperative Extension System.
These are a few that are invaluable to the home gardener or homesteader.
Volunteers who have completed Master Gardener training are available to answer questions.
These folks are usually avid gardeners who are quite familiar with their region. That makes them an excellent resource for figuring out that persnickety garden problem.
If they don’t know the answer to your question, they’ll research for you.
They can delve into the resources and experts available to them through the university.
The program often offers a region-specific planting guide, listing the best planting time for each crop.
Your local Master Gardeners might host a community garden, a plant sale, or offer workshops on topics ranging from mushroom gathering, worm composting, and keeping bees.
Growers can have in-depth soil testing done for a quite reasonable fee through the cooperative extension system.
Soil testing is often facilitated by the university that’s associated with the office.
Master Food Preservers
If you’re new to home preservation, find out if your local office hosts classes.
These are a great way to see the process in action and ask questions about all aspects of home canning.
You’ll usually walk away with a collection of USDA approved recipes, too.
The 4-H Youth Program
If you’ve got kids, your Cooperative Extension office is the place to start asking about 4-H.
Find out what clubs are in your area and what each offers in the way of projects.
Go here to find out more about the Cooperative Extension program.