Matt Bochat

Matt Bochat

Gardening is gardening no matter where you are. Well, that is not necessarily the case when you take certain facts into consideration. Environment, geographic location, soil and rainfall are just a few factors to consider wherever you live. There are readily available resources that can clear up some of the murky water and supply you with accurate garden information. Where can you get good information?

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is part of the land-grant university system that was initiated with the Morrill Act of 1862. Congress approved the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, providing for the establishment of state-based agricultural extension services to further expand the land-grant mission. In 1915, the Texas Legislature organized the Texas Agricultural Extension Service (now the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service), which would bring scientific information from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (now Texas A&M AgriLife Research) to every farm and community. Today, there are a total of 254 counties in Texas that are manned by county agents (agriculture, horticulture, family and consumer science, and 4-H), specialists, and volunteers that provide outreach. This very unique and diversified system is a great resource across the country. Every state has an extension service.

In addition to the physical locations of extension offices, there are also other sources available to obtain good information. Today, the internet is a major source of information available to the public. There are plant societies, organizations and dedicated online plant nurseries that share information on the web. There are also countless forums and other information sites. There are way too many to count. So how can you distinguish what is accurate or inaccurate? The best resources are from research-based colleges (land-grant universities). Their website URL’s will typically end with an .edu. Besides extension offices, there are publications and websites maintained by extension that contain gardening information to help answer many gardening questions. For example, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/, https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/ and http://citybugs.tamu.edu/ are all great resources for Texas. Other resources that are noteworthy tend to have an .org ending. These are typically botanical gardens, plant societies or organizations. Just keep in mind that the information may be specific to a certain area, state or geographic location or even a specific plant (disease, insect or virus) that may, or may not be in your area.

There are also some other great resources out there besides the above mentioned. Garden magazines, local newspapers, radio shows and garden books are full of gardening information from all over the United States. There are a few things to consider when reading some of these. First, make sure the information is pertinent to your area. Some resources originate from other parts of the country (areas, regions and/or states); ask yourself if it really applies to your area. Basically, consider the climate or zone that the information covers. For example, plants from South Texas will not grow in Canada and vice versa. So make sure to do homework on the information provided. I am not saying that everyone that writes a column, article, book or has a radio show is wrong. I am only saying make sure the information is relevant to you, your situation and your local area. Many of these media outlets that have a vast and diverse audience will recommend contacting your local extension office for more specific information.

As a gardener, sift through and select your information wisely. Extension has a multitude of research-based publications and resources to help solve and recommend solutions to gardening problems. Lastly, before I forget to mention it, we have a large group of well-trained volunteers (Victoria County Master Gardeners) that are collectively the best organization in the state. If you would like to get more information about gardening in Victoria County, please do not hesitate to give our office a call at 361-575-4581.

Source: Montgomery County Extension Office, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Matt Bochat is a County Extension Agent – Ag/Natural Resources Victoria County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

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