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Extension master gardeners offer free gardening helpline

Extension Master Gardener May Bach, a member of the gardening helpline team, answers gardening questions from her home via email or phone. Contact the gardening helpline at uiemg-peoria@illinois.edu or 309-685-3140.
Extension Master Gardener May Bach, a member of the gardening helpline team, answers gardening questions from her home via email or phone. Contact the gardening helpline at uiemg-peoria@illinois.edu or 309-685-3140.

PEKIN, Ill. – As this year’s spring frosts become an item of the past, gardeners are excited to be practicing their “green-thumb” skills in the warmth and sunshine. No matter how many years of experience gardeners have, there always seem to be new questions and challenges that arise. University of Illinois Extension master gardeners from Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties are available to help with home garden and landscape questions.

“Over 30 years ago, Extension master gardeners in Peoria County started a gardening helpline,” said Ian Goslin, Extension horticulture coordinator. “Now we have master gardeners from multiple counties volunteer to research and answer all types of gardening questions, as well as identify plants and insects.”

The local Gardening Helpline volunteers field questions such as general gardening advice, problems with a specific plant, how to deal with a pest, the general condition of a lawn, and a variety of other topics. During the 2020 Shelter-in-Place order, master gardeners are receiving the questions via email and voicemail.

Everyone is welcome to send in questions to uiemg-peoria@illinois.edu. The email should include the question, along with some background information about the plant or problem, as well as what plant care practices the gardener/homeowner has been following and the sender’s contact information. Depending on the question, good, clear photos may also be helpful to the master gardener who is researching the question. Including a common item, such as a pen or pencil or ruler in the photo is a good way for the master gardener to have a size reference.

“We are a well-trained source of unbiased, research-based horticulture information,” said Larry Stratton, Extension master gardener and gardening helpline project leader. “We are always available year-round and a free service for the public. This year, since the Extension offices are currently closed, we are continuing what we call our “limited service,” which is responding via email and voice mail phone calls to the office. None of our volunteers are available in person this season.”

“All of our local Extension offices are able to pass on a voice mail message to the gardening helpline volunteers, but the main helpline phone number is 309-685-3140,” Goslin said. “Our website is also available day and night and is another great resource for horticulture questions.” Visit https://extension.illinois.edu/fmpt/horticulture

When sending in photos to the University of Illinois Extension Gardening Helpline it is helpful to include photos with a size reference when possible.

DeKalb County master gardener help desk

SYCAMORE, Ill. – The DeKalb County master gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk. Master gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more. They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.

At this time of social distancing, the master gardeners are volunteering remotely and can be reached via email at uiemg-dekalb@illinois.edu. Homeowners are encouraged to email photos of their troubled plants, trees, shrubs, insects, etc. to help the master gardeners with their research.

Get started at extension.illinois.edu/bdo. For more information, contact Judy Hodge, Extension program coordinator, at hodg@illinois.edu.

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