For almost 30 years, Master Gardeners have answered home garden questions through their Garden HelpLine located in Peoria. Staffed every weekday morning throughout the growing season, they answer hundreds of homeowner garden questions each year.
We have nearly 200 Master Gardeners serving the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell County Extension Unit. They receive training and regular updates in topics ranging from vegetable gardening to trees to fruits, soils, flowers, plant disease, insect lawn care, and more. To remain active in the program, they must volunteer at least 30 hours of volunteer service to their community and receive at least ten hours of continuing education annually.
During the 2015 growing season, our four county offices documented direct responses to over 800 homeowner gardening questions. In addition, Master Gardeners answer many more questions through sponsored events, community presentations, and direct contacts with friends and family.
The Master Gardener HelpLine operators have many diagnostic tools to help them answer your gardening questions. Tools include reference materials, a microscope, digital camera, and access to Horticulture Educators and Specialists in Illinois.
Help-Line Coordinator Patricia Middleton reported receiving more questions by email in 2015. "We are servicing more and more inquiries by email, many of which contain photos of the plant problem," says Middleton. "The most asked questions revolved around trees and shrubs and the second most popular subject was fruits and vegetables." "Already in 2016, we've received many calls on the brown marmorated stink bug, Emerald Ash Borer, and bedbugs."
Providing answers to homeowner yard and garden questions is a longtime Extension benefit that endures. Master Gardener volunteers and Extension staff are armed and ready to "Help Others Learn to Grow." Talk to me or a Master Gardener on the Master Gardener HelpLine at 309-685-3140309-685-3140 ext. 13 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also post questions to my ILRiverHort Facebook, twitter, and Instagram Pages.
This year I will be working the Garden HelpLine every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. I'd love to discuss your plant questions, so give me a call during that time.