Fun Facts, Tips and Ask an Expert

Fun Facts about Cooperative Extension

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Quick Tips

Check out the following quick tips for your home and garden featured in our quarterly newsletter, Extension Connections:

View the Extension Connections archive. Want more quick tips? Sign up for our newsletter!

You can sign up to receive program updates in our quarterly newsletter, Extension Connections, regarding upcoming home and garden seminars, how to register for 4-H Junior Camp, and upcoming financial and home management seminars.

Garden Questions

Master Gardener Virtual Help Desk

Within our new normal, there are so many changes to the ways we go about our daily routines. One thing that hasn’t changed is our dedication to helping you with your gardening and landscaping questions, and that’s why we’re happy to share a new way for you to reach us through our Master Gardeners Virtual Help Desk

Simply email your questions to the Virtual Help Desk and we’ll assign a Master Gardener to assist you. If needed, you may attach photos or a short video to illustrate your question.

Although digital diagnosis is more difficult for disease samples than for insect or weed identification, we can often provide at least a preliminary diagnosis if we receive images of good quality. Smartphones generally take good images if you follow a few guidelines:

  1. Submit only digital images that are clear and in focus. 
    1. Images taken with smartphones will normally suffice. 
    2. Image File Type: All images must be in GIF, JPG, PNG, or PDF. GIF or JPG preferred. 
    3. Image File Size: Please send images of a high enough quality, resolution and file size. Images that are approximately 2-5 MB and 1,000-2,000 pixels (width and height) are ideal. 
  2. Include three to seven well-focused images that show:
    1. The pattern of the problem in the location (e.g. field, orchard, nursery, landscape, garden)
    2. The overall symptoms on the whole plant
    3. A close-up of the symptoms on an affected plant, including images of both leaf surfaces if there are symptoms on leaves
  3. Try to avoid strong shadows on the sample; outdoor images taken on a cloudy day are best. When taking pictures indoors, try to illuminate the plant from both sides to eliminate shadows in the photo and place on a neutral background.
  4. Please request new images from clients if the images are not of good quality and therefore not appropriate for diagnosing the problem.
  5. View the Guidance for Submitting a Good Digital Submission to the Plant Disease Clinic (PDF), which includes sample image submissions. 

Our Master Gardeners will respond, and we’ll either call (if you choose to provide a phone number) or email you with our response.

Ask an Extension Expert

The Ask an Extension Expert system offers one-to-one expert answers from Cooperative Extension/University staff and volunteers within participating Land-Grant institutions from across the United States.