Agriculture and Natural Resources
Protecting the Quality of Land and Water Resources
Agriculture and natural resources (ANR) programs help sustain the profitability of agricultural and forestry production and enhance and protect the quality of our land and water resources. ANR programs are directed toward a broad range of needs associated with the production of animals, food crops, greenhouse and nursery products, turf, and forests; the financial management of agricultural enterprises; and the protection of the environment. ANR programs include:
- Community Outreach Programs
- Farming and Equine Resources
- Master Gardener Volunteer Training
- Soil and Water Conservation Advice
Boxwood blight is a plant disease caused by a fungus. Discovered in North America in September 2011, Boxwood Blight was detected in Chesterfield County landscape in 2013. Chesterfield partners with other plant pathologists in Virginia to detect and manage this disease and is a member of the Virginia Boxwood Blight Taskforce.
Treating Boxwood Blight
There are three major symptoms of the disease:
- Elongated, dark streaks on twigs and stems
- Large, diffuse leaf spots
- Leaf defoliation
The primary means by which the disease spreads is the inadvertent introduction of infected boxwood to existing plantings. The pathogen can also spread by spores, which readily adhere to equipment and work clothes, and by microsclerotia, which survive in fallen leaves and plant debris.
If you suspect your boxwoods have boxwood blight, carefully bring a sample to the Cooperative Extension office for analysis. To take a sample, wear disposable gloves to snip a small piece of the plant that is showing symptoms mentioned above. Place the sample in a plastic bag, then place that bag in another bag. Please double bag the sample - this is a very contagious disease and appropriate sanitary procedures are necessary to prevent spreading the disease in your landscape.
If you have a sunny spot in your backyard, no matter the size, you can put a raised bed and add in an amended soil mixture. You are now ready to grow your favorite plants such as flowers, herbs and vegetables.
If you have a sunny spot on your deck, patio or balcony, then you can plant in containers, which come in a wide assortment of sizes. Some even have automatic watering capability. Elevated beds are perfect if you prefer not to bend over or are in a wheelchair. The deep soil provides an environment conducive to growing all types of plants.
Small Space Demonstration Garden
The garden shows the use of raised beds made from different types of building materials, containers and elevated beds. It also demonstrates various methods for growing seasonal vegetables. Not only does the garden grow and produce fresh vegetables, there is an herb garden too. The herb garden is made up of annual and perennial culinary herbs.
The Cooperative Extension demonstration garden is active for all four seasons and is located at Cooperative Extension.
Lawn Care and Soil Testing
The Grass Roots program includes a home visit by one of our Master Gardeners to evaluate present lawn conditions and collect a soil sample. Soil samples are recommended a few months before initiating any new landscaping, whether you are seeding a lawn, starting a vegetable garden, putting in a flower bed, or planting perennials. Sampling well in advance of planting will allow time for applied soil amendments to begin making the desired adjustments in soil pH or nutrient levels. Sample established areas include lawns, trees, shrubbery and other perennials - at any time of year.
The ideal time to take samples is when the garden season has ended in the late summer to early fall. Sampling in the fall allows time for corrective pH and nutrient management before new growth starts in the spring. It is recommended that the soil be tested every three years.
For more information, visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension - Lawn and Garden webpage or view Soil Sampling for the Home Gardener (PDF).
Sustainability at the Home
Chesterfield County has nearly 1,300 miles of streams, 124 miles of riverfront, and hundreds of acres of reservoirs, ponds and lakes. From the smallest creek to the largest lake, these water bodies contribute to the quality of life in the county. Residents may not realize that many of their behaviors and daily activities impact these waters and those downstream in the Chesapeake Bay and are able to make a huge difference, by practicing sustainable land care practices.
Practices such as improper fertilization, over use of pesticides and failing to protect soil can lead to algal blooms and fish kills, causing long-term problems for our waterways. Conducting proper landscape maintenance practices and maintaining a naturally vegetated buffer adjacent to lakes and streams can significantly reduce such pollution.