Improve Your Gardening Skills With This Free Software
Gardening is all about experience, so getting started is more than a little intimidating. Even something as simple as planting tomatoes raises a million questions if you haven’t done it before: do I need a raised bed? When should the seeds go into the ground? Is it too much light or not enough? Wait, do tomatoes generally grow in this climate?
If you are concerned about any of these issues, you should check out extension services at your local university. Collaborative extension services, also known as extension programs, are mainly outreach and education programs for agriculture. A collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and public universities, these programs have been in existence in one form or another since 1914. According to the old Farmers’ Almanac , the USDA wanted to “provide farmers across the country with advice from local experts. in everything to do with agriculture and agriculture ”, and believed that public universities were the ideal way to do this. They were right – the program was an immediate success, and today all 50 states have extension services.
You don’t have to be a farmer or even live near your state university to use its extension services. Most programs have physical offices in multiple counties, which you can easily find using the USDA Land-Grant University Web Directory . Once you find your local office, visit their website to see what’s going on with them.
This can be difficult at first. Extension services websites tend to be chock-full of useful information, making them the perfect reference for any project you can think of. But it’s more than just a Wikipedia for local gardening tips – it’s primarily event calendars. Remember, extension services were invented with the sole purpose of teaching people how to do cool things. Before the advent of the Internet, they did it exclusively through lectures, courses, seminars and general public relations, and they still do it today. This means there is a class of value-added services around everything you ever want to learn, from building chicken coops to local farming history and getting your master gardener certification, all for free.
It would be impossible to list everything you can learn from extension services, but suffice it to say that they should be your first stop for any questions you have about planting, growing, harvesting, preparing and storing food in your specific area. Experienced local people work there who have answers to all questions, and they will happily share them with anyone who asks them.