This week I would like to address the topic of diagnosing plant problems, both by you and with the help of others. The Master Gardeners of Delta County have been getting a fair number of plant samples with problems, many from the Cedaredge area.
The first thing I do is remind myself of all the problem areas that need to be considered. These include insects (both chewing and sucking types), diseases, herbicide injury, over watering and under watering, cold injury from the past winter, salt injury, problems with soil pH, fertility issues, injury due to animals (even humans), dog urine problems, soil compaction issues, too much sun, too much shade, and other environmental issues too numerous to list or to recall in my advanced age.
With computers and Google there is enough information available to get most of us in trouble. Not all information found there is good or reliable, so pick your sources carefully and cross check several references. Also, just because it looks like the picture, that does not necessarily mean you have made a correct identification of the causal organism.
A reliable place to go to for information pertaining to plants is provided by Colorado State University Extension through the website, Plant Talk, at http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/index.html.
And remember that a healthy plant has fewer problems than a stressed plant. In fact, many diseases and insects attack plants that are under some form of stress. So the obvious problem may not be what needs to be corrected — it may be a secondary invader.
There are many good books available to assist in identifying a problem and some even provide a fix. The Delta County Extension office has a number of these for sale.
Speaking of the Delta County Extension office, this is where the Master Gardener desk is located. During office hours on most week days there is a Master Gardener available to talk to you, look at your problem plant samples or photos and provide you an answer to your question, "What do I do to fix this problem?"
Wednesday mornings, the Master Gardener diagnostic team gathers in Delta to look at problem plant specimens and photos that have accumulated that week, many that were difficult for a single Master Gardener to figure out what the problem was or maybe what to do about it. This team is very good and I figure it has a greater than 90 percent success ratio. When this team gets stumped, they send the sample to the Grand Junction office for assistance from the "experts."
For those closer to Hotchkiss, you can go to the Maloney House on Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. and visit with a Master Gardener.
The Cedaredge Tree Board is conducting a home tour on July 20 for the first 15 individuals who sign up at the town hall or at the Cedaredge town website, www.cedaredgecolorado.com/. If you have a problem tree, this is your best bet to get a free visit from the experts. Anyone from the Surface Creek area can participate. But unlike the Master Gardeners the Cedaredge Tree Board only deals with trees.
Above all, don't give up if all your plants aren't behaving. We all can't have a green thumb and as I have said before — if you bury your failures, no one will ever know. Really though, we can help you. Give us a try. Happy gardening.
Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a master gardener.blog comments powered by Disqus