We know you have lots of gardening questions. You know you can call (828-255-5522) or email (email@example.com) Extension Master Gardener Volunteers to get answers! But what if you need an answer NOW, or you are interested in a general gardening topic or a complex garden project? Where can you find reliable information? Here are some tips!
Learn about North Carolina State University Extension Service resources
There are lot of resources tailored to our state that should be your first stop.
- For Buncombe County information you can use the Resources link and the search box on this blog page and check out the Buncombe County Extension lawn and garden page: https://buncombe.ces.ncsu.edu/categories/lawn-garden/
- For choosing or learning about the needs of specific plants, the NSCU Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox is a perfect first stop: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu
- For help in how to use it, start here: https://extensiongardener.ces.ncsu.edu/how-to-select-a-plant-using-extension-gardener-plant-toolbox/ Of course, for WNC, you’ll want to select the Mountain region!
- If you are concerned about plant diseases or pests, look at the “Be on the Lookout”—BOLO lists for each month: https://pdic.ces.ncsu.edu/bolos/
- If weeds are a special concern, check out these sites:
- If you have general topics you’d like to explore, such as vegetable gardening, houseplants, or native plants, the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook is available online: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook
Using Search Engines
When you search on the internet it is all about how you frame your search question and where you search!
How to search
Think about the key words you need to include to find the answer to your question.
Focus on the specific issue and type of gardening or plant. For example: “vegetable gardening” or “carrot pests.” For NC Extension information, include “NCSU” after your topic.
- Avoid extra words! Don’t bother to say: “How do I learn about my backyard vegetable garden? NCSU” or “What are those destructive pests on my carrot? NCSU”
- Try different search words if your results are too broad or too narrow
- Focusing on specific locations and seasons is often necessary for garden info! So “spring vegetable gardening WNC NCSU” brings up the most specific information for our area.
- Using the correct terms or more specific details may improve your results. “carrot critters NCSU” does not get you to specific information about insects; “carrot pests NCSU” does!
- If your key word search is coming up empty, try an image search! Click on “images” rather than “all” in your search engine.
- If you don’t know if it a pest or disease affecting your plant, you could use “carrot problems NCSU” to look at images to try to find something that looks like what you’re seeing! Look at the information with the image; you will often find better words to use in your search.
- Image searches can also help with plant ID if you’re not sure what the plant is! Here a description is useful: “shrub with large pink flowers NCSU” or “spring-blooming white flower with five petals NCSU” or “tree with yellow fall leaves NCSU” might lead you to further clues to its identity.
Where to search
You likely have a favorite search engine, such as Bing or Google, but have you tried One Search for Extension? This is a specialized Google link that will bring up Extension sources across the United States: https://extension.org/search/
- To find information for North Carolina, enter your topic and include “NCSU” for North Carolina State University or try just “WNC” to focus on the mountains.
- If the information from NC sources is limited, search the topic without a location—information from other Extension sources may be helpful.
- For indoor gardening most Extension information will be applicable to our area, but for outdoor gardening be sure to consider that growing conditions or pests and diseases may be different!
- Information from Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia Extension sources is often the most useful.
Article by Buncombe County Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteers