In our chat Durham he told me his goal is to choose
articles that are unbiased. Great! And
how organic will the advice be? Well, the articles will take a
Now if that means the traditional Extension Service practice of presenting synthetics and
organics as though they’re equal, isn’t it time to be more pro-active environmentally? As a case in point, the site include this advice about lawn
that fails to recommend organic or even slow-release
fertilizers for lawns rather than synthetics, and no mention is made of
the pollution caused by overapplication of phosphorus on our lawns. As
for watering, it recommends watering lawns one to three
times every week between June and August! And there’s certainly no suggestion that cool-season
turfgrasses are supposed to go brown in the summer and maybe we should
get over our addiction to green-green-green.
Hey, Extension Services, it’s great that you’re pooling resources nationally and getting it all online,
sticking with the traditional practice of taking no position on
anything (as though there are no environmental problems in our
backyards) could instantly relegate
your website to throwback status, at least among people who know
better. Unfortunately, most homeowners will just follow the advice and
long history of environmentally harmful gardening practices will
And progressive Extension Services DO exist. Here’s what Maryland
has to say about green grass in the summer: "Established
turf naturally becomes brown and dormant during mid-summer. It will
resume growth and green-up with a return to cooler, wetter weather. It
is wasteful and futile to attempt to keep lawns growing with sprinkler
irrigation. Newly seeded or sodded areas, on the other hand, should be
watered daily to get them established if rainfall is lacking." That’s
more like it. Frank Rossi at Cornell is another outstanding source of
enlightened turf advice and his articles would enhance eXtension,
About the Shrub Selecter provided by the University of Illinois:
- When all plants, even the super-easy, pest-resistant ones, show
LONG lists of possible problems, how’s a homeowner to know which ones
to choose? Spiriea,
weigela, Rugosa rose and oakleaf hydrangeas all supposedly suffer from
long lists of problems.
- Normal alphabetical order is always helpful, so how about listing weigela under W, not O for "old-fashioned weigela"?
- And "native to the United States" isn’t nearly as helpful as
"native to wet regions in the Southeastern U.S." or wherever. It’s
actually not helpful at all.
Okay, maybe I’m picking nits after all but while I’m at it, in the
main site’s listing of plant groups we find "Flowers". Come on, you
guys are the experts!
Durham told me that compiling helpful videos is a top
priority and that’s exciting to hear. So far, their pruning video is
so fuzzy as to be unwatchable but I’m sure the quality will improve,
and considering the sorry state of "expert" instructional videos on the
web, WE NEED YOU GUYS!
Another really important service you can provide is
trialing plants nationally and reporting the results, like what you’re
doing with low-maintenance lawns. More of that, please!
Well, Extension Services of America, welcome to the blogosphere,
offering feedback whether you want it or not. But honestly, we’re all
on the same side here and in that spirit I encourage readers to browse
eXtension and weigh in. Let’s help make this project a big success.