- Author: Leslie E. Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie E. Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
Stumped by what's devouring your prized tomatoes? Or what's causing all those squiggly lines on your citrus leaves? Contact your local UC Master Gardener Helpline.
Trained volunteers are available Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays at Helpline offices in Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo and Templeton to aid home gardeners in solving their plant or plant related pest or disease problems. UC Master Gardeners will listen to your gardening problems, ask pertinent questions, and analyze pest and plant samples when provided.
Frequently, Helpline volunteers may not be able to identify a pest or diagnose a disease on the spot, but they have access to multiple, science-based resources to help nail down your gardening issues and offer possible solutions. All UC Master Gardeners have completed a comprehensive home horticulture training program under the supervision of the UC Cooperative Extension horticulture advisor. They participate in continuing education workshops and other trainings in order to maintain their UC Master Gardener certification.
Home gardeners can call, email or drop off samples at any of the Helpline offices Monday through Friday. If volunteers are not available at the time of contact, a UC Master Gardener will get back to you during regular Helpline office hours. Please provide your name, home city and contact information (including telephone number and email), along with a brief description of your gardening question. Include names of plants and pests involved if known. Detailed photos may also be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To aid Helpline volunteers in analyzing your plant and pest samples, it's important the specimens be fresh and undamaged. Try to provide live bugs, for instance. Submit samples in a clear plastic bag or container. Do not add water. If samples cannot be brought in on the same day you collect them, store them in a refrigerator. Include multiple plant samples to show the extent and type of damage or infestation.
For specific information on UC Master Gardener Helpline offices, locations and office hours, visit our website at http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/Master_Gardener_Helpline/ The website includes a link with detailed instructions on submitting pest and plant specimens to the Helpline.