Monday, August 9, 2010

Utilize Your County Extension Office

For the last few months, I've been hearing references for County Extension Offices in the tri-state area. I briefly thought about contacting them regarding my roses, but I figured if Paul James was 'stumped' I probably would't have much luck with these folks either. (See very first post.) In an unrelated event, I saw an episode of HGTV's Curb Appeal: The Block and learnt that most states offer free compost to its residents. A few weeks ago, I began calling (nearly) every state agency in Alabama about this, when I stumbled across the number for my County Extension Office. Unfortunately they had no idea about the free compost. But since I had them on the line away, I figured I didn't have anything to lose and segued into a diatribe about my rosebush dead stem dilemma. That, they could handle.

This was most serendipitous. I was put in touch with Rachel Dykes in the Ozark office. She is a wealth of information and an excellent resource to have. And even though the County Extension Office is closely tied to Auburn University, they actually returned telephone calls and e-mails about my lowly rose bushes. Who would have thought.

Turns out, the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology to which Paul James referred me, is not the department that deals with stay-at-home moms' sickly plants. Rather, there is a Plant Diagnostic Lab where, for a small fee, plant, soil and bug samples can be sent for analysis. When Rachel suggested I send a variety of cuttings and an entire plant, I jumped at the opportunity. It helped that the plant is probably dead (since cutting it back a few weeks ago, I haven't seen any new growth), otherwise, I might have done that as a last resort. In a few weeks, I'll receive my report and will hopefully be on the right track to fixing whatever problem is hindering my roses.

The process, although straight forward, requires adhering to a few rules. Rather than bore you with an executive summary, I'll attach the guidelines and necessary form for submission as soon as I figure out how to attach files on In the meantime, here is the Alabama County Extension Service's website:

I have to say I'm really pumped that I'm finally making progress with my roses. But as for that free compost, no such luck. Not to worry though. I'm still on the hunt.

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