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Horticultural services available to local residents

The summer growing season is finally here, and the questions have started coming in droves. Between the phone calls, e-mails and walk-ins with garden samples, there is never a dull moment in the Extension office in the summer months.

If you have a garden question, from plant/insect identification, lawn care and pesticide application to best practices in growing or maintaining your garden, the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Douglas County is the right place to come.

Here are a few services we offer and some guidelines to follow when you have a question:

● If you have an insect you would like to have identified: Catch it in a clear jar and place it in the freezer overnight. This will retain its color and keep it in the best condition suitable for identification.

If you have a caterpillar, do not place it in the freezer. Instead, place it in a secure container with air holes punched in the top. Try to include some of the plant on which it was found so that it will not perish prior to identification.

Generally, we do not accept samples that may contain human blood. The only exceptions to this are ticks and bed bugs. Please make sure that ticks and bed bugs are securely sealed and frozen prior to bringing them to the Extension office.

● If you have a plant to identify: Take a picture of the whole plant and one or two close-ups and e-mail them to me at

Bring in a fresh plant sample anytime on Tuesdays or Fridays or on Wednesday mornings. Collect a sample of at least 6 inches long with leaves attached to the central stem. Place the sample in a clear plastic bag with your name and address attached.

● If you require a diagnosis of a specific problem in your garden such as ailing plants, insect damage, odd growth patterns, etc.: Take a picture of the whole plant and one or two close-ups and e-mail them to me. Bring in a sample as per the above directions.

We do not conduct soil or water testing. However, we do have the forms and information regarding collection and submission of your samples.