One of the first places my husband and I go for gardening information is the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). Why Alabama and not Alaska? Well, I gardened for many years in Alaska but have since moved to lovely Alabama. Each state has an Extension service with brick and mortar offices and websites. Each Extension service is tailored to the specific climate of that state. We especially like their information because it is based on research and written by specialists. We have confidence that the information we get and use is factual and generally free from bias.
The ACES seems to have information about anything in the garden we are having issues with like how to manage garden pests. Like Alaska, Alabama has problems with aphids. The Butterfly Weed pictured above in our yard is an aphid magnet. The flower in the photo is pretty and aphid free but it wasn’t always that way. We have had aphid infestations so bad that the entire upper half of the butterfly weed was covered in these little critters. We have since learned how to control them through one of many ACES publications. We learned that aphids tend to be pesticide resistant so the best management is prevention and control. I like that because I am not a big fan of pesticides so I don’t mind a stroll through the flower beds in the morning to check for them on my plants.
In addition, they have information on what, when, and how to grow specific varieties in an Alabama home garden. Our particular favorite is the Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama. It gives time frames and what to plant based on the Alabama climate. Fabulous resource for any home gardener. Also, we often refer to the Alabama Gardener’s Calendar which gives instructions for trees, shrubs, lawns, and plants for each month of the year.
Check Out Your Extension Service
The ACES offer many free publications, videos, and advice. It is mainly staffed by educators. Much of the information is provided for free. Some of the more extensively researched reports have fees though. Some of the grants received by ACES require matching funding; my guess is these fees help meet that requirement. The main purpose of ACES is to make life better for citizens of Alabama. Extensions exist in each state and have a similar purpose. This link goes to a list of each state’s Extension service. Check them out!