Looking for advice about drought-friendly plants or garden design? There many free home garden programs and services.
• Plant Doctor. Log Cabin Nursery, a nonprofit Miami Beach organization, will diagnose sick plants and provide free information about care, said Gladstone Phillips, nursery director.
To get the best diagnosis, show up with a sample of the ailing plant. ''It's like going to the doctor,'' Phillips said. Based on clippings, Log Cabin Nursery will also identify the plants in your yard and provide care instructions.
• Frugal gardening tips. The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program provides information about how to care for your garden using less water and less fertilizer, according to John McLaughlin, home garden specialist at the Miami-Dade County Extension office. This program consists of free lectures and brochures.
Program speakers are available to make free presentations to condo and homeowner associations. The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program can be reached at hort.ufl.edu/fyn/.
The University of Florida Extension also has garden info at its ''Solutions For Your Life'' site at solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu.
For those outside of Florida, I recommend checking out county and state agricultural extension programs.
• Free Herb and Spice seminars. The Broward Herb and Spice Society provides free seminars and lectures about culinary, medicinal and aromatic spices, says Lu Weber, a representative for the organization. Beginning in August, monthly meetings are the fourth Monday of every month at the Broward County Cooperative Extension office. For information contact Herbanspot@bellsouth.net.
• Free garden and landscape design consultations. At Log Cabin Nursery, Phillips will help you design a garden and select hedges, with information about which plants are hardier near the ocean or inland. Likewise, certified horticulturists are available in the garden department at Home Depot stores to help select plants that are best suited for your home garden, according to Sheriee Bowman, a spokeswoman for Home Depot.
• Garden pest information. E-mail your questions about garden pests (and plants) to the Miami Dade County Extension office, firstname.lastname@example.org. Attach a digital image of the insect or plant and a representative will respond to your inquiry. ''We're here to help home gardeners,'' McLaughlin says.
This is from my latest column in the Home & Design section of the Miami Herald. Although this piece is very specific to South Florida, the same process can be applied to other areas of the country. Non-profit nurseries, county and state programs can provide many free garden and pests services.
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