December 8, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.

Ever have a gardening question that you can’t seem to find the answer to? Or maybe you find an answer but it’s not pertinent to Kentucky.
A new, interactive Web site developed by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service – GardenData.org – may be just for you.

The new virtual garden adviser was developed to provide gardeners and consumers with a reliable source of updated horticultural information. The idea originated with Extension agents in western Kentucky who wanted quick, easy access to horticulture information, said Rick Durham, UK consumer horticulturalist and GardenData committee chairman.

About 1,200 commonly asked questions pertaining to all areas of horticulture are on the site. Information on flowers, fruits, trees and shrubs, houseplants, vegetables, turfgrass, watergardening and more is only a click away. Many of the answers on the site also list publications available for further information on the topic, Durham said. 

The site is intended to complement the information clients already are receiving from their local Extension office, he said.

In Hardin County, horticulture agent Amy Aldenderfer said she thinks it will be an asset for volunteers working in the Extension office. It will allow them to access information when agents aren’t available and pass it on to clientele.

“I think it will increase the exposure of the Extension service and UK,” she said.

Durham said they were able to piggyback onto technology already being used by UK’s HorseQuest Web site, which helped to get GardenData operational more quickly and cost effectively. It has taken about one and a half years for GardenData to go from concept to reality.

If a gardener can’t find the answer to a question at GardenData.org, new questions can be asked as well. These are sent to one of about a dozen specialists in areas such as horticulture, forestry, plant pathology, entomology and more. In addition, several county horticulture agents also will be responding to new questions.

The question is forwarded to the appropriate specialist, and consumers can expect an answer within three days, Durham said.

Each new question then goes through a review process to see if it should be added to the frequently asked questions list or if it may need to be modified.

Winter may be upon us, but there’s no reason for gardens not go ahead and use the site in preparation for spring. Browsing the site may give the gardener an answer to what’s been plaguing their strawberries, tomatoes or lawn, and they’ll be ready to combat it next year, Durham said.

Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Rick Durham, 859-257-3249
Amy Aldenderfer, 270-765-4121