Photo by Alison James Lee County Master Gardener Jeanette Herndon puzzles through a fig problem with a caller to the helpline, which is staffed by volunteers Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Master Gardeners man helpline

By Alison James
Associate Editor

Is it time to prune my hydrangeas? What’s wrong with my squash? Why are my tomatoes not producing?

Master Gardener volunteers are standing by to answer these and other questions – about pruning, fertilizer, insects and more.

“During our busy time in the year in the spring, we set up that call system so anyone could see the flyer and call,” explained Alabama Cooperative Extension coordinator. “We would like to get more publicity out there so we can have more calls coming in.”

Gene Galloway, administrator for the free service, said calls come in from all over the 14-county region. Lee County mans the line Tuesday; other counties man it their respective days.

“One day we could get lots of calls from Chambers County, maybe, if there’s something going on – some kind of fungus that’s bothering folks up there that hasn’t gotten to the other areas yet,” Galloway said. “Or Japanese beetles – the farther north you go, the more Japanese beetles you encounter, so Cleburne County might call about Japanese beetles.”

The Master Gardeners on the other end of the line might do research and call the questioners back. They might refer the call to Kelly. They might ask for a sample or recommend a soil test.

“Most of the time we’re just there to be a friendly voice on the other end of the line and say we care,” Kelly said.

The number to call is 1-877-252-GROW, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Calls made after hours will be returned the next day.