Questions about gardening? The Saline County Master Gardeners are ready to answer.
A Master Gardeners hot line will be operational starting Monday, March 22, at the Saline County University Outreach and Extension center in Marshall. Using the office's regular business number, (660) 886-6908, volunteer master gardeners will be available from 9 a.m. to noon each Monday to answer all types of gardening questions.
"I expect we'll be answering gardening questions as far as planting vegetable gardens, when to plant, how much fertilizer to apply and when," said Sheri Hacker, a member of the hot line committee.
She and a team of other gardeners will be answering calls as their volunteering schedules allow, but if callers have questions at other times, Extension staff will be there to intercept them.
Extension specialist Cynthia Crawford, who works at the office with other staff from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. each weekday, said the caller's name, phone number, question and any other pertinent information will be recorded and e-mailed to the hot line committee members.
"They'll receive the information and whoever can respond will tell the other master gardeners and the caller should receive a response within 24 hours," Crawford said, noting hot line questions e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org will be treated in the same manner.
Like other hot line volunteers, Hacker believes the new service will not only answer people's questions about certain plants, treatments or weather conditions, but provide them with information about gardening resources available in the county.
Master Gardener member Millie Hitt, who is not on the hot line team, said she sees the hot line as a way for the group, and those with questions, to build up a library of reference material.
"They're basing their answers on researched information," Hitt said. "It's not just a 'this is what I do,' type of thing. Personally, I think this will enable me and others in the county to develop a broader base of information about gardening, just gaining new knowledge and being able to try new things we haven't done before."
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