Extension Master Gardener Help Desk

Operating by Email! (2/21/21)***

MGNV---Extension-Master-Gardener-Help-Desk-Got an insect or plant disease problem?   We can help.  Due to Covid 19 building closures, we are not able to work from our usual space at the Fairlington Community Center, but we can still help!   Before you contact us, check out this VCE publication with helpful plant problem diagnosis tips.

  1. Submit your question to us directly by email with background information found in this form. Or you can print and scan this form to return to us.
  2. Please send this information and your photos via email to mgarlalex@gmail.com; volunteers are checking daily and responding in a timely manner.

How to take good diagnostic photos:

For best results, submit

  • A photo of the entire plant
  • A photo of the branch or section of the plant that is in question
  • Closeup photos of the problem, the top and bottom of a leaf if applicable, the signs of insects if applicable.

Tips for taking a picture of an insect

    • Put it in the freezer for a few minutes to slow it down enough to take a good picture;
    • Put it on a piece of sticky paper to slow it down;
    • Don’t smash it;
    • Place it inside of a small glass jar.

We recommend you watch Elaine Mills’ video on plant identification for tips on how to take the best photos to submit to the Help Desk.

Another excellent resource is Clemson University’s How to Take Good Photos for Your Extension Agent.

Need a Soil Test?

Soil Test Supplies and Locations:
While our office is closed you can get soil test kits at these locations.

  • Fairlington Community Center, 3308 South Stafford St, Arlington;  You will find them in a box affixed to a gate to our Teaching Garden adjacent to the loading dock at the rear of the building.
  • Greenstreet Gardens, 1721 W. Braddock Rd, Alexandria, 22302
  • Brown’s Hardware, 100 W Broad St., Falls Church, 22046
  • Bill’s Hardware, 2213 N Buchanan St, Arlington, 22207
  • Cherrydale Hardware, 3805 Lee Hwy Arlington, 22207
  • Ayers Hardware 5853 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205

This video made by Friends of Urban Agriculture with Extension Agent Kirsten Conrad will walk you through it how to collect a soil sample.

You will mail your samples to the Virginia Tech Soil Testing lab using the address on the Soil Sample Information Sheet that accompanies the container.

Allow 2 weeks for results to be returned via email.   For help with interpretation or a missing report please contact Agent, Kirsten Conrad at kirsten.conrad@vt.edu

***When we can operate in-person again, the Extension Master Gardener Help Desk will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday through Friday and you can reach us by phone at 703-338 6414.  You can also leave a message or email anytime. Please keep in mind that we follow the holiday and closure schedule of the Arlington County Government.