I had puttered in a small suburban garden for 20 years but when we purchased this old property, the challenges were a bit more daunting. The previous owners were not of a gardening nature to begin with and then ill health led to years of neglect. Parts of the property were impassable – choked with wild rose, Japanese barberry, brambles and bittersweet. In hopes of restoring this patch of paradise I went in search of knowledgeable people and fellow gardeners with whom to compare notes (and commiserate). I was pleasantly surprised to find that Connecticut has a treasure trove of gardening resources (links are on my links list).
Let’s start with UConn’s Home and Garden Education Center. The Center provides incredibly useful information on gardening and managing your property “from soil tests to tree tops.” I have shelves of gardening books and magazines but what sets this resource apart is that it is geared to our local environmental conditions and challenges (deer, voles, acidic soil, wacky weather swings, drought, blight, you name it… and just in the last year). And UConn just added a Sustainable Living website
To deal with my non-native invasive plants, I tapped into another UConn resource, the Connecticut Invasive Plants Working Group. The group provides fact sheets on how to identify and manage invasive species as well as recommendations on native alternatives.
Another stellar organization is the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven. The Station does scientific research and public outreach in agriculture and related fields. Their programs and services include soil testing, helping with plant and insect problems, and tick testing. In addition to the information and fact sheets on their website, the Station holds a Plant Science Day every spring and for environmental gardening geeks like me, is a must (and free).
Last but not least there is CT NOFA which is the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association which is focused on strengthening the practices of ecologically sound farming and gardening and the development of local sustainable agriculture.
Incredible resources and Connecticut being such a small state, the conferences and classes are reachable in under two hours. Again, check out the websites and happy gardening!