Free Statewide Service For Home Gardeners Expanding

Clemson Extension agent examines tomato plant

If you can’t seem to get your grass or garden to grow, there’s free help just a phone call away. It’s part of the Clemson Cooperative Extension. And the statewide service is now expanding.

When a typical treatment won’t cut it, Weed Man Lawn Care calls the service to better serve its customers.

“We’ll call in or primarily like tissue samples, soil samples, to help us understand what is more accurately going on with the property,” said Production Manager James Frazier.

As the university’s public outreach arm, the Clemson Cooperative Extension offers advice to anyone living in South Carolina.

Commercial Horticulture Agent Cory Tanner showed us a tomato plant just dropped off Wednesday morning. A woman brought it in because she can’t figure out why it’s dying.

And they’ll soon be answering more of these questions.

As part of a five-year strategic plan, the extension service is expanding. To homeowners, that means more specialists and extended hours to take your calls at its Home & Garden Information Center. That will happen within the year.

“All of our recommendations and answers are based on research that’s either been conducted at Clemson or similar university,” said Tanner. “We’re not selling anything. We have no reason to give bad advice or improper advice. And so we’re just here to offer people a sound research based resource.”

Tanner says vegetable gardening and lawn care make up the most calls right now. They also offer advice on food safety and household pests among other things. They even have recipes for canning and pickling.

In all, the Home & Garden Information Center has more than 600 fact sheets on various topics.

“Anytime they call a county office or the Home & Garden Information Center, that advice is free,” said Tanner.

Some services do cost a small fee. For instance, sending a sample of your plant to Clemson for a diagnosis will cost you $10. Tanner says you’ll get an answer and solution back in about ten days.

Businesses who use the service say it’s well worth the call.

“It’s a great benefit because it’s important for us to understand exactly what’s going on. Most people look at lawn care as just another you know outside type of job. But lawn care really is a science. And Clemson helps us understand that science and how to incorporate that into our business,” said Frazier.

Right now, you can call and get free advice about your lawn or garden Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm. The number is 1-888-656-9988.

You can also just stop by your county extension office.

The expansion also includes more help to farmers and additional 4-H programming, mostly in rural areas.


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