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Soil Test

    Date Posted: Fri, Aug 12 - 10:39 pm


  • Hello! I got my soil test results back, but I don't understand them. Can you help? Best, Teresa
  • Answer

  • Hello Teresa, Yes, I would be able to help you with the soil test results. You won't be able to upload them through this site. However, if you can send me the results through email that should do the trick. Please send the results I look forward to helping you sort this out.

Soil testing

    Date Posted: Mon, Jul 25 - 8:59 pm


  • Do you all provide soil testing? And if so how do I sign up? Best, Katie
  • Answer

  • Hello Katie, We absolutely do provide soil testing. The master gardeners that provide Help Desk duties at the branch libraries all have soil sample kits for purchase. Call the branch nearest you and find out the Help Desk dates and times. The kit will describe exactly how to sample your soil and what the fees are. You can find the form to fill out here--, if you want a preview and a bit more information. Good luck with the testing and happy gardening!


    Date Posted: Sat, Jul 23 - 4:51 pm


  • What's wrong with my tomatoes? I've been gardening for years, but have never seen this issue with tomatoes before. This is my first time gardening in Hanover, VA. I believe the space has been used for gardening before. I didn't do a soil test. The only soil amendment has been bloodmeal. All of my tomatoes, regardless of size, look fine while green, but as they ripen, they appear to have white spots underneath the skin. When I cut them open, they all have a sort of white pithiness throughout the outer flesh just under the skin. The flavor is okay but the skins are tough and crunchy, and it's consistent throughout the 6 varieties I've planted. I haven't seen any issues with the foliage. I'm really stumped on this one but I am wondering if this is a new-to-me disease or an outcome of inconsistent watering (due to some unforeseen circumstances, they're largely surviving on what falls from the sky plus one weekly watering). I saw a few earlier in the season that have blossom end rot, but these ones don't have decay at the blossom end. Any thoughts? Thanks for your insights!
  • Answer

  • Hello there, this does sound discouraging!! I have to admit that I have never had this issue but I did a little research and found some resources that may help you. The first website is from Texas A&M. It's useful because it shows pictures of ripe fruit in trouble and identifies the problem. I'm making a guess that Cloudy Spot might be your issue. Of course, I must emphasize that this is a guess, having never seen the problem you describe firsthand. Cloudy Spot indicates stink bug infestation-- If that's right, the VA Tech website has a video on how to trap the culprit--, I like this solution because there is no chemical insecticide involved. The trap in the video was created to trap the bugs in homes but can easily be used in the garden as well. If my guess is wrong, you have another option. VA Tech has a plant disease clinic where samples can be tested and identified. Because Richmond City does not currently have an extension agent due to a staffing vacancy, you can contact the Chesterfield office and get the details on submitting samples. There is a $35 fee as well as paperwork that must be submitted with the sample(s). You can contact them at this email address-- Chesterfield MG Help Desk: Best of luck sorting this out!!


    Date Posted: Thu, Jul 21 - 7:35 pm


  • where can I find a list of native flowers to plant as well as native seeds to plant in my garden. I am aiming to increasing visits from pollinators! My space gets about 6 hours of full sun. Thanks!
  • Answer

  • Hello there, so glad you are thinking about all the benefits of native plants. Not only will you attract pollinators but you'll increase the food supply for birds and beef up the organisms in the soil working underground; just to name a few benefits. I'm attaching 3 different websites that are wonderful references, the one for Virginia natives is especially useful. There is no shortage of choices. Internet resources:;; Have fun planting your new garden!! We all appreciate it.

Becoming a Master Gardener

    Date Posted: Thu, Jul 14 - 7:47 pm


  • How do I go about becoming a master gardener?
  • Answer

  • Hello there, So glad you are interested in providing this service to the community!! I've copied 3 paragraphs from the VCE website for Master Gardeners. The link for more information is at the end. From the VCE Website: Become a Virginia Extension Master Gardener! 1) Join a dedicated team of more than 5,000 volunteers who work in communities throughout Virginia to promote research-based horticulture. Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) provide vital public education related to creating and managing home landscapes, vegetable gardening, turf management, and more! 2) To become an Extension Master Gardener, you will receive 50 hours (minimum) of training and complete 50 hours (minimum) of volunteer service. Exact hour requirements vary by county. To remain an active Extension Master Gardener, you must complete 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education each year. 3) Training classes and volunteer groups are handled locally by each Virginia county Extension office. Contact your local Extension office for information on your next upcoming local training. - Currently there is no formal training in Richmond City due to a vacancy in Extension Agents. However, Chesterfield continues to have training and they are graciously filling the void in Richmond's training services. You can contact them at to find out when they will be holding the next training session. - Most of the area libraries have an EMG on site at some point each month. Check in with your local library for the exact schedule and have a chat with an EMG! If you're at the Main Branch check out the new seed catalog. - Thank you for your inquiry. Best of luck with your training!

Creeping phlox

    Date Posted: Tue, Jun 21 - 9:58 pm


  • My creeping phlox was planted about a month ago. When I bought it it had some dried out looking leaves. Now it is looking more dried out at the base and many leave are turning yellow. I am wondering if there is a way to save them?
  • Answer

  • Hello there, There are a couple of phloxes that could be described as creeping. There's moss phlox (phlox subulata), which is very short and creeps, there's creeping phlox (phlox stolonifera) which is taller and creeps, and there phlox divaricata also taller and creeps. However, I think they all suffer from similar problems so it may not really matter which one is in question. The plant could be suffering from some fungal disease or it could be a virus. A fungal issue could possibly be resolved. A viral problem cannot. It's impossible to know which issue you have without a diagnosis but you could try using a fungal spray (there are some less toxic sprays on the market that can be used safely if you avoid spraying when insects are busy) and if the plant rebounds you know that was the problem. If it doesn't rebound, it's viral and you should pull it up and dispose of it in the trash rather than compost. Sometimes compost won't kill the pathogen, so to be on the safe side I'd use the trash bin. Good luck! Let us know if you have further questions.

Master Gardener Program inquiry

    Date Posted: Fri, Jun 17 - 1:54 am


  • I would like to reach Don Moore as I’m contemplating becoming a master gardener and also come from a medical background. Thank you
  • Answer

  • Hello! This is Don Moore. Feel free to reach me at I’d be happy to answer your questions about becoming a Master Gardener. Thanks for reaching out!

English Ivy

    Date Posted: Sun, Jun 05 - 1:10 am


  • Hi, I have a question about some plants in my backyard. I think I have some kind of ground ivy, and it has something wrong with it. I'm not sure if it's fungus or insect activity. The leaves have small “bubbles" where the leaves material has ballooned in places. Each bubble is the size of a pea. On the underside of the leaves, inside the bubbles, there are clusters of little white specks. I have pictures, but I'm unable to post them here. What is causing this? Do I need to do anything about it? Will it spread to other plants? Thanks!
  • Answer

  • Hello there, I am making an assumption that you are referring to English ivy. I haven't seen the problem you're describing myself but I found some information on the Virginia Tech website. Again, I based my search for information on the subject being English ivy. If you think it's something else you can try searching for it on this website. There are photos you can refer to when you get the search results. Here is the website address-- --Select Woody Ornamentals for Plant Type and English ivy for Plant Common Name. It should return 2 entries. One will be for Bacterial Leaf Spot and the other will be Anthracnose-a fungus. I hope this helps! Let us know if you have further questions.

Reblooming azaleas

    Date Posted: Mon, May 30 - 7:03 pm


  • My azaleas are the type that bloom several times a year and are doing very well. They are several years old and I would like to know when they should be fertilized. Thanks.
  • Answer

  • Hello there, Good to know the plants are doing well. Since this is the case I wouldn't recommend using any kind of commercial fertilizer. An annual top dressing with some good compost and a light dressing of mulch such as pine needles, pine bark, or maybe hemlock should provide the nutrients your shrubs need. I don't recommend using any of the dyed wood chips. Those can rob your plants of nutrients in their quest to decompose. Also, less is better with mulch, a dressing of one to two inches deep will suffice. Happy plants are easy to care for!

Native Plants

    Date Posted: Mon, Apr 25 - 4:23 pm


  • I’m interested in filling a mulched area in my yard in the city with native plants. Do you have any recommendations for layout and where to buy? I was hoping for a rain garden but it’s not enough space. It’s about 10 feet by 3 feet.
  • Answer

  • Hello there! What a timely question. Master Gardeners are exploring this very subject on May 7th at the park at the Main Library between 1-4. There will be a presentation on invasive plants by the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force followed by Master Gardeners presenting on native plants with plenty of time for questions and answers. Without knowing the orientation, amount of sun, and soil conditions, etc., it's difficult to make a suggestion for your planting. However, I would recommend making as many layers as possible-shade, understory, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers. I know it's not a large area but you would be surprised how many plants can inhabit a space that size. You could omit the shade tree perhaps and plant an understory or two-one at each end of the space. Then infill with a mix of shrubs and perennials and finally underplant with a groundcover or two. This diverse mix will be very attractive to many species of birds, mammals, insects, etc. Please come with your questions and curiosity on May 7th!!