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Hort Notes 2020 Vol. 31:4

A monthly e-newsletter from UMass Extension for landscapers, arborists, and other Green Industry professionals, including monthly tips for home gardeners.

To read individual sections of the message, click on the section headings below to expand the content:

Additional Resources

For detailed reports on growing conditions and pest activity – Check out the Landscape Message

For commercial growers of greenhouse crops and flowers - Check out the New England Greenhouse Update website

For professional turf managers - Check out our Turf Management Updates

For home gardeners and garden retailers - Check out our home lawn and garden resources. UMass Extension also has a Twitter feed that provides timely, daily gardening tips, sunrise and sunset times to home gardeners at

Food Gardening in Massachusetts 2020

With the uncertainties around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the economy, growing your own food is appealing as a way to help alleviate food insecurity, do something fun that is compatible with social distancing, and produce healthy and nutritious food! To become a successful gardener is not complicated; for the most part, the needed skills can be easily mastered. Join us for this series of weekly articles which with provide research-based information on how to grow your own vegetables and herbs in Massachusetts.

Some of the content has been adapted from the New England Vegetable Management Guide, a collaborative effort by members of the Extension Vegetable Programs of the New England states. These articles are written by Frank Mangan, Extension Professor of Vegetable Crops at the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and his Ph.D. student, Heriberto Godoy Hernandez, and are available in both English and Spanish. Additional expertise on specific topics is provided by UMass Extension Specialists.

Growing Your Own Food with Franco and Beto (Columna de Franco y Beto sobre el cultivo de sus propias hortalizas y hierbas aromáticas en Massachusetts) is available here:

Diagnostic Services

Current Massachusetts and University policy have the effect of temporarily suspending most of the on-campus services that we provide, including but not limited to:

  • Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Lab
  • Plant Disease Diagnostics Lab
  • Weed, Insect, Turfgrass, and Invasive Plant Identification

These services are currently suspended. Until further notice, please do not send or deliver samples to the campus, as we cannot process them.

A UMass Laboratory Diagnoses Landscape and Turf Problems - When normal services resume, the UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab is available to serve commercial landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries and other green industry professionals. It provides woody plant and turf disease analysis, woody plant and turf insect identification, turfgrass identification, weed identification, and offers a report of pest management strategies that are research based, economically sound and environmentally appropriate for the situation. Accurate diagnosis for a turf or landscape problem can often eliminate or reduce the need for pesticide use. For sampling procedures, detailed submission instructions and a list of fees, go to Plant Diagnostics LaboratoryNo samples are being accepted at this time.

Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing - When normal services resume, the University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is located on the campus of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Testing services are available to all. The function of the Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is to provide test results and recommendations that lead to the wise and economical use of soils and soil amendments. For complete information, visit the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory web site. Alternatively, call the lab at (413) 545-2311. No samples are being accepted at this time.

TickReport Update - Due to unprecedented circumstances of the global pandemic, the University of Massachusetts has mandated work furloughs for all university staff. Unfortunately this order comes at the annual peak of tick activity, and hence TickReport testing will not be available during the furlough. Effective at 11:59PM on 3-June-2020, until 12:01AM on 19-June-2020, TickReport will not be accepting new orders. For a full statement from TickReport, please visit: . Please contact TickReport with further questions and updates on the status of their service.