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Hort Notes 2020 Vol. 31:5

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

Landscape and Turf Problem Diagnostics - The UMass Plant Diagnostic Lab has reopened as of 6/22/20 for plant disease, insect pest and invasive plant/weed samples. At this time, we can only accept mail-in samples; walk-in samples cannot be accepted. The lab serves 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. Please refer to our website for instructions on sample submission and to access the submission form at Mail delivery services and staffing have been altered due to the pandemic, so please allow for some additional time for samples to arrive at the lab and undergo the diagnostic process. 

Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing - The UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Lab resumes accepting new orders for routine soil analysis and particle size analysis orders ONLY, beginning Monday, 7/13/20. Please do not send orders for other types of analyses at this time. Orders should be sent via USPS, UPS, FedEx or other private carrier. The lab office will remain closed to the general public until further notice and hand delivered orders will not be accepted at this time. Processing time will be longer than usual since the lab is operating with reduced staff and staggered shifts. Testing services are available to all. The lab provides test results and recommendations that lead to the wise and economical use of soils and soil amendments. For updates and order forms, visit the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory web site. 

TickReport Update - The TickReport Risk Assessment & Passive Surveillance Program is open and tick samples can be submitted via Please contact TickReport with with tick-related questions and updates on the status of their service.