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Free Garden Helpline for Union County Gardeners

The new Rutgers 250 tomato variety, “a better tasting version of the classic New Jersey Rutgers Tomato.” Credits: Peter Nitzscheby via Rutgers University.

Gardeners can get free, reliable guidance by phone or email from the Master Gardeners of Union County, a group of trained, certified volunteers organized by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County with the support of the Freeholder Board. The service is designed to assist every level of gardening experience, from beginner to expert.

Among their many civic service programs, the Master Gardeners staff the free Garden Helpline from the Extension offices on the second floor of Union County’s Colleen Frasier Building in Westfield. Gardeners can also bring plant and insect samples to the office for evaluation, and get information about soil tests.

“Now is a good time to plan ahead for a successful garden,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “If you have any questions about plants and planting, the Master Gardeners are standing by to help you.”

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Gardeners can call the Garden Helpline at 908-654-9852 from Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and on Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The Helpline may also be contacted by email at mastergardeners@ucnj.org. All voice mails and emails are answered promptly.

The Colleen Fraser Building is located at the County complex at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield. Gardeners can bring plant or insect samples for evaluation during Helpline hours. A drop box is also provided to leave samples at other times. All samples must be in sealed containers.

In other gardening news, there is still time to apply for a 2016 Union County Community Garden Grant, a new grant program funded by the Freeholder Board and administered by the non-profit organization Groundwork Elizabeth. The application deadline is May 15. For more details visit ucnj.org/garden-grants or email Groundwork, elizabethnj@groundworkusa.org.

Garden enthusiasts are also invited to attend the Master Gardener’s 27th Annual Union County Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale on Sunday May 15, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden by the Union County Trailside Nature and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation, at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

This year’s Garden Fair features the new “Rutgers 250” tomato for sale along with popular favorites including many deer resistant, drought tolerant and fragrant plants, easy-to-grow plants for beginner gardeners and a large selection of tomatoes and herbs. Adding to the fun are children’s activities, baked goods and crafts for sale, garden tours and more.

Admission and parking are free. All sales are cash only. Proceeds from the sale go to fund Master Gardeners projects including neighborhood gardens, educational events, summer camps, scholarships, and the donation of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries.

More information about the Helpline, Garden Fair and many other programs is available from the Union County Extension online at ucnj.org/rce, or call the Extension main number at 908-654-9854 (ext. 2).

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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