The Garden Gate: Gardener's Guide


Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: The Garden Gate: Gardener's Guide

The Gardener's Guide to Finding Answers on the Internet

Copyright © 1997 Karen Fletcher. All Rights Reserved.

The Internet is great for surfing but when it comes to finding a specific piece of information, it's still hard paddling. Although we have Alta Vista, Yahoo, Lycos, and exicte! and all the numerous other catalogs and search engines, finding specific gardening information is still not an easy task.

Here are some useful tools, some old (in Internet years) and some new, which will help you find answers to your questions quickly and efficiently.

Broad Topics - Specific Questions - Plant Selection - Tips and Tricks - Regional

Broad Topics
For broad topics - e.g., daylilies, herbs, rhododendrons, strawberries - check one of the following collections. With luck you will turn up a hobbyist's or association's homepage with original content and a good collection of further links.

The following collections are organized by topic:

The Teaching Garden
Here at The Garden Gate. Offers glossaries, FAQs, special topic WWW pages, collections, and plant lists.
The Gardening Launching Pad
A large collection of gardening links organized into categories.
GardenNet's Guide to Internet Resources
An alphabetical topic index.
Internet Directory for Botany - Gardening
An extensive alphabetical list of gardening links from the excellent Internet Directory for Botany.
World Wide Web Virtual Library: Gardening
Part of the WWW Virtual Library,
If your topic is very specialized, you may want to resort to the Web's search utilities and catalogs. The best of these are:
Alta Vista. The capability to do advanced queries permits highly focussed searches.
Excite! offer results ranked by relevance.
Yahoo WWW Guide is a large catalog arranged hierarchically by subject.
Lycos: Catalog of the Internet offer custom search options

Specific Questions
If you are looking for more specific information, for instance, the answer to a particular gardening question - 'Is it too late to plant my bulbs?', 'When should I divide my irises?', 'Why is my spathiphyllum looking so puny?' - you best off searching the wealth of information made available by Universities and Cooperative Extensions around the country.

WebGarden's Factsheet Database (Ohio State).
Searchable database of over 5000 fact sheets from Universities and Cooperative Extensions in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands.
Horticulture Solutions (Illinois Cooperative Extension)
Hundreds of concise solutions to common gardening problems. Organized by topic.
Virginia Cooperative Extension Consumer Horticulture
An excellent collection of detailed, easy-to-read factsheets, particularly for Fruits and Vegetables and Indoor gardening - potted plants. A site map makes it easier to find what you're looking for.
PENpages (Penn State)
Good ol' gopher with over 20,000 documents on a wide variety of topics.
Home Horticulture from Michigan State University Extension
Indexed and searchable collection of factsheets.
AGinfo (University of Delaware)
More limited: a searchable database of landscape plants.

Plant Selection
Plants selection is by turns enjoyable and frustrating. Even the best books can offer no more than lists meeting one or two criteria. These online databases let you choose plants by multiple criteria.

Gardening Encyclopedia
A searchable online database from Books That Work. Search their Gardening Encylcopedia for over 1000 plants by color, flowering time, and light requirements.
HTGrover - Landscape Plant Selection Knowledgebase
Search the knowledgebase by selecting by type, USDA Zone, size, and over 60 other criteria (don't choose too many at once, or your search will come up empty; use Reload to clear the form). Centre for Landscape Research, University of Toronto.
The Virtual Garden
Time Warner's Virtual Garden features a searchable database based on their Gardener's Encyclopedia.
Tips and Tricks
Gardeners are never short of opinions, so if you're looking for picks and pans on catalogs, books, favorite varieties or for creative solutions to gardening problems, newsgroups and mailing lists are an excellent place to put your question. But if you are looking for a solid, authoritative answer, these forums are about as reliable a source of high-quality information as the average backyard full of gardening friends at a barbeque. You might get lucky and be offered advice by a bona fide expert, but then again you might end up with bad advice that will end up costing you time and money. As a general rule, the more specialized the forum, the better the chance that it will offer high-quality information.
Mailing Lists for Gardeners
Dozens of mailings lists cover many specialized topics.

Regional Information
If the information you are looking for is regional--say, recommended vegetables varieties or pesticide recommendations--you might check your state's Cooperative Extension and familiarize yourself with their offerings. Don't forget to check neighboring states, too, for information relevant to your USDA Zone and climate. Don't stray too far, though. A single USDA Zone can span the continent and climate and soil can vary dramatically.

Cooperative Extensions by State
From WWW Virtual Library: Gardening
AGRIgator (University of Florida)
More general listings, including agricultural sites, by state.
A Closing Thought
There's always the trip to the library, but that's a radical concept in this hi-tech age...

[-Home-]To The Garden Gate Homepage.
Copyright © 1997 Karen Fletcher. All Rights Reserved.

Last updated on April 27, 1997 by Karen Fletcher, garden-gate@prairienet.org

URL: http://www.prairienet.org/garden-gate/answers.htm