Whether we like it or not, technology is a large part of our lives. My skills in this area are basic, but I have friends, neighbors and family who are able to supplement as needed. I have an ascending scale of helpers in order of their expertise, and so far I have been able to address all problems without having to resort to the dreaded tech support.
I am reminded how much I depend on technology when I turn off the last light before I go to bed, and see the surprising number of blinking or shining points of light all through the house.
I took the time to list them last night, and they include the time on the stove and the microwave (not identical but close), a light to tell me the mini-sweeper is charging, the green light that indicates the computer is plugged in but not turned on, various yellow and blue dots on the modem, router or some such necessary thing, and the light that tells me the alarm clock will wake me at a respectable hour. The single green light on the dishwasher lets me know I have successfully taken care of the day's dishes. My cell phone is quietly recharging, and the TV and DVR are unlit except for a clock but ready when I need them. My new digital camera is hiding in a drawer, waiting for me to interpret the 74 pages of the online manual I downloaded.
So what does technology have to do with gardening and this column? Surely working with the earth should be the last bastion of hands-on skills.
Well, it is and it isn't.
I write this column with Microsoft Office and send it to my editor by email, which certainly beats typewriters and the U.S. Postal Service for speed and accuracy.
I order most of the seeds I plant online, and the order is in my mailbox within a few days, saving trips out in the cold winter weather.
Readers can contact me by email, which I much prefer to the telephone.
Then there are a multitude of wonderful websites originating from places around the world and providing all the information one could need.
Of course, some of this can be suspect (I do not rely on opinions), but there are so many reputable sources for research. Plus, some of the worst sites are fun to read and laugh about.
I would like to recommend some of the Internet sites I
The most topical and relevant must be BYGL. This is the site managed by the Extension Educators of OSU who conduct a phone conference every Tuesday from April to October to discuss horticultural and landscape issues in Ohio. They send out the Buckeye Yard and Garden line known familiarly as BYGL, pronounced "beagle," every Thursday.
This online newsletter is free. It is divided into sections such as Plant of the Week, Hort Shorts, Bug Bytes, Disease Digest, Turf Tips, Weather Watch and more. All the information is reliable and research-based; you can get on their list by emailing Cheryl Fischnich at fischnich1@claes.
Other sites I like are Dave's Garden, at www.davesgarden.
com, which has grown from a small website to a comprehensive reference point over the last few years.
Here, you can share seeds and plants and chat with other like-minded people. You can use the Garden Watchdog, which is a database of garden mail order suppliers, including feedback from people who have shopped there, and The Plant Scout section helps you find a particular plant, listed by common and botanical name and also including ratings and comments.
Finally, there is Amy Jeanroy's site, at www.herbgardens.about.com, has increased from a small blog to a very interesting site on herbs with a weekly newsletter.
Don't be afraid to embrace technology. Or at least shake hands. If I can do it, so can you.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.