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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Master Gardeners offer free plant clinics at farmers markets

When the Fairfax County farmers markets open for the season next week, customers will find more than fresh produce: Volunteers from the Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association (FCMGA) will be at the markets, too, to answer gardening questions, identify plants and insects, and hand out soil test kits.

The Wakefield Farmers Market, in the parking lot at Wakefield Park in Annandale, opens May 4. It will be open every Wednesday, 2-6 p.m., through Oct. 26.

The Annandale Farmers Market, at Mason District Park, will be open 9 a.m.-noon, every Thursday beginning May 5.

The Master Gardeners will host free plant clinics at both markets through the end of September. They encourage backyard gardeners to bring samples for diagnosis or identification. The volunteers at the clinic are supported by the FCMGA’s diagnostic lab, a free service that sends a written report to a client within a week to 10 days.

Sponsored by the Fairfax office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, FCMGA conducts approximately 400 plant clinics each year at farmers markets and libraries across Fairfax County.

The FCMGA’s Home Turf program starts in May. For a fee of $30, Master Gardeners will visit a home, perform a measurement of the lawn, survey its condition, and take a soil test. They will then send the homeowner a nutrient management plan to guide fertilization of the lawn in an environmentally friendly way.

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