Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Home gardeners are using less water, pesticides and fertilizers thanks to the Seminole County Agriculture Extension Service's newsletter and educational programs, a survey concludes.

Most people who responded to the survey conducted in the spring changed their gardening practices after attending seminars and workshops or reading the Greenthumb newsletter.

Most said they had saved money, and several claimed savings of more than $500 as a result of new gardening methods suggested during the programs, said urban horticulturist Celeste White.

Of the 1,011 surveys mailed, only 74 were returned.

According to the survey, more than 70 percent of the people said they reduced water use because of information they received in the Greenthumb publication. About 70 percent said they also use less pesticides and fertilizers.

The quarterly publication includes information and tips on organic gardening, plants, vegetables, upcoming agriculture events, composting, water conservation, fertilizers, Xeriscape, native plants, landscape uses and other environmental issues.

Only 30 people who attended seminars and workshops in the past year returned surveys. Most said they had reduced water and pesticide usage, but only 11 said they use less fertilizer.

The results also showed that 35 people received information about composting from the center or through one of its programs and that 31 started a compost pile within the past year.

Slightly more than 47 percent of those who responded said they saved $50 last year using information from the center or volunteer master gardeners who assisted homeowners and businesses with gardening problems.

The survey revealed that 24.3 percent saved between $50 and $100 using new gardening practices, 10.8 percent saved between $100 and $500 and 2.7 percent saved more than $500 last year.

"The survey results have proved to be very educational to us," White said. "We are pleased the information offered has had such a significant impact on the environment. Hopefully, we can improve on that even more in the future."

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