What's wrong with my plant? Is this plant a weed? What insect is this? Are these questions you've asked yourself but been unsure how to answer? The folks at the University of Minnesota Extension Service have come up with a great online resource for puzzled gardeners.
To use their handy problem-solving diagnostic tool, you start by choosing a plant category -- say, vegetables. You then pick a crop -- we'll choose tomatoes -- which brings you to a menu of symptoms. If you select "holes fruits," you arrive at five possibilities, with pictures and information that let you zero in on the correct cause of your problem. For many of the entries -- tomato hornworm, for example -- you can then go to more detailed information, including suggestions for controls. Other broad diagnostic categories include fruit; turf; deciduous trees, shrubs, and vines; evergreen trees and shrubs; and annuals and perennials.
With the weed identification tool, selecting first the plant type and then its growth habit leads you to photos of weeds to choose from. Click on the image for more information on its life cycle and control. The insect identification tool works in similar fashion and includes both outdoor garden pests and insects found indoors.
While the information in necessarily oriented toward garden troubles common in Minnesota, there is much in this well-designed and easy to use system that will be of value to gardeners in many other parts of the country.
To access these helpful diagnostic modules, go to: U of M Gardening Information.