Did you know that you are only a phone call away from free gardening information specific to your climate and location?
Here in the US, every county has a Cooperative Extension Service. Affiliated with your state's university, a network of local offices willingly shares agricultural information.
In my phone book, I found the Cooperative Extension's number under County Government.
There are many places to find gardening information - the web, books, magazines, friends. All of these may be helpful but, if you are not careful, you might be getting information from someone like me, a novice that may or may not be gardening in your climate! The value in the Extension office is the research backed information specific to your area.
Extension offices vary in the information they supply but whether you are beginning gardener or have many years experience, you will find something helpful.
I have found the Extension office the most helpful in identifying diseases and blights that afflict my plants. There is something reassuring (misery loves company) to hear "Your grapes have black spot, which we are seeing a lot of in our area because of the humid weather conditions." Most of the time when I call with a specific question, the extension agent offers to mail me more information or directs me to their website. I have found their website, and the state next to me, to be very valuable sources of information.
I do find that the Extension office leans toward traditional agricultural practices versus organic. I look at spraying as the last resort so may not always follow their recommendation, but at least I can have help identifying my problem.
Most Extension offices also host a Master Gardener program that can be an additional resource of gardening information.
Ask what information your Extension office has for new home gardeners. Often they will share a list of vegetable varieties that grow well in your area. Burpees catalog isn't going to tell you that some of their seeds are not best for your weather conditions.
Another service that my Extension office supplies is testing pressure canners. If yours does the same, I'd recommend getting your pressure canner tested for safety even if it is brand new.
I'd love to hear if you utilize your extension office!