Welcome to the Home Horticulture pages of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County. Here you will find useful information to help you select and maintain plants for your home and garden, recognize and manage plant diseases and insect problems, and maintain the landscape of your Capital Region (zones 4-5) home. You can also find information on the demonstration gardens that are maintained by our Master Gardeners beautifying various sites and used to educate the public about good horticultural practices. Be sure to visit the seasonal information as it will assist you in making your garden a success. Come grow with us!

Home Horticulture


The deadline for applications to the Albany County Master Gardener Training for fall of 2014 is Friday, August 22, 2014.  The next training will be the fall of 2016.  Thank you for your interest in our volunteer program--please contact the Master Gardener Coordinator at 518-765-3516 if you have questions.


What we can do to help you garden better.

Cooperative Extension traditionally has been the link to the community from Cornell to share good horticultural practices and information with the public. Our services are low cost and timely ways for the gardener to learn more about the science behind the practices.

Soil basics: what is pH?

Knowing your soil pH is the key to good gardening basics. If the pH is off for what you are trying to grow, then the plants languish despite fertilizer applications. Correct pH insures that plants can draw nutrients from the soil.

Taking a soil sample for pH testing

1. Use a clean pail and shovel, uncontaminated by pesticides, fertilizers, lime, etc.

2. Small sub-samples (1-10 depending on the size of the plot) should be collected and
thoroughly mixed in a pail. A subsample consists of a downward slice taken from
the side of a hole 4-6 inches deep.

3. Remove large stones but do not handle the soil or sift through it.

4. Mix the sub-sample together and put one cup of the representative sample of
the mixture in a container. Label sample with name, address, date and location of
sample. This is especially important if you have to leave the sample.

5. If the soil is WET, air dry naturally.
DO NOT use artificial heat such as an oven to dry it.

6. NOTE: Areas where you have spread wood ashes (alkaline), lime (alkaline),
ground sulfur (acid) or fertilizers in the last four months will be greatly influenced
by these materials. Information concerning past cropping, liming and fertilizing must also
be included for more accurate analysis. Giving information on the plant(s) and problems
you are experiencing is also valuable.

7. Soil tests DO NOT show insect or disease problems.

8. Results of the pH tests will indicate what the grower must do to restore proper
soil conditions for optimum plant health.

Gardening month by month

A guide of things to do in the garden.

Root Concerns Publication
Notes From the Underground email newsletter

Rain gardens are a popular green infrastructure practice, capturing runoff from roofs or small paved surfaces and allowing it to infiltrate into the ground.

Learn about a functional and attractive rain garden in Albany County:


Horticultural hot topics:
(Information about the current questions coming in to the horticultural Hotline)
ants, bed bugs, pantry moths, stinging insects, tomato diseases, dealing with Bambi, and global warming

What is a Master Gardener?
Learn about the Master Gardener Program in Albany County and how you can volunteer!

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
A simple and practical way to help manage pests when they attack plants or invade our homes.

Programs and workshops:

  • Talks in the Garden~ Join us for a summer evening in the Memorial Garden at 24 Martin Road, Voorheesville, N.Y. The garden is our outdoor classroom for these informal, no charge sessions which start at 6:00 pm and last about an hour.
    Watch for the 2014 listings...
  • Garden Education Day
    It is a “super” plant sale, white elephant sale, with baked goods and other food items. There are mini horticultural classes in the garden and the Albany County Master Gardeners are on hand to answer gardening questions.

  • Master Forest Owner Volunteer~ These volunteers are trained in woodlot management and will walk your property with you to offer advice and answer questions about forested areas.  Call the Master Gardener hotline at 518-765-3500 and request the name of a Master Forest Owner volunteer near you.

  • Demonstration Gardens~maintained by Albany County Master Gardeners
    -Memorial Garden /front demonstration garden at 24 Martin Road in Voorheesville, NY
    -Ten Broeck Mansion Gardens in downtown Albany            
    -Bozenkill Park in Altamont, NY
    -Pine Hills Library Butterfly Garden, Western Avenue, Albany, NY
  • Capital District Garden & Flower Show
    Come visit Cornell Cooperative Extension’s exhibit and talk with a Master Gardener about your gardening questions.  Bring a soil sample to be tested for pH for a donation of $1~ results will be forwarded shortly after the show ends. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County will also be sponsoring several workshops throughout the weekend. 

    Need a speaker?
    Extension staff and the Master Gardeners speak on a variety of topics.

    How to contact us?
    Call our Master Gardener Hotline at: 518-765-3514 or email: