1. Published

    For the past 18 years, gardeners have packed the halls of Central Catholic High school the first Saturday of March. They bustled between a plethora of classes and presentations by McLean County Master Gardeners and local professionals, then left with their hands filled with goodies for the upcoming season, their heads filled with inspiration—a day rich with shared experiences. One Saturday morning in spring would help them become better gardeners. 

  2. Published

    Patio containers will grow food and boast hues of silver and white, and I think we may even see gardeners experimenting with growing sweet potato vine towers.

  3. Published

    While winter can give gardeners a nice break from their usual garden maintenance, they undoubtedly miss the ability to harvest and enjoy the fresh garden bounty. Try growing fresh, flavorful herbs indoors this winter to add some green to your home and zest to your recipes!

    Many herbs are native to the Mediterranean and require certain conditions for optimal growth and flavor. Those that can be easily grown indoors include chives, basil, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, mints, and rosemary.

  4. Published

    Anyone can make their holiday season a little more earth friendly with a new family tradition: recycling the tree. 

  5. Published

    Creating simple, homemade birdfeeders is a great way to support feathered friends during the cold winter months when food sources are scarce. It also allows us to be creative, resourceful, and engage with nature while stuck indoors. Make your backyard more wildlife-friendly by making a few of these natural, DIY birdfeeders.

  6. Published

    Six Garden Gifts 

    Gardening is a mindful practice that can only be sourced outside in the fresh air, with your hands in the dirt, creating a pallet of flowers and fruits. This past year, many new gardeners tested their skills while experienced gardeners stretched theirs. This year, gift the must-have gardening tools of the trade. 

  7. Published

    Decorating with fresh greenery is a treat for most gardeners getting ready for the holiday festivities. Some buy greens from a local garden center, but did you know you can harvest branches from evergreen conifers to use in your holiday décor?

  8. Published

    This holiday season, buy Poinsettias from local growers, and keep them vibrant with a few “don’ts” from a previous Poinsettia greenhouse grower.

    Millions of Poinsettias are bought each year as decoration and gifts. What most consumers do not know is Poinsettias have to be grown with a lot of love and attention or they won’t make it to your holiday festivities.

  9. Published

    Being thankful for our families has a new meaning this year, and the feast should be spectacular. Let’s add a sometimes-missing ingredient this year: the love that a local grower, baker, or cook puts into their product.

    My role in the Thanksgiving meal is to procure ingredients and I challenge myself to buy mostly fresh local ingredients for the big meal.

  10. Published

    Bring the garden inside this winter with fun activities and experiments! ‘Forcing’ paperwhite bulbs is a family-friendly activity to add a touch of nature to your home this winter. The technique nurtures a winter bloom indoors by providing bulbs with favorable growing conditions similar to spring.

  11. Published

    Time to Spray  

    Active Insect or Disease  

    Chemical Recommendations (ONE PER APPLICATION) 

  12. Published

    Garlic is a garden favorite because it is so commonly used in our culinary world. Like many crops, fresh garlic grown in the home garden surpasses anything bought at the grocery store. It is a long season crop, planted in the fall and harvested in the summer. A cold period is required for garlic to produce bulbs.

  13. Published

    With everything going virtual this year, Illinois’ Master Gardener conference followed suit, hosting only one speaker. So she must have been good.

  14. Published

    You have likely spied upon, or even befriended, praying mantises in your garden this growing season. Although most adults die out during the late fall and early winter, they have likely left behind a foamy garden ornaments within your landscape.

  15. Published

    A homeowner who is interested in eco-friendly gardening may want to consider incorporating a rain garden into their landscape.

    A rain garden is a permeable landscape feature that improves the quality of water runoff while adding beauty and supporting pollinating insects and birds. Typically located near a home’s downspout, but at least 10 feet away from the foundation, they take the form of shallow basins filled with native plants, filtering water and allowing stormwater runoff to soak into the ground.

  16. Published

    As many perennial plants are getting ready to go dormant for the winter, it is time to start thinking about next spring’s floral display and plant spring-flowering bulbs. The best time to plant spring bulbs is late September through October to allow sufficient time for a good root system to develop before winter. Depending on the location, spring bulbs begin blooming in late February (snowdrops) and continue until late June (alliums).

  17. Published

    This is the time of the year to make tough decisions about what will take up residence in the house and what will succumb to the frost. Though frost will inevitably kill off most of the tender plants that I have cared for all summer, some of these plants can be saved for next year.

    Houseplants

  18. Published

    A few years back, Illinois gardeners learned that there is more to monarch decline than a lack of milkweed to support larvae, or habitat destruction in their overwintering home. Another contributing factor is a lack of floral resources for adult monarch butterflies to make the journey in the fall. University of Illinois Extension pushed a campaign to plant more of these fall bloomers.

  19. Published

    Roadside weed, or golden torch beckoning all the bees in the neighborhood?

    Tall and gangly, goldenrod offers the latter to interested gardeners. My front landscape bed is dedicated to pollinators, so I have planted native Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) right in the middle, and it has not disappointed in its floral show and its magnetic qualities for pollinators.

  20. Published

    When thinking of fall bloomers for your garden, everyone's usual go-to is the mum, but don’t rule out the gorgeous asters sitting next to the mums. There are 180 species of aster, many of which are native to Illinois. New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) are two easy-to-find favorites.