1. Published
    When do I plant? Should I plant seeds or transplants? What about seed spacing? Find what works best for backyard vegetable growers in Illinois!
  2. Published

    Asparagus goes great with hollandaise sauce, has a nutty flavor when eaten raw (wash it first, and cut off the lower third), and is always a welcome treat at a restaurant. With a little patience and some planning, you can grow loads of asparagus each spring.

    Growing Requirements

    Full sun is required.

    Poor drainage in your asparagus patch will promote disease issues in the roots.

  3. Published

    This is Part 2 of a series. Part 1 can be found here.

  4. Published

    He’s not just a restaurateur, nor just a farmer, nor just a chef, nor just an entrepreneur. He’s an influencer of sustainable eating. He wants to change the world, one delicious plate at a time. Ken Myszka, owner and operator of Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group, runs four celebrated restaurants in McLean County: Epiphany Farms Restaurant, Anju Above, and Bakery and Pickle, all in downtown Bloomington; and Old Bank Restaurant and Bar in LeRoy.

  5. Published

    Many urban trees only live about 20% of their life due to issues like pests and disease, but mostly can be linked back to improper care and installation. A tree should live more than 50 years, and up to 100 years depending on their species. A recent USDA study analyzing tree life expectancy in urban areas finds the typical street tree living between 19-28 years; however, the ideal life span of a white oak is 600 years, and the average life span of a red maple can be between 75 to 150 years in the Illinois wilds.

  6. Published

    BLOOMINGTON, IL – University of Illinois Extension is hosting two sessions for backyard gardeners on how to grow and care for fruits at The Refuge Food Forest in Normal, an outdoor, hands-on classroom. One session will focus on pruning and training apple trees, the other on pruning brambles like raspberries and blackberries.

  7. Published

    University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners would like to invite you to their 18th annual Home, Lawn and Garden Day on Saturday, March 7 at Central Catholic High School, Bloomington. Home, Lawn and Garden Day is a day dedicated to garden fun! It is an ideal place to gain inspiration for future garden projects, fall in love with a must-have plant or learn the basics of everyday gardening.

  8. Published

    It’s a new year and many are reflecting on their 2019 gardening season and making resolutions for the 2020 gardening season. If you are anything like me, you started missing gardening in early November and can’t wait for temperatures to rise and strive for all those grand resolutions. When I can’t garden, I read reports from the Horticulture Industry.

  9. Published

    Perhaps my favorite thing to do during the holidays is to make my own ornaments. Glittery baubles, shiny tinsel, twinkling lights, and baroque glass ornaments just are not my style when decorating for the holidays. I am inspired by nature and entrenched in a family tradition of making art.

  10. Published

    Before I became an educator for the University of Illinois Extension, my career solely focused on growing plants in a greenhouse. High-quality poinsettias were one of the most important crops for a grower. Clients had long-standing orders for these holiday treasures, and expected long-lasting, healthy, bright, bold, and grand plants to decorate their homes, churches, and businesses.

  11. Published

    Trees are vital to our environment, and understanding their biology can help us to protect them from stresses caused by the urban environment, extending their lives and promoting their health. 

    The average components of the tree consist of 5 percent fine feeder roots, 15 percent larger transport roots, 60 percent trunk or main stem, 15 percent branches and twigs, and 5 percent leaves (hard to believe on a fall day).

  12. Published

    Our unit director, Bobbie Lewis-Sibley, often says, “I wish there were a garden in every school,” a response to youths' unfamiliarity where their food comes from, and a deficiency of interaction with the natural environment.

    At the Unity Community Center, Extension’s after-school site in Normal, youth have harvested potatoes with glee, released butterflies with gentleness, and tracked water flow in a stream with the precision of scientists. But how does Extension connect with other youth in our community and give them similar experiences as the youth at Unity?

  13. Published

    This holiday, give a gift to the earth by buying a live Christmas tree. Many would think that buying a fake tree would be the more environmentally friendly option, because you are not actually chopping down a tree. However, most fake trees are made of plastics, metals and chemicals that take energy to produce and most of the time they are not sourced in Illinois or even the United States. Live Christmas trees sequester carbon while growing, are usually replaced three to one, and farming of this crop doesn’t need the highest quality land and soil.

  14. Published

    Last Thanksgiving, my family feasted on sweet potatoes, beets, Brussels sprouts, squash, and apples, all grown here in McLean County. We had a local business smoke our turkey for the holiday; our dessert featured cookies and macaroons and a festive dried flower arrangement from a local baker and florists; and my mom now loves local honey in her tea. We had a traditional feast, local-style.

  15. Published

    In the world of landscaping, trees are the backbones of the landscape. They are permanent structures that have stately features, shade our homes, provide spring floral displays, and some amazing fall color. There are, however, some trees that just behave badly. You’re likely familiar with maples that drop their helicopter seeds (known as samaras) all over the neighborhood, sprouting up scattered shoots in our lawns and flowerbeds—hard to call this a bad tree with the fun they bring to children, but a nuisance to be sure.

  16. Published

    Have you ever heard a horticulturists encourage the use of plants having “multiple seasons of interest”? This might be said in response to someone’s complaints about forsythia, for example.

    Forsythia blooms in spring, an explosion of lemon-yellow blossoms covering the plant. But the rest of the year, it is drab and unruly. The unruliness causes many gardeners to shear the shrub into boxes (completely unnecessarily) and then when spring comes again the flower display is subpar and sparse—one season of interest is all you will get from forsythia.

  17. Published

    The mere mention of bats causes some people to cringe or cover their heads. That reaction likely stems from a fear instilled in us through movies and books, not reality. The bat does make a great bad guy, because it comes out at night to feed, often live in great numbers, and perhaps even drink your blood.

    In reality, out of more than 1,200 species of bats worldwide, but only three species of vampire bats in Central America that lap blood. No, they don't suck blood, but lapping blood seems a little less menacing.

  18. Published

    It’s the time of year that people adorn their homes with horror-movie-sized black spiders and webs in hopes of prompting the public’s arachnophobia — their fear of spiders. In contrast to most people, I suffer from arachnophilia — a love of spiders. This is due to my background working with beneficial insects to help lower the populations of unwanted pests in the garden.

  19. Published

    Are you ready for a break from the garden? Breaking some old habits in your usual fall garden clean up could make a huge difference to butterflies, moths, bees, and other beneficial insects that overwinter in the Illinois landscape, and be a more environmentally sound practice.

  20. Published

    George Monibot, environmental activist, says “there is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It’s called a tree. […] A natural climate solution.” The statement leaves you baffled. Simply planting a tree can help solve climate change.