1. 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.

  2. Published

    Proactive strategies can lessen the extent of wildlife damage to your gardens through fall and winter.

    Once the ground is frozen, rabbits will have fewer places to take shelter or hide, and will forage for food a lot closer to the protection of their winter home. They will go for anything green but once that is gone, they will go for thin-skinned bark and small branches. Feeding damage can be prevented using chicken wire fencing, burying a few inches to thwart digging.

  3. Published

    Connie Kostelc has been a Master Gardener volunteer for University of Illinois Extension in Livingston County for the last 22 years. When gardening for edible plants, Connie uses the French intensive raised bed method.

  4. Published

    1. Adding eggshells when planting tomatoes adds calcium and prevents blossom end rot. Fiction.

    Eggshells add very little immediate calcium to the plant.

  5. Published

    1. Control grubs in the lawn to eliminate moles and voles? Fiction.

    A mole’s diet consist mostly of earthworms. This does not mean they won’t eat a grub, but grubs are not their preferred diet. Although mole tunnels can be a nuisance in a lawn setting, most landscape plants are not bothered. Moles generally elude traps, so it may be best to accept them as part of the ecosystem of your yard.

    Voles are herbivores. They do tend to eat bark during the winter months, so a protective trunk wrap may help in these cases.

  6. Published

    If you have a vigorous perennial that has been in the garden bed for more than a few years, or it is starting to choke out some other plants and no longer looking healthy, then it may be time to divide.

    Plants that need to be divided cannot support healthy foliage and flowers. Some perennials like to be divided yearly (chrysanthemum); some can go three to five years without division; some can go much longer. Some do not require division at all, like butterfly weed with the taproot, or baby’s breath.

  7. Published

    Fall is the perfect time for little ones to get out in the garden to explore plants at their peak, and even grow their own plant projects in the cooler temperatures. Here are a few ideas to get them outside and appreciating nature.

    Cut Grass Hair

    Grow your own grass head, then snip or style the “hair” as it grows! The grass will germinate and grow quickly to create a lush, green head.

    Materials needed:

  8. Published

    For the last two years, I have been gardening in five-gallon buckets. A team of Extension colleagues from the Horticulture and Nutrition programs are teaching area residents who do not have access to garden space how to grow and their own herbs and veggies. The ‘Garden in a Bucket’ outreach has already reached hundreds of people in McLean, Livingston, and Woodford counties.

  9. Published

    In the heat of summer’s end, vegetable gardeners are often drained by the weeding and watering routine, and ready to put the garden to bed.

    But fall provides a more comfortable environment and some of the most productive gardening of the year when vegetables are planted in late summer and mature in the cool temperatures of fall. Fall vegetables require less watering, and sustain less insect and weed pressure.

  10. Published

    Are you ready to take your butterfly gardening to the next level and allow some of your beautiful plants to be eaten by caterpillars?

    Choose the right plants, give them some care, and voila — caterpillars. The most grown caterpillar food in our gardens are milkweeds for monarchs and parsley for black swallowtails. By adding a few more native shrubs, perennials and annuals, as well as allowing certain weeds to remain, the caterpillar café could be open in no time.

    Shrubs

  11. Published

    Mosquitoes are out and about ruining people’s picnics, hikes and gardening with their constant swarming and need to obtain blood from innocent Illinois residents.

  12. Published

    The grass will germinate and grow quickly to create a lush, green head. Snip or style the “hair” to keep it looking tidy.

    Materials:

    • 8 oz white paper cup
    • Potting soil
    • Wheat grass seeds
    • Colored pencils or crayons

       

    1. Poke 3-4 small holes in the bottom of the cup for drainage.

    2. Draw a face on the paper cup with colored pencils or crayons.

    3. Fill the cup with soil, save 1 tablespoon to put on top of the seeds.

  13. Published

    Spread love and beautiful flowers! Mix clay, soil, and seeds to create a ball to easily share or you’re your own flowers. Find an area in your garden that could use some color. Toss or place the seed ball directly onto the bare soil. As it is watered (either by hand or by rain) the clay will break down and the seeds will germinate and grow when conditions are just right!

    Materials:

    • Air-dry clay

    • Potting soil

    • Seeds (easy to grow, annuals, or native varieties)

       

  14. Published

    While designing a perennial flower bed, remember to add personal favorites, and throw out “garden design rules” that don’t fit your vision. Some of the plants I choose are favorites because they are tough, dependable, and beautiful.

    blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)

  15. Published

    Are you ready to take your butterfly gardening status to the next level and allow some of your beautiful plants to be eaten by caterpillars?

    Choosing the right plants, some care and voila caterpillars. I am not only altering the habitat of my backyard for the greater good, I will have some more willing specimens for my Instagram posts.

  16. Published

    Last week's high temperatures and our limited amount of rain is making gardeners' number one job watering.

  17. Published

    URBANA, Ill. – Every garden needs water, but with a container garden’s limited soil volume, proper watering is crucial for plants to stay productive.

  18. Published

    Bagworms hang off of trees like little diabolical ornaments, eating the needles and leaves. If you didn’t have them on your trees last year, you likely saw them elsewhere.

    When the Japanese tree lilacs are in bloom, it is time to scout and control bagworms. This species flowers later than other lilacs, with large fluffy white blossoms on a 20- to 30-foot tree. Known for fragrant flowers in early-to-mid June, Japanese tree lilacs are common in the urban landscape.

  19. Published

    Females can start laying eggs as soon as you see adults. Once the adult flies are discovered, management decisions should be made. Adult flies are tan with red eyes and a tiny 2-3mm-long (up to a one-eighth of an inch). Males have characteristic dark spots on their wings that can easily be seen with a magnifying glass. Adults live for up to 2 weeks, and females can lay up to 300 eggs. Development from egg to adult can occur in as little as eight days, and 10 or more generations may occur within a season.

  20. Published

    If you are spending more time out in your backyard this week, you may have noticed some of our central Illinois trees are super ugly this spring. Maple leaves have black splotches, sycamore branches are falling to the ground and ginkgoes leaves are sparse and crinkled. All these symptoms are tree issues that link back to the cool wet spring and late frost.

    Maples are suffering from fungal diseases like anthracnose and maple leaf blister.