1. Published

    This week’s gardening task includes planting sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes may be a long crop (4-5 months) but with a gardener’s care, one can have poundage of storable food.

    Sweet potatoes, a tropical plant, usually need four to five months of warm day and night temperatures for optimal growth. Sweet potatoes are planted in late spring when weather warms. Sweet potato slips (shoots of mature potato) are planted in loose soil.

  2. Published

    Tomato plants are warm-season vegetables that should be planted after the danger of frost. For our area that means early to mid-May. Hopefully no one planted theirs before last weekend’s cold snap! Here are some steps to remember when growing your newly planted crop.

    1. The first question you should ask is “Are these determinate or indeterminate plants?” Each has different requirements.

  3. Published

    Nothing says summer like enjoying the freshly harvested vegetables and herbs from your garden. “One of the easiest, most prolific, and flavorful herbs to grow is basil (Ocimum basilicum),” states Brittnay Haag, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator. While there are many cultivars of basil, the most common are sweet basil and Genovese basil.

  4. Published

    Herbs have been touted by gardeners as some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow in the garden. Did you know that some herbs grow best in the cooler season of spring?

    Cilantro and parsley can be planted by seed or transplants now. Cilantro and Parsley should be planted in rich but well-drained soil, with full sun or partial sun (afternoon sun). It is best not to over fertilize herbs; doing so may dull the taste. Harvest no more than half of the plant and remove leaves to base of plant ensuring to not leave stalks behind.

  5. Published

    Each year, the month of May is Monarch Month in Illinois to honor our official State Insect. Despite our efforts to honor our butterfly friend, the annual count of Monarchs recently saw a 53% decline in a one-year period, and the Monarch will be considered for inclusion on the Endangered Species list in December 2020.

    These numbers make state collaborations like the Illinois Monarch Project that much more important. What can you do?

  6. Published

    Straw bale gardening has transformed the way I grow vegetables. With a minimal amount of preparation, a delivery of straw bales, and an understanding of how straw bale gardens work, I have had some of the most productive vegetable harvests in my gardening career. The advantages are: limited weeding; I can choose the sunniest spot on my property, even if it is the end of the driveway; and I only must commit to that location for a year.

  7. Published

    You have questions. We have answers! Master Gardeners are available to help you with your gardening questions. Problems with your yard or garden? Are you starting a new garden project and need some advice? Are pests or weeds concerning you?

    Master Gardeners can assist in identifying problems and finding solutions. While our traditional Help Desks at the University of Illinois Extension offices are suspended this spring, we are answering your questions from home!

  8. Published

    Looking back, we may realize this was the year we had a surge in cultivating new gardeners and nature enthusiasts.

    While most of my readers already garden and are looking for new tips and interesting information, we likely have brand new gardeners who can do without technical jargon and nuanced garden issues! Back to the basics!

    Below are a few tips to be a successful new gardener.

  9. Published

    How can happy and cheery yellow hues and lively and rich purple hues cause people to gleefully countdown towards a weed apocalypse?

    Dandelions and Violets should be a welcome addition, especially for the eco-friendly gardener, sending up their early spring blooms sporadically throughout your lawn and flower beds. The same bees that will be pollinating your favorite summer fruits and vegetables need nectar and pollen sources now. Bees like violets’ dark purple color, which keeps them warm while drinking nectar and collecting pollen on cool days.

  10. Published

    Most homes have insufficient light, inconsistent temperatures and tap water containing fluoride — all of which make it nearly impossible have lush foliage during the winter months. However, most tropical houseplants can be sustained and even thrive in these conditions. Houseplants such as devil’s ivy, dieffenbachia, and peace lily do very well with low light and temperatures that are not the ideal 75 to 80 degrees.

  11. Published

    In the last article, we talked about starting seeds indoor with limited resources. A lot of seed can be started outdoors during the month of April.

    Carrots can be planted by seed starting April 10. Carrot seed is so small that inevitably you must thin your seedlings, which can be quite a tedious task. My advice is to mix the seed with soil or sand to spread the seed more evenly.  When you do thin or clip tops with a pair of scissors, use the seedlings in a fresh pesto or soup. Be patient as carrot seeds can be slow to germinate, but water daily.

  12. Published

    Starting seed at home is easy, even with limited materials.

    Seeds

    Some of you may have already gotten your seed order for the spring, but the procrastinating gardener that I am will force me to explore last year’s seeds stash.

    Horticulturists typically keep their seed stash in a refrigerator to ensure viability. We have a refrigerator at the office to keep our seed for our various projects, like the Unity Community Center garden.

  13. Published

    Planting perennials can bring you wonderful surprises and inspiration for future garden design.

  14. Published

    Whether you have a young person at home for school closures, or are just young at heart yourself, experimenting with kitchen scraps can turn into a bountiful garden to enjoy again. Skip the compost bucket or garbage can, and re-grow your leftover veggies and fruits for beautiful houseplants and garden additions.

    Kitchen scrap gardening reinforces the concepts of recycling and reusing, and learning plant parts.

    The following fruits and vegetables are examples of plants that can be grown again and again:

  15. Published

    Free time on your hands? Avoiding social spaces, but need some time outside?

    First, remember that just because you're outside, the virus can still spread. If you're working with more than one person:

  16. Published

    University of Illinois Extension Livingston County Master Gardeners would like to welcome spring with an educational workshop entitled “A Day in the Garden Patch” on Saturday, April 4 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon.

    A Day in the Garden Patch is all about inspiring, educating and encouraging gardeners, whether they have a balcony and a sunny window or an acre to grow. This educational event is for all who love plants and want to discover new gardening tips while having fun.

  17. Published

    ‘Tis the season for the garden seed catalogues. If you are like me, you are perusing through these catalogues that advertise 15 varieties of watermelon, 50 varieties of peppers, and even more tomato varieties to choose from. They all look amazing and are all claiming “vigorous!” “great flavor!” and “disease resistance!” So which one do you choose?

  18. Published

    The Perennial Plant Association is proud to announce the 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year®! Aralia ‘Sun King’ is a fabulous high-impact perennial that brings a bold pop of glowing color and texture to the shade or part shade garden. It's a secret that just Perennial Plant Association (PPA) members know! PPA members can annually nominate 2 perennials for consideration. The top 5 nominees are put on the ballot. PPA members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year® each summer.

  19. 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!
  20. 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.