1. 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 & appreciating nature while they are home.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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)

       

  7. 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.

  8. 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)

  9. 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.

  10. Published

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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. 

  15. Published

    In this time of social distancing and limited activities, enjoying nature should be made a priority for all who need a bit of stress release. Have you bathed in the forest lately, hugged a tree or had a therapy session with an oak?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?