1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Published

    Time to Spray  

    Active Insect or Disease  

    Chemical Recommendations (ONE PER APPLICATION) 

  6. 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.

  7. Published

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Published

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

    Eggshells add very little immediate calcium to the plant.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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: