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Good Growing

Keeping you (and your garden) growing with good ideas

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Springtime gardening trivia

It seems like everyone is doing trivia these days. To celebrate the coming spring, I am trying my hand at writing some gardening trivia questions. Good luck! Trivia Questions When admiring spring bulbs, a horticulturist exclaims “Look at that Narcissus”, what are they referring to? A handsome Greek man staring in a mirror playing acoustic guitar A tulip with an unreasonably high sense of importance A daffodil Why are daffodils planted in everyone’s yard?...
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When should I start cleaning up my garden?

As the days get longer and the temperatures start to warm, we often get the itch to start gardening. On the first warm day of the year, I often find myself thinking I need to be doing something in the garden because it’s so nice out. However, we shouldn’t be in too big of a hurry to start cleaning up our gardens in preparation for the upcoming growing season. While cutting back dead plants and removing leaves and debris from garden beds can make for a clean-looking landscape, it may not be the...
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The weight of winter: Snow and ice on trees

I write this article as I look out at a snow-covered landscape and give thanks for the warmth of my office. It is during these days that I’m reminded of the awesome adaptability of nature. Trees and animals can survive, even thrive, in a climate where temperatures can easily span one-hundred degrees and an abundance of weather conditions over the course of a year. Each season can provide certain challenges for trees, in the winter, the weight of snow and ice can overwhelm trees and cause...
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The mourning cloak butterfly

A winter butterfly sighting We have had some warm weather this February, which means it is time to keep an eye out for butterflies! You may be thinking I am in the wrong hemisphere, but there is a chance you can spot butterflies on a warm winter day in Illinois, namely the mourning cloak butterfly. Despite its drab name, the mourning cloak butterfly might be one of spring’s earliest flowers. I first learned of this butterfly in 2015 as my sons and I took a walk on a warm winter day and we...
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When should I start my seeds?

Seed starting is a great way to scratch the gardening itch we often get during late winter. In addition to getting a head start on the growing season, there are a number of additional benefits to starting your own seeds. Starting seeds to make your own transplants can be cheaper than going out and buying them later in the year. You also have much more variety to choose from when you start...
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Urban Forest: Not a contradiction, a critical resource

By definition, a forest is a large area of land covered with trees and understory growth. Traditionally, these parcels of land are often imagined as plant-dense woodlands with a diverse mix of species layered from tall trees down to mosses on the woodland floor. These plants are growing where seeds landed or animals stashed away only to forget about, in a random pattern that is removed from much human intervention.  However, there is another type of forest, one that is extremely accessible, is...
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One tough tree: Bald cypress

Lessons learned: Bald cypress is a tree to know Don’t you wish you knew then what you know now? Speaking from experience, when I first began studying plants, people would ask me lots of gardening or landscaping questions. Did I as a first-year student know the answer? No. Did I pretend to? Yes. It must be human nature as a young adult. As a fresh-faced SIUC horticulture student, I was asked at a Christmas party by a family friend if I could pick out some plants for screening between two homes...
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Are my seeds still good? Testing seed germination

Have you ever found a packet of seeds lying around and wondered if you could grow them? Every year when I get ready to start seeds, I inevitably find a half-full packet or a packet I forgot to plant altogether. Unfortunately, as seeds get older, their germination rate decreases. Fortunately, there is an easy way to test your seeds to see if planting them will be worthwhile. How long do seeds last? Many seeds are capable of lasting for several years if stored properly. 4 to 5 Years...
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2023 is the year of the broccoli

With the turn of the new year, it seems to be a tradition to declare it the year of ‘fill in the blank.’ So far I’ve learned 2023 is the year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese Zodiac, Pantone named Viva Magenta color of the year, Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’ is the perennial plant of the year according to the Perennial Plant Association, and Merriam-Webster reflectively assigned words for 2022 such as “gaslighting,” “oligarch,” and “...
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