1. Published

    Emails to the office this time of year are always a mix of “When can I…?” or “Is it too late already to…?” kinds of questions. Here are three common examples:

    Q: When should I be putting down crabgrass preventer?

  2. Published

    Why not add garden work to your new, and temporary, routine as many of us “sit this thing out” at home? If we hold off getting the garden going just because things are different right now, catching up later will be tough. Besides, getting outdoors in our own yard and spending some time alone is still doing our part.

  3. Published

    We all want to get out in the yard, do something good for the yard, yet there is all this late winter weather hanging on. The cold weather at night, frosty lawns, cold rains during the day or the frost on the ground can keep us from doing the things we want.

    We can do other things besides trying to overseed the lawn, get the garden soil ready for vegetables or work up the ground where the annuals are going. For example, if you bought new flower or vegetable seeds, re-read the packet to be sure when it is time to start them indoors.

  4. Published

    Our plants will break dormancy at different times each spring. This depends on, as you can guess, the kind of weather we have. Besides the warming weather, “chilling hours” influence how soon we see bud swell and blooms.

  5. Published

    University of Illinois Extension and Master Gardener Help Desk phone lines have seen more action recently, especially when it comes to what can be done outside. Here are a few that may ring a bell for many homeowners:

    Q:            I am going to start my own vegetable and flower transplants this year. Can you give me some best practices?

  6. Published

    In the near future, when the weather is just right, gardeners will be out getting that dormant pruning done. This includes the both fruit trees and flowering shrubs in your yard. Out there in the home orchard, pruning is for structural reasons, maintaining the scaffolds that will hold the fruit.

  7. Published

    Jumping worms are another invasive pest we can add to that growing list, which includes dozens of fish, insects, and plants, both dryland and aquatic. The first known discovery and identification of these worms happened in Wisconsin in 2013. In Illinois, they were first reported in 2015 in Cook and DuPage Counties, and have continued to spread into surrounding counties.

  8. Published

    Whether you receive or give a gift of cut flowers, it is nice to know how to make them last. A few simple steps will keep your Valentine’s Day blooms fresher, longer.

    Clean Start

    Pick your vase based on the size of the bouquet and be sure to remove any debris from previous arrangements and thoroughly clean the inside of the vase. This prevents the water from quickly being contaminated, which jeopardizes the health and longevity of your cut flowers.

  9. Published

    Many of us are already watching our calendars and the weather for signs of Spring. It officially starts Thursday, March 19, and ends Saturday, June 20. Avid gardeners are making plans to be toiling away preparing vegetable and landscape beds for the 2020 growing season.

    Very often, if not always, this work means using a shovel. If we were all great gardeners, our shovel(s) got put away in 2019, nice and clean, with a thin coating of your favorite rust preventer.

  10. Published

    Just what do experts mean when they say to train your fruit trees?

  11. Published

    If you live in northern Illinois, the most frequently grown large fruit is very likely the apple. There is certainly nothing wrong with peaches, pears, plums or cherries, it is just that apples are the hardiest of them all.  

  12. Published

    In the middle of January, not a lot is going on outside in the home landscape except the feeding stations, kept full of seed and suet for birds, cobs of corn for the squirrels and maybe a salt lick for other kinds of wildlife. Perennial beds covered in leaves or snow enjoy the protection from drying winter winds and the sun (if we see sunny days).

  13. Published

    Just about now, you can see once-fresh Christmas trees sitting in yards or by curbs, waiting for the assigned pick-up date to be collected and mulched. This is one way to be sure your holiday tree gets recycled to the benefit of the environment. (And, if available in your area, be sure to mark your calendar to later take advantage of the community program and bring home some of the composted tree material for your landscape beds.) As you take the tree outdoors, collect those fallen needles and add them to your own compost pile.

  14. Published

    Seems fitting to give a nod to cranberries in this week’s column, given the time of year. Whether strung with popcorn on Christmas trees, or as dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, cranberries are a seasonal favorite. Once eaten only a couple times a year, they now can be found in the grocery aisles, canned or dried, just about any time of the year.

  15. Published

    There are more gardening tools than you can imagine, and once you start looking, it can be hard to choose from all the options out there. There are tools for the vegetable garden, flower beds, trees, shrubs and evergreens. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  16. Published

    Last week, I shared some tips for selecting a fresh, or “real,” Christmas tree. However, that is just one choice out there. Each year, households across America debate the decision of real vs. artificial for the family Christmas tree. Key points may include tradition, aesthetics, and, more recently, sustainability.

  17. Published

    With Thanksgiving last week, holiday tree shopping – whether you are going to cut your own or visit your favorite lot to purchase your tree – is in full swing now.

  18. Published

    With this Thanksgiving being one of latest on record, it’s no surprise that holiday gift plants are already making the rounds. Poinsettias are among the most popular of these flowering visual treats. Since 1825 when the poinsettia was introduced from Mexico, it has been the traditional Christmas season gift plant.

  19. Published

    Fast-forward past the holidays to springtime. You notice moths flying around the kitchen and pantry. Maybe you see them hovering around the light over the kitchen table or at a window. That is solid proof that you have Indian meal moth lurking in some leftover flour products, likely from all the baking you did many weeks earlier.

  20. Published

    This time of year, getting the gardening “to do” list finished is challenging anyway, and now with our variable weather pattern, it’s nearly impossible. If there is a way to make gardeners feel better, there is a lot of discussion going on that says leaving the garden debris in place has some benefits for overwintering beneficial insects. Insects that needed that debris to “cocoon” on earlier are still out there since the garden parts never made it to the compost bin or pile.