Highlight Blog Posts
squash and beans

Grow a more productive garden with a little imagination and hardworking plant combinations

With the spring gardening season beginning, imaginations run wild with gardening possibilities. Some gardeners may ponder the complexities of an age-old practice that is regaining popularity in recent years – companion planting. How do certain combinations of plants benefit from being planted alongside each other, yet other combinations seem to struggle? Uncover the secrets of companion planting...
redbud flower

Spring flowering trees and shrubs

Signs of spring are beginning to pop up if you look close enough.  In the last week or so, I’ve noticed harbinger of spring (Erigenia bulbosa) and spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) in natural areas. The beginnings of Virginia bluebells can also be found as their distinctly purple-blue new leaves poke up in more protected locations on the forest floor or in garden beds. ...
Recent Blog Articles

Kevin Brooks returns to Illinois Extension as farm business management and marketing educator

After an eleven-year hiatus, Kevin Brooks returned to University of Illinois Extension as the farm business management and marketing educator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. He previously served in this role from 2000 to 2011 in Effingham and Champaign counties. He brings a wealth of expertise and experience with him. “Our unit is leading the way in bringing the agribusiness team back to Illinois Extension,”...
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Trauma & Food training held through Food Pantry Network

When working in the charitable food system, one often focuses on a very important goal – nourishing neighbors in need. However, the needs of guests may go beyond physical nourishment. Food Pantry Network-HOI provided professional development to pantry managers and volunteers to help them better understand how past and present traumas can affect people’s health and wellness. Locally, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Education Educator Rebecca Crumrine helps provide support to charitable...
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Master Gardeners take an active role to address food security and access

In 2022, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) serving in Futon, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties were challenged to dedicate a portion of their volunteer time and continuing education for addressing and learning more about food security and access. The direct impact they made within the year is very impressive and is expected to continue to grow. EMGs recorded 1,513 hours of service in nine local food...
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The evolution of 4-H: Looking at the many ways 4-H impacts the lives of young people

Did you know that 4-H is the largest youth development program in the country?! According to the National 4-H website, “4-H serves youth in rural, urban, and suburban communities in every state across the nation.” However, this impressive organization stemmed from modest beginnings. In 1902—more than 120 years ago—agricultural youth clubs began popping up in the Midwest. These clubs were a way to give young people hands-on experience tackling...
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Do you have heart disease?

When teaching classes on heart-healthy living, I commonly ask by show of hands, who has heart disease? Interstingingly, not everyone raises their hand. But then I ask a more pointed question. Who in this class has high blood pressure? Remarkably, many more people raise their hands. Years ago, this surprised me. However, I have come to realize there is a significant disconnect for many when discussing various chronic health conditions. This is why I love helping people better understand health...
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Keep an eye out for Cheatgrass, a winter annual

It might be difficult to imagine that even in the middle of winter, certain weeds have gotten a jumpstart on growth for the spring. Annual plants complete their life cycle in one year and are often divided into winter annuals and summer annuals. Several grasses fall into each of these categories. Winter annuals include Cheatgrass and Annual Bluegrass, while the Foxtails, Witchgrass, and Crabgrass are summer annuals. Do winter annual grasses really grow in the winter? Most winter annuals will...
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Pruning cuts can tell a tale

If you are just dying to get into the garden these days, there is one essential practice that is best done during winter dormancy. Pruning is perhaps the most important landscape maintenance task performed in any space that hosts woody plants. There is a large list of benefits to plant health, which is the most important reason to prune, but it’s often essential to prune woody plants so they maintain the form and structure we expect.  Dormancy is the best time for pruning because it has the...
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Stages of parturition

Calving season in Illinois offers an array of uncontrollable challenges such as cold, windy weather and mud. However, being knowledgeable and prepared during calving season is completely controllable and is one of the most important preparations. Understanding the three stages of parturition will help you know how and when to assist during difficult labor situations. Stage 1: Dilation of the Cervix Generally, this stage will go unnoticed and can take anywhere from 2 to 24...
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Eating your broccoli doesn't have to feel like a burden

Broccoli is the dependable vegetable that can serve as the star of the meal or a trusty side dish. It’s a cruciferous vegetable, like cauliflower or cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables have both pros and cons. The con is the fact that they contain glucosinolates, sulfur compounds that give an overpowering aroma and bitter flavor. For some, this is a mild smell and taste that can be easily overcome, but for others who have a certain genetic makeup, the bitterness and smell is so strong that it is...
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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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Personal Finances

Illinois Extension can guide your family through all of life's stages.
couple sitting on patio

Great retirements don't happen by accident. Tips for saving and investing your money.

Live Well. Retire Well.

university of illinois graduate

Money talk by college students, for college students.

Be Centsible

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Develop and maintain thoughtful and effective financial behaviors using these trusted methods.

Fearless Financial Future


In today's hectic lives, families find themselves raising children, caring for elders, and working.

Read these timely resources for wellness across the lifespan.

Family Files


Living well means taking time for ourselves so we can be healthy for others who need us. 
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Take steps to living a healthier life.

To Your Health

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Genuine, sustained self-care is an art.

Refill Your Cup with Self-Care

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A journey of wellness dedicated to awareness and the power of knowledge to help you on your health and wellness journey.

Walking the Line to Wellness

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Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Community Health: Empowering People

Nutrition and Wellness

Eating healthy shouldn't be this hard.
healthy foods on table

Healthy information for better living

Live Well. Eat Well

healthy food on table

Nutrition information you can use.

Be Smart, Eat Well, Get Healthy

person chopping banana for smoothie

Highlighting food, recipes, and ideas for a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Eats and Repeat

healthy food on table

Helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Community and Economic Development

Illinois Extension helps communities develop strategies to thrive.
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Strategies for strengthening local economies.

Building Entrepreneurial Communities

government building

Participants in Illinois Extension Illini Science Scholars Program share their experiences in this unique opportunity. 

Scholars Speak

Natural Resources

We have one planet. Let's work together to ensure its future and ours.

Dig deep into the types of grasses and their uses in our world.

Grasses at a Glance

world globe made of paper

Read the latest news in natural resources.

Naturalist News

field buffer

The Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy guides efforts to improve water quality at home and downstream.

Nutrient Loss Reduction


Weather impacts food production, transportation, homes, and lives.

All About Weather


From the flowers you enjoy to the produce you eat to the plants that add value to our life, we offer help for growing strong.

Keeping you (and your garden) growing with good ideas.

Good Growing

garden shed

Gardening in Illinois including everything from vegetable gardening to native plants.

The Garden Scoop

garden path

Where northern Illinois gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Over the Garden Fence


Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

garden path

Helping new and experienced gardeners develop their skills and knowledge while encouraging everyone to enjoy the outdoors.

Illinois River Horticulture


Archive of the most popular blog articles from Illinois Extension

Our Greatest Horticulture Hit Blogs

Local Food Systems

Growers are diverse, from urban agriculture and beginning small farmers to farmers markets and organic agriculture.
farmers market

Learn new resources for urban growers.

Local Foods | Local Farms | Local People


The "Jungle" refers to Elizabeth Wahle's personal St. Louis Metro East garden and it provides the backdrop for her writings about building and sustaining viable food webs and ecosystems within the home landscape.

Welcome to My Jungle

squash soup

A blog for growers, consumers, and backyard gardeners to grow, eat, and connect in the local food system.

Raise, Grow, Harvest, Eat, Repeat

man holding onion

Connecting you with your food, farmers and community.

Know How. Know More. Connecting Food, Farmers, and Community

carrots in the ground

Ramping up local food production in the second-most populous county in the US.

Cultivate Cook County


angus bull

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies.

The Cattle Connection


All issues concerning Small Farms, Agriculture, Local Food Systems, and the Natural Resources.

Acres of Knowledge


Current topics about crop production in Western Illinois, including field crops research at the NWIARDC in Monmouth.

Hill and Furrow

Youth Development

We're the friend you've been looking for.
children wearing rainboots

4-H’s learning opportunities are intentionally designed around four essential concepts necessary for positive youth development: a sense of belonging with a positive group, independence and self-determination, a spirit of generosity toward others, and a wide variety of opportunities to master life challenges.

Our Stories from Illinois 4-H

family standing on beach

Timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.

Connection Corner: Activities for Families