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

Identifying Giant Cane, a native bamboo

Even during the coldest of winter days, one grass continues to boast green foliage – Giant Cane. Giant Cane (Arundinaria gigantea) is a unique grass because it is the only native species of bamboo found in Illinois. Once widespread throughout the bottomland forests of southern Illinois, many canebrakes that once existed have declined due to habitat alteration. Growth habit Cane can grow quite tall, reaching heights of up to 20 feet! I typically see it growing between 4 and 10 feet...
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Teaching kids effective goal-setting

The New Year is frequently a time when adults do some personal goal setting through resolutions of all sorts. This time of year also presents a great opportunity to teach kids this important skill. Setting and working towards goals helps kids to develop self-control, persistence and responsibility, and according to Sue Shellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal, “a student's ability to set and achieve realistic goals is linked to higher grades, lower college-dropout rates and greater well-being...
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Extreme winter cold and plants

Extreme winter cold is something that can keep gardeners up at night.  Since plants are dormant, there is little we can do in the way of plant health care and that can be a real helpless feeling.  The extremely cold weather back in December certainly raised concern and my office received a number of calls from worried gardeners.  USDA Cold Hardiness Zones To put our recent cold snap in perspective, it helps to consider the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cold...
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Cottage Food & Second Gigs

The last few years have seen an increase in the percentage of self-employed according to a recent report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. As of February 2022, self-employed workers made up almost 11% of employed workers in the U.S. Are you looking for an opportunity for self-employment while doing something you enjoy? Cottage Food might be just what you are looking for, and Illinois Extension has excellent resources about Cottage Food Law that may benefit you or someone you know.  In...
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Make healthy snacking more attainable

It’s not always easy to snack on healthy foods during the holiday season. There’s generally an abundance of homemade cookies and candies to tempt our taste buds. But being more in tune with our body can help us make smart snacking decisions. Snacking can be very beneficial, as it offers an opportunity to consume nutrients we may have otherwise missed. Snacks gives us energy and help curb our appetite until the next meal. However, too often we snack on foods unconsciously, leading to...
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Love tree fruit, love the planet: Enjoy a fruiting plant for many years

Imagine a warm summer’s evening in the not-too-distant future. A glance out the back door reveals something exciting: the fruit trees, shrubs, or canes that the family planted in spring 2023 are ready for their first harvest. This winter, find a good nursery catalogue to make that dream a reality.   While summer annuals are the most popular edible garden plants, perennial fruits are gaining in popularity. According to USDA consumer data from 2019, the average person eats 10 pounds of apples, 5...
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A story of recycling for rural Illinois

Some memories stick out. Around the second or third grade, my teacher wheeled the television cart into the classroom which to an eight-year-old was cause for celebration. Was it going to be a movie or some type of educational show? We didn’t care. TV in school was a novelty and exciting, even if we still learned something. The teacher popped in the VHS and turned off the lights. It was time to learn about…recycling? The video took us on a journey from a forest to a papermill, to a classroom,...
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Sustainable seeds: That's 4-H

The bounty of the harvest. Many of us interpret this to be the ending point of nature’s annual cycle. We know that winter is here and only the warm spring sun can signal the start of another cycle. But the seed that sprouts next spring is already here. And this seed needs winter; it needs nurturing and time; there is no end to this cycle. Nature not only yielded the immediate short-term bounty of fruit, but it also provided us with tiny packages which truly represent our hope for a prosperous...
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Cooking for one can be fun!

Are you part of the fastest growing group in the U.S.? If you are a single or two-person household, then yes, you are. Do you struggle to cook for just you or one other? Instead of resorting to the drive-thru or worse, a bowl of cereal for dinner try these tips: Adjust your grocery shopping routine: Don’t buy the largest box or package because it’s “cheaper”. It’s not a great deal if you throw half of it out. Buy frozen vegetables loose in the bag – cook one serving at a time. Buy...
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Expect a higher price with a "new" label

Nothing in a nursery catalog catches my attention more than the word “new.” This term is usually applied to a plant that is new to the U.S. market, either as a new release from breeders, a wild plant recently brought into cultivation, or a plant already established on the overseas markets. And, more often than not, a much higher price is almost always a given for new introductions. Some plants like Hosta, Iris and daylilies (Hemerocallis) come gradually down in price...
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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