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

Holly: A native holiday decoration

Hollies are common landscape plants and even more common holiday decorations that belong to the incredibly diverse genus Ilex which contains over 400 species, both evergreen and deciduous, that hail from all corners of the globe.  A locally adapted holly species or cultivar is relatively easy to grow and they are fairly disease and insect free. They are incredibly prunable, with dormant buds at the ready to fill in and many do quite well with rejuvenation near ground level if their canopy...
Read more

Planning and managing to avoid dystocia

Dystocia, meaning “difficult birth,” often results in the loss of a calf or complications after birth of a live calf. Some examples of complications after a difficult birth can include aspiration pneumonia, joint damage, nerve damage, and hypoxia. Another big problem can be failure of passive transfer resulting from inadequate colostrum intake and the calf not wanting to stand or nurse. We know that not every dystocia can be prevented, but there are some management factors that can help reduce...
Read more

Keep your Poinsettia looking great and boost your post-holiday mood

With an estimated 35 million Poinsettias sold annually, you may spot this colorful plant on many holiday tables every year. Native to Mexico, Poinsettias are large perennial shrubs growing over 12 feet tall. Introduced to the United States in the early 1800s, it has become one of the most popular blooming houseplants to celebrate the holidays.   Although red and green leaves are common for Poinsettias, there are over 100 varieties available. You can find them in a range of bloom colors,...
Read more

Winter: Hibernation or adaptation

I once heard a succinct description of natural process as “everything points towards winter”. As a Midwesterner not so fond of cold, my immediate response to this synopsis was denial but with time, I’ve come to adore this mentality.  Annual plants know they have one growing season to complete their life cycle, racing to reproduce before the frost arrives. The leaves of perennial plants produce the carbohydrates that are stored in root systems to be utilized the following spring. And animals...
Read more

Enjoy the versatility of plums

Do you have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head this holiday season? If you have no idea what this classic poem is referring to, don’t feel bad; I don’t either. Some history buffs will say that it referred to anything sweet and round in the 16th century, not just plums. Regardless of this Christmas mystery, plums truly can be a sweet treat. The plum is a stone fruit, and it comes in many varieties and colors, such as red, purple, yellow or green. They have smooth edible skin, and most...
Read more

Start saving your seeds today!

Getting Started with Seed Saving If you find the perfect tasting tomato, harvesting and saving the seed will ensure you can have that tomato again next season. The seed stores the genetic information for a new plant. With a bit of practice and patience, you can have the seeds of your favorite vegetables ready for next year's garden. Provide care for plants Healthy plants produce the best seeds. Starting with good seed gives your plants a good start. Avoid stressing plants by planting in good...
Read more

Homemade holiday potpourri warms heart and home

When thinking about giving gifts to co-workers, friends, and party hosts this holiday season, it can be challenging to find the perfect gift and stay on a budget! One of my favorite gifts to give is Holiday potpourri because it is easy to make, looks beautiful in the jar, and smells lovely when you use it. It is a simple combination of a few favorite holiday scents. To get the PDF printable of the recipe card to attach to your jars,...
Read more

Wild Jelly: What is it and what plants can be used?

“Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving.” No truer words have ever described a Jelly of the Month Club. Yet, upon my annual family viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a thought occurred to me that had not in the decades I’ve watched this movie. The idea of a jelly for every month seems quite excessive. Right? After all the best jelly is certainly strawberry, but even that takes me months to eat a single jar. What deranged lunatic would need all that jelly? Perhaps I don’t...
Read more

Slow down this Winter Solstice, learn to love winter like the farmer

“How I hate to hear winter cursed. Winter is bad; summer is good. Cold, bad; warmth, good. January in Illinois, heaven forbid! January in Florida, paradise. Bah, I say, humbug! Winter is not to escape; it is to embrace… I go upstairs to warm my hands in front of the wood stove and gaze into the flames, pondering the sublime slowness of time as measured by the heavens.”  In Solstices and Equinoxes: A Farmer’s Meditations, the operator of Henry’s Farm, Henry Brockman, finds rest in an unpopular...
Read more

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

man helping couple with money issues

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. 
woman doing yoga stretches in the park

Take steps to living a healthier life.

To Your Health

person sitting on couch with cup of coffee

Genuine, sustained self-care is an art.

Refill Your Cup with Self-Care

person walking road

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

person sitting on couch holding someone's hands

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.
young adult standing with other professionals seated

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