Gardening in the Air is a virtual nine-session series on October 9 co-hosted by University of Illinois Extension and Iowa State University Extension. Experts from both institutions will present on a variety of timely gardening topics about fall gardening activities, pollinators, vegetables and herbs, and trees.

Sessions will be hosted on Zoom at with three sessions each at 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. CST. Participants may register for a single session or the entire series. Sessions are free to attend, but a donation is appreciated. Access links and handouts will be provided upon registration.

October 9: Pollinators, Vegetables and Herbs, and Trees

Register Online 

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, please contact Bruce Black at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for the requested accommodation. Some programs will be recorded. If recorded, closed captioning for requested programs will be honored after the event.

9-10 a.m. CST

Pollinators, Plants & People

Dr. Donald Lewis, Iowa State University

Gardens are tranquil, peaceful places. But if you look a little closer, you may find a fair bit of rowdy behavior going on!  Pollination is required for reproduction, and because plants are rooted in place and can't travel to a potential mate, they use intermediaries to accomplish the essential process of sexual reproduction. Now enter the pollinators! This program will examine common pollinators in the Midwest, their identification and challenges, and how we can help pollinators by planting more pollinator-friendly plants.


10:15-11:15 a.m. CST

Planning for Pollinators this Fall

Erin Garrett, Energy and Environmental Stewardship Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Learn what actions you can take this fall to continue supporting pollinating insects. Extension educator Erin Garrett will explore pollinator-friendly garden cleanup, fall planting of bare root plants, and winter planting of native seeds. Discover what fall-blooming plants to add to your garden to provide food and habitat for pollinators after the spring and summer seasons.


11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CST

Pollinator Gardening

Nathan Brockman, Iowa State University Extension and Butterfly Curator, Reiman Gardens.

Decide which pollinators will visit your garden with the plants you choose. Insects have favorites like everyone else. Explore tips and tricks to encourage your favorite insects to visit your garden. Once your garden is abuzz with pollinators, learn a few fun ways to help others understand pollinator's roles.

9-10 a.m. CST

Big or Small: Cover Crops for All

Dr. Ajay Nair, Iowa State University

Sustaining soil quality and health is an important aspect for creating and maintaining productive backyard gardens and landscapes. As the growing season slowly winds down, our gardens, backyards and acreages will soon be exposed to high velocity winds, rainfall (hopefully) and cold temperatures.

Leaving soil exposed to such environmental conditions elevates the risk of eroding the topsoil. This is where cover crops come into the picture. This presentation will highlight benefits and challenges of cover crops and focus on their impact on various ecological services such as weed suppression, pest and disease reduction, nutrient recycling and enhancement of soil biodiversity.


10:15-11:15 a.m. CST

Harvesting and Preserving Herbs

Katie Bell, Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Looking to extend your production season? Hoping to expand your small business or just interested in trying a new growing system? Explore the basics of greenhouses and high tunnels and learn how to select a good site, what system will best meet your needs and what to consider when building a greenhouse.


11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CST

Backyard Greenhouse Basics

Dr. Cindy Haynes, Iowa State University and Bruce Black, Horticulture Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Herbs are great fun to grow in the home landscape – and they are easy to grow, harvest, and keep. Explore harvesting and preserving your home-grown herbs to enjoy in recipes all winter.

9-10 a.m. CST

New and Alternative Shade Trees for the Home Landscape

Dr. Grant Thompson, Iowa State University

Trees are an important part of any landscape, yet some species are overused or beset by pest and disease pressures. Explore new and alternative shade trees for the home landscape that may be substituted for some of the more common species and those with known issues.


10:15-11:15 a.m. CST

Planting and Growing Healthy Shade Trees

Mark Vitosh, Iowa DNR Wildlife Bureau

Planting new trees is beneficial in many ways, but there are multiple keys to a successful planting. Explore proper planting and care such as watering, mulching, staking, and pruning that you can use to promote healthy new trees in your landscape.


11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CST

Trees and Shrubs for Pollinators

Debbie Fluegel, Trees Forever.

Our home landscapes are places where we relax, entertain, play and dine - but what if we weren’t the only ones enjoying our backyards? The trees and shrubs in our landscape and in our communities serve a critical ecological service to a wide variety of pollinator species.