The U of I Extension Master Naturalist program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards.
Garden day events are sponsored by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and are held all over the state. You can find a garden event to attend on almost every Saturday between late February and early April.
I grew up thinking that a green bell pepper was called a mango. It wasn't until my sister Lynn Miller moved to Florida that we realized there was also a fruit called a mango.
Now that I have seen and tasted a mango, it seems odd to me that a green bell pepper could ever be called a mango. They are completely different in so many ways.
2200 E. Washington St
East Peoria, IL 61611 (Tazewell County)
Recent droughty summers, a cold winter, and various other environmental and pest problems have killed many trees in our area. Usually when a tree is removed a stump is left behind. Here are several suggestions on how to remove tree stumps easily, quickly, and economically.
National Arbor Day is always the last Friday in April, putting it on April 25th this year. Are you ready to plant a tree? If not, Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that you can plant one soon or start planning for the next Arbor Day.
"Recent research has shown that improperly planted trees can suffer in later years". "Therefore, follow these recommendations when planting trees".
Following a few suggestions can prolong the beauty of flowers given on Valentine's Day and other special occasions, says a retired University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
"Whether you are giving roses, carnations, mums, or some other type of flower, you want them to last," says James Schuster. "Start with buying young flowers. Young rose buds have just their outer petals open, show no browning and on red roses there is no noticeable 'blue blush' showing through the red.
A 2012 US Forest Service research study found that urban tree cover has been declining at a rate of about 20,000 acres per year or about 4 million trees per year. This greatly impacts the numerous benefits trees provide related to air and water quality, air temperatures, energy use, social well-being, and human health. Let's look at a few benefits of having trees in your home yard and neighborhood.
Thousand Cankers Disease was recently confirmed in Indiana, putting the disease threateningly close to Illinois walnut trees.
Kelly Estes, Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator for Illinois Natural History Survey, reported on this discovery in the June 23, 2014 issue of University of Illinois Extension's Home, Yard, & Garden Pest newsletter.
Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired Extension horticulture educator
As promised I'm writing each month about a 2014 garden trend. Trend two from the 2014 Garden Media Group report is "Super Foods, Super Models." Let me try to explain what that is.
My interpretation is that the trend is to grow your own highly nutritious food (super foods) using nontraditional methods (super models).
Spring flowers have been very welcome this year after the hard winter.
"Many of those also add great scents to my outdoor gardens," says Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension educator in horticulture. "Adding fragrance to a garden excites our senses and adds another dimension to the gardening experience." Here are several examples to try in your garden.
I first wrote about garlic mustard in 2001. Since then, this dreadful weed has gotten even worse. Many hundreds of man-hours and dollars have been spent trying to prevent it from choking out more of our native wildflowers.
Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is not a weed to take lightly; if you have it, control is imperative.
This is for the participants in my class today at Bradley University's OLLI program.
January - Carnation
- General - Fascination
- Pink – I'll never forget you
- Red- Admiration (My Heart Breaks)
- Purple – Capriciousness (fickle)
- White – Sweet and lovely, innocence, love
- Yellow – Disdain
- Solid – Yes
- Striped – I cannot be with you
- February – Violet
- Symbol of modesty & humility
- Blue – Faithfulness
March - Daffodil
Happy Birthday to my sister Lynn Miller! Lynn's birthday always makes me think of wiener roasts and pumpkins. Those of you celebrating Halloween carve pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns. Others, including my sister, simply enjoy decorating with uncarved pumpkins or eating pumpkin desserts.
If you have trouble growing houseplants, the Mother-in-Laws tongue is for you.
"The Mother-In-Laws Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata), also known as snake plant, is one of the most durable houseplants and is a plant that anyone can grow," says Rhonda Ferree, extension educator in horticulture.
Now is the time to plan your purchases from garden catalogs. I recommend you try to place most of your orders as soon as possible. However, with the myriad of catalogs available, how can we choose which catalogs to place our order and our trust? Here are some tips to consider.
- Emerald Ash Borer Factsheet by Extension Entomologist Dr. Phillip Nixon
- Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer, updated June 2014
Although ornamental flowering pears are beautiful in the spring, they have several severe problems. Below is a portion of an article written by Sandy Mason, Extension Educator in horticulture based in Champaign, IL. Since this article was published in 2005, ornamental pear problems have escalated out of control with even many more municipalities banning their use.
Outdoor spaces are fashion statements that reflect our personal style. I was first intrigued by this concept when I visited a Chinese garden in Portland, Oregon.
I have been going on the drive since I was a child. I used to go every year with my grandparents. Grandpa (Max Simmons) always bought two items each year: sorghum syrup and a birdhouse. I hope to find a birdhouse this year to continue that tradition.
I've had several questions about lavender this spring. Most gardeners wonder if their lavender survived the winter, but others want to know how to use it.
If you find large, ragged holes in the leaves of hosta (and other) plants in your garden and notice a slime trail as well, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator warns you may have a slug or two taking up residence.
Slugs are one of the first pests of spring and hatch from jelly-like masses found under boards, flower pots, and other damp areas of the garden," said Susan Grupp. "Initially, they may feed on young, fragile plants, but over time, they will move to healthy plants, too. And they will feed--if not controlled--from spring to fall."
Oriental bittersweet is quickly invading my landscape beds. This plant seems to grow everywhere and spreads very quickly. Although it has beautiful orange fall fruit, birds and other animals disperse the seeds to other locations. In my case, I have this aggressive vine growing throughout my vinca groundcover, tangled within my honeysuckle and lilac bushes, and lurking among various other flower beds.
I am hoping for some warmer weather so I can do some winter pruning. Winter is a perfect time to prune most trees and shrubs.
Correct pruning is an essential maintenance practice for ornamental trees and shrubs. However, most homeowners regard pruning with considerable apprehension. Pruning is not difficult if you understand the basics and learn why, when, and how to prune.
Recently I toured the Illinois Department of Agriculture's green roof on their administration building at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield. It is an impressive sea of green sedum growing atop a structure of concrete and steel.
Green roofs are becoming an important part of sustainable urban development. These living roofs provide many benefits, including reducing surface temperature, absorbing rainfall to reduce runoff, and even reducing indoor sound.
View Rhonda Ferree's MUM YouTube video athttp://go.illinois.edu/ferreevideos
Have you ever had a fall blooming mum that doesn't look at all like what it is supposed to come September? Is it tall, leggy and flopping over with a few flowers at each stem tip instead of short, compact and full of flowers? Pinching at the right time is the answer. Martha Smith, Extension Educator in Horticulture at the Macomb Extension Center offers the following information about pinching mums.
I am so fortunate that I had opportunities during this cold, snowy winter to visit two tropical locations. I went to Costa Rica in December to pick up my son from his semester of studying abroad and I just returned from my husband's employee reward trip to the Dominican Republic.
Obviously I enjoyed the warm, sunny weather in both locations, but I also love seeing the tropical plants there. Many native plants there are ones that we grow here as houseplants.
Growing plants in containers is very popular. Almost anything can be grown in containers, including trees and shrubs. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that containers provide a feeling of permanence and beauty to an area.
Basically Pinterest is a digital bulletin board. You create board for various topics and then "pin" links and pictures you like onto that board.
Personally I use Pinterest as a recipe saver. I also have boards for great garden ideas, everything tea, nature books, and more!
The following information is from an article from Oregon State Extension. See the entire article at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/.
It is time to think about mosquito control and the prevention of West Nile Virus. Since we don't know what this mosquito season will bring, don't let down your guard. Remember to "dump the water" and follow these tips to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes.
This year I plan to write once a month about one of the 12 garden trends from the 2014 Garden Media Group report. The trends are based on many facts and figures. They include technology and smart gardening techniques meant to find balance in the garden.
The first garden trend is Ground Up: table to garden to table. According to the natural marketing institute, only 25% of our U.S. households compost. Food scraps make up 11.7% of our waste with 97% of that going to landfills. We obviously need to reduce food scrap waste.
July brings us our seventh gardening trend for 2014: Simple Elegance: Think one color flower in an elegant container.
Many people think of a mono-chromatic color scheme as boring, but it can be quite impressive
The Garden Trend report focuses on white as a way to make your garden beds or containers stand out. In the report Kristine Lonergan from GreenProfit says, "White is the perfect palette to make color pop. The beauty of white is that is enhances any color!"
This month's 2014 garden trend is "Drink Your Garden" Coincidentally I also just bought a new book called The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart. Intrigued? Simply put, there are many different plants that you can grow to make your own delicious drinks.
May brings us our sixth gardening trend for 2014: Cultur-vating. "Taking local to the next level, people are growing the world in their gardens, mixing cultures and embracing what is local to their own region."
Growing our own food is more popular than ever. Bringing culture and foods together makes it even more exciting.
Time for our next gardening trend of 2014: Think Gardens. This trend is all about how plants make us smarter, more productive and less stressed and is why we need them in our offices, schools, hospitals, and more.
Green is the color of peace and serenity and important for our psychological well-being. Plants play a big role in filling that psychological need. Much research has been done on the importance of plants in our lives.
Time for our next gardening trend of 2014: Young Men Get Down and Dirty. According to the 2014 Garden Media Group report, men aged 18 -34 are spending $100 more than the average gardener. They are grilling, growing their own hops for beer, and taking the kids out to play in the dirt. All good things!
If you've done much traveling, you've probably noticed that poinsettias grow naturally as large shrubs in tropical locations. The history of how this tropical plant came to the US and became a holiday symbol is quite interesting.
"Fire Blight symptoms were observed on several Callery Pears this past week," says Travis Cleveland, University of Illinois extension specialist.
"The symptoms were more severe than those observed during the 2013 growing season."
Fire blight is a bacterial disease that affects rosaceous plants. Apples, pears, crabapples, and ornamental pears are the most seriously affected species. Other rosaceous hosts include: cotoneaster, hawthorn, quince, firethorn, and mountain-ash.
University of Illinois Extension held an Emerald Ash Borer Community Preparedness Planning Workshop on October 2nd in East Peoria. The program was attended by local officials, municipalities, park districts, arborists, and others impacted by the recent Emerald Ash Borer findings.
African violets are houseplants that most people recognize. They are very popular and easy-to-grow.
Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says "African violets add a welcome splash of color indoors throughout the year."
High quality, impactful programs taught homeowners how to create energy efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values. Landscaping may be your best long-term investment. Properly placed trees save homeowners $100 to $250 a year in energy costs.
Hawthorns are among the groups of small trees that are noted for their wintertime berries.
Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) is a hawthorn for all seasons. The flowers, foliage, winter berries, and dense growth all make it an attention getting tree.
The emerald ash borer (EAB) continues to move across Illinois, devastating ash trees in its path. It was most recently found in Peoria and Tazewell counties. Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, says that the an effective way to stop EAB is to not move firewood. "While enjoying campfires and wiener roasts this fall, take a moment to be sure the firewood you use is pest free."
Once the Christmas holiday is over, the chore of taking down and disposing of the cut Christmas tree remains. Today, because of solid waste regulations, most communities will no longer permit the used Christmas trees to be hauled out with the garbage and sent to the sanitary landfill, reports Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension.
Trees and shrubs are popping up at retail sales areas throughout Illinois.
"Retailers sell a variety of plants in a variety of packages or market forms," says Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension. "The purchasing of woody plants requires consumers to make choices."
To determine if a tree has been attacked, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Martha Smith suggests the following steps.
These include many seedpods, cones, grain, grasses, and berries found in the garden, as well as in fields and along roadsides. Here are some specific examples.
If you are like me you likely have a lot of dead plants or plant parts in your yard. Last weekend while walking around my yard I noticed that one of my redbud trees in the front yard is completely dead. Today as I drove to work I noticed a large dead branch in one of my sea green junipers. Many of my perennials and some shrubs are dead in them.
Every year I try to provide ideas for those of you who are searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family. This year I'm highlighting some new gardening books that I recently read.
According to Bob Frazee, retired University of Illinois Natural Resources Educator, hedge apples are produced by the Osage-orange tree (Maclura pomifera), which is commonly grown throughout Illinois. The Osage-orange is a member of the Mulberry Family and is commonly called a hedge tree.
May brings us our fifth gardening trend for 2014: Bee-neficials: It's all about the bees this year. News on bee and other pollinator populations is everywhere this spring. Obviously, pollinators are an essential requirement for many of our favorite food crops.
My grandma Simmons used to tell me that we should learn something new every day. I still think that is a great idea and have decided to make that my New Year's resolution this year. If you want to join me, University of Illinois Extension can help. We cover many topics, including gardening.
Our Master Gardener program provides the most comprehensive educational opportunity for gardeners. Julia Pryor coordinates our Master Gardener program for Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties.
Rhonda Ferree, Extension Educator in horticulture, says that trees can take three to five years to show symptoms from a severe event such as drought. Unfortunately trees under stress are less able to fight off insect and disease problems. Plant diagnosticians at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic describe the following diseases that take advantage of trees under stress.
The Master Gardener Teamwork Award recognizes groups of Master Gardeners who work together to accomplish a common goal for the betterment of their communities. The Kim St. John Butterfly Habitat is an excellent example of a joint Master Gardener and Master Naturalist project from the University of Illinois Extension Unit covering Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties.
Pollinators are an essential requirement for many of our favorite food crops.
"News on bee and other pollinator populations is everywhere this spring," says Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
Despite making it through a brutally cold winter, knockouts and other rose varieties are being eaten by the larvae of sawfly stated Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. The larvae, not a slug, is yellow- green and velvety looking, 1/2" long, found on the underside of the rose leaves or in flower buds. The leaves are left riddled with feeding holes between veins. They excrete slimy substance all over their bodies resembling slugs but are not slugs. After larvae feed they drop to the ground to pupate. Adults emerge in spring and lay their eggs on the bottom sides of rose leaves
- Question. Should I do a preventative treatment on my ash tree, even though it doesn't have the pest yet? Answer. University of Illinois Extension recommends doing a preventative treatment for Emerald Ash Borer only when the beetle has been confirmed within 15 miles of your ash tree. Consult the latest quarantine map to know where the beetle has been found in Illinois. Click on "maps" in the lower right column.
- Question. Are all ash trees susceptible to the EAB? Answer.
Fall is an ideal time to plant many woody trees and shrubs. Before grabbing the spade and digging a hole, Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, suggests that there are several important factors to consider. These include the suitability of the site where it is to be planted, the species involved, growth characteristics of the tree, the tree's age, and how the nursery plants were grown.
Time for our next gardening trend of 2014: Fingertip Gardens. It's all about gardening using high tech with mobile apps and technology.
It seems that every day I hear about a new garden-related app for smart phones and tablets. I post many of these on my gardening app Pinterest bulletin board at http://www.pinterest.com/ilriverhort.
Fall brings wiener roasts, festivals, and leaf removal. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, suggests making good use of the fallen leaves in your yard.
When you need advice from a gardening expert but a trip to the gardening store isn't convenient, check out the University of Illinois Extension channel on YouTube.
Visit www.youtube.com/uiextension for practical advice on a wide variety of gardening topics and more.
"Everything from pruning to mulching to specific varieties of plants, trees and shrubs is covered on the site," said Jane Scherer, U of I Extension urban programs specialist and director of its websites.
Many people consider getting plants established in shady areas of the yard as a challenge. Fortunately, this does not have to be true. There are many options available to gardeners for shady areas. Want to learn more?
Current buzzwords in the world of gardening include pollinators, butterflies, natives, and monarchs. It seems that everywhere I look I read something about the importance of pollinators and how we can protect them.
One of the best plants for pollinators, especially butterflies, is milkweed. My colleague Candice Miller, Horticulture Educator in northern Illinois, recently posted the following blog about milkweed.
Weekly Crop Update 7-9-14
By Mike Roegge, University of Illinois Extension, Adams/Brown/Hancock/Pike/Schuyler
Strawberry harvest was completed several weeks ago, but there is still a little time to renovate the patch if you've not completed that chore yet. You want to do this as soon as harvest is completed, but we still have another week or so. Renovation is done to prepare the patch for a successful season next year. But it all starts now.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a tiny grain-like seed that is sometimes called a pseudocereal.