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ILRiverHort 2016

Plan your vegetable garden around your family

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Growing your own food is easy and fun. This year I will write more spotlights on backyard food production in this column. To get us started, here are excerpts from an article written by my colleague Richard Hentschel. Richard writes...
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Do plants predict the weather?

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator We've all heard wives'-tales that predict the weather. I can still hear my grandma saying, "Red sky at night, sailors delight; Red sky in morning, sailors warning." There are legends of people using groundhogs, hornets, woolly bear...
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Invaders of the Weedy Kind

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator I have been battling some difficult and very invasive weeds this summer in my yard. A new weed in my gardens this summer is prickly sida (Sida spinosa), also called prickly mallow. This summer annual has a yellow flower and...
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Bizarre oak leaf damage

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Every year I get questions about bizarre oak leaf damage that most people think is caused by a terrible insect infestation. Although some insects feed on oak trees, often the samples I see have a condition called Oak Tatters. I...
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Sweet potato or yam?

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator As the holiday season approaches, it seems appropriate to discuss the issue of sweet potatoes versus yams. Officially a sweet potato is never a yam, but sweet potatoes are often sometimes referred to as yams. Sweet potatoes (...
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Solving tomato problems

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in the United States, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "They are probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but no vegetable is problem proof," said...
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Ornamental Gourds

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator It's fall festival time again. Time for spiced apples, beautiful fall colors, arts and crafts, and locally grown produce. I've never been to a fall festival when those items didn't include gourds either for sale individually or...
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Fall decorations from the garden by Martha Smith

Many of the plants in the autumn garden can be used to make decorations, said Martha Smith, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Making them can be fun for the whole family. "Autumn brings its own personality," she said. "Plant colors change in response to shorter days and...
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Plants tied To our health and wellness

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator The second trend I'm covering from the 2016 Garden Media Group garden trend report is Welltality, which is all about how horticulture is intrinsically tied to health and wellness. I've written many times about the...
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Boxelder Bugs

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Boxelder bugs are common almost every year, but can be particularly prevalent in hot, dry years. Boxelder bugs are 1/2-inch long dark brown or black insects with conspicuous red markings on their wings. Boxelder bugs have two...
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Tips for new vegetable gardeners

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator According to the Garden Media Group, our younger generation (15-49 year olds) is just learning to garden and is hungry for information. They are most interested in growing edibles (herbs, fruits, and vegetables), gardening with their...
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Do not top trees

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator I cringe when I see topped trees. Not only is it unsightly to see a tree in such an unnatural state, it is also harmful to trees. Correct pruning is an essential maintenance practice for ornamental trees and shrubs. However, most...
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Pine trees picturesque with age

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Have you ever noticed how a pine tree changes shape as it ages? On my way to Springfield recently, several old pine trees caught my attention. Pine trees have distinctively different needle structure than other evergreens. Pine...
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Garden To-Do List for September

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator If you are like me, your gardens did not develop exactly as you had planned in the spring. I have more weeds than I usually do in early fall. Parts of my lawn has too much crabgrass and some plants simply do not like their location...
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January Garden Tasks

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of gardening tasks you can do in January. Here are some to consider. For those of you who received poinsettias or other flowering holiday plants, be sure that they are near a bright window...
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Fresh Tomato Salsa

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Over the past decade, Americans have grown to love salsa, surpassing ketchup as a favorite condiment. While there are many variations, a basic salsa recipe includes tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro and tomatillos. I make...
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Grow vegetables in containers

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Vegetables are most commonly grown in traditional gardens in rows. Large gardens can seem overwhelming, especially during the heat of summer or after a vacation. If you don't have space for that or just want to try something...
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Choose treatment properly for moles

Moles become active each spring, with tunnels appearing as raised areas of soil in lawns and garden beds. "Questions about mole control are probably the most common question I've received in my 27 years with University of Illinois Extension," says Rhonda Ferree, Extension Educator in Horticulture...
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