In late May and early June, folks worry it is too late to plant warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers. Plant now, the timing is perfect for rapid root establishment and healthy plant growth.

Pot of flowers on a windowsill

With limitless colors and textures, no porch or patio should sit bare this season.

Plant a container.

The home with a front porch container display always feels a bit more welcoming; the back patio with a well-designed pot always feels a bit more relaxing.

Two shovels laying in dirt

Your ambition to start your summer vegetable garden is stunting your tomato and pepper plants.

This Sunday, let Mom distract you from the gardening itch.

Yellow flowers in front of a person gardening

This past weekend, I was standing in the shade of Hedgeapple Woods at Ewing Park II looking at a patch of native wildflowers where only a year before there were patches of garlic mustard and bush honeysuckle – serious invasive species for our area. In just one year, there was a dramatic increase in the number of wildflowers I was able to spot in these cleared areas. These efforts and more are thanks to the amazing contributions of our University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist and Master Gardener volunteers.

Green, red and white tomatoes

A full return to farmer's market season is upon us. Producers have faced many hurdles in the past few years; they are relying on your support to stay in business. This article is a refresher to local farmer’s markets in McLean county, in case you have fallen out of the loop in recent years. Here you will find market locations, times of each market, and their date ranges. Folks in other counties are encouraged to get in touch with their town to see what markets are nearby.  

Colored gloves on a fence and children's hands in mud

Many of today’s youth lack a connection with nature or an interest in gardening or growing their own food. One of the best ways to encourage an excitement for gardening is by creating a themed garden. A child’s hands-on, experiential learning style can be encouraged in a themed garden, especially if it’s a garden they help create. Inspiration for the garden’s theme can come from many things: a favorite food, color, or animal; a story – even a historical event!

Yellow flowers on stems of forsythia, wood chip background

With the anticipation of spring and returning pops of color, you may find your forsythia and lilac shrubs are a bit lackluster from improper management.

White onions with green tops growing in a raised bed.

Do you grow peppers and tomatoes every year? Are you ready to try something different (or maybe in addition to!) the same-old, same-old? Then you should try growing onions this gardening season. With just 30 square feet of planting area, you could grow the bulk of the onions you cook with this year.  

A plant stem is broke in half revealing the open cavity in the stem.

As the winter chill thaws, gardeners erupt with excitement for the big botanical blitz that is spring. We scan the aftermath of winter, spotting the evidence of last year’s gardening efforts in our brown landscapes: dried plant stems, partially mulched leaves, and hints of green, our emerging spring bulbs. 

Two photos side-by-side: Left, little bluestem in fall; right, purple and yellow violas

With over 400,000 species of plants in the world, one might wonder which ones are the best to grow in your garden or landscape. Many plant associations select a “Plant of the Year” using rigorous criteria to highlight plants they feel are deserving of the title. Consider these plants when planning your garden or looking for something new to grow this year.

A young girl sits in grass with a pile of harvested vegetables

Cultivating a love and knowledge of gardening in youth can be a rewarding experience for all. A garden offers a place to learn, play, and grow through hands-on experience in the freedom of their own backyard. Kids LOVE to dig in the soil and get their hands & feet (or even head to toes!) dirty. Many of the gardeners today share memories of gardening at a young age with a parent or grandparent. 

A pile of freshly harvest red potatoes on soil

It’s almost gardening time! My family’s garden starts on April 1 with the planting of potatoes and onions. If you’ve never grown potatoes in your garden, try something different this year. Here are some helpful steps to achieve a successful crop of potatoes this year. 

A single ripening asian pear hangs among green leaves.

I don’t know about others, but I myself am fighting a case of the winter blues. My happy place is in the garden, looking at my growing plants—not snow!

As you daydream about your spring and summer garden, consider planting some unorthodox plants that are fueling a growing agricultural trend in the Midwest—agroforestry. There are a few different definitions of agroforestry floating around, I am partial to the following, the mixing of annual and perennial crops in a well thought out way. Here’s an illustrated example:

A row of cyclamens with red, white and pink flowers

Time is ticking to find that perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your loved ones. Instead of the go-to fresh floral arrangement, give a gift that someone can enjoy for many months. Flowering houseplants are great alternatives to traditional bouquets of cut flowers. With a little care and maintenance, these plants can thrive in your house or office and rebloom multiple times. A bonus to gifting these indoor plants, they can be moved outdoors to your garden or patio container once warmer temperatures arrive.

Pepper and Tomato seedlings with first true leaves.

In 2022, we welcome Jan Bills as we celebrate the Mclean County Master Gardeners' 20th Annual Home, Lawn and Garden Day! A gathering of small origins, the single classroom event connecting Master Gardeners to fellow community gardeners has grown into a day-long destination for Central Illinois novices and enthusiasts alike. Although we will be missing our gardentopia destination this year, we are excited to meet virtually Saturday, March 5 for a morning of gardening know-how.

Chinese Evergreen

Growing plants indoors can add a soft green touch, create a focal piece, or incorporate nature inside, transforming any room. Houseplants vary greatly in color, texture, size, and shape—there is a plant perfect for any spot. Research has also shown plants to improve air quality, lower stress levels, and increase productivity when they are grown in indoor spaces and homes.

pollinator on oregano flower

With a new year comes new gardening trends we can all get excited about. Each year, predictions are made about types of plants, colors, containers and how we utilize them. Experts use last year’s gardening purchases to make these predictions.

Nick Frillman teaching pruning workshop at Refuge Food Forest

For those of us who are lucky enough to have access to fruit trees, fruit bushes, bramble fruits, or cane fruits during the year, we have a chore that needs doing this winter: pruning. Pruning out dead, dying or diseased wood from all those wonderful plants and trees is an absolutely essential part of their management if good quality and quantity of fruit harvest is desired. Pruning is done in the dormant season, which for this part of Illinois is roughly January 1st until mid-March (depending on spring weather). Don’t prune outside of that window.