pumpkins and mums

What a great time of year – crisp mornings, warming up to comfortable afternoons, with the opportunity to have that outdoor firepit going after dark.

October also signals the annual trip to a farm or farm stand for fall outdoor decorations including pumpkins, mums, flint corn with or without stalks, and an array of colorful gourds in weird shapes and textures.

If you have not already spotted them, be on the lookout for those bug-eyed insects with their persistent song in the canopies of your landscape. Yep, that’s right, cicadas are among us. In fact, some are even four years ahead of schedule. Learn more about that online in our Home, Yard, and Garden newsletter.

Our Illinois weather may “play dirty" starting Friday night, especially in the northern part of the state. Predictions are for below freezing temperatures, which can damage or potentially kill vegetable seedlings, some fruit tree blossom, and tender or warm-loving transplants. Here are some tips to help keep plants safe:

harvested apples filling a crate with trees blurred in background

If you live in northern Illinois, the most frequently grown large fruit is very likely the apple. There is certainly nothing wrong with peaches, pears, plums or cherries, it is just that apples are the hardiest of them all.  

Fall is for more than planting trees (although it is true that fall is a great time for that – see more below). Fall also is the time to do so many activities in the home landscape. These are not just weekend activities, but things that can be done in small bites, even on weekday evenings.

One gardening phrase that has been around for decades, if not generations, is “one year’s seeding – seven years weeding,” and that is a conservative estimate actually. According to the Weed Science Society of America, there are plenty of weed seeds that can remain viable in the soil for decades!

This season gardeners have been seeing many lumps, bumps and blobs on all kinds of plants throughout the landscape, in parks and forest preserves. It is not uncommon since this occurs annually, what is uncommon is the generous number of these growths we are seeing.