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Over the Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Illinois Vegetable Gardening Guide

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

The University of Illinois offers the Illinois Vegetable Gardening Guide ( on line and contains several sections on growing high quality wholesome vegetables. There is even a "Ten Step" list to help homeowners get the most out of their garden in our local Illinois conditions. One of those is making good use of your garden spot by considering the soil, amount of sunlight from the Sun/Shade pattern in your yard and the actual location.

Another step that is so often talked about is using high quality disease resistant seed for direct seeding into the garden or when you are raising your own transplants. These are very often sold as F1 hybrids, having the best characteristics of male and female parent plants.

Garden problems are yet another area that is thoroughly covered. Sharing your garden with a few insects is expected, yet when garden plants begin to be overrun with insects, yield suffers. There are those insects that just remove plant juices and those that actually chew and digest vegetable plant parts. Both can impact growth and fruit quality. Knowing which insect you have determines if you spray and with what kind of a product. Many insect management products used in the ornamentals CANNOT be used on our vegetables. Vegetable diseases are an area that gardeners will want to avoid in their home gardens. There are some fungicides available for just a few of the diseases. Disease resistant varieties help us manage diseases in the garden without having to spray.

The biggest section in the Garden Guide is growing specific vegetables starting with Asparagus. There are helpful bits of information on general plant growth, possible insect and disease concerns for each crop. There is also a chart that addresses days to harvest on select vegetable varieties and lots more.

If you take your vegetables to the county fair, there is even a section that can help you get to the County Fair with your vegetables in the best condition possible.

When you combine the information together from the different sections the result is you have a much better understanding of why vegetable gardens are managed the way they are. It is all tied together. The soil provides every nutrient the vegetable plant needs to grow with the sunlight it receives and how important it is to keep the vegetables well watered so the nutrients can move from the soil up and into the vegetable plant. Keeping the weeds controlled means less chance of an insect that feeds on a weed will transport the same disease to the vegetable plant. This also ties in to the disease resistance already noted a couple of times already.

There should be a small sign in every garage or garden shed that reads "Plant what you can manage and manage what you plant". Learn to grow a few vegetables well and expand from there.

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