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Warmer Weather and Ants

There are some 8,000 ant species around, and on occasion, ants can become an annoyance in the home. Most often they are a bother in the spring of the year when soils outdoors begin to warm again. Right now, in this particular December, our soils next to the home are still warm. We may be bothered by those ants, when colonies in the soil within the footprint of our home venture inside. Ants could b...

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Work that Turkey off

The end of November can still mean there are projects outside that need to be done. Tree leaves have been slow to fall, so maybe use the mower and bagger attachment to go over the lawn one more time to clean up the last of the leaves. Ground up leaves can be used to cover the vegetable garden soil for the winter, or be added to the compost pile or bin as part of the "browns" to go with the "gr...

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Down the Garden Path

Winterizing Your Home Orchard

Now is the time to spend some time with your fruit trees before the season shuts us out. A few actions now can help prevent problems later. Rodent damage to the trunk at the soil line happens when grass grows tall next to the trunk. Remove the grass and weeds using hand clippers, not the string trimmer, as that can cause more problems. Rodents love to hide in the grass, and they will happily e...

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Protect your Landscape from Rabbits this Winter

Colder weather, frozen soil, fallen and windblown leaves, and later any accumulated snow, all will force rabbits to take shelter and begin to look for food anywhere they can. Once the ground is frozen, rabbits will have fewer places to take shelter or hide. Foraging for food will mean staying a lot closer to the protection of their winter home. While the weather remains favorable, rabbits feed...

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Late Season Vegetable Storage Tips

Many Master Gardener Help Desk calls at the end of this growing season have been about garden cleanup, as would be expected. Yet other calls have been about handling expected or bonus yields of late season produce, especially root crops and the hard rind squashes. Q: We still have carrots in the garden, and do not want them to go to waste. How can we store them for a while lon...

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Drought to Drowning

Our latest weather pattern is making outdoor fall clean up more difficult than usual. It always can seem overwhelming, but even more so this year thanks to several long rain events. For example, just keeping up (again) with the flush of the lawn has been hard, but add in finding a time when the ground is firm enough and grass dry enough, is the real challenge. While at a recent meeting...

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Down the Garden Path

Good gardening questions

As our gardening season is winding down, questions to the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers have been mixed, and they have been really good questions to share with others: Q: My white pine is losing many needles on the inside, is that normal? A: White pines, like all needled evergreens, naturally let go of one set of needles a...

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