Skip to main content

Signup to receive email updates

or follow our RSS feed

follow our RSS feed
Blog Banner

Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog


I love rhubarb! Also known as the pie plant, rhubarb is a very hardy perennial garden vegetable that grows extremely well here. Although considered a vegetable, rhubarb is used as a fruit in pies, tarts, cakes, and sauces. Rhubarb is available in either red or green stalk varieties. A popular green stalk one is Victoria. More is available in red including Canada Red with long, thick, extra swe...

Read More >


Don't Raise Mosquitoes in Your Yard

While doing your spring cleanup activities, be sure to look for mosquito breeding sites in your yard. The first step to fighting mosquitoes MUST begin in YOUR backyard. West Nile Virus is most frequently transmitted through the house mosquito. Since it can only fly about 1-½ miles, this mosquito usually breeds and lives in our own backyards. After getting an adequate blood meal, the adu...

Read More >

Contorted hazelnut in winter
click image to view 2 more

Twisty Curvy Plants

Twisty curvy and weeping plants are fun to look at, but hard to use in the landscape. They are so unique and special that they must have a special spot to really work. Most should be used as a planned focal point, since they definitely draw one's attention. Usually, one is enough in the landscape as more than one is too distracting. What do I mean by twisty curvy plants? These are plants that...

Read More >

2007: C.B. Smith students explore the bounty of blooms.
click image to view 5 more

Gardening with Kids

Gardening is for everyone, but is especially important for children. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of gardening with kids. It encourages personal growth, environmental stewardship, hands-on learning, improved nutrition, community involvement, and family interaction. During my 25 year career with Extension I've attended many programs on how to garden with kids. Each time I come...

Read More >

potatoes growing in a plastic container
click image to view 3 more

Time to Plant Potatoes

Potato ranks with wheat and rice as one of the most important staple crop sin the human diet around the world. Certainly potatoes are an important part of our diets as we eat French fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, augratin potatoes, and more. Potatoes are very easy to grow in your own garden. Potatoes are among the earliest vegetables planted in the garden. Early, midseason, and l...

Read More >

Tomato on right and tomatillo on left on 7-13-12. Notice leaves go all the way to the ground on this tomato. I rotated it to a new location this year. Last year's tomatoes had lots of foliar leaf blight.
click image to view 2 more

Grow Your Fresh Salsa

"There is nothing like a fresh salsa and tortilla chips summer snack," according to Rhonda Ferree, Extension Educator in Horticulture. Fresh salsa is also called pico de gallo and is comprised mainly of tomatoes, peppers, onion, and cilantro. Rhonda says that almost all the ingredients can be grown right in your own backyard or on your patio. Tomatoes are one of the most popular homegrown vege...

Read More >

tomato grown in a container
click image to view 4 more

Tips for new vegetable gardeners

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 children, and using sustainable gardening practices and methods. If you are starting your first vegetable garden or know someone that is, here are six simple step...

Read More >