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Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

December Garden Tips

GENERAL Clean and store hoses and flower pots. Clean and sharpen lawn and garden tools and store them in a dry storage area. Store leftover garden chemicals according to label directions, out of the reach of children. A home weather station that includes a minimum/maximum thermometer, a rain gauge and a weather log is a good gift for a ga...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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Weeds Laws in Illinois

All weeds are not created equal. Some weeds are much more difficult to manage than others, thus proper identification is important. This is especially true for the ever increasing number of invasive plants that can quickly overtake an area if not kept under control. Invasive plant management happens at many levels, including legislative. The Illinois General Assembly recently amended the Illin...

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Rhonda Ferree by tulip tree as she explores Southern Illinois
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Gifts for the Nature Explorer

Every year I try to provide ideas for those of you who are searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family. This year I thought I'd focus instead on the nature explorers, though most are also gardeners. As the state Master Naturalist program coordinator for University of Illinois Extension, I travel all over Illinois training Master Naturalists. Part of my orientation pro...

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Sweet potatoes with black plastic mulch

Sweet Potato or Yam?

As the holiday season approaches, it seems appropriate to discuss the issue of sweet potatoes versus yams. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that officially a sweet potato is never a yam, but that sweet potatoes are often referred to as yams. Sweet potatoes ( Ipomoea batatas ) are yellow or orange tubers that elongat...

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Diablo ninebark exfoliating stem
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The Tough and Durable Ninebark

I recently removed a larger overgrown, and invasive, burning bush in my yard and replaced it with an elderberry and a couple ninebarks. Trends in the gardening world include using easy to grow, dependable plants with unusual features. There is also a push to use more native plants, especially those that attract beneficial pollinators. Ninebark meets all of these criteria. Nineba...

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Repair Storm Damaged Trees with Care

Tree damage is just part of the devastation that severe storms afflicted throughout Illinois. It is important to use proper pruning techniques to help restore these plants' beauty and health, as well as to protect the safety of the home area and workers. University of Illinois Extension Educator Rhonda Ferree suggests the following procedures. "Tree damage, unless it's a hazard or...

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10-10-15 CDL bedbug

Household Pest Control Through Time by Dr. Phil Nixon

Control of household pests has changed considerably over the last 50 years, both outdoors and indoors. There has been a fine-tuning of methods and products over the years which has reduced exposure to pesticides but may have resulted in an inadvertent increase in some pests. Chlordane came on the market in the late 1950's and was soon accepted as a long-lasting, wide-...

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