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The Humble Gardener

At University of Illinois Extension, our volunteers are at our core. Hear their voice on this volunteer driven blog.

What's for Dinner? Late Season Harvest

A friend and I were talking about dinner plans one day and I commented that one of the first things I do in the morning is decide what to have for dinner. She thought I was kidding; when Chip came up to us, she asked him what he did first in the morning. He said, "Talk to Sandy about what we're having for dinner." I started laughing when he got to "about"-the look on my friend's face was pricel...

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zucchini flower

Too Much Summer Squash

As I got out of my car in Target's parking lot, key fob in hand, I heard a man say, "Be sure to lock your car." Startled, I noticed an older gentleman in the car next to mine. He smiled and said, "It's zucchini season." Immediately my mind flashed to my kitchen counter, piled with yellow summer squash, and I briefly considered stashing squash in unsuspecting vehicles as a possible solution to o...

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Question. Plant. Reap. Enjoy!

My favorite time of the year as a gardener is when I get to be in my gardens. To watch veggies that we started last February make their way to our table in early June is a constant marvel to me. I understand the science that makes this happen, but I am awed that we grew this morning's breakfast. Today we had omelets (eggs from our chickens) with mushrooms, pepper and carrot (only one of each was r...

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Gardening Gramma

Last weekend, I had the overwhelmingly pleasant experience of creating a garden with my granddaughter. I won't bore you with how incredibly smart, charming, and exceptional Ms. Maisie is. At 3 1/2, she has more energy and enthusiasm than this old gramma could keep up with, but the new garden we created served as a testament to a practice that originated with my immigrant Italian grandfather and th...

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The Legacy of Chance

For the last fourteen years, our gardening team has consisted of Chip, me, and our dog, Chance. I would like to say that it is a cooperative effort by all three of us, but I make a habit of not telling falsehoods. We love to garden but I have to question the quality of Chance's contributions. In the spring, after a quick till of the garden, Chip moves on to another part of the garden as...

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Squirrel

Big City Varmints

There is nothing quite as exciting for me as receiving inquiries from young people who are beginning their gardening lives. The one that's hardest to answer is what to do about varmints in the garden. I never had problems with wild animals in the years that I have grown rural vegetable gardens. I encountered the occasional snake in my country garden, but it was just trying to make a liv...

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Seeds of Spring

As I stood in the middle of the deck, watching animals run hither and yon, I wondered, not for the first time, why we start our own seeds every year. After all, perfectly good nurseries that provide plants for the home gardeners exist. I blame Mother Nature for the whole debacle. If you live in western Illinois, you will no doubt remember the unseasonal weather we had over Presidents' D...

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