Extension Educator, Horticulture
Extension Educator, Small Farms and Local Food Systems
February 27, 2014
Goat's Milk Chevre
Cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign
Cider from Rockome Gardens Foods in Arcola
Aronia Berry Muffins with Jam or Jelly
Berries, jams, and jellies from Sunny Lane Aronia Farm in Eureka
Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
Beef from Herman Brockman in Congerville
Tomatoes from Henry's Farm in Congerville
Herbs from Teresa's Fruit and Herbs in Eureka
Grandma Henrietta's Pumpkin Spice Bars
Butternut squash from Henry's Farm in Congerville
Roasted Beets with Greens
Beets from Henry's Farm in Congerville
Greens from Living Waters Farm in Strawn
Goat Cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign
Rye Croutons made from Spence
Honey Mustard Slow Roasted Pork with Fresh Thyme
Pork from Twin Oak Meats and Whitzig Farmily Farm
Corn Biscuits made from Henry Moore Corn from Spence Farm in Fairbury
Mustard from Rockome Gardens Foods in Arcola
Potatoes with Mixed Cheese
Potatoes from Henry's Farm in Congerville
Cheese from Ropp Jersey Cheese in Normal
Milk and Cream from Kilgus Dairy in Fairbury
Polenta with Onions, Peppers and Sprouts
Henry Moore Corn from Spence Farm in Fairbury
Sprouts from Living Waters Farm in Strawn
Onions from Bill
Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
Sweet potatoes and Carrots from Henry's Farm in Congerville
Housemade stock with chicken from Twin Oak Meats
Milk from Kilgus Dairy in Fairbury
Eggs from Little Farm on the Prairie in Sauneman
Bacon from Twin Oak Meats
Smoked Baby Swiss from Country Cheese in Arthur
February 27, 2014
Landscape Trends of 2014
How does one predict the landscape design trends of 2014? Well they look at some of the most popular trends of 2013. In the past the landscaping was a row of perennials or shrubs around the foundation of a house, some nice shade trees and lots of lush green lawn. In 2014, gardeners are seeking more from their landscape by trying to create an outdoor living space which has been trending for a while. A place to drink their morning coffee, watch the birds and have family gatherings.
This leads to the first prediction: fire pits or fire grill because who doesn't want to enjoy the outdoors while grilling a steak or keeping warm on a cool night. These can be very easy for homeowners to install and come in an array prefabricated kits.
The sustainable gardener will rule in 2014 by conserving water and preventing runoff and erosion. Rain barrels will be placed under gutter spouts to collect the rains of the spring for the droughts of the summer. If it doesn't rain an inch every week then it is advised to give additional water to the landscape to keep the plants in good health. Many gardeners may be contemplating installing drip irrigation to save time and conserve water. According to Colorado State University, drip irrigation is 90% efficient in getting the water where it needs to be compared to sprinkler irrigation at 50-60%.
Rain gardens and permeable walkways may also experience a spike in popularity. Rain gardens are designed to capture storm water runoff from roof tops, drive ways or parking lots. Instead of going into local water ways the water is recycled back to recharge the ground water and filter out pollutants. According to Rutgers University, Rain gardens are 30% more effective than a patch of lawn. Plants like swamp milkweed, cardinal flower, penstemon and Culver's root should be employed in a sunny rain garden. For a shade rain garden use native ferns, Jacob's ladder and wild ginger.
Gardeners may also use permeable walkway pavers, pervious concrete or open celled concrete blocks instead of an old fashioned slab of concrete to help reduce runoff and erosion. They still provide the solid base but allow the water or melting snow to seep into the ground rather than washed into the storm gutters. If walkways or drive ways are near trees, this will allow the water to get to the roots.
Finally, the last predicted trend is less grass and more native plants. You don't have to be an experienced gardener to know that having a lush green lawn is a lot more work than creating gardens of native plants. Native plants do not need as much water or fertilizer, regular mowing, gets considerably less pests and diseases and once established can be home to wildlife like birds and butterflies.
February 23, 2014
For Christmas, my father, asked me to pick out a piece of art from his studio to take home to add to my collection of all things "Karlton Allsup, the potter." I was conflicted between two pieces: one, a pristine turquoise and white plate that was perfectly symmetrical with not a flaw in sight; and another plate, with muted green, blue and gold coloring, brandishing odd adornments and bumpy and cracked edges. He chose the latter for me, saying it was a better representation of his art.
My father has always been a man of abstract simplicity. A man who finds an old piece of wood as his fireplace mantle, places a very worn cutting board on the kitchen wall, grows beets in a bag of soil and makes walkways out of rubble from a burned-down house.
He is the embodiment of a new garden trending in the United States called Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is not a gardening style, but rather a way of life stemming from Japanese culture.
According to the Japanese architect Tado, "Wabi Sabi is the Japanese view of life that embraces a simple aesthetic that grows stronger as inessentials are eliminated and trimmed away." In other words, it is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and incompleteness, acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay and death, and holding onto only things that have true meaning.
So what do an old country boy and Japanese gardening trend have in common? They both revel in the imperfect and cherish what most people dismiss.
This principle can be applied to gardening by embracing the cracks in the sidewalk, paint peeling off of an old door or a rusty tool lying out of place. The gardening trend uses natural materials that are vulnerable to weathering, cracking and peeling. The color palette contains muted and dim browns, blacks, grays, earthy greens and rust. It celebrates the flower with brown edges, the asymmetrical heirloom vegetable and the old farm plow used as a trellis.
The plants chosen belong to the landscape and therefore thrive. Native flowering shrubs and perennials are used with minimal use of the perfect green lawn and non-natives. It is the exact opposite of the pristine formal English garden, but is not without order and cleanliness.
Try growing native prairie plants like wild indigo, coreopsis, little bluestem, flowering spurge, butterfly weed, blazing star and monarda and letting the seed heads form for added beauty and food for wildlife. Do not cut down until early spring so that you can enjoy the beauty of naked stems and withered leaves in winter landscape.
February 23, 2014
The snow-covered landscape and bitterly cold temperatures are leaving gardeners and homeowners wondering, "Are my plants faring better than me this winter?"
Personally, this gardener has been fighting multiple colds, dry sinuses, dry skin and bone-chilling walks from my car to work. From my perspective, the plants are adapting to this winter season better than I am, because they have adaptations to things like snow cover and chilling temperatures. However, plants can be susceptible to winter wind and sun.
In the fall, when temperatures cool and the days become shorter, the plant starts to harden off by regulating the water content inside and outside of the cells. Frozen water in plants will destroy the cells. The level of hardiness a plant reaches is genetically predisposed and builds up over the winter season. This is why you will never see palm trees lining the streets of downtown Bloomington; they simply are not hardy enough for our environment.
Snow cover can actually be a blessing for plants by providing a layer of insulation and protection from the winter winds and sun. Snow usually remains at temperatures in the 20s and 30s and may keep plants at higher temperatures than if they were exposed to the air.
My father worked for a botanical garden in New Orleans and was responsible for a small orchard of trees. One night the temperatures were getting dangerously low so he put on the water sprinklers. The buds were then encased in ice and kept at around 32 degrees, which was much higher than the actual air temperature saving the buds in the orchard. This year in Central Illinois, we may have issues with peach tree buds not holding up through the extremely low temperatures.
The drying winter winds that chap my lips can also dry out our evergreens, stripping them of all the moisture they contain. This is why it is important to never let evergreens go into the winter dry and to put down mulch in the fall. Mulch helps regulate temperatures and conserves moisture. On a good note, plants do not experience wind chills like we do. The wind pushes heat away from our bodies, but plants do not generate heat the way we do and derive their heat from the sun.
The sun can be an offender this winter. If you have a young maple, you may experience a frost crack on the south side of the tree. This is where the sun has heated up the cells to the point they become active, only to cause severe damage when lower night temperatures return.
You also may see this effect with evergreens like arborvitae and yews where the south side of the foliage shows winter burn in the spring.
February 23, 2014
Average last spring frost May 10th.
Order seeds and garden supplies. Prepare lights and tools for starting seeds. Clean and maintain garden tools.
Frost seed white dutch clover in yard and garden paths where weeds are under control.
Finish pruning fruit trees. Fertilize when buds start to swell.
Second week: Start indoors, Onions, brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, kohlrabi,etc.), parsley, lettuce, celery root.
Plant outdoors as soon as soil is workable and reaches 40 degrees: mustard, chard, onion sets, kohlrabi, radish, arugula, peas, fennel, parsley, parsnips, leeks, raddichio, beets, kale, rhubarb, asparagus, shallots, spinach.
Third week: Start indoors, peppers, eggplant.
Plant seeds in garden: beets, chard, carrots.
Plant fruit trees.
Mulch garden paths.
Turn in cover crops or top dress beds with compost.
Begin watering if weather is dry.
First week: Start indoors, tomatoes
Second week: transplant onions, leeks, plant potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes.
Third week: transplant brassicas, lettuce, chickory, plant strawberries.
First week: plant warm season crops like beans, corn, summer squash, last spinach.
Second week: (Watch weather forecast) transplant tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, hill potatoes
Third week: mulch potatoes, plant winter squash, transplant sweet potatoes. Last corn planting.
First week: prune tomatoes, mulch tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, set up trellis or cages and begin training plants to support. Be sure your support can hold the weight of mature plants. Better to overbuild than have it collapse.
Second week: start fall plantings! Plant carrots now through early July for fall harvests of the best carrots of the year.
Fourth week: garlic harvest? Plant fall turnips, radish, choi.
Second week: plant last cucumber, summer squash, storage beets, transplant broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower.
Third week: Plant Spinach, arugula, rutabaga
Fourth week: Last planting of carrots, beets, chard, beans, basil.
Till beds for garlic and overwintered spinach.
Third week: Last planting of lettuce, arugula, choi, turnip, radish. Plant cover crops on unused areas of garden.
Fourth week: Plant cold hardy crops now through late September for season extension under low tunnels.
Third week: plant overwintered spinach, harvest sweet potatoes before soil temperatures drop below 60 degrees. First frost?
Second week: harvest winter squash, harvest fall roots before temperatures drop below mid twenties. Japanese turnips are most sensitive to cold damage. You can hill them to delay harvest.
Fourth week: plant garlic, dig last potatoes.
First week: plant garlic, dig last potatoes. Mulch carrots, parsnips, burdock, etc. that will be left in the ground over winter.
Third week: mulch garlic after ground freezes.
AB Hatchery Nursery- 916 East Grove, Good locally owned source for seeds, potatoes, potting soil, transplants, tools, etc.
Twin City Wood Recycling- 1606 West Oakland. 827-9663. Will deliver ISU farm compost.
Bloomington and Normal farmers markets- diverse transplants