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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
Azalea Sawfly

Azalea Sawfly by Phil Nixon

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

There are three sawfly species that commonly attack azaleas, two in the spring and one in the summer. We are apparently currently seeing Amauronematus azaleae. There is one generation per year with the adults emerging to lay eggs on expanding leaves in the spring. The larvae are feeding at this time in central Illinois and apparently prefer hybrid azaleas, which are deciduous. Nea...

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hydrangea leaftier larva damage

Hydrangea leaftier by Phil Nixon

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Hydrangea leaftier, Olethreutes ferriferana , has been noticeable in central Illinois and is present in other areas of the state. Damage appears as two to four cupped leaves tied together with silk at the end of a branch. An attacked plant will typically have ten to twenty of these cupped leaf sets. Pulling the leaves apart reveals a slender greenish caterpillar up to one-half inch...

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strawbalegarden

Strawbales Revolutionize Vegetable Gardening

Last spring, Joel Karsten wrote a book called "Straw Bale Gardens" that has taken the gardening world by storm and given growers a new media to grow vegetables, herbs and annuals. The science behind the decomposition of the straw bale is what makes it the ideal growing media for vegetables. Nitrogen added to straw -- “green manure” -- feeds bacterial gr...

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sorrell

Growing Salad Greens by Nancy Pollard

Mesclun is a mixture of assorted small, baby salad leaves also known as a mesclun mix. You can purchase mesclun bagged in cellophane at your grocer. Yet freshly harvested from a few square feet in your patio, garden, or front stoop, mesclun is an easy tender treat, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "What flavors are in the mix? Arugula, mustard greens, and chicorie...

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training apple tree
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How Johnny Appleseed would operate in 2014

If Johnny Appleseed were planting apples in 2014, he would be planting dwarf or semi-dwarf trees grafted onto disease-resistant rootstocks instead of apple seeds from a leather satchel. Grafting is like plant surgery for horticulturists, connecting the growing tissues of one plant to another. Be the Johnny Appleseed of your neighborhood this spring and...

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bug

Beenificials by Rhonda Feree

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

May bring us our fifth gardening trend for 2014: Bee-neficials: It's all about the bees this year. News on bee and other pollinator populations is everywhere this spring. Obviously, pollinators are an essential requirement for many of our favorite food crops. Pollination is a process that takes place in a flower to transfer pollen from the male to the female flower part, thus producin...

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crayfish
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Crayfish by Phil Nixon

Crayfish become a nuisance in turfgrass when they burrow in high moisture soil, creating chimneys at the burrow openings. These chimneys, made of balls of clay soil that bake in the sun, become very hard. Hitting them with a mower dulls the blades and may even kill the mower's engine. The crayfish commonly emerge at night to roam about the turf. Crayfish have gills that require constant moistur...

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european pine sawfly mugo pine

European Pine Sawfly by Phil Nixon

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

European pine sawfly larvae are present throughout the state feeding on Scotch, mugo, and other two and three needle pines. The larvae grow to about one inch long with dark and lighter green stripes. They have large black heads. Sawfly larvae can be distinguished from caterpillars by having six or more pairs of prolegs. They drop to the ground to pupate as first year needles are breakin...

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Strawberry
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Strawberries

Strawberries are the first fruits of the season, and fresh-picked strawberries from the garden taste better than any berry bought from a store. Plant strawberry plants this spring for ample production and summer fun for your kids next spring. Strawberries can be greatly rewarding and only require a few simple timed garden tasks. Before planting bare root bundles, amend the soil...

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