Flowers, Fruits, and Frass Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/rss.xml Master Gardener Training Coming to Livingston County http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13313/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:13:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13313/ The University of Illinois Extension and the Livingston County Master Gardeners invite those eager to learn about growing vegetables, landscaping, trees, insects, or community and school gardening to join their volunteer program this fall, for a mind blowing garden learning experience.

The Master Gardener training program meets every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., starting August 23 and ending November 8 with our propagation lab. The cost of the class, including the Master Gardener training manual is $225.

The Extension office will be accepting applications for the 2018 Livingston County Master Gardener Training class through July 20. Trainees should have the ability to attend all training classes, and the desire to share horticulture information in your community.

The goal of the Master Gardener volunteer program is to encourage people to grow vegetables and flowers, and promote environmental responsibility. In 2017, Livingston County Master Gardeners offered the below new and or improved programs to their communities:

  1. Livingston Master Gardeners transformed an overgrown, neglected backyard at the new library in Flanagan into "Polli Nator's Garden," a certified Monarch Waystation and Pollinator Pocket, working with the local high school in the garden installation and seed collection.
  2. Connected with 250 clients at the Pontiac Farmers market, answering questions, proving interactive booths highlighting pollinators, monarchs, and culminating with a pumpkin-decorating contest.
  3. Presented at the 4-H fair about insects, the web of life, and soil and water conservation.
  4. Sold holiday centerpieces and held a plant sale to provide funding for plants, signage, education materials for community gardens like Dargan Park, Yost House Heirloom Garden, annual pots at the 4-H park, and Flanagan school garden.

Master Gardener's trainees participate in more than 60 hours of classroom instruction that includes basic botany, soils, vegetables and herbs, turf grass, fruits, insects, ornamental flowers, plant diseases and pests, trees, and landscaping. Local and regional horticulture educators and experts teach all classes.

Once training is completed, Master Gardener Interns prepare make an impact on their community by completing a required 60-hour internship through approved volunteer services which include participating in gardening projects, answering gardening questions in the Extension office, giving demonstrations or talks to local groups, or representing the Master Gardener program at library and school programs and attend local meetings.

For more information on this program or other Extension programming, please contact us at your local Extension office. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kelly Allsup at

(309) 663-8306 or kallsup@illinois.edu.

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Potatoes: Bales into Bushels http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13301/ Tue, 10 Apr 2018 15:00:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13301/ Whether you have grown potatoes for years or never grown a fresh potato in your life, growing them in a straw bale is an easy choice. Imagine pounds of beautiful fresh tubers that are crisper and tastier than any grocery store finds, all for less than the price of a bag of soil.

Growing potatoes in straw beds is not new, but growing them in a bale placed on a driveway or outside your apartment door is a novelty that can be mastered by following these simple steps.

1. Collect your materials: straw bale, water jug or hose, liquid fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium at normal rates for vegetables.

2. Set Out and "Cook": Lay your straw bale in full sun, with the cut side of the straw facing up. Do not break or cut the bale ties. Drench the top of the bale with liquid fertilizer. Keep moist with daily fertilizer applications over a two week period. Every three to four days, replace your fertilizer application with clear water. This is called cooking the bale.

In my experience, any combination of fertilizing and watering initiates the microbes to break down the bale in the middle. If you must skip a few days, the process will not be disrupted. My only failed cooking process was when I used fertilizers with low nitrogen content.

3. After two weeks of "cooking" the bale, purchase seed potatoes from a garden store or greenhouse. Cut large seed potatoes into pieces that have two eyes. These eyes will be where the plant sprouts. Plant pieces eye side up, six inches deep, 10-12 inches apart. Cover with a bit of soil.

I have planted up to six potatoes per bale.

4. Continue to fertilize bales every two to three weeks, and water bales when dry.

5. Harvest the potatoes after the vines have died by breaking up the straw bale.

6. Hold potatoes for a week or two at 65° to 70° F in a place where the air is not too dry, to heal cuts and bruises. If the skin of a potato is damaged during harvest, then it is the first tuber to dine on!

Growing potatoes in straw bales is popular due to the fact that it solves nearly every impediment today's home gardeners may face while growing: bad soil, weeds, a short growing season, watering problems, limited gardening space, and even physical difficulty working on ground level. Imagine freeing yourself of diseases and insect issues, weeding, and struggles with planting and harvest, just by changing where you grow your tubers!

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Sharing a growing secret at Gardeners' Gathering this April http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13286/ Thu, 05 Apr 2018 12:31:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13286/  

Join the Woodford County Master Gardeners on Saturday, April 21 for a morning filled with lots of fun as we unlock secret gardening tips in a celebration entitled "Gardeners' Gathering: Sharing a Growing Secret," in Germantown Hills.

Universityof Illinois Extension is proud to present Patrick Murphy, horticulturist, and curator of Fell Arboretum on the campus of Illinois State University. Patrick will present his selections and best planting practices of Trees of the Midwest Landscape with our audience. Patrick will demonstrate and elaborate on the concept "Right Tree for the Right Place." During past extension programs, Patrick has rated as an excellent and very knowledgeable speaker and participants have said they will save money this growing season from those tips. If you are in the market to plant a new tree or just want to further understand the trees in your own home landscape, save your seat today as space is limited.

As adventures continue for the day, we look at growing your vegetables this season. Woodford County Master Gardener, Joni Wolffe will present on growing vegetables outside of the row. Learn to increase your ability of growth in your garden produce by exploring the idea of container gardens with us.

Oh and while your veggies are growing this summer, be on the lookout for the pollinators in your backyard. Kelly Allsup, horticulture educator, will help you do your part to save the pollinators by building a pollinator pocket container full of blooms that will be loved by the butterflies and bees. Pollinator annuals available for take-home container designs will be heliotrope, lavender, pentas, oregano 'kent beauty', parsley, bloodflower, snapdragon, bronze fennel and Rudbeckia.

A $20 registration fee includes morning refreshments, three workshops, and supplies for the container garden. Check-in and light refreshments will be available at 8:30 a.m., with the workshops, beginning at 9 a.m. The program will be hosted at the Great Oaks Community Church (515 Rt. IL-116, Germantown Hills 61548). Pre-registration is required online atgo.illinois.edu/RegisterLMWor by contacting the Woodford County Extension Office at (309) 467-3789.

For more information on this program or additional Extension programming, please contact us at your local Extension office. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kelly Allsup at (309) 663-8306 orkallsup@illinois.edu.

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Snow, Rain, and Onions http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13282/ Tue, 03 Apr 2018 11:49:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13282/ I was going to write about preparing the garden bed, but then it snowed. Then I thought I could write about seeding in the snow, and then it melted.

This weather has been cruel keeping me indoors.

According to the Illinois State Water Survey: Illinois Climate Network, the temperature of our soil is above 40 degrees, and many crops are ready to be planted in the garden as soon as the soil dries out. One cool season crop that I have never written about is onion.

Onions are a fantastic cool season crop to grow in your garden or landscape, and can be planted as soon as soon as the soil is workable. They can even tolerate light frosts. After you have acquired onion sets from the garden center, sort them by size, one pile for greater than a dime and one pile for smaller than a dime. The larger ones may flower too quickly and will be more fitting to the shorter growing schedule of green onions. The small sets will be used to grow the dry bulbs.

Plant the larger bulb sets one inch deep and close enough to touch. When they are 4 inches tall, bring the soil up an inch above the base to create the white stems we often see in green onions. Plant another crop two weeks after so that you will have another later harvest. These green bunching onions can be harvested in as little as three to four weeks.

The smaller bulbs should be planted one inch deep and two to four inches apart. There is no need to hill soil above the base as the season progresses. These onions mature in about 90-100 days from sets. From late July to early August, plants will fall over and the tops become yellow. Pull onions, braid the tops and place under a cover to dry for about three to four weeks. After drying, cut off the tops and store.

Onions will respond well to added organic matter at the time of planting and require consistent moisture because of their shallow roots.

A side dress of fertilizer during the growing season is encouraged.

Onion plants repel a variety of insects and may be useful if planted next to carrots, cucumbers, kale, peppers, roses, strawberries and tomatoes.

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Sharing a growing secret at Gardeners' Gathering this April http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13274/ Thu, 29 Mar 2018 14:04:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13274/ Join the Woodford County Master Gardeners on Saturday, April 21 for a morning filled with lots of fun as we unlock secret gardening tips in a celebration entitled "Gardeners' Gathering: Sharing a Growing Secret," in Germantown Hills.
Universityof Illinois Extension is proud to present Patrick Murphy, horticulturist, and curator of Fell Arboretum on the campus of Illinois State University. Patrick will present his selections and best planting practices of Trees of the Midwest Landscape with our audience. Patrick will demonstrate and elaborate on the concept "Right Tree for the Right Place." During past extension programs, Patrick has rated as an excellent and very knowledgeable speaker and participants have said they will save money this growing season from those tips. If you are in the market to plant a new tree or just want to further understand the trees in your own home landscape, save your seat today as space is limited.
As adventures continue for the day, we look at growing your vegetables this season. Woodford County Master Gardener, Joni Wolffe will present on growing vegetables outside of the row. Learn to increase your ability of growth in your garden produce by exploring the idea of container gardens with us.Oh and while your veggies are growing this summer, be on the lookout for the pollinators in your backyard.
Kelly Allsup, horticulture educator, will help you do your part to save the pollinators by building a pollinator pocket container full of blooms that will be loved by the butterflies and bees. Pollinator annuals available for take-home container designs will be heliotrope, lavender, pentas, oregano 'kent beauty', parsley, bloodflower, snapdragon, bronze fennel and Rudbeckia.
A $20 registration fee includes morning refreshments, three workshops, and supplies for the container garden. Check-in and light refreshments will be available at 8:30 a.m., with the workshops, beginning at 9 a.m. The program will be hosted at the Great Oaks Community Church (515 Rt. IL-116, Germantown Hills 61548). Pre-registration is required online atgo.illinois.edu/RegisterLMWor by contacting the Woodford County Extension Office at (309) 467-3789.For more information on this program or additional Extension programming, please contact us at your local Extension office. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kelly Allsup at (309) 663-8306 orkallsup@illinois.edu.
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Colorado Blue Spruce needs care in Illinois http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13248/ Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:12:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13248/ Colorado blue spruce's silvery green color and perfectly placed boughs make it one of the most sought-after conifers in the industry. It was first discovered growing in the meadows and by the streams in the Rocky Mountains.

Despite the internet boasting this tree is easy to grow it requires extra attention for Illinois gardeners. Blue spruce require moist but well-drained, nutrient-rich soils and thrive in full sun but may succumb to some environmental stressors. There are major diseases that attack this tree, when it is stressed, leaving homeowners dumbfounded.

Stresses

Some of the major stress issues are incorrect planting, root disturbance, Illinois climate and soil pH.

Root Disturbance: Most trees develop their root systems in the top 12 inches of the soil three times as wide as the canopy. When roots are disturbed or compaction occurs, they die out and the tree evens itself out by killing off some of the canopy and becoming stressed.

Illinois Climate: Shallow roots cause them to not do well in hot and dry climates. They require supplemental water in times of drought. It is important to water this conifer in good before winter comes as this prevents them from drying out in the winter sun and wind. As the tree gets older they can become more adaptable to drought. This tree benefits greatly from a ring of mulch around the base. This tree is not tolerant of floods and may suffer during our wet springs.

Soil pH: Colorado blue spruces prefer mildly acidic soils (pH 5.5 to 7.0). They grow more slowly if the pH is too high or if they are planted in heavy clay soils. In their native habitat their needles would fall to the ground to decompose and therefore make the soil more acidic. If trees are stressed, fertilizer application can be applied in spring and early fall.

Diseases

Here are the most common diseases for stressed Colorado blue spruces:

Rhizophaera Needle Cast: Symptoms often appear in mid to late summer as purpling of the needles followed by leaf drop. The symptoms move from the bottom of the tree to the top. However, this disease has already been present for more than a year. The disease overwinters on living or dead tissue. Protective sprays in the spring can protect new growth. This should be done at least two years in a row and all fallen needles should be cleaned up before winter.

Stigmina: This disease exhibits symptoms similar to Rhizophaera. They must be distinguished by looking at the fruiting bodies on the back of the needle. Stigmina looks like small spiders and Rhizophaera looks like perfectly round globes. There is no chemical control other than limiting stress of the tree.

Cytospora Canker: Symptoms are dying needles and branches on lower limbs and oozing sap from cankers on branches and trunk of the tree. The newest needles are killed off first when the canker girdles the stem, leaving dry brittle twigs behind. There is no chemical control, but symptomatic branches can be pruned out when the conditions are not wet. Cytospora canker is the No. 1 killer of blue spruces 15 years or older.Colo

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A Day in the Garden Patch http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13238/ Wed, 14 Mar 2018 12:30:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13238/ Join Livingston County Master Gardeners on Saturday, April 7 for a morning filled with colorful plants and new gardening ideas just in time for spring.The University of Illinois Extension is proud to present Wild One's President and esteemed Master Naturalist, Sherrie Snyder, for her presentation entitled "Let's Get Wild."Learn to incorporate native plants into your yard that add beauty as well as support to the natural world around us.You will figure out how to select the right native plants for your yard, the benefits of native plants, and just where to purchase native plants.She will also share her lessons learned as well as her personal favorite native plants.
Just to give you a little preview, one of Sherrie's favorite native plants is the prairie blazing star because it is easy to grow, long blooming and great at luring the pollinators to the garden. Sherrie started a native garden, 12 years ago, when she moved into the middle of a natural area and wanted to replicate that in her landscape. She soon learned native in the right place will be reliable year after year and sometimes may cause the gardeners to have to take steps to corral them.
Wild Ones is a club dedicated to education and promotion of Native plants. Sherrie put together an organizational meeting and with the support of her fellow, Master Naturalists, it became an official charter in 2010. Sherrie encourages Illinoisans to go see the spring ephemerals in Fugate Woods this April.
In addition to Sherrie's workshop, University of Illinois Extension Livingston County Master Gardeners Cathy Montgomery and Connie Kostelc will teach gardeners how to enhance their outdoor living spaces while using edible ornamentals. After the class, you are sure to learn unique ways to incorporate edible plants into the landscape whether along a strolling pathway, within an existing flower bed or right around the deck and patio.
To conclude the event, Livingston County Master Gardeners will lead an edible container garden making party. The Master Gardeners will provide tips on growing your new container, container ideas and great color combinations sure to make the neighbors envious. Each attendee will leave with a container planted with beautiful edibles ready to brighten any spot.
A $20 registration fee includes morning refreshments, three workshops, and supplies for a container garden. Check-in and light refreshments will be available at 8:30 a.m., with the workshops, beginning at 9 a.m. The program will be at the University of Illinois Extension-Livingston County Office at 1412 South Locust Street, Pontiac, IL 61764. Pre-registration is required online atgo.illinois.edu/RegisterLMWor by contacting the Livingston County Extension Office at (815) 842-1776 by Wednesday, April 4.
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