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 Should we grow saffron crocus in Illinois? http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12846/ Fri, 15 Sep 2017 11:20:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12846/ Just yesterday, I began thinking about the fall bulb-planting season. I already have designs to plant early flowering spring bulbs for the bees like crocus, snow drops, siberian squill, winter aconite, hyacinths and grape hyacinth. However, I keep coming back to fall crocus. Wouldn't it be nice to have a fall blooming bulb in my garden and harvest saffron?

Saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) (Colchicum autumnale) blooms in the fall. It is planted the same time as spring bloomers so that it may receive a cold treatment before flowering. Sometime in September and October, it will bloom for 15 days and the stigmas are harvested and dried to become the coveted spice saffron.

The stigmas (the female part of the flower) protrude out like bright red party streamers against the muted purple palette of the petals. Each stigma is removed from the flower using tweezers. These harvested stigmas are then placed in an airtight container for a month before the flavor develops.

As they dry, they lose about 80 percent of their weight. Therefore, a gardener would have to plant 150 corms and gently pull 450 stigmas for one gram of dried saffron. Despite the laborious nature of harvesting saffron, gardeners may want to just have these around for extra color in the fall.

Saffron is primarily grown in Iran, Spain and Italy. However, researcher Margaret Skinner from the University of Vermont wants to bring the crops here to our farmers, saying we have better soil. Margaret and her team experimented with saffron in high tunnels (plastic-covered, unheated greenhouse structures) and found "We got higher yields of saffron, in terms of weight, than what's reported in field production in Spain and Iran."

These crocuses are zone-hardy to 6, which is most likely why they were grown under cover in Vermont. However, Central Illinois is Zone 5b, and most of our gardens live in microclimates.

Up against our house or in our backyard garden, the microclimate is determined by sun exposure, heat, water, light and wind, which is why some gardeners can get away with growing plants not hardy to our area.

Plant bulbs in September two to four inches deep and four inches apart. The first year, maybe 60 percent of the bulbs produce a flower and the second year, two flowers may be produced. As the corms multiply, they can handle light shade and may be disturbed by the neighborhood squirrels.

Photo by University of Missouri

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McLean master gardeners are awarded by Brittnay Haag http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12841/ Fri, 08 Sep 2017 16:29:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12841/ The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate McLean County Master Gardeners, Tracy Burr, Carolyn Erwin, Tudy Schmied, Pat Warren, Bob Williams, and Rose Yahnig for being recognized with the 2017 Outstanding State Master Gardener award. The Outstanding State Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois State Master Gardeners win this award annually. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.

McLean County Master Gardeners Kathy Mundell-Bligh, and Jim Schmidt are recipients of the 2017 Sustained Excellence Award. The Sustained Excellence Award was established to honor Illinois Master Gardeners who have previously received the Outstanding Award and have continued to demonstrate distinction in the program. Both Kathy and Jim have proven to be exceptional examples of Master Gardeners. Only 10 of these awards were given this year throughout the entire state.

The Community Cancer Center Healing Garden received a 2017 Master Gardener State Teamwork Award. This award was established to honor projects which have made a difference in the community or Extension unit. The group of Master Gardeners had to show a focused team approach to a project, innovation and improving an existing project to serve their community better. McLean County Master Gardeners part of this team were Sue Farrell-Stroyan, Chris Kraft, Sharon O'Neall, Amy Davis, Mary Jane Bohall, Lenore Clark, Tom Creswell, Susan Crumbaugh, Mary Dellorto, Jaci Dixon, John Elterich, Pat Epsicokhan, Patti Florez, Barb Gaffron, Karen Irvin, Sharon Jaeger, Michaela Kent, Nancy Komlanc, Linda Larsen, Madelon Newsom, Kathie Otto, Sandra Parker, Tudy Schmied, Arlene Stark, Donna Thiel, Barb Wells, Bob Williams, Irene Wieties, Rita Yordy, Mary Jane Zook.

The Community Cancer Center Healing Garden project started in June of 2015 to create an oasis of peace for cancer patients, their families, staff and the community at large. Master Gardeners are involved in planning, planting and care for the three stunning gardens- a Terrace Garden, Labyrinth (meditative walkway) and a Butterfly Garden to be viewed by patients receiving infusions. Master Gardeners worked collaboratively with the Cancer Center in all of these gardens but were the sole designers and planters of the butterfly garden completed last summer. A Horticultural Therapy Conference at the Center in June provided hands-on experiences to facilitate understanding of key concepts and theories for engaging people in therapeutic gardening. The time and talents of many individuals from the community – volunteers from the Cancer Center, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, and patient families, in addition to local garden centers and landscaping businesses contributed to creating this labor of love. The Community Cancer Center Healing Garden provides a peaceful place of refuge, meditation, and restoration, and promotes a sense of well-being and healing for the patients, families, staff, and community.

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Livingston Master Gardeners Awarded by Brittnay Haag http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12840/ Thu, 07 Sep 2017 16:28:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12840/ The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate Livingston County Master Gardeners, Sandy Knight for being recognized as a 2017 Outstanding Illinois Master Gardener, and Dee Woodburn for being recognized as s 2017 Sustained Excellence Award Winner.

In her six years as a Master Gardener, Sandy's volunteer services and contributions to the Master Gardener program have more than exceeded expectations for this award. The Outstanding Master Gardener Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois State Master Gardeners receive this award annually. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.

Some of Sandy's greatest contributions to the community have been at the 4-H Park in Pontiac. In 2014, Sandy planned and developed a garden at the south gate of 4-H Park in Pontiac in collaboration with other Master Gardeners. She researched native plants, designed the garden, and coordinated its planting. She

partnered with the Livingston County AG Fair Board for funding, materials, and assistance. She expanded the program to include containers throughout 4-H Park. Each year during the 4-H Fair, Sandy helps plan horticulture activities for the 4-H youth related to the gardens.

Sandy is also involved in other Master Gardeners projects including the Junior Master Gardener Youth Enrichment lessons, speakers bureau presentations, and answering questions at the Master Gardener Help Desk. Sandy is always willing to help out where needed and is a wonderful asset to the Livingston County Master Gardener program.

Dee Woodburn, Master Gardener since 1998, is the recipient of the 2017 Sustained Excellence Award. The Sustained Excellence Award was established to honor Illinois Master Gardeners who have previously received the Outstanding Award and have continued to demonstrate distinction in the program. Dee has proven to be an exceptional example of the Master Gardeners. Only 10 of these awards were given this year throughout the entire state.

In 2015, Dee spearheaded the Dargan Park Project in Pontiac. She was approached by the Pontiac Woman's Club to help establish a pollinator garden in the park. Dee used her excellent leadership skills to plan the project and bring it to completion. She was instrumental in coordinating all of the steps for the developing project, including designing, coordinating the planting and maintenance, and developing educational components for the garden. Dee shared this outstanding project to the community with her presentation entitled "Birth of a Garden." Dee described the creation and success of this garden project in this presentation. The garden continues to flourish today. The garden brings many people to this city park, and its beauty is a welcome sight to visitors.

Dee shows her enthusiasm for gardening and sharing gardening knowledge in many ways. She is heavily involved in the Master Gardener program, including answering questions at the Master Gardener Help Desk, 4-H Park Gardens, and Yost House Garden. Dee also enjoys working with 4-H youth to give tips on gardening and related topics.

If you see Sandy or Dee working in the gardens or teaching in the schools, make sure to thank them for their outstanding efforts in improving the community and helping others learn to grow.

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Woodford Master Gardeners awarded by Brittnay Haag http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12842/ Wed, 06 Sep 2017 16:31:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12842/ The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate Woodford County Master Gardeners, Nancy Carls for being recognized as a 2017 Outstanding Illinois Master Gardener, and Jack Pfaffmann for being recognized as s 2017 Sustained Excellence Award Winner.

In her four years as a Master Gardener, Nancy's volunteer services and contributions to the Master Gardener program have more than exceeded expectations for this award. The Outstanding Master Gardener Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois State Master Gardeners receive this award annually. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.

Nancy became chair of the Woodford County Master Gardener plant sale in 2016. Her leadership has made the process easier for volunteer and community participation. She has streamlined the organization of the plant sale while also adding educational elements. Nancy educated the public by improving signage on the plants being sold while requesting more native and pollinator plants to be available at the sale.

Nancy is also involved in other Master Gardeners projects including speakers bureau presentations, answering questions at the Master Gardener Help Desk, and working with Junior Master Gardener programs.

Jack Pfaffmann, Master Gardener since 2001, is the recipient of the 2017 Sustained Excellence Award. The Sustained Excellence Award was established to honor Illinois Master Gardeners who have previously received the Outstanding Award and have continued to demonstrate distinction in the program. Jack has proven to be an exceptional example of the Master Gardeners. Only 10 of these awards were given this year throughout the entire state.

Jack has spent over 130 hours in the past five years, representing University of Illinois Extension on the unit, regional and state level through various committees and councils. He is currently the chair of the Woodford County Courthouse Gardens and recently expanded the gardens to include a drought tolerant landscape incorporating native Illinois plants and Spring bulbs. Jack has added educational signage and has contributed to an herb program on the courthouse lawn for the past several years.

Jack is a team player in the Woodford County Master Gardener volunteer group contributing to Junior Master Gardener programs, Gardeners' Gathering day of garden education, Eureka Library educational programs, and the Master Gardener Help Desk.

If you see Jack or Nancy working in the gardens or teaching in the community, make sure to thank them for their outstanding efforts in improving the community and helping others learn to grow.

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Hungry Insects, Leave my tomatoes alone! http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12835/ Tue, 29 Aug 2017 10:26:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12835/ Master Gardeners go beyond the confines of the garden to answer and research gardening questions of all kinds throughout the entire growing season. We tend to notice trends. Those trends allow me to provide continued training for the Master Gardeners so that they can better serve the public.

The trends also give me insight into what people want to know. In the past few weeks, for instance, we have had numerous questions about blister beetles, green fruit beetles, lace bugs and tomato fruit worm.

Blister beetles are elongated, oval-shaped beetles with soft wings. Most of the ones I have seen have been Margined blister beetles, with black wings and ash gray bodies. They are called blister beetles because they spray a defensive oil that can cause blisters. Photo by Kelly Allsup.

Most found in the garden contain low amounts of this chemical and cannot harm the gardener. They feed on a wide range of garden plants, like tomatoes and potatoes, and can feed in large colonies, decimating plants before they move on. The larvae stage are considered beneficial insects because they eat grasshopper eggs in the soil.

They stop feeding in the middle of the summer, so some gardeners either knock them into a container of soapy water, use an organic product like neem oil or Spinosad, or ignore them.

Green fruit beetles, brilliantly green and rather large, fly around like little buzzing helicopters in July and August, feeding on thin-skinned fruits like raspberries and blackberries. They are not as much of a nuisance as their larvae, which feed on turf roots. The larvae burrow up to the surface to feed, making holes in the lawn. Photo by University of Kentucky.

Lace bugs look like tiny squares of lace feeding on the back of your leaves. The feeding injury is caused from the piercing and sucking mouth parts. Their excrement is strategically placed along the vein and secures the eggs to the leaf. Nymphs are small, shiny brown, and congregate while they are young. Damage from high populations is more severe in dry weather. I have seen lace bugs on sunflowers, oak leaves and sycamore. Hover fly larvae, lady beetles and lace wing larvae will prey on these garden pests. Daily water sprays until population is reduced can be highly effective. Photos by University of Illinois.

Tomato fruit worm can be a big disappointment to gardeners who have tended their tomato plants all season long. The bugs are also known as corn earworm. The larvae bore into the tomato and eat it from the inside out. The night-flying moths lay their eggs on the plants close to first flower. Once in the fruit, they exit through a quarter-of-an-inch hole. Fruit worms do not devastate the tomato crop; damaged fruit can be tossed without using insecticides. Photo by University of Kentucky.

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Identifying Butterflies with Kelly http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12808/ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:16:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12808/ Four Seasons Gardening Program Offers Fall Series The fall series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program is about ready to get underway on a computer near you. Four Seasons Webinars focus on environmental stewardship, home gardening, backyard food production and more.

The first session of the series is What's That Butterfly in my Garden? Are you signed-up yet? This program is offered twice – first at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5 and again on Thursday, September 7 at 6:30 p.m. With over 150 species of butterflies in Illinois, Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup will detail how to distinguish between some of the most commonly sighted butterflies in the flower gardens and prairies. Sometimes with only a few seconds to glance, specific details can be noted to help later identify what type of butterfly flew by.


One of the benefits of this webinar is that it may be viewed from the comfort of your home on any computer by pre-registering at. Registration link for log-in on home computer:go.illinois.edu/4seasons_webinarsThere is no fee to participate in this program, but advance registration is necessary for directions and resource materials. 

Other topics in the Tuesday/Thursday fall series include Cultivating Carnivores: Growing Carnivorous Plants set for September 19 & 21, and Gardening as Therapy set for October 3 and 5. For more information on the Four Seasons fall series or other programs like this, please visit us at go.illinois.edu/lmw or contact us at the McLean County Extension Office at (309) 663-8306. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kelly Allsup, Extension unit educator, Horticulture-Livingston, McLean and Woodford Unit at (309) 663-8306 or email at kallsup@illinois.edu.]]>
Leaf Casting Class at Eureka Library on August 22 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12793/ Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:56:00 +0000 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_12793/ Grab the leaves from your garden and cast them

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Join us to see how you can make new gardening décor from the leaves laying in your garden right now. Through this exclusive demonstration, you can learn just how to cast and paint concrete leaves. Maybe you have never heard of leaf casting before this…well then please join our Woodford County Master Gardener, Bunny Randall for this uniquely, creative idea on just how to cast and artfully paint concrete leaves. The demonstration will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22 at the Eureka Public Library. Art is often inspired by nature, and now you can learn how to literally use the leaves in your backyard to make an artistic piece to enjoy anywhere all year round. Please save your seat and register for this demonstration today by calling the Eureka Public Library (202 S. Main, Eureka, IL 61530) at (309) 467-2922. By attending this program, you also have the chance to become the lucky attendee to leave with a leaf cast to help start your collection.]]>