Extension Specialist and Illinois Master Gardener Coordinator
May 14, 2013
Insect growth is affected by two major factors, time and temperature. Insects are unable to maintain a constant body temperature. Because they are cold-blooded, their body temperature varies with the temperature of their surrounding environment. Insects require a certain amount of heat to develop from one stage in their life cycle to another (eggs to larvae to pupae to adults). Insect growth only occurs within a certain range of temperatures, the upper and lower developmental thresholds. The temperature below which no growth occurs is the minimum or lower developmental threshold. The temperature must be at or above the minimum developmental threshold in order for insect growth to occur. Growth increases with higher temperatures up to a maximum temperature known as the upper or maximum developmental threshold. Once the upper threshold is surpassed, no additional growth occurs. Developmental thresholds are different for all insect species.
Phenology models help predict the timing of events in an organism's development using degree-days. Degree-days allow us to predict when significant biological events such as the appearance of insect pests may occur. Determining when an insect pest will appear is often a difficult task. Depending on the variation in weather patterns, insect development may vary by a couple of weeks each year. This makes it difficult to predict insect growth stages using a calendar. Determining when an insect will appear should be based on some kind of temperature-based function, such as a phenology model instead of a calendar. Scouting for an insect may begin too early or too late if using calendar dates alone, resulting in wasted time and missed damage.
Daily Pest Degree-Day Accumulations
Development of agricultural and home landscape pests can be tracked and projected by maintaining an account of the "heat" accumulated during each growing season. This process involves a comparison of daily maximum and minimum temperatures to a base temperature, specific for a particular pest, above which development will occur.
The Illinois State Water Survey and the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois have created a degree day calculator which provides daily, up-to-date information about pest development in Illinois.
Users begin by selecting the closest weather station to their location and the pest of interest. Degree-day accumulations for some pests have a specific calendar day when accumulations begin, such as January 1 each year. Accumulations for other pests are tied to specific, user-input events; such as the first trapping of adult pests, sighting of eggs, etc. One- and two-week degree-day projections are also included. Maps of degree-day totals and projections for the entire state are produced where appropriate.
April 30, 2013
April 17, 2013
Master Gardener mini-grant money enabled Schuyler-Brown Master Gardeners to add blueberries, blackberries, rhubarb and asparagus to the Rushville Community Garden. New cages purchased enhanced the tomato section. New posts will be used to trellis the blackberries.
Master Gardeners added whimsical signs and informative labels throughout the garden. Grant money was used to purchase two professional grade signs to identify the Master Gardener project.
Master Gardeners use the garden to demonstrate simple and basic gardening. Their goal is to inspire community members to grow something healthy. Master Gardeners were on hand in the garden at two "Open Houses". One featured herbs and one featured salsa.
Community members harvested fresh produce and produce was donated to a local "Chow for Children" program.
March 26, 2013
We began by staking out the area where the square-foot garden would be in our garden. We also met with a representative of Impact, Inc. (the local Center for Independent Living) to determine the appropriate height for the raised beds with legs in order to accommodate persons with mobility issues. We built eight raised beds measuring 4' x 8' on the ground and four raised beds on saw horses measuring 4' x 4', which were 32" off the ground.
Once the raised beds were built, the four accessible raised beds on sawhorses and two of the raised beds on the ground were lined with landscape cloth. These beds were then filled with Mel's Mix, ie. one-third vermiculite, one-third compost and one-third peat moss, no existing soil was utilized. The other six raised beds on the ground, we used existing soil and added peat moss, vermiculite and compost as amendments to the soil. The next step, we added the grids to the raised bed frames. Our first raised bed was planted on 4/18/12 with peas, radishes, broccoli, an artichoke plant, spinach, one roma tomato plant, two bell pepper plants and an heirloom tomato plant. The two raised beds on the ground with Mel's Mix were planted with pepper plants in one bed and big boy tomato plants in the other. The accessible raised beds had grape tomatoes, roma tomatoes, green beans, radishes and beets. The other six raised beds where we did not use Mel's Mix, we planted summer squash, cucumbers, big boy tomato plants, roma tomato plants, grape tomato plants, different herbs, more pepper plants & peas, spinach and beets. We also planted green beans, tomatoes in the traditional vegetable garden style.
In our experiment, we harvested the crops in the boxes with Mel's Mix three weeks sooner than the crops in the ground and two weeks sooner than the crops in the raised beds that had been amended with compost, vermiculite and peat moss. The raised beds with Mel's Mix also produced approximately one-third more harvest than the plants in the ground and one-fourth more harvest than the plants in the other raised beds. One thing I would do differently to the boxes with Mel's Mix is add more vermiculite each month. I say this because of the amount of watering we did this past summer due to the heat, caused a loss of nitrogen and the mix became more dense.
Demonstrations were given to garden clubs, garden enthusiasts as well as local organizations throughout the gardening season. We were also able to donate 567. 7 lbs. of produce to the local food pantry.
March 15, 2013
The DeKalb County Master Gardeners had "a chance to fulfill our mission statement" Helping Others Learn to Grow through the mini-grant funds used at Sycamore History Museum in 2012. The Master Gardeners reached out to people of different ages, abilities, and interests over the growing season and saw many grow their gardening vision.
Throughout the season free educational seminars were offered to several audiences. Garden Story Time had families looking for appropriate activities for children ages three to six. Master Gardeners offered stories, finger plays, crafts, and songs on the following topics: flower gardens, birds, insects, vegetable gardens, colors of fall, and a pumpkin circle. Grow and Garden to Eat! gave children ages seven to eleven the opportunity to learn gardening basics, garden maintenance, and garden eating. This was in conjunction with Girl Scout volunteers, who with Master Gardeners donated over 300 pounds of fresh produce to a local food pantry from the Sycamore History Museum vegetable garden. Back on the Farm Gardening seminars reached adults looking to expand their knowledge of tomatoes, edible flowers, water-wise gardening, and lawn care. These seminars also acted as a remote horticulture help desk as participants brought samples and questions to discuss with Master Gardeners.
Sycamore History Museum's partnership with the Master Gardeners made many significant contributions to the community and plan to further the relationship in the coming year. The most time-consuming project was preparing the grounds for the Garden Walk. It was the perfect site for refreshments and wash room breaks while giving participants the opportunity to view the many gardens and plantings at the museum. Master Gardeners also participated in the Fall Festival and the museum House Walk. They also worked along NIU students for the "Day of Caring" and Kiwanis in a service day. In all, the DeKalb County Master Gardeners gave over 300 hours of service to these many projects in 2012.
Planning for the future, the Master Gardeners see the tremendous possibilities to develop the food bank donations into an educational component with clients, begin a horticulture camp for kids, finish landscaping the museum, expand the vegetable garden and orchard and complete their mission statement.
February 26, 2013
The Lake County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden Committee created a plan to install a Sustainable, Edible Educational Display Garden (S.E.E.D. Garden) to dispel the myth that a person needs a vegetable garden to grow vegetables. Their plan was to incorporate some vegetable plants amongst annuals and perennials to emulate a foundation planting or a garden border with the hope that gardeners would find the use of vegetables in the flower bed less intimidating than a large square usually relegated to the back yard. The plan was developed and priced and written up by the Lake County Master Gardeners as submissions for several grant opportunities.
Securing grant funds for the project, the Lake County Master Gardeners fine-tuned their plan and proceeded with the installation of 9 garden beds. Each bed contained perennials, annuals and vegetables. A garden soil mix was brought in to freshen the beds to assure good organic content. Cultural practices consistent with the teachings of Extension were used. Perennials annuals and vegetables were selected from the recommended plant lists from University of Illinois Extension resources. A variety of trellises and plant supports were installed to demonstrate their use. Straw was used as organic mulch for the gardens.
The visual impact to the Extension site was remarkable. Extension patrons commented on how beautiful the garden beds were (at all stages of growth) and asked for information. As this was one of the goals, literature was created for the S.E.E.D. Garden and made available in a box next to the garden.
Six formal garden presentations were conducted at the site to promote the use of the mixed beds. Refreshments were made from the garden produce. Thirty-six members of the public, teachers, 4H club members and leaders, and an environmental group enjoyed the presentations. From these presentations, we shared a variety of information including how-to plans for the gardens, lists of plant material, and resources on how to plan their own garden, to name a few. A survey was conducted after each session to determine if the attendees learned anything from our efforts. 100% of respondents named at least one piece of information that was learned from their session. Two 4H SPIN Clubs for gardening are being formed in 2013 and are using the format of the S.E.E.D. Garden while educational components will be presented to them by the Lake County Master Gardeners.
By the end of the season, some of the vegetables were so exuberant that some of the annuals and perennials were engulfed. With the small foot print of our gardens, we were able to share 24 pounds of produce with the INEP staff to use in their healthy cooking demonstrations. The remaining produce was donated to our local food bank with our total contribution being 246 pounds. A power point presentation has been prepared to share our information to future groups any time of the year.
Lessons were also learned by the Master Gardeners and some changes will be made next year. The extreme heat and lack of rain in 2012 required that the Master Gardeners spend much time monitoring the watering. A different irrigation method will be considered. Also the plant selection will be reviewed as the food bank shared information on what vegetables are appropriate for their use. The overall success of the project assures that next year the SEED garden will return with improvements that we plan to share with even more gardeners.
February 11, 2013
The first southern Illinois Indigenous Plant Symposium will be hosted by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners, SIU Carbondale- Department of Plant Biology, and Illinois Native Plant Society at the John A. Logan College Center for Business and Industry (Carterville, IL) on Saturday March 16, 2013.
The goal of the symposium is to promote awareness of native plants, their use and impact on our environment. Internationally known mycologist Dr. Gregory Mueller from the Chicago Botanic Garden will be the keynote speaker. Topics for other sessions include Invasive Illinois Plants; Illinois: a Study in Diversity; Landscaping with Native Plants; Attracting Native Insects; Native Irises, Lilies and Orchids of Southern Illinois and more.
The symposium will start with guided hikes at Giant City State Park on Friday March 15, and end on Sunday with more guided hikes at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.
Cost for the symposium is $20 and includes lunch. Register before March 8th- no walk-ins allowed.
The event is open to everyone. For more information on this and other UI Extension events, call 618.687.1727 or visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fjprw/
January 23, 2013
January 7, 2013
December 13, 2012
The Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside Conference provides environmental educators, teachers, community partners, outreach specialists, students, landscape planners and architects, and other professionals and interested members of the public a forum to network and share lessons learned in the regional effort to connect children with nature.
The conference speaker will be Dr. Andrea Faber Taylor, a researcher with the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory and instructor in Horticulture at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Her research on the benefits of greener environments for children includes such findings as more creative play, greater concentration, and greater self-discipline. Her research on the benefits of nature for children with ADHD has resulted in extensive coverage in the media, including Science News, the British Medical Journal, Prevention Magazine, Psychology Today, Globe and Mail, Parents Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times and many radio interviews. Her research was also cited as some of the supporting evidence in Richard Louv's national bestseller, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.Topics to be addressed at the 2013 conference include partnerships with nontraditional allies, creative use of small outdoor spaces, engaging teens and young adults, model capacity-building programs, and many more.