Signup to receive email updates




or follow our RSS feed

Categories

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner
Gardening

Keeping your raspberries from becoming a bramble patch

Raspberries are a wonderful addition a backyard, providing us with berries for fresh use while they are in season and for preserving to enjoy later. Raspberries are a perennial, giving us many years of production, though there should be some annual pruning done. This will prevent that row we started with from becoming an uncontrollable patch that only gives us few berries compared to its size....

Read More >

Common indoor insect question in January

What do fungus gnats, drain flies, Boxelder bugs and stinkbugs have in common this time of year? The common thread is they are all nuisance household insects that can be found in any home during winter. Fungus gnats and drain flies can be lumped together based on their favored conditions, cool temperatures and humidity. Fungus gnats often come in with our houseplants for the winter, as they ar...

Read More >

harvest-2733443 1920

Orchard Tree Series: Location Location Location

Orchard Tree Series: Location Location Location Where you plant your dwarf fruit trees can make a big difference in how they grow and perform. A major consideration is the soil. Fruit trees are no different from other trees and shrubs in your landscape; the soil needs to drain well. Placing the home orchard where water will drain away very soon after a...

Read More >

dog-2138278 1920

Training Dogs and Fruit Trees

What do fruit tree experts mean when they say "you need to train" your fruit trees?" Many of us have trained our dogs, but how do you train a tree? Homeowners and orchardists need to train their trees for structure to encourage fruit production and to have a productive, high-yielding home orchard. Just like with dogs, proper training makes a difference. It gives you a tree that can hold the fr...

Read More >

apple-191004 1280

Planning for the Home Orchard

It has been a couple of years since I used the month of January to address starting a home orchard. The fruit and vegetable catalogs have begun to replace the holiday flyers in the mailbox and January is not too early to begin planning for a home orchard or expanding the one already there. There are several different kinds of fruit trees to consider – apple, cherry, peach, pear, plum...

Read More >

branch-15915 1920

Holiday tree after the holidays

Just about now, you can see holiday trees sitting in the front or side yard, waiting for the assigned pick up date to be collected and mulched. This is one way to be sure your holiday tree gets recycled to the benefit of the environment. The follow through to getting your tree composted in a community program is to be sure you take advantage of the composted material later by bringing some back ho...

Read More >

resolutions

2018 Gardening Resolutions

We have all made them – kept some, unsuccessful with others. New Year's resolutions can be tricky, but for your gardens, they may be a little easier to keep. For starters, they are months away and can be more thought out and with time to prepare, more easily accomplished. Here are a few Garden Resolutions to consider: Add more mulch where it can prevent weed growth and retain mo...

Read More >

pots-716579 1920

Houseplant FAQs

Although most Master Gardener help desks are on hiatus right now for the winter, questions still come into the office. It is interesting to see the seasonality of the questions this time of year, and this month, there is a thread among most of them – houseplants. Q: I love my succulents in the summer, but they are already getting leggy. Can I stop that?...

Read More >

mason-jars-2742757 1920

Pantry pests after holiday baking

This is that warning shot over the bow of the ship or in this case the holiday bow. Homemakers are in full swing, baking our favorite cookies and other holiday treats we enjoy so much. With all that baking, comes the potential for pantry pests to show up. Leftover baking goods are usually the culprit, especially any flour or flour-based cooking and baking product. This is a bit more troublesom...

Read More >

ant-1096390 1920

Warmer Weather and Ants

There are some 8,000 ant species around, and on occasion, ants can become an annoyance in the home. Most often they are a bother in the spring of the year when soils outdoors begin to warm again. Right now, in this particular December, our soils next to the home are still warm. We may be bothered by those ants, when colonies in the soil within the footprint of our home venture inside. Ants could b...

Read More >

Work that Turkey off

The end of November can still mean there are projects outside that need to be done. Tree leaves have been slow to fall, so maybe use the mower and bagger attachment to go over the lawn one more time to clean up the last of the leaves. Ground up leaves can be used to cover the vegetable garden soil for the winter, or be added to the compost pile or bin as part of the "browns" to go with the "gr...

Read More >

Down the Garden Path

Winterizing Your Home Orchard

Now is the time to spend some time with your fruit trees before the season shuts us out. A few actions now can help prevent problems later. Rodent damage to the trunk at the soil line happens when grass grows tall next to the trunk. Remove the grass and weeds using hand clippers, not the string trimmer, as that can cause more problems. Rodents love to hide in the grass, and they will happily e...

Read More >

rabbit-2910054 1920

Protect your Landscape from Rabbits this Winter

Colder weather, frozen soil, fallen and windblown leaves, and later any accumulated snow, all will force rabbits to take shelter and begin to look for food anywhere they can. Once the ground is frozen, rabbits will have fewer places to take shelter or hide. Foraging for food will mean staying a lot closer to the protection of their winter home. While the weather remains favorable, rabbits feed...

Read More >

pumpkin-2802114 1920

Late Season Vegetable Storage Tips

Many Master Gardener Help Desk calls at the end of this growing season have been about garden cleanup, as would be expected. Yet other calls have been about handling expected or bonus yields of late season produce, especially root crops and the hard rind squashes. Q: We still have carrots in the garden, and do not want them to go to waste. How can we store them for a while lon...

Read More >

water-2862788 1920

Drought to Drowning

Our latest weather pattern is making outdoor fall clean up more difficult than usual. It always can seem overwhelming, but even more so this year thanks to several long rain events. For example, just keeping up (again) with the flush of the lawn has been hard, but add in finding a time when the ground is firm enough and grass dry enough, is the real challenge. While at a recent meeting...

Read More >

Down the Garden Path

Good gardening questions

As our gardening season is winding down, questions to the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers have been mixed, and they have been really good questions to share with others: Q: My white pine is losing many needles on the inside, is that normal? A: White pines, like all needled evergreens, naturally let go of one set of needles a...

Read More >

seed-1059168 1920

Birdseed and firewood

Birdseed and firewood are two common topics that come up this time of year. Both take some planning to be successful. Feeding the birds means starting earlier than later. Birds need to know early on that there will be something to eat on a regular basis if you want them to hang around in your yard. Rather than buying seed that has a little bit of everything for every bird out there, consider s...

Read More >

adult-female-full

Houseguests Even Before the Holidays

Just about a month ago, I wrote about getting those houseplants back inside after vacationing in the backyard or on the patio. Now, there are other parts of nature that are trying to follow suit, but are really uninvited houseguests. This includes any kind of insect critter that has begun to look for a place to overwinter and wants to stay warm as long as possible. One that you can count on ev...

Read More >

dog-1310545 1920

Where has all the water gone?

This column has frequently addressed the need to water new plantings, transplanted trees, shrubs and evergreens added to the landscape. Little has been written regarding water management on what we would all call our "well-established" landscape plants in the yard. Most of us give little thought that those big oaks, maples, pines and spruce could use our help. The last time the hot, dr...

Read More >

gardening-2448134 1920

Fall soil testing

When was the last time you had your garden or landscape bed soil tested? If you have never had a soil test done, this first time serves as a baseline for any future testing comparisons and lets you know as soon as the results come back if there are actions to be taken. This fall, before the snow flies, is a good time to get that done. A basic soil test will give you some great information and...

Read More >

Houseplant pic - aphids on Schefflera

Houseplants going back inside

As our good summer weather begins to wind down, it is time to get our vacationing houseplants ready to return inside for the winter. A few decisions can be made to save us some time. For many, we take them outside to let Mother Nature nurture them back to a better state of health, knowing that once back inside, they will be in a less than perfect growing location. You may have set them out on the...

Read More >

Unexpected dry weather

Early September typically brings cooler temperatures and enough rain to green up our lawns and keep them green until cold weather shuts them off for the 2017 growing season. So far, we have had the right temperatures, yet the rains have remained very scattered and the amounts very limited. Long term, this concerns farmers and horticulturists since we need to have the soils recharged...

Read More >

sprouts-763457 1920

Keep that Garden Growing

Once the fall school term approaches, many home gardeners give up on the vegetable garden as other activities and projects seem to need more attention. Vegetable gardens can provide fresh produce well into October and maybe even early November depending, on what is grown. As the growing season moves forward, the weather begins to change in day length and in temperatures during the day and nigh...

Read More >

swisschard

Keep that Garden Growing

Once the fall school term approaches, many home gardeners give up on the vegetable garden as other activities and projects seem to need more attention. Vegetable gardens can provide fresh produce well into October and maybe even early November depending, on what is grown. As the growing season moves forward, the weather begins to change in day length and in temperatures during the day and nigh...

Read More >

Grub Larvae closeup

Japanese and Masked Chafer Beetle damage in the lawn

This summer, the return of beetles has been evident after an all-time low from the drought in 2012. Beetle numbers have climbed each year since then and this summer have a very strong presence again. Female beetles are attracted to moist soils and locations where there will be plenty of food for their hatching eggs. We have had quite a bit of rain this summer, so finding moist soils is not a p...

Read More >