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Apple-October
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October is National Apple Month

Fall is here and with it comes apples. October is National Apple Month. Did you know that the average American eats about 17.5 pounds of fresh apples each year, and an additional 30 pounds of apples in other products such as juice; canned and frozen products; and dried. In 2016, Illinois had over 1700 acres of apples in production which resulted in over 40 million pounds of harvested ap...

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Pawpaw-FruitInTree
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Pawpaws, a Native Fall Fruit Taste Delight

If you have never eaten a pawpaw, try this tasty, fall fruit. While the pawpaw, Asimina triloba , is the largest tree fruit native to the United States. It is the northernmost representative of its family of tropical and sub-tropical plants. People...

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Cicada Killer - The Big Wasp

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been getting many phone calls from people describing giant wasps in their yards. These have turned out to be the Eastern Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus), which is a mild mannered wasp. The stinger on the female wasp is used to paralyze cicadas and the male has no stinger. The adult cicada killer is an impressive looking wasp measuring up to 1.5 i...

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Soil Health – Why is it Important?

Soil health is getting a lot of attention and it well deserved. Do you know why? First, the most well-known and essential benefit of healthy soil is food production. Healthy soil is full of organisms that turn dead matter and minerals into vital plant nutrients. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated it another way, "A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself." Second, healthy soi...

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WildCarrot
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Watch Out for Queen Anne's Lace Look-Alikes

At this time of the year, the wildflower, Wild Carrot or Queen Anne's Lace , is in bloom. It is known for its beautiful white compound umbels of flowers that measure 2 to 5 inches across and is the source of our cultivated carrots. People will pick these flowers for...

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WhatToDo

Information on Using Pesticides Safely In the Lawn & Garden

Every year, people have a lot  of questions about identifying pests around the lawn or garden; which pesticide to use or not to use; how to apply it and how much should be applied. Pesticides used correctly are one of the tools a gardener can use to control pests. Candice Hart and Doug Gucker, Extension Educators in Horticulture and Local Foods Systems, have created a series of short v...

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Teasel-SeedHead
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Beware of the Invasive Teasel Plant

As you travel along Illinois highways this time of the year, you may have seen a tall, dried, spiny plant with huge showy seed heads . You might have even considered taking some seed or seed heads home to plant and use as an accent flower or for use in dried flower arrange...

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Bees and Pesticides in the Garden

" Bees and Pesticides in the Garden " is the title of a recent article by Ric Bessin, Extension Entomol...

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Keeping the Garden Weed-Free

As everyone is finishing planting their gardens, their attention turns to controlling the weeds. Unfortunately, this is backwards, we need to focus on garden weed control before the first seed is planted. All this was brought to mind, after viewing a large local vegetable garden, where the gardener was focused on getting plants in the ground. Yet, weeds were growing on the earlier plant...

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Water Splash

Muddy, Carbon, Water

Can you figure out what the words above have in common? Take your time, I don't have anywhere to be. Did you come up with footprints? We are familiar with muddy footprints as we return from a soggy garden. You may think about your carbon footprint as you drive to and fro and when you figure out how far a given product has traveled to reach the store shelf. A water footprint? Is that...

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Recycling Your Christmas Tree

Now that the glory of your Christmas tree has faded, what are you planning to do with your tree? How about recycling your tree? Here are some suggestions for recycling your Christmas tree on your own property. You can have it mulched into wood chips for use in your community or around your house. It can be reused as an outdoor bird feeder, but remember to remove...

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It's Thanksgiving - Thank A Farmer

At the holidays, it is often easy to forget about the people who produce the food we eat. I understand this can happen, especially here in central Illinois - in the heart of the Corn Belt, where we see a lot of corn and soybeans growing. As I often have to remind my neighbors, we raise a lot more than "corn and soybeans" around here. One example, pictured on one of the accompanying p...

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Delight in Fall

The morning now greets us with a crisp chill and the darkness of the evening comes sooner than many would like this time of year.  For some, fall is a much anticipated time while others skip this season already dreading what follows - winter. As we bring in the final garden harvest for the season, decorate with corn stalks & pumpkins, and begin planning for fall activities there is...

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No Squash Bugs on this Pumpkin

Are you looking for a winter squash that squash bugs do not like? Take a look at the Hopi Orange squash. I have been growing this squash off and on over the past 10 years.  I have never a problem with squash bugs when I plant Hopi Orange squash, but I do if I plant any other winter squash (or pu...

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Feed People First

A few weeks ago we talked a bit about the less than perfect produce that is naturally occurring in our gardens. Although it may not be perfect, it is edible and nutritious! Last weekend at the Farmer's Market I was pleased to see large boxes of "ugly" green beans being sold for $10. Hmm…a whole box for $10 or $4/lb...

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Fields of Wheat

Wheat is growing here in Piatt County! A group of 4-H kids joined UI Extension on a farm tour all about wheat. For all the different products wheat is used in, the visit to a wheat field and elevator was a great opportunity to explore local wheat....

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Inglorious-Tomato

Don't Fear the Less than Perfect Produce

Ever had funny looking produce show up in your garden? Did you eat the harvest even though it wasn't pristine? I'm going to guess that most of you did because you tended that misshapen little fruit. I'm also going to guess that it probably tasted just fine and maybe even delicious because it was fresh and it was a product of your labor. Now think about the last trip to the produce aisle...

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Bee Blitz

June 21 marks the first annual "Bee Blitz". All nature lovers and concerned citizens in Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio are invited to get outside, snap pictures of honey & bumble bees on Sunday, June 21st, and upload their findings to BeeSpotter , the citizen science project run in collaboration between the University of Ill...

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Yellow beans

Farmer's Market Shopping

You know your dentist. You know your doctor. Do you know your farmer? Farmer's markets are an excellent opportunity to get to know your farmer and pick up some tasty, nutritious foods. Local farmers can offer a lot more varieties than a supermarket. Purple carrots are cool to find. Ever seen pattypan summer squash? Try these three tips as your navigate your local markets...

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HiWheelHoe
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My Tools of Choice for Weeding

The weeds are beginning to sprout between the rows of my vegetables out in the garden, so I need to get busy weeding. First thing to remember when controlling weeds in the garden is that the younger and smaller they are, the easier they are to control. The second important thing to remember is a sharp tool makes the work go faster. Third, work shallow in the soil, it takes less effort and it re...

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Chickens

Small Flock Farmers - Be Alert For Avian Flu

In the past ten days, the number of Avian Influenza infected flocks in the Midwest has increased dramatically. No Avian Influenza has been confirmed in Illinois, but it has been confirmed in the bordering states of Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin. This disease does not affect human health but can be deadly to domestic chickens and turkeys. According the USDA, “there have been several ongo...

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Chickens

Backyard Chickens - Are they for you?

Having chickens at home has many benefits for a family. You can have your own fresh eggs and you have the peace of mind of knowing exactly how they were produce. In addition, it is a way for children to have the experience of helping to care for animals and to see where their food comes from. On Saturday, March 28 from 10 AM to noon, we will be having a two-hour workshop on "Chickens: S...

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Top 5 Visits for 2015

The new year brings new opportunities for learning and exploring. This year, get out and visit these top 5 people and places to help you connect to your food, health, and community. 1. Visit a Registered Dietitian (RD) Registered dietitians are...

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Winter is Coming, Time to Put a Cover On

It is time to put a cover on your garden, a cover crop that is. Cover crops are an amazing addition to any garden. Cover crops are truly amazing. They benefit the garden in many different ways: recycling nutrients, breaking up compaction, increasing the soil's water holding capacity, suppressing weeds, adding nitrogen, attracting pollinators, adding soil organic matter,...

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Beyond Butternut, Acorn & Spaghetti

If I say squash, you might say butternut, acorn, spaghetti ; perhaps even delicata or carnival if you're an avid stuffer of squash. How about Sunshine, Thunder, Australian Butter, Jarrahdale to name a few? These lovely beauties not only look festive but taste good too. Fall is a great time to find some lesser known (or tasted) squash to add to your dinner table. Figure out which ones you like b...

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