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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Ornamental gourds drying

Ornamental Gourds

It's fall festival time again. Time for spiced apples, beautiful fall colors, arts and crafts, and locally grown produce. I've never been to a fall festival when those items didn't include gourds either for sale individually or crafted into exquisite creations. Gourds have been cultivated for thousands of years by many cultures worldwide. Found in Egyptian tombs were 4,000-year-old gour...

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Drip irrigation in a raised bed garden.

Low-Water Use Landscapes

My son Derek just moved to Monterey California to attend graduate school at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies. California has been in a drought for a very long time, and so water conservation is a real concern there. In fact, most of our western states have water availability and use issues. No matter where we live, we can all use water more efficiently. In the case of...

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Night in the Garden Series Spotlights Food Gardens

"A Night in the Garden" SeriesThis summer a "Night in the Garden" series spotlighted various gardens growing fruits and vegetables in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. Each night began with a short garden tour at 6 pm, followed by informal time for questions and answers with University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and Horticulture Educator Rhonda Ferree. Dates and location...

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walnut, sweetgum, chestnut, buckeye, hickory, acorn, locust, hedge

Do Plants Predict the Weather?

We've all heard wives'-tales that predict the weather. I can still hear my grandma saying, "Red sky at night, sailors delight; Red sky in morning, sailors warning." There are legends of people using groundhogs, hornets, woolly bear caterpillars, and even pig spleens to predict the weather. Recent Facebook posts say the Farmer's Almanac predicts a cold, snowy winter for us here in the M...

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Virginia creeper has leaflets of 3-7, while poison ivy has leaflets of 3.
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How Plants Climb

As a plant geek I am often fascinated by how plants work. Take vining and climbing plants and the methods that they use to grow vertically. In broad terms, climbing plants are either clinging or non-clinging. As the name implies, clinging vines attached themselves to a surface using special features, such as suction cups or aerial roots. Virginia creeper ( Parthenocissus quin...

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Garlic Mustard
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Invaders of the Weedy Kind

I have been battling some difficult and very invasive weeds this summer in my yard. A new weed in my gardens this summer is prickly sida ( Sida spinosa ), also called prickly mallow. This summer annual has a yellow flower and prickles at the base of each leaf. So far it is mainly in my herb garden so I wonder if I brought the seed in on a new plant somehow. The other rela...

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2011 Fall lawn seed covered in straw mulch
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Garden To-Do List for September

If you are like me, your gardens did not develop exactly as you had planned in the spring. I have more weeds than I usually do in early fall. Parts of my lawn has too much crabgrass and some plants simply do not like their location in the garden. Now is a good time to assess this year's garden successes and challenges and begin planning for next year. If you have a vegetable garden, con...

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Pokémon GO Gardening

I remember when my sons Derek and Tyler used to play Pokémon on their Gameboys and collect the trading cards. I never really understood it then, and I'm not sure I fully understand it now; but, I did download Pokémon Go on my phone. The most exciting part of this new game is how it gets kids and families outdoors and walking around. It is also designed to get people to historical and cu...

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