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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
Slug on hosta

Hosta Slugs

On a recent trip to visit my son Derek in Monterey, California, we hiked among the giant redwood trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It was a rainy day, which enhanced the overall experience. It also brought out a banana slug for us to see. Apparently everything there is giant because this slug was almost 10 inches long and bright yellow. We may not have giant slugs, but slugs can b...

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Dandelion with pollinator next to white clover

Take a new look at dandelions

Earth Day falls every year on April 22. As you use this day to reflect about our world around us, you might  try to look at a small piece of our world from a completely different viewpoint. Take dandelions, for example. To many people the dandelion is a weedy pest that invades our lawns, but other people find many positive attributes in the plant. Kids l...

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Rhonda Havana tree planting 2015 e

Celebrate Arbor and Earth Days

Arbor Day and Earth Day happen each April. This year Arbor day is April 28 and Earth Day is April 22. Both offer an opportunity for us to step back and enjoy our natural world. Arbor Day was founded about 145 years ago in Nebraska, on April 10, 1872, after much urging from Julius Sterling Morton, a journalist and member of the Nebraska Board of Agriculture. Morton got the board to appro...

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I love rhubarb! Also known as the pie plant, rhubarb is a very hardy perennial garden vegetable that grows extremely well here. Although considered a vegetable, rhubarb is used as a fruit in pies, tarts, cakes, and sauces. Rhubarb is available in either red or green stalk varieties. A popular green stalk one is Victoria. More is available in red including Canada Red with long, thick, extra swe...

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Discover Extension-02

Vegetable Planting Dates

Our abnormal spring temperatures have many folks antsy to begin gardening, but remember that we could still get freezing temperatures. How early you can plant depends upon the hardiness of the vegetables and the date of our last spring frost. Our average frost-free date is April 22 with the actual frost-free date varies 2 weeks or more in either direction. Vegetables are classified as v...

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Community Garden Resources

Community Garden Internet Resources American Community Gardening Association, Information about starting a community garden, publications, e-newsletter, and conferences, Community Gardening Toolkit , University of Missouri Extension, Publication MP 906 available as a downloada...

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Discover Extension-01

Free Spring Gardening Webinars Announced

The spring series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production. The first session of the series is titled, Growing Vegetables for Beginners . The program is offered twice – on April 18 at 1:30 p.m. and again on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. Produce always taste better when you are...

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Ornamental Pear


Each year I am more distressed by the number of volunteer ornamental pear trees I see growing in fields, roadsides, and other places where they shouldn't be. This is yet another example of a plant that has escaped cultivation and become invasive. Below is an article written by my colleague Jason Haupt, Extension Educator in Energy and Environmental Stewardship. In recent years, one of t...

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lawn totalitarian


LAWN MOWING GUIDELINES Sandra Mason State Master Gardener Coordinator...

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Wool sower gall on white oak

Help, my Oak tree has weird bumps and growths!

We get lots of questions each year about abnormal growths on oak and other trees. These abnormal growths, called galls, can be very disturbing to the people whose plants are affected. Fortunately, most galls affect only the appearance of the trees and are not detrimental to plant health. Galls are a plant's response to insects, mites, bacteria, fungi, or nematodes. Galls are actually cr...

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Fields and Lawns of Purple by Michelle Wiesbrook

Originally published in No. 2/April 25, 2016 of the University of Illinois Extension's  H ome, Yard & Garden Pest Newsletter It's been a great spring for the color purple. The redbud trees are in full bloom and looking glorious in the central part of the...

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Spring beauty
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Spring Wildflowers

I have been enjoying walks through our little woods. Many of the earliest wildflowers are about to perform their annual spectacular show. Woodland wildflowers are beautiful and a welcome sign of spring. Here are some examples of the earliest flowers to bloom in the woods. A common woodland wildflower is the spring beauty ( Claytonia virginica ). This is a low plant with loose clusters o...

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Control Crabgrass in the Lawn NOW

The odd weather patterns over the past few years have played havoc on my lawn. As a result, I now have out-of-control crabgrass in areas of my front yard. Crabgrass is an annual weedy grass that, from a distance, blends into your lawn during the summer. Upon close inspection, it can be identified by its wide leaf blade and light green color. During the summer, this low growing weed can...

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