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How to Get Rid of a Mouse in the House

How to Get Rid of a Mouse in the House

Is your house full of visitors that annoy you, eat your food, and can lead to great exasperation and hollering? In-laws and extended family members aside; what I mean are the mice that have decided to move into your home for the winter months. In the wild, these creatures would look for shelter to survive the winter, and your house is a lot cozier than that dead log in the woods. It rec...

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Watermelon Cal Sweet Bush. Photo by All-American Selections, all-americaselections.org

New Garden Plants for 2019

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Every year garden catalogs advertise new, exciting varieties of our favorite plants. Sometimes the options can be overwhelming, with each new addition sounding better than the previous. So how do you go about deciding which new variety to select? Fortunately, All-American Selections (AAS), an independent, non-profit organization tests these new plant varieties and names the best performers as A...

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Garden Resolutions-01022019

Garden Resolutions for 2019

A new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start. For a gardener having the year switch in the middle of winter can be difficult. Right now, I am full of ideas and goals as I am once again missing my near-daily commune with soil. If it were in my power to change when we celebrate New Year's, I would suggest March 1. I can make all the plans in the world, but it's cold outside, so tho...

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poinsettia

Poinsettia Care After the Holidays

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Congratulations, you've made it through Christmas and managed to keep your poinsettia(s) alive! As Chris  mentioned last week , poinsettias are the most popular potted plant in the U.S. If you're anything like me you have a hard time throwing perfectly (and sometimes not so perfect) good plants away. Alas, most people dispose of poinsettias after they finish...

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PaininthePoinsettia

Pain in the Poinsettia: How to keep your Poinsettia alive over the holidays

Have you dodged the bullet this holiday season? You know what I am referring to, right? Poinsettias! Allow me to explain. All of your friends know you are an avid gardener. With all the vegetables you give away each summer, you hold the status of Gardening Guru. You have likely responded to plant emergency calls, and resuscitated an ailing house or garden plant. It seems only lo...

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Christmas tree

Caring for Christmas Trees

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Selecting a live Christmas tree is a tradition for many families. Whether you get your tree from a retail lot, direct from the farm or cut your own here are some tips for keeping your tree looking great throughout the holiday season: After purchasing your tree, place it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures until you're ready to...

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Real  1

What's More Sustainable: Real or fake Christmas trees?

Growing up, a family tradition was going out to the Christmas tree farm to find that perfect tree. As a child, it was fun going out to pick our tree, cut it and then watch it hauled to the barn on a sled, shook for all its worth to get the dead needles out, and finally bundled up on our car ready for home. My wife had an altogether different experience growing up. She would help her mot...

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Salt in the Landscape

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

As we've already experienced this year, winter in Illinois commonly means snow and ice. Though plowing and shoveling are the primary means of removing snow and ice where they aren't wanted, deicing salts also help prevent slick, hazardous conditions. While salt is great in its place, it's not so great for many things that may encounter it. Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most common...

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Designing for Pedestrians can make Shopping (and Communities!) Better

When someone tries to entice me with Black Friday shopping, my response is "That sounds terrible." Shopping, in general, makes me cringe. The idea of rising at 3 AM to wait in line outside of a giant store when it is below freezing outside is enough to turn me into the Grinch. I'm not the only one who shudders at shopping. Yes, Americans are still shop-a-holics as brain science has prov...

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winter weather

Winter Weather Preparedness

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Winter Weather has arrived in Central Illinois! Therefore, we'll take a break from our regularly scheduled horticulture programming and talk winter weather preparedness. With Illinois averaging five severe winter storms every year, it's a good idea to be prepared. Just like thunderstorms, there can be watches and warnings for winter weather. A winter storm watch means severe winter weat...

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Arugula: A New Trendy Green from the Old World

Arugula has been trending these past few years. You can bet if you turn on a cooking show, they'll probably be using arugula at some point. Many chefs and hip restaurants have made this leafy green with a peppery zing very popular and arugula is now commonly found in grocery stores throughout the US. While arugula may be having a heyday, this is not the first time human civilization has...

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Getting Trees and Shrubs Ready for Winter

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Now that the leaves have changed and begun to fall, many of us have or are starting to put our gardens to bed for winter. While getting the garden ready for winter, spend a little time preparing your trees and shrubs too. Doing a few things this fall can help protect our trees and shrubs from damage this winter. To help prepare trees and shrubs for the coming winter they should be water...

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There is More to Landscape Design Than Meatballs and Mulch

"The meatball meter is off the charts!" That statement made me chuckle as I sat in a crowd listening to Michael Dirr a few years ago. This leading plantsman known worldwide for his work with trees and shrubs was lamenting on the tragedy of shearing plants into "meatballs". Often when you see these 'meatballs' in the landscape, they sit atop a sea of mulch. If the mulch is dyed red, then...

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Overwintering Tender Bulbs

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Plants like cannas, caladiums, dahlias, elephant ears, gladiolus, and tuberous begonia can make a great addition to the landscape. These plants are commonly referred to as tender bulbs, or summer-blooming bulbs. Not all of them actually grow from bulbs, but this is what their fleshy storage structures are commonly referred to as (other storage structures include corms, rhizomes, tubers, and roo...

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Invasive Bush Honeysuckle

The problem with learning about invasive plants species is once you know about them, you start to see them everywhere. It can be a little depressing. How joyous it was when I began my life in horticulture. Learning about amazing plant processes and all the wonderful plants used in the ornamental landscape. Indeed, at the outset of my botanical life, all plants were good. In practice, th...

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Protecting the Countryside: The importance of open space

This week's Good Growing column is not going to center on gardening. Instead, we are going to look at the bigger picture of the landscape. Confession time – while I did study horticultural science at SIUC, my final three years of formal education was a Masters of Landscape Architecture at Kansas State University. The majority of landscape architects (LAs) are not trained in horticultura...

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Pumpkins

Picking Pumpkins

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

Even though the weather seems to think it's still summer, fall has arrived. This means leaves changing color , apple cider, and pumpkin spice everywhere. It also means many of us will be taking a visit to a pumpkin patch. Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with several other familiar plants...

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Give Your Soil a Check-up This Fall

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

As you begin your fall garden cleanup think about adding a soil test to your list of things to do. Soil testing is a quick and easy task that has many benefits. By conducting a soil test, it will allow you to see what the pH of your soil is, as well as what the nutrient levels in your soils are like. Conducting a soil test is good for both your wallet and the environment. By knowing wha...

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Indoor Plant Week Reminds it is Time to Start Bringing Houseplants Indoors

Coming up this third week of September is National Indoor Plant week. My attitude toward houseplants is quite harsh. I refuse to grow an indoor plant that is finicky about the pH of the water or must only be given a tablespoon of water every three days. To live in my house, you have to be tough! Late spring of every year, I return my houseplants to the outdoors, where they often thrive...

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Eastern Yellowjacket. Photo by Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org

Yellowjackets

Posted by Ken Johnson - Articles

As the calendar creeps closer and closer to fall, often times we begin to encounter yellowjackets more and more. These wasps are commonly confused with honey bees because of their similar size (both are about ½ long) and coloration. Despite this, they are rather easy to tell apart (if you're willing to look close enough). Yellowjackets have bright yellow and black bands on their abdomens and ar...

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Mowing for Monarchs

There is something about mowing that brings a measure of satisfaction to many of us. What is it that we love about mowing? The smell of cut grass? Taming an unruly landscape? To me, it is measurable progress. It seems so often that modern jobs give few tangible results. So much of our work these days is in the digital ether. After a full day's work, I leave the office switching off my computer,...

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Fungus Files: What to do about toadstools in your lawn

In that past two weeks, West Central Illinois has seen a much-needed return of rain after a summer of low precipitation. With the rain has come a handful of calls into the Extension office about mushrooms/toadstools popping up in lawns. Most callers are curious as to why toadstools are showing up now, while a few are on the warpath to eliminate these fungal intruders. The lawn warriors...

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The Best Gardening Happens in the Fall: Learn how with University of Illinois Extension

For the past three years that I have been part of the Good Growing column, I have written an article on gardening in the fall. And before that my predecessor, Mike Roegge, would write about the joys of fall gardening. Yes, you are about to read yet another piece on gardening in the fall. This is our subtle way of suggesting fall gardening is the best gardening. Though after all these years, the...

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Five Valuable Tips for Fall Lawn Care

Lawn care does not stop when summer ends. To the contrary, when it comes to routine turf maintenance the late summer to early fall months are a critical time for cool season lawns. Cool season lawns are a group of turf species comprised mainly of Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue. If you are a homeowner in Illinois with a lawn, more than likely it is a...

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Silphiums: Standing tall over the prairie

This past month I have been traveling on the road more hours than I care to count. The time in the car has allowed for some windshield botany. Better described as identifying plants while going over 65 miles per hour. Many invasive species stand out as my brain has been wired to spot those for purposes of eradication. Teasel ( Dipsacus laciniatus and Dipsacus sylvestris...

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