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The Humble Gardener

At University of Illinois Extension, our volunteers are at our core. Hear their voice on this volunteer driven blog.

Garden Patch Fliers

I am supposed to be weeding. It is a mystery to me that the weeds are so high when we have had less than two inches of rain all summer. As I halfheartedly tug at the weeds, an avian soap opera unfolds around me. The sunflowers are fading quickly but there are still a few seeds on them to entice a couple of finches. The yellow of their feathers as they flit between the heads of the sunfl...

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The Grapes Are Ready!

I was feeling a little smug as I finished putting the last of the cukes and tomatoes into a salad. I usually am desperate at this time of year to keep up with the output from the garden. I had made tomato soup and a hearty pasta sauce with the latest picking of tomatoes. The Japanese beetles had decimated the pole beans so we were not overwhelmed with green beans; we had a small amount to eat inst...

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Gardening: Cheaper Than Therapy and You Get Tomatoes

Chip and I sit on the shaded deck, holding fat homemade steak sandwiches on Turano Italian rolls stuffed with homegrown peppers, onions, tomatoes and herbs. We both are filthy. We have spent three hours picking black raspberries. This is the fourth picking, the last of the lot for this year. Heat indexes in the 90's has made this picking unpleasant, but berries don't wait for cool weather to ri...

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A Tale of Two Kitties

If you live in western Illinois, you know that this has been a strange planting season. First, we went from winter to summer in about twenty minutes, or so it seemed. While waiting to have favorable conditions to plant out seedlings we'd started in February, we had to transplant many of the plants to larger containers. Instead of being able to be outside caring for the seedlings, we kept them s...

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A Series of Strange but Fortunate Events

One of the best things about gardening, for me, is always getting to learn something new, sometimes from surprising sources. This is the story of a new house, a new truck, and a desired plant. My daughter and her family moved into a house in Oak Park in late summer and I got to help them move. When I walked into their backyard, I stood, stunned, unable to move. As I approached their bac...

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Growing Onions in Central Illinois

While visiting some Amish friends years ago, Chip and I were invited to visit their vegetable garden. I had seen it when we parked and was eagerly anticipating the tour. Their garden was huge and flourishing. Of particular interest were the enormous onions. I noted that they were different varieties, evident by the yellow, white, and red bulbs showing through the light mulch. I asked our friend Da...

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Seed Catalogs and Plant Sales: Spring is Coming!

Before cell phones became so commonplace, we anticipated and welcomed the annual arrival of phone books. It was very exciting to see the plastic wrapped phone book just waiting for a quick check to see if we still existed. What has now taken the place of the phone books is the arrival of seed catalogs. And the notice of an upcoming plant sale. These both make winter survivable from this norther...

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