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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 Struggles

During a trip from Chicago to Michigan via Amtrak last week, I was amused when the train stopped and an Amtrak employee delivered a heart rendering apology for the delay. While fellow passengers grumbled to each other, I closed my book and marveled that the employee could sound so sincere, considering this exact stoppage happens every time I ride this route. The fellow next to me glanc...

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The Sweetness of Fall Gardening

The threat of frost sends me out to the garden to glean the last of the veggies. As I don my jacket, I open the door and two streaks of striped fur dash between my feet. The kittens apparently are also concerned about the possibility of a frost and have decided to "help" me. For some reason, even though it is October, some hibiscus have decided to bloom. We all stop to admire them; per...

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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  1

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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