Blog Banner

The Humble Gardener

At University of Illinois Extension, our volunteers are at our core. Hear their voice on this volunteer driven blog.
Gardening  Cheaper Than Therapy and You Get Tomatoes

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...

Read More >

IMG 20150624 233409
click image to view 2 more

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...

Read More >

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...

Read More >

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...

Read More >

IMG 20170512 121613 369

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...

Read More >

Wildlife in the Winter Garden

Mother Nature has sent a new blast of subzero weather to western Illinois. Our corn stove is blasting out heat, the LP tank is newly filled, and my geriatric cat, Tink, firmly entrenched on my lap as I type, radiates heat. Let Mother Nature do her thing. The view from the window is typical of most winter gardens. The orangey-gold foliage at the top of the asparagus whips around in the...

Read More >

IMG 20171211 090215 109

Volunteers Give Presence

As the meeting room at the Knox County Extension Office filled with folks gathering for the annual holiday potluck in early December, I marveled at how "good" we cleaned up. The attendees, bearing dishes to the communal table, were Master Gardeners who I usually see in less formal circumstances- dirty, disheveled, and doing the tasks needed to keep local gardens growing. Part of the Mas...

Read More >