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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Illinois Temperature Zone

New time Zone Map Why did We change fro 5A to 5B (5 degrees different) 1. 30 years of data compared to 14 years 2. Better Technology 3. Factoring in Temperaturing altering phenomenom like cities or lake effect Why it doesn't change how we garden? 1. We have only increased 5 degree average low temperature, temperatures can still drop...

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Preparing your trees for winter by Candice Miller

Preparing Your Trees for Winter "This drought ravaged summer was extremely hard on our trees", says Candice Miller, University of Illinois horticulture educator serving Boone, DeKalb & Ogle counties. "Trees have been suffering all summer long from drought stress and extreme heat. As a result it's particularly important this year that we prepare trees for win...

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Wolf Spider vs. Brown Recluse

The McLean County Master Gardener Plant Clinic gets numerous inquiries during the season on spider identification. Many homeowners commonly think Wolf Spiders ( Hogna aspersa ) are the infamous Brown Recluses (Loxosceles reclusa.) Most Brown Recluses are identified by the dark violin shape on their cephalothorax but other identification characteristics should be noticed before identifica...

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Burr Cucumber

Master Naturalist, Sara Hostetter, brought in an aggressive weed named Burr Cucumber ( Sicyos angulatus ). It is a vine she claims has inched its way into most of the spaces of her neighbor's garden. Burr Cucumber is a vine capable of growing 15-25 feet with star shaped leaves that resemble a cucumber plant and yellow male flowers in the later part of the season. After flowering it forms...

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stink horn fungi
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Stinkhorn Fungi

A beneficial organism known as the stinkhorn fungi ( Mutinus elengans ) was found in Sarah's Garden by Mary Jane Bohall this fall. White egg like masses were found growing in mulch and topsoil under the heirloom roses. Perplexed by the strange growth that seems to appear every year, a picture of the penny sized egg masses were destined for the University of Illinois Distance Diagnostic t...

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Downy Mildew on Basil

According to Dr. Mohammad Babadoost, University of Illinois plant pathologist who specializes in vegetable crops, there are currently over 550-600 acres of commercially grown basil grown in Illinois. The Illinois basil industry is valued between $ 10,000-30,000 per acre. Horticulture educator, Kelly Allsup, states this may be a concern for gardeners as well because herbs are popularly grown for...

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When to harvest a tomato?

When to Harvest a tomato? The picture shows a tomato already colored on the inside (ready), a tomato with the juicy pulp (ready) and a tomato with hardened pulp (not ready)....

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Fungal Diseases of Tomatoes

Septoria Leaf Blight (Leaf Spot) Septoria leaf spot is the most common of all the tomato diseases. The disease symptoms begin mid to late summer and start off as dark leaf spot the same as a pencil tip. The spots are surrounded by a yellow halo and some necrosis. The smaller spots advance to dark brown lesions with purple border and lighter colored centers. If...

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Dog Vomit Slime Mold

Unity Community Worker, Amanda Zook, e-mailed about a fascinating discovery growing on the mulch in the childrens' garden at Unity Center.  It was Fuligo septica, aka Dog vomit Fungi but it is not really a fungus. It appears in mulched areas after soaking rains. This bright yellow specimen is the fruiting stage. It will eventually lose its' color and harden until it releases numerous s...

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Woodford County Master Gardener, Mary Niemi, brought in a plant specimen to ask her fellow Master Gardeners "What is this Plant?" A few names were tossed around but no difinative answer was reached. So, I decided to send pictures to the experts. The submission lingered and the experts were stumped. Mary then sent me a picture of the mystery plant flowering. I resubmitted the flower picture for ide...

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