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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
Vegetables and Fruits
strawberry planted
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Strawberries Revisited

Strawberries: Signs of spring University of Illinois, Horticulture educator, Kelly Allsup says "plant strawberry plants this spring for next year's harvest of plump juicy berries." Strawberries can be greatly rewarding and only require a few simple timed garden tasks. Before planting bare root bundles, amend the soil with organic matter. Organic matter consisting of plant and an...

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blueberry1  1

What must an Illinois gardener know before planting blueberries.

  Blueberries require acidic soil. They prefer a pH of 4.8 to 5.2 which is below our average soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Get a soil test done to determine your pH and the soil testing company will send you recommendations on how to amend the soil. If the soil is not acidic enough the blueberry plants will not grow well and leaves may turn yellow. They may suggest elemental sulfur that is bes...

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March 15 Raised Bed Gardening Allsup

Raised Beds: Benefits and Considerations

With a little spring preparation, your garden season can be more rewarding than ever: raised beds simply make gardening vegetables and herbs easier. When gardeners choose to grow in raised beds, the soil stays looser which means the roots are happier. And every gardener knows happy roots means happy shoots. The soil also warms up faster and stays warmer; this helps with germinating seed...

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Jan  25 blackberry University of illinois

Pruning Blackberries for Productivity

As a child, my grandparents would send me to the unmanaged portions of their property to pick blackberries with my sisters. Most of the time we brought enough back for grandma to make a pie, and probably just as much sun sweetened fruits in our bellies. For backyard garden blackberries, active management of these brambles will boast more produce. Suggested blackberry cultivars for centr...

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brussell sprouts Bill Davison
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Eat Local this Thanksgiving Holiday

If you are a planner, you have most likely jotted down the dishes that you plan to cook and present to your family on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps you are sticking with traditional favorites or trying something new to shake things up. My role in the family dinner is to help procure the ingredients. Last year, I challenged myself to buy mostly local ingredients for the big meal and I plan t...

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Sunburn damage on pumpkin Final
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Powdery Mildew on Pumpkins and other issues

Mohammed Babadoost, University of Illinois go to plant pathologist, says, "This year's processing pumpkin crop is the best it has been in the last two decades. " Babadoost attributes the success of the pumpkin crop to new varieties, more successful management of diseases like downy mildew and phytophtera by the growers and drought during the summer that does not favor some of these disease pres...

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Carrots Bill Davison

Fall Carrots for a Holiday Harvest

Eliot Coleman, author of The Winter Harvest Handbook, says "sweet winter candy carrots are his most acclaimed winter crop." He states "the tastiness resulting from growing in the fall weather elevates the humble carrot to another plane." Many gardeners who have experimented with spring grown vs. fall grown carrots can agree with Coleman that they taste sweeter when grown in the cooler weather....

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Join us for a Pesto Party at the Yost House in Pontiac

  PONTIAC, Ill. – Livingston County Master Gardeners will be demonstrating how to make yummy, spicy, garden fresh pesto at the Catherine V. Yost House Museum from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 18. In addition, Master Gardener, Cathy Montgomery will give an informal presentation on how to grow and use a harvest from your edible landscape. "These days we no longer designate the...

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japanese beetle damage rose phil nixon

Going Organic Doesn't Mean Pesticide Free

University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup says managing pests organically is easily achieved with biological pesticides. Becoming organic does not mean that gardeners are without tools to manage garden pests; biological chemicals are commonly available in garden centers and derived from naturally occurring sources. These biological chemicals are safer for the...

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blueberry cropped

What to Know Before You Grow: Blueberries

Blueberries don't like most of the soils in Central Illinois. It's some of the best soil in the world, but for blueberries we have to make amendments that you can easily manage in your backyard. Our soil may be alkaline, but don't call us basic. Blueberries require acidic soil. They prefer a pH of 4.8 to 5.2, which is below our average soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0 in most places in Central Ill...

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Potatoes in straw bales

Potatoes: Bales into Bushels

Whether you have grown potatoes for years or never grown a fresh potato in your life, growing them in a straw bale is an easy choice. Imagine pounds of beautiful fresh tubers that are crisper and tastier than any grocery store finds, all for less than the price of a bag of soil. Growing potatoes in straw beds is not new, but growing them in a bale placed on a driveway...

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Snow, Rain, and Onions

I was going to write about preparing the garden bed, but then it snowed. Then I thought I could write about seeding in the snow, and then it melted. This weather has been cruel keeping me indoors. According to the Illinois State Water Survey: Illinois Climate Network, the temperature of our soil is above 40 degrees , and many...

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Super Cool greens

Super cool greens

Super Cool Greens! Local Foods and Small Farms Educator, Bill Davison, says "kale is at least 30-40 percent cooler than broccoli." The reasoning behind this prevailing statement is the ease in which it is grown and how ornamental it can be. However, horticulture educator, Kelly Allsup says, "swiss chard and beet greens are the real rock stars of the garden. " Th...

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celery start B Haag
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Kitchen scrap gardening…regrow your fruits and vegetables! by Brittnay Haag

  BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Who knew your kitchen scraps could turn into a bountiful garden to enjoy again? Skip the compost bucket or garbage can, and re-grow your leftover veggies and fruits this winter for beautiful houseplants and garden additions."Kitchen scrap gardening is a great way to reinforce the concepts of recycling and reusing while experimenting with leftover plant parts to reg...

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Fruit tree pruning Tip bearer Shirley Blackburn
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Fruit Tree Pruning Workshops offered in Metamora and Bloomington

Are you looking for more fruit on your trees this year? Try pruning. BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –An essential strategy for producing tree fruits is yearly pruning during the dormant season. Proper pruning can increase fruit quality, reduce the occurrence of diseases, and improve the longevity of the tree, but many tree owners are apprehensive about the process. This winter, Universit...

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Cilantro Fest on August 18

Cilantro has been named 2017 Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association and the McLean County Master Gardeners will be celebrating the harvest at the Illinois State University Horticulture Center on August 18 at 11 a.m. They invite the public for cooking demonstrations and tastings of some of their favorite recipes using this flavorful and tasty herb. Cilantro is a unique he...

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It's tomato time at the Eureka Library on May 23rd

Time to Learn how to produce Tip Top Tasty Tomatoes Fresh sun ripened tomatoes are an essential ingredient in many garden inspired recipes: Pico de Gallo, Caprese salad, and salsa. In these dishes, a store purchased tomato simply will not do. These tomatoes have been chilled, thawed, stored, handled, and potentially sprayed with chemicals. For this reason, most of you have not only opte...

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All-America Selections names award winners to consider planting this spring by Bruce Black

Leaves have finished displaying their autumn color and have fallen, and gardens have been cleaned up to begin their winter rest. Gardeners can finally enjoy a well-deserved break, but it may not be long before the anticipation of spring creeps in. "There is no quicker way to beat those winter blues than starting your garden planning early," says University of Illinois Extension educator...

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Small Farm Educator, Bill Davison's Gardening Schedule

Garden Schedule Average last spring frost May 10 th . January-February Order seeds and garden supplies. Prepare lights and tools for starting seeds. Clean and maintain garden tools. March Frost seed white dutch clover in yard and garden paths where weeds...

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Final Chestnuts

Chestnuts by Elizabeth Whale

URBANA, Ill. – Many Americans only know chestnuts from the famous line, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire," from the 1945 song, "Merry Christmas to You," by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé. Prior to its demise in the first half of the 20th century, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was one of the largest and most important timber- and nut-producing trees in the eastern United States. I...

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Sweet Potato crop

Sweet Potato Crop Soars

It was the second week in September, and he saw the robust sweet potatoes sticking their spuds out of the soil. He had planned on harvesting the sweet potatoes later just before the first frost. However, like many vegetable growers, Reid Young, changed his harvest plan and freed the sweet potatoes from the soil early. Reid Young is a program coordinator in Local Foods for the University of I...

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swiss chard
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Ken Johnson wants you to plant a vegetable garden this fall

Planting a fall vegetable garden URBANA, Ill. - Planting a vegetable garden doesn't just happen in the spring. "Many of the vegetables that we grow in the spring can be planted in late summer or early fall," says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Ken Johnson."By the time summer rolls around many of our cool-season plants that were planted in the spring are pa...

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Fire in the Garden by Chuck Voigt

Capsicum: Herb of the Year 2016 Charles E. Voigt Fire University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Department of Crop Sciences W-503 Turner Hall, Urbana IL 61801 (217) 333-1969 - Fax (217) 244-3469 When the author was a young 4-H vegetable gardener, hot peppers were something exotic, not somet...

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Eat broccoli every three days: Latest research from University of Illinois researcher Dr. Jack Juvik

URBANA, Ill. – Love it or hate it, broccoli is touted as a superfood, offering an array of health benefits. And it's about to get even more super. University of Illinois researchers have identified candidate genes controlling the accumulation of phenolic compounds in broccoli. Consumption of phenolic compounds, including certain flavonoids, is associated with a lower risk...

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Celebrate Herbs at Westview Park in Gridley

CELEBRATE HERBS AT WESTVIEW PARK GRIDLEY, Ill. – Interested in getting an herb garden started or expanding your knowledge on how to use the herbs you grow? Join the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners at 6:30 p.m. on June 14 at Westview Park for their free program, "A Dozen Culinary Herbs and How to Grow Them." Westview Park is locate...

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