Flowers, Fruits, and Frass Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/rss.xml Back by popular demand: Master Gardener Training in Pontiac this fall https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13418/ Mon, 11 Jun 2018 15:59:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13418/ Master Gardener Training opportunity coming to Livingston County

PONTIAC, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension and Livingston County Master Gardeners invite those eager to learn about growing vegetables, landscaping, trees, insects, or community and school gardening to join their volunteer training program this fall, for a mind-blowing garden learning experience.

The Master Gardener training program meets every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting August 23 thru November 8 ending with our propagation lab. The cost of the training, including the Master Gardener training manual and all classes, is $225. Financial assistance may be available to qualified individuals, please contact us with questions.

The Extension office will be accepting applications for the 2018 Livingston County Master Gardener Training class through July 20. Class size is limited and background check required. Trainees should have the ability to attend all training classes, and the desire to share and teach horticulture throughout your community.

The goal of the Master Gardener volunteer program is to encourage people to grow vegetables and flowers and promote environmental responsibility. In 2017, Livingston County Master Gardeners offered new and or improved programs to their communities including:

  1. Livingston Master Gardeners transformed an overgrown, neglected backyard at the new library in Flanagan into "Polli Nator's Garden," a certified Monarch Waystation and Pollinator Pocket, working with the local high school in the garden installation and seed collection.
  2. Connected with 250 clients at the Pontiac Farmers market, answering questions, proving interactive booths highlighting pollinators, monarchs, and culminating with a pumpkin-decorating contest.
  3. Presented at the 4-H show about insects, the web of life, and soil and water conservation.
  4. Sold holiday centerpieces and held a plant sale to provide funding for plants, signage, education materials and more for community gardens like Dargan Park, Yost House Heirloom Garden, annual pots at the 4-H Park, and Flanagan school garden.

Master Gardener trainees participate in more than 60 hours of classroom instruction that includes basic botany, soils, vegetables and herbs, turf grass, fruits, insects, ornamental flowers, plant diseases and pests, trees, and landscaping. Local and regional horticulture educators and experts teach all classes.

Once training is complete, Master Gardener Interns make an impact on their community by completing a required 60-hour internship through approved volunteer services, which include participating in gardening projects, attending local meetings, answering gardening questions in the Extension office, and giving demonstrations or talks to local groups, and library and school programs.

For more information on this program or additional Extension programming, please contact us at your local Extension office and visit us online at go.illinois.edu/LMW. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kelly Allsup at (309) 663-8306 or kallsup@illinois.edu.

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Going Organic Doesn't Mean Pesticide Free https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13384/ Thu, 24 May 2018 14:00:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13384/ 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 environment because they are more selective in their activity, therefore most are safer to use around pets, wildlife, butterflies, bees and beneficial insects. Here are some examples:

To control cabbage worms, tomato hornworm, bagworm, and tent caterpillars, use Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt), a naturally occurring bacterial disease of insects found in soils. Bt sprayed on leaves must be eaten by the insects. Once infected with Bt, the insects will stop feeding within hours, taking several days to starve to death. Bt is safe to use around pollinators; natural predators (good bugs aren't bothered because they don't eat the plant); humans; mammals; birds; and fish. Sunlight breaks down the bacteria, so spray at dusk.

For control of spider mites, lace bugs, beetles, caterpillars, whitefly, aphids and squash bugs, use Neem Oil or Azadirachtin.

Neem oil is found in the seeds of the neem tree from Southeast Asia and India. Neem oil must be ingested by the insects to become effective. It interferes with insects' hormones, making it hard for insects to grow and lay eggs. There is some slight toxicity to fish. Neem oil has fungicidal properties so it can be used to prevent black spot on roses or powdery mildew on your garden favorites.

For control of whiteflies, aphids, grasshoppers, Colorado potato beetle, Mexican bean beetle, flea beetle, Japanese beetle, boll weevil, bark beetles, fire ants, European corn borer and codling moth, use Beauvaria bassiana.

Beauveria bassiana is a common soilborne fungus found worldwide. The spores infect and germinate directly to the outside of the insect's skin (cuticle). The fungus growing from the spore secretes enzymes that attack and dissolve the cuticle, allowing it to penetrate the skin and grow into the insect body. Once inside it weakens the insect's immune system. Eventually the entire body cavity is filled with fungal mass.

Opting to use compost to amend the soil instead of liquid chemical fertilizers, native plants instead of highly managed plants, and refraining from using chemicals like carbaryl and organophosphate are steps gardeners take to become organic.

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The Brass Tacks of Boxwoods in Your Illinois Landscape https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13383/ Mon, 21 May 2018 13:33:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13383/ Boxwoods want intermediate sun or shade. In full shade, they may not be as vigorous and have a looser shape. In full sun, they may scorch in our hot summers or bronze in the wintertime.

Do not prune until after the chance of frost has past unless you are trying to control previous year's pest issues.

Boxwood have shallow roots, so instead of planting ground covers or annuals around them, mulch.

Boxwoods will not do well if planted in soggy soil, or exposed to dry winter winds.

Boxwoods host three pests, all of which can be controlled with spring time treatments:

  • Boxwood psyllid are tiny insects that feed on plant sap, causing the leaves to curl and become sticky, but are not a threat to plant health or vigor. Monitor for them in the spring as the overwintering eggs begin to hatch.
    • Most of the population can be controlled by either removing new growth or with an insecticidal soap spray. Good coverage is necessary and may be difficult as the nymphs hide out in the cupped foliage.
  • Boxwood mites appear as squiggly whitish lines on the evergreen leaves. These mites steal the chlorophyll from the plant making it unsightly and unhealthy. They are most active in spring and early summer.
    • Use an insecticidal soap, providing coverage on both sides of the leaves and plan on a second spray seven days later so you can get the next generation.
    • Cleaning up debris and spray water on plant to increase humidity and knock off mites.
    • Ordering beneficial predatory mites off the internet and release them when the population is lower. Sprinkle water on the foliage first and then evenly distribute the mites over the plants. These can be extremely effective in reducing the population, and are easy to acquire and use. Limit your pesticide use and label yourself the Innovative Gardener on the Block.
  • Boxwood leaf miners lay their eggs in the new growth of the boxwood. Eggs hatch in three weeks and begin to feed, mottling the leaves with whitish-yellow marks that may be un-noticeable at first, and slowly forming a blister on the leaves. By mid-summer, the entire leaf will have several yellow blister-like marks. Severe infestation causes leaf drop and branch dieback. Boxwood leaf miners then overwinter as larva within the blister. As temperatures warm, the larvae becomes active and soon form an orange pupae that may stick partially out of the blister in the leaf.
    • If adult midges (flies) are seen around your boxwoods, prune out new growth to get rid of eggs.
    • Spray foliage with Spinosad twice, about three weeks apart. The first spray will occur when the weigelas are blooming. Even though Spinosad has proven a low-risk to bees, spray later in the day to allow the foliage to dry before sunset, so morning feeding isn't disrupted.

 

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McLean Master Gardeners doing what they do best https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13346/ Sun, 06 May 2018 10:13:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13346/ Master Gardeners are on the Garden Beat again

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners help thousands of local gardeners with their gardening questions each year. Questions range from the identification of plant, weeds, and insects, to tree problems and tips to growing vegetables and fruits in your landscape.

While some questions can be answered immediately, many must be researched. Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, says Master Gardeners "are kind of like plant detectives asking questions, looking at pictures and doing research."

Master Gardeners are trained by University of Illinois specialists and Extension educators to answer questions from the community. They also have access to a wide variety of University of Illinois sources to help research to a solution.

"An office visit is often helpful if a phone call does not do the trick," says Kelly Allsup, "Bring in your questions and any plant samples you may have." Samples should be enclosed in a plastic bag or container and should be fresh to obtain a good diagnosis. To prepare for your visit, you may view or print guidelines at go.illinois.edu/MGHelpDesk.

Master Gardeners can guide you through gardening woes four ways:

  • Visit the University of Illinois Extension Mclean County Master Gardeners' Walk-In Help Desk on Mondays, 9 a.m. to Noon, and Wednesdays 1 to 4 p.m. (1615 Commerce Pkwy, Bloomington).
  • At the Downtown Bloomington Farmers Market booth, Saturday mornings from 7:30 a.m. to Noon beginning May 5 and running through October (Corner of Jefferson and Main, Bloomington).
  • The Downs Famers Market booth, Wednesdays, 4 to 6 p.m., beginning June 6, and running through the end of September (at the southwest edge of Downs, near Franklin and Seminary, just off I-74).
  • On the radio, first Wednesday of the month from 9 to 10 a.m., and the third Saturday of the month from 7 to 9 a.m. on WJBC AM 1230.

The Master Gardeners can also be reached by phone at (309) 663-8306 or email at uiemg-mclean@illinois.edu.

We are looking forward to spending another season solving horticulture mysteries in our communities.

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What to Know Before You Grow: Blueberries https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13352/ Fri, 04 May 2018 09:37:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13352/ 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 Illinois. If the soil is not acidic enough, the blueberry plants will not be able to take up the required nutrients from the soil, leading to stunted growth and yellow leaves.

A soil test can determine the pH where you would like to plant, and the testing company will even provide recommendations on how to amend the soil. They may suggest elemental sulfur, which is best applied in the fall. Ammonium sulfate can be used while the plants are growing to lower the soil pH.

The rates for ammonium sulfate are one ounce per plant at time of planting, three ounces for two year old plants, eight ounces for four year old plantings and 12 ounces for eight years or older.

But amending soils may not be enough. Some Illinois soils are too heavy, and amending he soil to improve drainage may be needed. The addition of organic matter or acidic peat moss will improve the growing condition of the soil. Raised beds or large pots could also be an alternative to the drainage issue and keeping the soil acidic.

Climactic challenges also must be managed. Blueberry plants are shallow rooted. The roots do not mine the soil seeking out water and they may not produce adequate berries if they are lacking moisture. They are especially susceptible to drought. We usually recommend an inch per week but this estimate may increase to two to three inches if temperatures are high. Although blueberries require at least five hours of full sun, some afternoon shade may be beneficial. Mulch is also a great strategy in conserving moisture for blueberry plants.

Choose healthy plants for spring planting that are known to do well in Illinois. Highbush cultivars, 'Blueray' and 'Jersey,' as well as hybrids (cross between high bush and low bush) 'Northland' or 'Patriot' are recommended for Illinois. High bush cultivars grows taller are a better adapted to our area than low bush types. The recommended spacing is four to six feet apart.

The canes that produce blueberries will be four to six years old, but blueberry plants still need to be pruned during the dormant season in early spring. Prune diseased or broken branches laying on the ground, or branches six years or older. Open the center of the bush, but leave strongest canes behind. Blossom removal is recommended for the first two years after planting for a strong establishment. The amount of blueberries harvested will grow as the plant gets older.

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Don't Forget Livingston Master Gardeners are there to help with gardening woes https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13345/ Wed, 02 May 2018 10:11:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13345/ Spring into action with Livingston County Master Gardeners Help Desk hours

PONTIAC, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension Livingston County Master Gardeners will open their Walk-In Help Desk for the 2018 growing season this week. The Help Desk is located at the University of Illinois Extension Livingston County Office (1412 South Locust, Pontiac). Volunteers are available Thursdays from 9 a.m.

to Noon this season.

Questions range from plant and insect identification, weed identification, tree problems, growing vegetables and fruits, how to create a beautiful landscape and much more. Master Gardeners are trained by University of Illinois specialists and Extension educators to answer questions from the community.

While some questions can be answered immediately, many must be researched. Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, says Master Gardeners, "are kind of like plant detectives asking questions, looking at pictures and doing research." They also have access to a wide variety of University of Illinois sources to help research to a solution.

"An office visit is often helpful if a phone call does not do the trick," says Kelly Allsup, "Bring in your questions and any plant samples you may have." Samples should be enclosed in a plastic bag or container and should be fresh to obtain a good diagnosis. If the problem is too widespread or on too large of a plant, pictures can be instrumental in good diagnosis. To prepare for your visit, you may view or print guidelines at go.illinois.edu/MGHelpDesk.

Just a few other ways than stopping in on Thursday mornings would be to contact them by phone at (815) 842-1776 or drop them an email at

uiemg-livingston@illinois.edu. Livingston County Master Gardeners will also be available to answer questions at the Farmer's Market in downtown Pontiac on Saturday mornings.

We are looking forward to spending another season solving horticulture mysteries in our communities.

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Master Gardener Training Coming to Livingston County https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13313/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:13:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb255/entry_13313/ The University of Illinois Extension and the Livingston County Master Gardeners invite those eager to learn about growing vegetables, landscaping, trees, insects, or community and school gardening to join their volunteer program this fall, for a mind blowing garden learning experience.

The Master Gardener training program meets every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., starting August 23 and ending November 8 with our propagation lab. The cost of the class, including the Master Gardener training manual is $225.

The Extension office will be accepting applications for the 2018 Livingston County Master Gardener Training class through July 20. Trainees should have the ability to attend all training classes, and the desire to share horticulture information in your community.

The goal of the Master Gardener volunteer program is to encourage people to grow vegetables and flowers, and promote environmental responsibility. In 2017, Livingston County Master Gardeners offered the below new and or improved programs to their communities:

  1. Livingston Master Gardeners transformed an overgrown, neglected backyard at the new library in Flanagan into "Polli Nator's Garden," a certified Monarch Waystation and Pollinator Pocket, working with the local high school in the garden installation and seed collection.
  2. Connected with 250 clients at the Pontiac Farmers market, answering questions, proving interactive booths highlighting pollinators, monarchs, and culminating with a pumpkin-decorating contest.
  3. Presented at the 4-H fair about insects, the web of life, and soil and water conservation.
  4. Sold holiday centerpieces and held a plant sale to provide funding for plants, signage, education materials for community gardens like Dargan Park, Yost House Heirloom Garden, annual pots at the 4-H park, and Flanagan school garden.

Master Gardener's trainees participate in more than 60 hours of classroom instruction that includes basic botany, soils, vegetables and herbs, turf grass, fruits, insects, ornamental flowers, plant diseases and pests, trees, and landscaping. Local and regional horticulture educators and experts teach all classes.

Once training is completed, Master Gardener Interns prepare make an impact on their community by completing a required 60-hour internship through approved volunteer services which include participating in gardening projects, answering gardening questions in the Extension office, giving demonstrations or talks to local groups, or representing the Master Gardener program at library and school programs and attend local meetings.

For more information on this program or other Extension programming, please contact us at your local Extension office. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kelly Allsup at

(309) 663-8306 or kallsup@illinois.edu.

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