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Connecting to Our Food Web

Dedicated to educational resources towards building and sustaining viable food webs and ecosystems
Fruits and Vegetables
My Jungle Early Spring
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Welcome to My Jungle - July 2018

What a difference the heat of late spring and early summer has on my jungle. I like a changing garden. Gone are all remnants of spring flowering plants; replaced with summer blooms, the likes of shasta daisy, bottlebrush buckeye, monarda, skullcap, oakleaf hydrangea and daylily. Everything has filled in and the entire garden has taken on the feel of secret, enclosed spaces. Gardens like...

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Douro Valley
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Welcome to My Jungle - June, 2018

Portugal is a beautiful country and I wish everyone the opportunity to visit as I did just recently. Portugal is famous for many products but probably port wine come to mind first. Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is hard to grasp the human effort over the eons that have gone into building rock walled ter...

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Transplants Lactuca sativa cv Tropicana - Standard Heat-tolerant Green Leaf Lettuce IMG 3168

Welcome to My Jungle - March 2018

Signs of spring are everywhere, but the "peep, peep, peep" of the spring peepers ( Pseudacris crucifer ) is what truly heralds its coming. These quarter-sized frogs are members in the Anura order of amphibians comprising the frogs, toads, and tree frogs, all of which lack a tail in the adult stage and have long hind limbs often suited to leaping and swimming. Spring peepers come...

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Dec17 WTMJ
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Welcome to My Jungle - December 2017

The medlar ( Mespilus germanica ) project was a success. I had enough bletted (very ripe but not rotted) fruit from one tree to make a small batch of jelly and try a new dessert bar recipe featuring medlars and walnuts. Having never tasted medlars before, I was worried I would hate the taste and had wasted my time, but I really enjoyed the unique, stewed-apple-like flavor created in both...

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Tree Dolly to Move Large Pots IMG 9931r
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Welcome to My Jungle - November 2017

My 'to do" list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter as I prepare my Jungle for the coming of winter. Some items on the list have been relatively simple, while others have presented some interesting and humorous challenges. One of my easy tasks was collecting and washing gazing balls. Some gardeners leave them out for a bit of color in the winter garden but I prefer to bring mine in t...

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Downy Mildew Lower Leaf Surface Pumpkin IMG 8670r

New downy mildew outbreak could affect Illinois pumpkin and other cucurbit crops

On August 17, 2017, University of Illinois pumpkin expert Mohammad Babadoost detected downy mildew in a pumpkin field in St. Anne, Illinois (Kankakee County), and warns that it could spread quickly. Babadoost, a plant pathologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I, observed heavy sporulation of the pathogen on leaves in the affected field. "With current weather conditions, the...

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Bald-faced Horbet Nest IMG 8551r
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Welcome to My Jungle - August 2017

Did you know grape berries reach physiological maturity well before they taste good? Grape berry maturity occurs when seeds are able to germinate, which is immediately after véraison, or initiation of fruit ripening (start of color change). Try tasting a grape berry at this stage. I can guarantee the experience will pucker you up. Grapes are actually harvested at what is termed their technologi...

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Conditions conducive in parts of Illinois to Phytophthora infection of cucurbits

According to State Extension Pathologist Mohammad Babadoost, all cucurbit plants (vine crops) in northern Illinois and possibly other areas experiencing wet field conditions should be sprayed for Phytophthora . Spray with Revus alternated with Orondis Opti or Ranman . Because pumpkins have such dense canopies, add in addition ProPhy...

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Jasper Ridge Chambourcin Cluster 11

Winemaking Fundamentals Symposium

August 1, 2017 10 AM – 5 PM Trutter Center, Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield IL Are you ready to take your wines to the next level? IGGVA Enologist Bradley Beam, along with Scott Laboratories resident expert Michael Jones, SIU Fermentation Science Institute professor Dr. Katherine Witrick, and Bauerhaus Marketing guru Rebecca Ritz will collectively guide you t...

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Downy Mildew Basil Lower Leaf Symptoms
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Downy Mildew of Basil Detected in Illinois

State pathologist Mohammad Babadoost reports downy mildew of basil was detected in Illinois on July 19th for the first time this season. This disease can spread quickly statewide in wet conditions so growers are advised to begin scouting now. Three registered fungicides; Quadris, Revus, and Ranman are very effective for control of downy mildew of basil and should be spray-applied at 7-day int...

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Babadoost Phytophthora Cucurbits-1
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Phytophthora Infection Predicted in Some Cucurbit Fields

Dear Growers, After heavy rainfall of Tuesday (July 11th) in some parts of Illinois, we may experience substantial Phytophthora infection in cucurbit fields. I recommend the following for the management of Phytophthora blight of pumpkins: Spray plants at 7-day intervals with Orondis Opti + a copper alternated with...

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Vegetable Field Day - 2017

PLACE: Vegetable Crops Research Farm at Champaign, IL DATE:  August 17, 2017 TIME: 1:30 – 3:00 P.M. PRESENTATIONS: All at Research Plots of Pumpkins                Squash Cucumber                Basil Tomato Pepper...

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Softneck Garlic IMG 8173
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Welcome to My Jungle - July 2017

It is one thing to see food in the produce isle, it is altogether different to see that same edible portion growing on the plant. I have worked with specialty crops much of my adult life, but I have never lost my fascination of plants that produce food. Who can't stare in awe at a tree full of peaches or smile in excitement when pulling up peanut plants to reap the hidden rewards. I rec...

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Cherry Rootstocks Gisela5 Mahalab Seedling

Welcome To My Jungle - March 2017

Dwarfing rootstocks have always fascinated me, and the sweet cherry trees in my jungle really demonstrate their useful versatility. I have three sweet cherry trees and they are all similar in age, but they are all on different rootstocks, making them extremely different in size. My largest sweet cherry tree grew from a cherry pit a friend of mine had chucked into his garden, resulting in a stan...

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Soil Blocker IMG 0918

Welcome to My Jungle-January 2017

Winter has barely started, but it is already time to begin the planning process for starting vegetable transplants. Very hardy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage can be planted outdoors without protection 4-6 weeks before the last average frost-free date, which means transplants need to be seeded well in advance of this date. The Illinois State Water Survey...

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Chestnuts Baked 20 Minutes 425F reduced IMG 1026

Get to know chestnuts

Many Americans only know chestnuts from the famous line, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire," in 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. In less than a li...

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