Yard & Garden

Pace yourself

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! It’s spring and the garden beckons like a school prin­cipal curling and ­uncurling the index finger. Winter is over and it’s time to rediscover the thrill of ­seeing buds pop out on lilacs ­perfuming the air for the 10 days when they are really worth something in the landscape, or tulips unfurling slowly […]

Hand wearing gloves pruning a tree branch

Itching to do spring pruning?

March is the waking-up month when the yard and gardens start to come alive after dreary winter days. And with their wake-up, we start getting that spring fever itch. We want to jump in and enjoy the warmer days and bright sunshine. Nature has ways of thwarting our activity. Warm weather can change in a […]

Why is my plant turning yellow?

Here it is the dead of winter and there’s not much green outside except maybe for the conifers and hellebores. Depending on the ­temperatures some of the bulbs might be poking through. If we want the feeling of growth, we have to turn to our houseplants. Still, they don’t always stay green. Every now and […]

Christmas gift suggestions for your favorite gardener

As the years have turned hairs to gray, it’s been harder and harder to find those unusual gardening gifts for the green thumber. There are fewer and fewer truly innovative ideas short of all the apps available for smart phones and tablets. How many times can you say a great pair of pruners, such as […]

Take care of your tools this fall

Years ago, when fall crept in slowly but winter descended like a sprinter, some tools did not make it indoors. Of course it was the tools fault, since they decided to just stay outdoors for the winter instead of making their way into the garage. That was also the year the tools, that did make […]

Three tips for fall that will help things along next spring

If nature sticks to schedule, sometime this month we’ll get hit with a killing freeze. It ­usually happens more toward the middle of the month for the upper half of state, and toward November for the bottom half. And the freeze usually spells the end of the gardening season as we know it. But there […]

Why the mighty oak eventually fell

This past July, my yard changed in the matter of seconds. In the midst of a Sunday night storm, with strong winds and lightning, my next door neighbor’s oak tree came down. Two flashes of blinding light, coupled with two loud thunder claps in the ­following nanosecond, and that’s all she wrote. Now, you’d think […]

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

This specific column serves ­multiple purposes – it will be ­informative, it allows me the opportunity to talk about a subject that a childhood friend asked about and I thought I had done, and it should be ­educational to educators who keep messing up the issue. And for that, it should be therapeutic on this end. It […]

How to give your plants a measured drink

July is my least favorite month. It’s usually hot, really hot. The outside ­temperature has the electric meter spinning faster due to the air ­conditioner running overtime. And then there’s the humidity ­approaching ­tropical conditions with dew points just as high. Okay, purely from a profes­sional viewpoint, the ­summer conditions are really good for some […]

Bugged by bugs – make chemicals your last resort

Insects are the way of life for ­gardeners. And they have an ­amazing way of gnawing on your garden ­produce the day before you think it’s ripe. Such is Illinois life. Of course, certain vegetables are insect magnets. If you raise eggplant, you’re bound to get flea beetles, which create little round holes in the […]