Yard & Garden

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Keeping your evergreens ever green

What would December be without wrapping paper and ­ribbons, colored poinsettias, eggnog and folks rushing here and there? And of course, there’s all the greenery from swags to wreaths to the trees. Time has changed what evergreens we use for decorating. Less than 50 years ago, we used what we grew or what was grown nearby. In most of the ...Read More

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Prepare your plants for winter

As I sit typing this for November, I wonder what the winter months hold in store. There are rumblings from ­almanac ­writers that winter will be snow-packed and cold, just the way I remember it growing up when ­stoking the coal furnaces were the norm and air conditioning was something the city folks had. Back then, six inches of snow essentially meant ...Read More

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October is apple picking time

Sometime this month we are bound to get a frost that will spell the end of most plants. There will be some that will soldier on until a strong freeze actually finishes the job. October, though, is also the month for the apples, which come into their prime during these 31 days. Granted, some apples started ripening in July. Those ...Read More

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The truth about lawn options

Sometimes you just have to admit the truth: I know lots and lots about growing turfgrasses and am happy to share that knowledge with anyone, but…I have no back lawn. There, I said it. My back yard is all plants and a patio. There was a semblance of a lawn when I moved in 20-plus years ago. And there were ...Read More

Grand gardening ideas for August

August is the one month with no major holiday, unless you’re Canadian and you celebrate the first Monday as Civic Holiday, which is a great excuse for a three-day weekend. And who doesn’t want more three-day weekends! Unfortunately the Illinois State Fair does not qualify as a holiday. So, while other months have a holiday you can base yard and ...Read More

A rose by any other name…

Shakespeare, when trying to get Juliet to convince Romeo that she loves him and not the Montague ­family, spouted “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In other words, whether you’re William, Will, Bill, Billy or Bubba doesn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Mr. Shakespeare ...Read More

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From water famine to feast

Water in the form of rain can be a blessing or a curse. We’ve certainly seen the extremes in the last two years. Life, and in this case nature, has a way of slapping us across the face without leaving a mark, waking us up to the reality that we can’t control a darn thing as much as we think ...Read More

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Fruit or vegetable?

The mouth-watering anticipation of ­taking that initial bite of ­deliciousness from their first home-grown tomato makes gardeners antsy to work that soil. Unless you’re prepared to cover your plants when the temperatures drop, you’re probably looking at mid-May in Illinois. Tomatoes are probably the most common and popular of garden vegetables, mainly for the large variety of uses. From fresh ...Read More

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Companion planting uses the buddy system

As the garden season ­commences you probably are getting the itch to plant something in the ground. We’re constantly looking at the ­forecast and feeling the ground, ­hoping it’s dry enough we can sink a transplant into the soil. For years, gardeners looked to plants to help each other out. For example, we know that legumes can take nitrogen out ...Read More

Gardening perfection is too hard

I’ll be the first one to admit it—­gardening isn’t always fun. That’s probably shocking. You probably think that I live in a perfectly manicured yard, with leaves that magically disappear in the fall, ­flowers blooming from February through December, no ice storm damage and an invisible wall that runs a mile high and keeps all insects out. Sorry. Not true. ...Read More