Yard & Garden

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

What is the most common Valentine’s Day gift?

According to the game show Family Feud – which is about the only thing on the television when you’re housebound for 2 weeks with an upper respiratory infection ­during the Christmas holidays – women don’t like getting flowers and candy for gifts, even though men think they want them. If you watch long enough, you’ll […]

Just say no to free plants

You can’t argue too much with “FREE,” unless what is being offered isn’t worth much. However, one person’s “free” may be another person’s “junk” and vice versa. When it comes to plants, free plants should set off alarms like the robot on the old Lost in Space ­television show: “Danger Will Robinson,” even if your […]

Amaryllis growing advice

After 20 years of doing this ­column, it’s tough to come up with something new and exciting for the holidays. Unlike the world of technology, the world of holiday plants doesn’t evolve quickly, if at all. So, anything that is somewhat new is worth reporting. Amaryllis are still the holiday bulb that usually ends up […]

Keep on the sunny side…

As the unofficial end of the gardening season, November is also the month to reflect on the past year. Thanksgiving allows the opportunity for us to be thankful. So, what’s there to be thankful for in terms of gardening? Well, we had the drought and heat. Summer’s conditions might not be something we need to […]

It’s grow time for trees roots

While many take pride in their lawns, shredding hundreds of pounds in mental anguish this ­summer, the smart gardeners look at their trees and shrubs as something more important. This is not to say that any misguided and misplaced intent to make sure the lawn remains green and lush through the worst summer in our […]

Bringing a dead lawn back to life

Summer’s weather has touched just about everyone from farmers to city dwellers. Crops have withered as much as the landscape. There is no way to accurately ­predict how long heat and dry ­conditions will last. If you could do that with 100 percent accuracy, let me know. We can only hope that September will bring […]

Thinking positively

Argh! Who really wants to think of gardening right now? After a wonderful early spring that made us wish it would just go on and on and on and on for the rest of the year, summer descended on us like a ­vampire, sucking all the life out of us and our plants. Autumn will […]