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honeynut squash bud

Squash Pollination

This time of year, home gardeners are seeing lots of flowers on their maturing squash plants. Squash and cucumbers are monoecious, meaning that both male and female flowers are present on the same plant. The male and female flowers are similar in appearance but the female has immature fruit at its base. Pollinated female flower…

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asclepias plant

Asclepias Tuberosa aka Butterfly Weed

One beneficial perennial plant that every home gardener should consider growing is Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa). Besides being a native Illinois plant, Butterfly Weed  provides larval food for Monarchs and its nectar is enjoyed by honeybees other species of butterflies as well. Asclepias Tuberosa buds before flowering On top of all that, Butterfly Weed (also…

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minicuke flower

Curcubit Pests

Cucumbers, pumpkins, summer and winter squash are all from the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. And being from the same family (as in taxonomic rank), all varieties of curcubits can succumb to the same diseases and pests. At this stage of the growing season (i.e. late June), curcubits typically are flowering and getting ready to set…

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watering cans

Hot Weather Watering

Now that the days are warming up and hot weather is here to stay, watering the vegetable garden can be a tricky business. The most common mistake a new vegetable gardener can make is over-watering. Outdoor garden plants generally need about one inch of water per week. The best approach is to water deeply and…

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bed of garlic

Garlic Scape Season

Growing garlic in home gardens is easy and fun. And one of the best times of the year for growing garlic is garlic scape time! There are two types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. Softneck is typically the variety sold in grocery stores as it can be stored longer than hardneck. Hardneck garlic is the…

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garden chart

Succession Planting

For a continuous supply of fresh home grown produce, home gardeners can develop a succession plan for their vegetable plantings to ensure they are using all their available planting space. The growing season is still young enough to create and follow a plan--it's a matter of choosing to plant the right vegetables at the right time.…

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Beans: Bush, Pole, Snap, and Shell

The end of May is typically a great time to plant any type of bean in the northeast region of Illinois. Usually by this time, the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed sufficiently. Generally, beans need to be grown in a location that receives full sun for at least 6 hours…

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tomato seedling

Planting Out in the Garden

Memorial Day weekend is the time to plant vegetable gardens for many home gardeners. Generally, the weather is favorable for planting warm weather vegetables, but each year's specific conditions need to be considered individually. Make sure seedling are hardened off and ready to go in the ground. There's no harm in waiting a few days/week…

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tomato seedlings

Hardening Off

The average date for the last frost in this area is May 15, though each year's weather conditions can vary widely. Early to mid-may is generally the time to start the hardening off process for tender vegetable seedlings started indoors, e.g. tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, basil etc. Hardening off in preparation for planting out in…

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radishes and mustards

May is the Second Cruelest Month

According to the writer T.S. Eliot "April is the cruellest month" but May is definitely a close second. In less than a week's time May weather can range from sunny and 80 degrees to a freeze warning and 30 degrees. It's easy to be tricked in to thinking that warm weather has finally arrived but…

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