In the Garden | Protecting tomato plants

Nothing beats a homegrown tomato! Even when in season, the store-bought varieties just cannot compare to a fully ripe tomato harvested at its peak from your own garden. So many gardeners across America choose tomato plants for their garden each year for this reason, making it the most planted garden crop in the U.S.

In the Garden | Victims of the storms

Imagine spending years establishing and cultivating a beautiful landscape on your property, only for it to be destroyed in a heartbeat from a severe storm. Couple that with a limb through your roof and you have a real disaster on your hands!

In the Garden | Awaiting a grand tour

June weather in Illinois is some of the best of the year. After our overly wet spring, I am sure most area gardeners are looking forward to sunny skies ahead and eager to wrap up any spring gardening plans that were delayed.

In the Garden | Surrounded by 'helicopters'

What kid doesn't love those maple "helicopters"? I grew up with two large silver maples (Acer saccharinum) in our yard and can always remember the late spring ritual of playing with one of the best toys ever produced by nature, the maple samara.

In the Garden | Spotting boxwood blight

Boxwood shrubs are perhaps one of the most planted evergreen shrubs in landscapes around the Midwest. Although they are typically fairly hardy in our area, many suffer from winter injury. In addition, there are a number of other ailments for this shrub that gardeners should be aware of, including a new and very serious threat called boxwood blight.

In the Garden | Wacky weather taking its toll

Winter injury is a common problem among fruit trees grown in our area, and this year's up and down spring temperatures resulted in damage to flower buds across central Illinois.

In the Garden | A true sign of spring

This week, the spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) in Lodge Park, near Monticello, were absolutely stunning. These tiny, ornate wildflowers adorn the forested trails at Lodge and other woodlands throughout central Illinois, providing us with a sure sign that spring has arrived each year.

UI's Urbana campus senate gives Discovery Partners Institute its blessing

URBANA — When grand plans for a new Chicago-based Discovery Partners Institute were announced in October 2017, it caught many University of Illinois faculty members off guard.

St. Matthew Lutheran's Sola Gratia Farm is sowing the seeds of grace

Between a church, day care center, a retirement home and a large grocery store, Sola Gratia grows 125 varieties of more than 50 different crops — all following organic methods.

Sola Gratia Farm is at 2200 S. Philo Road in Urbana, a ministry of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.

In the Garden | The war on weeds

For gardeners, weeds represent one of our biggest challenges each growing season. These formidable foes are relentless in their quest to invade spaces and rob the plants we love of precious water and nutrients. Left unchecked, they are equipped to out-compete and shade out our garden plants and veggies, consuming the space for themselves.