Serving Wisconsin and Illinois

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Tips from our  club members-

1.  When marking metal plant markers, use a Paint Pen instead of a permanent marker. It will last more than one season in our harsh winters and humid summers.
2.  To hold blooming tulips in a bud like stage in your vase, slice with the tip of a knife through the stem just below the bloom.


"This stream now gives back to her people the priceless gift of local wilderness."
Ed Collins

Each individual can make a difference:


Reduce fertilizer use-

Most soils in McHenry County have sufficient nutrients. Soil testing can help homeowners determine the correct level
of fertilizer needed for lawns and gardens. Careful timing of application can prevent fertilizer from running off in
rainstorms, preventing the loss of the fertilizer ís benefit to the lawn and the pollution of the stream, lake, pond or
wetland into which the fertilizer runs.


Wash your car on the lawn-


Storm drains lead directly to the nearest body of water without any treatment of the runoff. Therefore anything dumped
down a storm drain (soap from washing a car or used oil) pollutes the water. Use a carwash where the water is filtered
and reused or wash your car on the lawn so the grass can filter out the soap and dirt before the runoff goes into the

Excellent Sites for Midwest Gardening:


The Renegade Gardener Web Site 

   Our President's blog ...

My Garden of Plant Stakes

My garden is an interesting sight in early spring! You look across the yard, only to see metal plant stakes everywhere. Is this a new concept in gardening? Well, it was not exactly planned this way. I have so many varieties and cultivars of plants that I had to mark them somehow. Years ago, I kept the plastic tag that came from the garden center and placed it by the plant. That didn't last long! They would blow away, they would break, they would get pushed into the ground, and it didn't help if I divided my plants to put them elsewhere. So I took what tags were left and put them in a photo album for safe keeping, and came up with another idea. I made my own tags! I used wire, glass flowers, small metal water cans, anything of interest, and wrote on them with permanent marker. What a mess! You can't rake wire, glass breaks, and permanent marker doesn't even last six months! It was time to do what experienced gardeners do... use metal plant stakes. They have been around for years. What was I afraid of? I thought they would look ugly, commercial looking. I thought I couldn't rake with them, and I'd have metal spikes hurling through the air. That wasn't the case. As long as I used my child's little, trusty, old, sun bleached rake, those stakes would stay put. Wow! I also threw out the permanent marker and used a black paint pen or a Pebeo Porcelaine pen. Both stayed permanent, even in our harsh weather. Great! Now I have this silly sight in early spring to deal with. It looks as though I have planted a garden of about 200 metal stakes. I suppose I get over it each day that I walk outside and see something just pushing it's way out of the soil. I don't have to say "What plant are you?" My trusty metal stake is there to welcome the new arrival! Within a month, everything will be tall, lush, and I'll have to search for those stakes. Maybe I'll miss them through summer, fall, and under the snow of winter. They will be there come spring again. My garden of plant stakes!

Stacy VanHoorn

Plant Profiles


Cattail a common and useful native plant
(Typha latifolia)

Cattails are sometimes thought of as a nuisance along lake margins. However, they and other shoreline plants can perform important functions that help keep a lake healthy. One such benefit is they filter runoff as it flows into the lake. This helps reduce nutrients as well as mud which enter lakes from surrounding land. They also help prevent shoreline erosion from waves created by wind or boats. A healthy plant community along the shoreline can work wonders in keeping lakefront property intact. In addition, cattails provide important habitat for many species of wildlife and birds. Redwing blackbirds and many ducks and geese nest in them, and some animals such as muskrats, eat them. Even upland songbirds will use fluff from the flowers to line their nests.

One of the most interesting aspects about cattails is how humans have used this plant through the centuries. To quote an early advocate of natural foods, ‘many parts are edible’. In spring the rootstocks and rhizomes were an important food source for native peoples when other food was scarce. These roots are quite nutritious, containing more starch than potatoes and more protein than rice. The young shoots are reported to be tasty as cooked vegetables, and the pollen can be used in baked goods. In addition to food, cattails have also provided people with building materials. The dried leaves were often woven into furniture and mats, and their pulp and fibers can be made into paper and string. Even the fluff from the seed heads has been used for padding, bedding and insulation. Cattails also have medicinal value. Many cultures have used the roots to treat intestinal maladies and burns.

So, before lamenting the vigorous growth of cattails along your favorite lake or river, remember what this simple, attractive plant is doing while it’s long slender leaves wave in the breeze.
A special thank you to the Washington State Department of Ecology

Gardeners Beware -

"Straw, manure and maybe even compost can kill your garden, thanks to the folks at the Dow chemical company. An herbicide called aminopyralid, released by Dow Agroscience in 2005 and aggressively marketed to horse and cattle owners to control perennial weeds, has been associated with the loss of thousands of home gardens in Great Britain this year. So can it happen here? You bet! Previously treated straw and even well-rotted manure may carry enough persistent plant killer to kill tomatoes, lettuce, beans and other sensitive crops."

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Mother Earth News

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