Green Thumb – Gardening on the Internet

Posted: November 16, 2018

This web has more than spiders.

Sometimes when I search for information on the Internet I feel like I’ve jumped into a landfill. Where should I begin to dig?

With next year’s gardening season in mind, I recently searched for “lettuce” on Google. It came up with 80,500,000 results in 0.7 seconds.  Sure beats a trip to the library. But where in that crush of material is the most reliable information?

For a single source, take a look at the site maintained by University of Illinois Extension. Bookmark this web address:

Here’s a brief guided tour around the U of I Extension horticulture site:

From the homepage you will see these three major choices:  “Websites,” “News,” or “Blogs.”

Under “Websites” you will see a listing of 64 additional websites, each with extensive information on many topics. All are illustrated with beautiful photos.

Here are some favorites among the university website:

  • The featured seasonal site is “Apples & More.” It’s the everything-you-need-to-know apple place.
  • “Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide” can help you get the most out of your garden. It has tips about growing specific vegetables and exhibiting them.
  • “Garden Calendar” calls your attention to things you should do or watch on a day-by-day, monthly basis. It links you to in-depth articles.
  • Two sites are devoted to lawn care. “Lawn Talk” covers all the basics. Then there’s “Major Turf Insects and Diseases.”
  • “Successful Container Gardens” is a comprehensive site that covers 21 topics and includes some video links.
  • Don’t forget “Bug Review” where you can search by insect location or insect name.

There are sites to help you select the right tree or shrub. They let you access a questionnaire to narrow down your requirements and will give you recommendations right away.

There is a lot of information about bulbs, groundcover, herbs, roses, vines, ornamental grasses, and annual, perennial and wild flowers. There is advice on growing exotic tropical plants and houseplants.

You can get help with growing tree fruits and berries. See a separate section devoted to strawberries.

What? Not enough, you say?

If your craving for gardening information is bottomless, check out “Green Side Up” at the U of I Extension horticulture website, a weekly gardening podcast hosted by Extension Educator, Richard Hentschel. He has a monthly podcast archive that goes back to 2011.

Want to watch some videos? Check out “Gardener’s Corner” to see short YouTube videos about “Vegetable Gardening” and “Gardening Basics.” In addition, there are many articles to read in their “Archive.”

By returning to the main page of “Horticulture” you can select “News.” This contains informative news releases on seasonal topics.

Back again at the main page you can select “Blogs” to get the latest personalized advice and experiences of U of I Extension horticulture educators.

If you decide to dig into this site, turn off the cell phone and hang out the “Do Not Disturb” sign. I can guarantee you will want to be here a while.

Janice M. Weber – University of Illinois Extension, DeKalb County Master Gardener