Tending the garden, commons, and wilderness
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January 2021

Welcome to 2021! I don’t think many of us have ever been so excited to see a year depart as we all were this year. While it is off to a rocky start, here’s hoping that 2021 is a more healthy and vibrant year for all of us.

You may be noticing that we have a new look to our newsletter. We are excited to share with you our updated fresh new look, but rest assured that while the look has changed the quality of the content has not. So enjoy all of the great information from the Good Growing team, Master Gardener and Master Naturalist’s programs along with a new calendar filled with fun events and learning opportunities for all ages.

Also, be sure to check out the article about raising reindeer (who knew it was the pregnant females that retained their antlers well into spring?). Don’t miss the lovely pastel by Master Naturalist Rose Moore in her journal entry about the Wahoo plant. They are two of my favorites this month.

So here’s to 2021, may it be as bright and shiny as our new newsletter. Please let us know what you think. Drop me an email to share your thoughts on the new newsletter. Have an idea you would like to see added? Share that with me as well.

Best wishes and Happy New Year,



Good Growing

christmas trees growing outdoors
By Katie Parker

Good Growing Tip: To maintain tree freshness, check your tree stand daily; the water level should not fall below the level of the trunk. It is recommended that trees absorb one quart of water for every inch of diameter of the trunk. Additives should not used to prolong the freshness of the tree; research shows that plain water is best.

By Ken Johnson

Good Growing Tip: In a nod to how the plant is spread, the word mistletoe (mistiltan in Old English) comes from the Anglo-Saxon words mistel (dung) and tan (twig). Mistletoe, or dung-on-a-twig, there may be no more appropriately named plant for 2020.

evergreen gnomes with red hats and mittens
By Chris Enroth

Good Growing Tip: Once cut, broadleaf evergreens like boxwood and holly lose their cold hardiness and will turn black if left out in the freezing Illinois weather. Use these cut greens for indoor arrangements.

reindeer standing in the snow with mountains in the background
By Katie Parker

Good Growing Tip: If you interested in more information about raising reindeer, the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association in the US has beneficial information, and you can find a local farm to visit too!


Naturalist Notebook

pastel art work of wahoo
By Rose Moore, Master Naturalist

I don't know how the tree got the name Wahoo but I love saying it.

Wahoo – it's here!

calendar laying on a desk with a pencil laying on top of the calendar

Calendar of Events


January 7 – 22: Urban Tree Conference
Trees are a valuable asset to nature, but they are often overlooked in urban settings. Trees cool buildings with their shade and clean the air and water through filtration. Urban trees withstand pollution, poor soils, limited legroom for roots, and pressure from insects and disease. The six-day, 18-session virtual conference will cover all aspects of urban tree planning, implementation, and management. The Illinois Arborist Association has approved this workshop to fulfill mandatory continuing education requirements. Cost is $10/day or $50 for all sessions. Fee waivers are available. Contact: Reid Young, ryoun@Illinois.edu.

February 1 - 5: Winter Tree Identification
Extension Forester Chris Evans will host a three-part webinar series on winter tree identification with sessions focusing on the characteristics used in identification, terminology, and techniques and tools for identifying unknown tree species. Contact: Chris Evans, cwevans@illinois.edu 

February 5 | 2 PM: Winter Tree Identification Webinar: Uncommon Trees and Difficult Groups


January 20 | 1 PM: How to Start a Community Garden
Access of healthy food has a major influence on overall health and well-being of individuals and families. Many families facing food access issues may also be facing issues of limited transportation, limited financial resources, and other realities of poverty. Fight hunger by planting community gardens. Contact: Elaine Craver, ecraver@illinois.edu.

January 21 | 6 PM: Bi-State Garden Conference
Cost is $10. Contact: Ryan Pankau, rcpankau@illinois.edu. Offered by Illinois and Purdue University Extensions, the Bi-State Garden Conference will include the Perennial Plant of the Year by Martha Smith, and Growing Ginger, Horseradish, Luffa, Artichokes, and More by Erin Harper.

Four Seasons Gardening Series
Webinars are free, but registration is required and space is limited. 

Growing Great Vegetables Series
Cost is $10 for all sessions. Contact: Ken Johnson, kjohnso@illinois.edu. 

Gardening in the Air Series
Contact: Martha Smith, smithma@illinois.edu.

March 13: Garden Day
This annual event in Central Illinois will include popular gardening topics, including tree health, gardens to attract hummingbirds, sustainable water practices, starting seeds, and four-season garden favorites. Donations accepted. Contact: Erin Harper, harper7@illinois.edu.


January 14 | Noon: Children and Nature
Andrea Faber Taylor has researched the benefits of nature experiences for children’s health. She is passionate about supporting children’s connection to nature. Her most recent research indicated a link between the frequency with which kindergartners used greenspaces during the school day and their capacity for self-regulation. Contact: Martha Smith, smithma@illinois.edu.

January 14 | 1 PM: Everyday Environment Webinar: Is Radon Still an Issue?
Radon awareness, testing, and mitigation for homes has been discussed for many years. Why are we talking about it now? Is radon still an issue of concern in Illinois homes? As the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, radon continues to be the odorless, radioactive gas silently sneaking into many homes. Contact: Jay Solomon, jssolomo@illinois.edu.

February 11 | 1 PM: Everyday Environment Webinar: Waste to Renewable Energy
Anaerobic digestion technology is used as a solution to divert food waste from the landfill. Farmers also utilize the technology to capture methane emissions associated with the management of liquid manures. Contact: Ashley Belle, abelle@illinois.edu.

March 11 | 1 PM: Everyday Environment Webinar: Severe Weather
Spring brings severe weather back to Illinois and the Midwest. Thunderstorms pack high winds, heavy rain, lightning, and potentially tornadoes. Contact: Duane Friend, friend@illinois.edu.

chalkboard with the word resources wrote on it




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