As winter’s imminent thaw gives way to a new warm-weathered planting season, local educators and experts within the University of Illinois Extension are offering a bounty of classes, seminars and other programs.
The Bloomington-based Extension office — which serves residents in McLean, Woodford and Livingston counties — has offerings at various sites throughout the region.
But in a nod to technology’s capabilities, Extension representatives also are offering webinars to people with green thumbs — or those who aspire to have such skills. The webinars are accessible anywhere.
“They’re a helpful way for you to start planning for the upcoming season,” Jenna Braasch, publicity and promotions specialist with the local Extension office, said in an interview with the Chronicle. “They’re open to anybody, and there’s no charge for them.”
This week, the Extension is offering the first in a three-part series of early spring webinars. Forestry expert Chris Evans is hosting the lecture, touching on ornamental invasive plants. The program can be accessed online through the Extension’s website is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1.
As March unfolds, the Extension’s next webinar will explore tree care in urban soils. Ryan Pankau, a horticulture educator, will host the program, taking place at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, or 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15.
The last of the trio is a webinar offering tips for extending the gardening season. Chris Enroth, who also serves as a horticulture educator, will share his tips during the class, slated for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, or 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29.
The official outdoor planting season might still be several months away, but the Extension’s horticulture experts have been putting the spotlight on the few tasks that can be accomplished as the temperatures begin their slow, upward trajectory and the amount of daylight follows a similar course.
“Once spring is here, things will start to shift, and we’ll be going in a different direction,” Braasch said. “Once you can get outside and do more, we’ll have more available.”
At the moment, the local Extension office is offering a virtual clinic, available through Saturday, March 17, for persons interested in learning more about the dos and don’ts of tree pruning.
“Now is the right time for the task, while deciduous trees are in full dormancy, and the naked stems allow the owner to see the structure of a tree,” Kelly Allsup, a horticulture educator with the local Extension office, said in a statement.
Allsup continued, “During the growing season, which can start as early as mid-March in Central Illinois, pruning cuts can be an avenue for disease and insect infestations.”
The local Extension’s marquee event each year, however, is the Home, Lawn and Garden Day, which is taking place this year on Saturday, March 3. Registration for this year’s event has already been closed, but resources from the event will be available afterward.
“This is considered our official kickoff to spring each year,” Braasch said of Home, Lawn and Garden Day, which is in its 18th year.
For information on the webinars, virtual clinic and other upcoming horticulture-related programs, visit the local Extension office’s website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw.
— Garden experts bring spring thoughts into bloom —