Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

December 2009

Congratulations to the Kewanee (IL) City Council for doing the right thing.

Rather than cutting down a 180-year-old Osage-orange tree along a city street, the council voted to spare the tree until arborists could devise a plan to save the tree while safeguarding the public right-away.

Here is the Osage-orange tree during pruning.

Here is the Osage-orange tree during pruning.

The historical tree, a last vestige of a farm hedgerow planted before the Civil War, was slated to come down Nov. 24. Instead, it was pruned of several overhanging branches. Here are photos of the tree after last week’s pruning, courtesy of Jason Knowles, consulting forester with Knowles Municipal Forestry, LLC.

Overhanging branches have been removed. Osage-orange is a strong tree with interweaving fibers, so a longtime lean such as this is not always a problem. Volunteer arborists will soon examine the tree for structural integrity.

Overhanging branches have been removed. Osage-orange is a strong tree with interweaving fibers, so a longtime lean such as this is not always a problem. Volunteer arborists will soon examine the tree for structural integrity.

Volunteer arborists will study the tree for structural integrity (Osage-orange is renowned for strength and this example has been leaning for years without noticeable deterioration). If the tree can be saved, there may be a fundraising drive so the city of Kewanee does not pay a monetary penalty for its decision to save the tree. I’ll keep you posted!

The size of the tree is impressive.

The size of the tree is impressive.


If you’re feeling like me and you long for fresh herbs but the weather’s gone cold, don’t despair — try growing herbs indoors. It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you have a bright spot (such as an unobstructed west- or south-facing window) to grow them in.

The key is realizing that most herbs don’t love growing inside — so you really need to consider them short-term plants (especially annual varieties such as basil). You may get a month, maybe two, from most of your plants before they fade away. Don’t feel bad about losing them by spring — herbs are not meant to be long-lived houseplants. And as long as you use them in cooking or baking, or even just to rub the leaves a few times and enjoy that fresh scent as a way of getting over cabin fever, you’ll probably find they’re worth the investment.

Here are some tips if you’d like to try growing herbs in your home this winter.

> They need bright light. If you don’t have a large sunny window, get an inexpensive shop light from your local hardware store and hang it about 8 inches above your plants. They’ll do just as well — if not better — in artificial light.

> Don’t love them too much. Most herbs prefer well-drained soil and would rather be a bit too dry than a bit too wet. Be sure to let the top inch or so of the potting mix dry out before you water them again.

> Give them drainage. It’s important that the roots don’t stand in water, so grow your herbs in a container that has drainage holes so excess moisture can escape.

> Protect them from drafts. Blasts of cold or hot air (from doors, windows, or heating vents) can quickly sap the life from your plants.


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