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Get ready for spring with U of I Extension websites
URBANA, Ill. — Families will find interesting ideas for spring activities only a “click” away on their home computers through several University of Illinois Extension websites.

“These sites are particularly suited to spring,” said Jane Scherer, U of I Extension urban programs specialist. “They include information about observing nature, starting and maintaining a garden, and a site that teaches youngsters how to start their own gardens.”

“A Walk in the Woods” (www.urbanext. is an interactive site that is also available in Spanish.

“It focuses on the plants and animals children might encounter on their visit to the woods, tips on how to make a walk in the woods safe and fun, and other features that ensure the best possible experience,” said Scherer. “This is an ideal site for families to visit before taking an outing to a wildlife preserve, conservation district park, or any natural site.”

Closer to home, some homeowners may be thinking about their own slice of nature - the backyard garden.

“If you’re thinking about starting a garden, we have two sites - ‘A Taste of Gardening’ and ‘Watch Your Garden Grow’ - which are very helpful,” she noted.

“A Taste of Gardening” (www.urbanext. is a gardening basic series developed by U of I Extension.

“It contains information on composting, disease control, growing and harvesting vegetables and herbs,” said Scherer. “If you want to learn the basics of insect control, planning and planting your garden or storing the vegetables it produces, this is the site for you.”

“Watch Your Garden Grow” ( has specific information for 34 different vegetables.

“Childhood is a good time to get people in a lifetime gardening habit,” said Scherer. “Gardening is not only fun but it is an activity which teaches lessons about science and the environment - a great educational tool for kids. Extension’s website, ‘My First Garden,’ is geared to make a child’s first experience with gardening positive.”

The website is located at Children will learn how to pick out a spot for their first garden, planning what they will plant, how to plant, water and fertilize the garden, and the history of the vegetables they select.

“The site also includes information for gardening in unusual places,” said Scherer. “Not everyone has a yard or access to the traditional gardening space. The site includes ideas for gardening in unbelievable places, including an old pair of shoes, cinder blocks, drainage tiles, hanging baskets, bags of potting soil, old tires, discarded kitchen pots, sections of discarded gutters, and wooden boxes.”

This farm news was published in the April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.