Book Review: Gardening Month by Month in Illinois

Gardening Month by Month in IllinoisGardening Month by Month in Illinois
By William Aldrich and Don Williamson Photographs. 159 pp. Lone Pine Publishing. $15.95.

If the local rabbits hadn’t helpfully beaten me to it, I would indeed be thinning my beets and carrots today as directed by Gardening Month by Month in Illinois, but sadly, it’s hard to thin something that has been nibbled out of existence. Nevertheless, I can follow Aldrich and Williamson’s advice to do other things—to deadhead my annuals and perennials, to top up my mulch and to sow bush beans—all in July.

This manual of monthly gardening suggestions and practical advice is not only helpful when your garden is blooming right before your eyes as it is in July, but can also be a resource in late winter and early spring. If you’ve ever needed to be talked down from setting out transplants on a sunny March day, you know what I mean. Gardening Month by Month in Illinois offers lists of what can be prudently pruned, planted, and potted and when. And it reminds impatient gardeners that April snow is not unheard of in Illinois.

There are charts of the first fall and last spring frost dates across Illinois, along with listings of maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall and snowfall. Because much of the other information and advice is fairly general, the authors have included lists of resources: books, websites, and Illinois soil testing facilities.

But perhaps best of all there is a calendar for each month with plenty of room for notes about your own garden. If you start your own perennials or vegetables indoors, you can record the date the seeds were planted, transplanted, and the date they first bloomed. You can note unusual weather conditions, document what birds or insects have visited your yard and jot down your thoughts about how a particular plant is doing in its location.

All of this can be a great help next January when the seed catalogues start arriving and the garden in your imagination begins blooming, month by month in Illinois.

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