Check out inspiring ways to grow vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs and native plants at the Kane County Master Gardener Idea Garden in St. Charles. Trained volunteers from the University of Illinois Extension will host three summer open houses to share growing ideas and expertise.
Visitors are invited to tour the garden on Saturdays, June 18 and July 16, and Tuesday, August 9, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Garden masters will also be available for questions and discussion.
“The Idea Garden is back this year, once again showcasing innovative gardening methods and fun designs that are easy to replicate at home,” said Sarah Fellerer, Kane County Master Gardeners program coordinator. “New features include a Hugelkulter-style bed, a host plant garden for a black swallowtail butterfly, native plant plots for sun and shade, small pumpkins, and fruit beds with goji berries, seaberries, rhubarb, and raspberries.”
There are also a variety of themed gardens, such as fairies, tea, Victorian, English cottage and even one intended for feeding guinea pigs.
“This year we also have some unique projects involving tomatoes, including a patch with seeds that have been in space and another with an heirloom variety with a rich history and connections to Chicagoland,” added Fellerer.
The “Space” seeds orbited the Earth for five years before returning home on the Columbia Shuttle in 1989. In 1990, schools across the country grew the special seeds as part of a major scientific experiment, and recently, Kane County master gardeners found a leftover kit from that experiment and began tomato seedlings that are now growing in the Ideas Garden.
The second unique tomato bed shows the Inciardi tomato paste, which also made a historic journey.
“It was brought to America from Sicily by the Inciardi family, who sewed the seed into their clothes so they wouldn’t be confiscated at Ellis Island,” Fellerer said. “Henry Inciardi settled in Chicago, worked for General Electric and survived the tragic Eastland disaster. His family continued to grow the crop for decades until it nearly became extinct.”
However, the strain was brought back by a handful of local gardeners who continued to grow and saved the seeds. Today it is grown almost exclusively in the Chicago area.
The Ideas Garden is located at 3480 Lincoln Hwy. (Route 38), at the intersection with Peck Road in St. Charles. Visitors enter via the Route 38 ramp. Follow the progress of the Idea Garden at www.facebook.com/KaneMGIdeaGarden.
If reasonable accommodations are required to attend, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630) 584-6166. Early inquiries are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for your access requirements to be met.
Do you have questions about your garden, lawn or trees?
The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners also offers a seasonal help desk at (630) 584-6166 Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by email at email@example.com.
For more information, see go.illinois.edu/HelpDeskMGdkk.