The Illinois State University Horticulture Center has as one of its core beliefs that their “gardens and plant collections should reflect the broad diversity of the field of horticulture.” While the Center is well-known for its perennially stunning ornamental displays, natural spaces, faculty research plots, and pinetum, the staff is focusing this year, as so many people are, on vegetables. The Center’s vegetable garden demonstrates the wide variety of food that can be grown in Central Illinois as well as different solutions every gardener can put into practice at home.
In a recent three-part Facebook short video series, Horticulture Center Director Jessica Chambers shares her best veggie garden tips and tricks. In Part 1, she discusses gardening in raised beds and containers, emphasizing “you don’t really need a lot of space to grow some of your own vegetables.” Part 2 reflects on how utilizing a quadrant system in the vegetable garden keeps pests at bay and allows for a creative and attractive display. Vertical gardening, or “growing up” as Chambers calls it, is another space saver, and she reveals a few different climbing vegetables to grow using this technique. Lastly, Part 3 gives ideas for fun crops to try in the veggie garden. Chambers encourages gardeners to step out of their comfort zone and try crops with interesting forms and leaves or consider growing unusual varieties of old favorites like peppers and basil.
The Horticulture Center invites the public to explore its vegetable garden as well as all its other spaces, while observing social distancing, of course. It is located on North Raab Road in Normal and is open daily, free of charge, from dawn to dusk.