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Spring has arrived at last, and it’s time to break out the trowel and gardening gloves. Locally, garden groups are gathering, and you can join to learn more about what to grow this year. Here are a few places to dig in. 

Growing and using hop plants

The folks at the University of Illinois Extension office, serving Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark counties, also have a number of classes coming up in the Spring Series of Home Horticulture classes, including How To Grow And Utilize Hop Plants.

On April 8, Lori Gravel from Hoppiness On The Hill will lead a class on how to turn harvested hops into oils, lotions, teas and even a sleep sachet.

The cost is $5, and registration is recommended. For more information, or to register, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/state/calendar_event.cfm?ID=80948.   

Gardening for wildlife with the City of Moline

The City of Moline and Laura Van Barg will host a Gardening for Wildlife class at 10 a.m. on April 20, at the Moline Garden Center, 3450 5th Ave. 

Van Barg says her goal is to get people thinking a little differently about gardening and landscaping. “Bees and other insects are in trouble, and one of the reasons is our penchant for non-native plants. Insects are co-evolved with plants and are unable to eat foreign plant species," Van Barg says. "This isn’t the home gardener’s fault; we just buy what’s available at the garden center and often that’s neonicontinoid-treated, popular, non-native plants."

During the class, she says participants will learn about the benefits of native plants, where to buy them, how to select for maximum impact for a variety of insects, birds and other wildlife.

Van Barg says she is inspired by Dr. Doug Tallamy, who spoke at a 2017 Quad Cities Pollinator Conference. “His book, 'Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants,' is an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to learn about how home gardeners can contribute to biodiversity.”

Admission to Gardening for Wildlife Fee is $5. For more information, or to sign up, call 309-524-2424 or visit moline.il.us/Calendar.aspx?EID=3605.

Vegetables, soil and more

The Friends of Riverside Park Gardens will host a handful of classes this spring at Riverside Park Garden, inside the Moline Greenhouse and at its demonstration garden. To register, call 309-524-2424 or visit molineparks.com.

Classes include:

• Early Garden Vegetables: Noon, April 6, Riverside Park Demonstration Garden, Moline Greenhouse, 3450 5th Ave., Moline. Learn about prepping the garden and planting early vegetables with Master Gardener David Arensdorf. $5. Registration is required.

• Soil Basics and Backyard Gardening: 10 a.m. April 13, Riverside Park Garden, Moline Greenhouse, 3450 5th Ave., Moline. Learn how to have more fertile soil in your backyard garden with instructor Jerry McConoughey. $5. Registration is required.

Pest webinar 

The Iowa State University Extension Office, Scott County, will offer a Managing Vegetable Pests webinar at 6:30 p.m. on April 11, at the Scott County Extension office, 875 Tanglefoot Lane, Bettendorf. Dan Fillius will provide organic weed-free vegetable growing tips to reduce pests and attract beneficial insects. Admission is free, but a $5 donation would be appreciated.

For more information, contact Teri Sampson at 563-359-7577 or teri@iastate.edu, or visit extension.iastate.edu/scott/news/gardening-webinars-iowa-state-university.

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