Dig In® Chicago premieres on April 21, 2012

March 18, 2012

Mike and Jennifer Brennan announce Dig In® Chicago!

I’m pleased to welcome Jennifer Brennan back to the show as this week’s co-host, especially because we have a HUGE (to quote Donald Trump) announcement to make. Jennifer is horticulture information specialist at The Chalet in Wilmette and is a frequent guest on my radio show.

She is also my co-host for a brand new television show called Dig In Chicago, which will premiere on Saturday, April 21 in the Chicago area.

(Pause, as fireworks explode in the background.)

Dig In Chicago is a local show that will explore earth-friendly gardening and cooking for 24 weeks this year. It will air on Comcast cable television, on a channel and at a time to be announced soon. However, I can reliably say that you should expect it to be aired at or around 10:00 a.m. every Saturday until the end of September. Whoo-hoo! It will also feature chef Dave Esau of Dave’s Specialty Foods in Mount Prospect, who will handle the cooking duties, because I’m sure as hell not going to.

Meanwhile, go to our Facebook Page and Like Dig In Chicago!!!

Okay, on to the real world. Like a prelude to spring that has featured warm temperatures unlike anything we’ve seen…pretty much ever. I asked some horticultural friends on Facebook at a page called Soiled Again what they advise average gardeners to do. Here are some of their responses:

  • Mulch!
  • Beware a late frost!
  • Use native plants to conserve water!
  • Wait to plant annuals. Shrubs and trees are most likely ok to plant now, but blooms could get nipped by a cold snap or frost. We could still have frosts up until around Mother’s Day in Northern Illinois.
  • Cover for frost/freeze warnings with paper or cloth (blankets, towels etc.) not plastic. Plastic doesn’t provide enough insulation and can transmit the cold to the plant instead of preventing it

Great advice. Jennifer and I will attempt to steer you to the right decisions on Sunday. Tune in and Facebook, Tweet or call in your questions at 773/763-9278.

If we’re talking about lawn care this early, it might as well be natural

In any normal year, a discussion about lawns at this time of year would be a primer on what to do a month from now. This year? Well, it’s weird. I’m looking out my window and watching the grass green up even as I write. And it because of the crazy weather, which I mentioned above.

So if you’re going to start working on your lawns now, I’m going to try to steer you down the natural road. That’s why I welcome back Paul Tukey, founder of SafeLawns.org, who is promoting a conference called Lawn and Landscape Summit: Chicago 2012 which takes place He is joined by Brian Milam of Calcium Products, Inc., one of the sponsors of the event, which also include Natural Industries, Milorganite and Bradfield Organics.

Here’s a look at the lineup:

  • Paul Cushing, deputy director for San Diego’s golf courses, including Torrey Pines
  • Dr. George Snyder, distinguished emeritus professor of soil and water science from the University of Florida
  • Peter Wild, CEO of ArborJet and owner of Boston Tree Preservation. He is the world’s leading expert on emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock wooly adelgid and mountain pine bark beetles
  • Howard Garrett, landscape architect, arborist, author of 14 books and consultant on turf projects such as the Frito-Lay campus and Dallas Cowboys practice fields

The first day, Friday, March 30, is for lawn care professionals. The second day, Saturday, March 31 is for the rest of us, who want a green lawn but who don’t want to be pumping a boat load of chemicals into the environment. The first 100 attendees each day will receive a free goody bag that includes a new book, product samples & discounts as well as information.

Tickets to day 1 cost $75. Tickets for day 2 cost $40. They are available HERE. And if you use the special code “Nowak” you get $5 off either day! Do I have pull or what?

It all happens at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Friday, March 30 and Saturday March 31. Regardless of which day you attend, the first 100 attendees each day will receive a take-away bag of samples, information and a copy of Tukey’s newest book. Tickets to day 1 cost $75. Tickets for day 2 cost $40. They are available here, and the special code “Nowak” saves $5 off either day! Geez, I hate that kind of pressure to sell tickets.

However, if you can’t attend that conference but you’re still interested in doing the right thing for your lawn, you might want to consider Safer Pest Control Project’s Natural Lawn Care workshop in Northwestern Indiana on Wednesday, March 21st and Thursday, March 22nd.

I know what you’re saying. You can’t drive out to Indiana for that, either. So, guess what? You can watch part of that workshop on your computer. ” It’s All About the Soil,” a special webinar that features nationally recognized organic turf expert Chip Osborne, founder and President of Osborne Organics, LLC. Chip has over fifteen years of experience in creating safe, sustainable, and healthy landscapes. He also has over 35 years of experience as a professional horticulturist. I’ve seen him in action, and he’s terrific. You can sign up for it here.

The weather is crazy, but there’s no reason why you should be crazy, too, by using the same old synthetic lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Go natural, folks.

Fleurotica returns to aid the Garfield Park Conservatory

If you’ve visit the Dig In Chicago page on this website, you will see our TV show “pilot,” which was shot at the iconic Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. What you don’t see in that video are the remnants of the catastrophic hail storm that hit the conservatory and its greenhouses last June. As of January, The Desert House and Aroid House have temporarily reopened to the public. All display houses are now open to the public until permanent repairs begin.

However, there there is still much to be done, and a lot of money to be raised. A few months ago, the “One Pane At A Time” campaign was launched to allow the public to help rebuild the Garfield Park Conservatory’s damaged roofs by making a donation towards replacement panes of glass. Some of the shattered glass is being turned into art, with some of the proceeds going to the conservatory.

And now, the fourth annual FLEUROTICA runway fashion show returns, with all proceeds benefitting the recovery efforts. Of course, because the restoration work is ongoing, it isn’t possible for FLEUROTICA to be held at the conservatory. That’s why this fabulous event is being held at Venue One, 1044 W. Randolph. The date is this Friday, March 23. Tickets are $225 for VIP spots and $175 for general seating. She show runs from 6:30 to 11:00 pm.

This is a fantastic way to help the healing process of this great institution, which provides educational programs and events in a lush tropical environment in the middle of the city. At the same time, you can transport yourself to the center of an utterly unique fashion show.

The “Fightin’ 49th” Ward fights for blue cart recycling

Just because I haven’t said much about recycling lately doesn’t mean that I’m not still concerned that most people in Chicago do not have access to an efficient, convenient recycling system. The City may or may not release its study soon on the “managed competition” that it started back in October. The last we heard about this issue was when Mayor Rahm Emanuel bragged how the competition has already saved the City a million dollars.

Perhaps it has and perhaps it hasn’t. Still, there are too many neighborhoods where blue carts are a fond wish rather than a reality. One of those is the “Fightin’ 49th” Ward. Alderman Joe Moore, who has been a champion of the environment throughout his career, has announced that his constituents are tired of waiting.

Today, Sunday, March 18th at noon, with the help of Alderman Joe Moore’s 49th Ward Green Corps, they are holding a kickoff event for circulating petitions to expand the blue bin recycling program to the 49th Ward. The kickoff will take place at the far north side recycling drop off center at 6441 N. Ravenswood (just north of Devon). The petition is intended to send a message to Mayor Emanuel that the current recycling system isn’t enough and residents of those north side neighborhood demand better recycling options.

People are welcome to bring their recyclables with them to help demonstrate that the drop off center isn’t enough for a neighborhood committed to environmental stewardship.

As always, it’s a pleasure to have Alderman Moore on the show to talk about an issue that is near and dear to me.