Great herbs, nasty gnats and dealing with e-waste

January 29, 2012

One week to “Decision Chicago! The Great Herb Debate”

What do you think about basil? Chamomile? Cilantro? There’s just one week to weigh in before “Decision Chicago! The Great Herb Debate” on The Mike Nowak Show. Mr. Brown Thumb, who helps handle the publicity for One Seed Chicago 2012, has lined up debaters for two of the three herbs competing for the honor of being the 2012 Seed of the Year.

In this corner, representing #TeamChamomile, is blogger Linda Tyson, a.k.a. Garden Girl, who you can Tweet at @ssgardengirl. In that corner, representing #TeamCilantro, is blogger and regular Twitter contributor to TMNS, Jessica Rinks, a.k.a. @SnappyJDog, President of the Forest Park Community Garden. In yet another corner, representing #TeamBasil is…uh…well, we don’t seem to have anybody willing to stand up for basil. At least not yet. If you think you’re that person, shoot a message to me on Facebook, @MikeNow, or

In addition, I will have a true herb expert on board–Sal Gilbertie, co-author of Herb Gardening from the Ground Up: Everything You Need to Know about Growing Your Favorite Herbs. Gilbertie is the third generation owner/proprietor of Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens located in Westport, Connecticut. Established in 1922, Gilbertie’s is the largest herb grower and supplier in the United States today.

Send me your comments on your favorite herb candidate today!

Rats, my house is full of gnats!

It’s always nice to have “Dr.” Wally Schmidtke on the program. As you might know, I use the quotation marks because Wally is not a real doctor. However, he is manager at Pesche’s Garden Center in Des Plaines, and a wealth of information when it comes to earth friendly gardening.

Wally knows that winter is the time to keep struggling houseplants thriving…or just alive, until we can get them to the sun and warmth of summer sun. There are a number of houseplant pests that can plague even the best indoor gardeners, but one of the most prevalent is the fungus gnat. Wally has put together this page of information that will help you control this pesky invader. And he stops by the show this morning to talk about how they end up in your potted plants.

One bit of advice that makes sense is to be aware that if you leave an open bag of potting mix outside, then use it for your plants, you might be bringing in some stowaways. He also reveals that just because you bought a clean, shiny bag of potting mix at your big box store doesn’t necessarily mean that it hasn’t been invaded.

Here are some sites he recommends if you want more information:

And two more that I want to throw in because sometimes folks can’t keep their flies straight:

Illinois goes to the head of the e-recycling class

On my January 1st show, I talked about the new Illinois recycling law that had just gone into effect. Not quite a month later, it looks as though state recyclers are starting to cash in. That’s because he law expanded the number of covered electronic products in Illinois from four to seventeen. Here’s the full list:

  • Televisions
  • Monitors
  • Printers
  • Computers ( laptop, notebook, netbook, tablet )
  • Electronic Keyboards
  • Facsimile Machines
  • Videocassette Recorders
  • Portable Digital Music Players
  • Digital Video Disc Players
  • Video Game Consoles
  • Small Scale Servers
  • Scanners
  • Electronic Mice
  • Digital Converter Boxes
  • Cable Receivers
  • Satellite Receivers
  • Digital Video Disc Recorders

While reportedly you could be fined for throwing out any of these devices, it’s challenging to find any reference to that point on the IEPA website about the new law. The stated purpose of the law is to hold the manufacturers accountable for the growing amount of electronics in landfills. According to the IEPA: “For calendar year 2012 all manufacturers of the new list of covered electronic products must now register with the Illinois EPA and meet an annual recycling goal.” Any manufacturer not complying with the Illinois Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for the violation and an additional civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each day the violation continues.

Click here for a list of registered residential e-waste collection sites throughout the State of Illinois.

Mel Nickerson of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), who helped author the amendments to Illinois’s e-cycling act and advocated for the original 2008 law, stops by the show today to talk about how Illinois has gone from one of the worst e-recyclers in the nation to one of the best. He is joined by Illinois State Representative Dan Biss, who, along with State Senator Susan Garrett, helped make this law a reality.

Learn about gardening at the Lincoln Park Zoo

That might sound a little odd, but even an institution like the Lincoln Park Zoo is surrounded by plants. In fact, the person who is in charge of those gardens is Lincoln Park Zoo Director of Horticulture Brian Houck, who stops by our new studios this morning to talk about a series of gardening seminars that starts this Wednesday, February 1. It’s called “Smart and Soulful Gardening,” and the response has been so great that the 6-7 p.m. seminar got filled immediately. So a second session was added for 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., as soon as they clear out the early crowd.

Houck says he wants to “make the joy of gardening accessible to everyone,” whether you’re a pro or a novice. Actually, he’s a guy I’ve wanted to meet for awhile now, so this is the perfect opportunity. The remaining workshops will include

Saturday, February 18 – Starting Seeds: Inviting Spring Inside

Saturday, May 5 Herb Window Boxes 101

Saturday, May 12 Wildlife-Friendly Gardening

Pre-registration is required for all programs. Registration closes three days prior to each program. Space is limited and some seminars require a registration fee. More information here.