Archive for April, 2012

Starve out, or “Why won’t my new chicks eat?”

Chicks need to learn to eat and drink – crucial first skills to master! When you get your new babies, you should gently dip their beaks in a chick waterer and watch their throats to make sure they swallow. You should also check to make sure they are happily pecking, scratching, and eating. Their little crops will be full after they’ve had a big meal.

But what if your chicks are not eating? Many times mail ordering delays chicks’ arrival and they’ve depleted their internal supply of yolk and are too weak to eat. This is called starve out. What do you do then?

Read more from Jen here.

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Meet Sharon, Your Garden Godmother

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon, a customer who quickly became my friend and garden godmother. Sharon is a caring, nurturing woman who always has the right words, is infinitely wise in gardening, is handier than most handymen I know, and lights up the shop whenever she walks in. Sharon is a member of the Squash Blossoms and now manages their blog. So now you’ve gotta love the gal!

Lucky for us–lucky for you, perhaps–Sharon will be stationed at GHE next weekend, Beginners Weekend, to help blossoming gardeners.  Sharon will be available all day on Saturday, May 5th to help you plan your garden for a very successful season.  Many of us are getting into gardening for the first time. Gardening seems to have skipped a generation in many families, and Sharon is here to fill that void. Some people have Mom, Dad, Gramma or Grampa to call on for gardening advice. Others have Sharon!

If you’d like to get your garden off to the best possible start, email us at to schedule an appointment with Sharon on May 5th. You’ll receive a confirmation email in response. Consultations are free and will last 20 minutes. Bring any ideas, drawings, pictures or questions you have!

Pictured: Sharon (left) with a fellow Squash Blossom

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Earth Fest was a huge success!

The Village of Oak Park’s 3rd annual Earth Fest was an oustanding success last Saturday, April 21st. Over 800 guests enjoyed 55 vendors who share information about local and sustainable foods and other environmental topics. Earth Fest was held at the Public Works building, a LEED-certified building. It’s always an honor for me to work with Karen and K.C. at the Village to put on this wonderful festival. If you need something done, ask Public Works!

Green Home Experts was there promoting our eco-garden center. Lucky for us, we were surrounded by Master Composters and Dig Right In eco-landscapers. It was a fabulous day and we are so thankful to everyone at the Village for their help. Thanks to our sponsors, vendors and everyone who came out!

More wonderful pictures of Earth Fest can be found here.

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Introducing the Bloggerific Gina T.!

A few years ago someone asked me what my favorite part of my job is. My answer came quickly and effortlessly: the people. And after you read Gina’s post below, you’ll see why. Today I am thrilled to introduce to you the most bloggerific, terrific, gardentastic blogger Gina T. to our blog. I’ve been following her for years at and on Twitter @myskinnygarden. Now we are graced with her presence, as Gina will be writing regularly for us!


I remember the first time I met Maria. Several years ago I was looking for environmentally friendly kitchen tiles and a Google search led me to Green Home Experts.  I didn’t order any tiles that day but I walked out having discovered a local business that I would come to rely on, and a friend in Maria, the owner.  That first day when I met her, I casually mentioned that a friend and I were trying to start a community garden in Forest Park and from that moment, she’s been one of our biggest supporters. She showed up at our first community outreach meeting where we scrambled, nervously to get our presentation together. Her being there made me know we were on the right track. If you know Maria, you know what I’m talking about. She seems to have this special sense about what people need, about what the planet needs and although I didn’t know it at the time, if she supports it, it’s probably going to be successful.

I have never seen somebody who can connect so many complete strangers with similar goals to each other simply through casual conversations at her store. She is literally always trying to help somebody do something. Selfishly, I’ve come to rely on her as a friend and a resource for all things environmental. And because of that, I’m honored that she asked me to contribute blog posts to her website each month because I’ve been looking for a way to show her my appreciation.  And with that, let’s get down to business.

Grow Salad Greens From Seed!

In my opinion, salad greens are the absolute easiest thing to grow from seed. One of my favorite seed companies is Botanical Interests, which you can find at Green Home Experts.  Grab a pack of any salad greens that look interesting, take them home, sprinkle the seeds over dirt in your garden or a container, water them consistently and in a few days the salad greens will have sprouted. They can be harvested as baby greens within a couple of weeks or allowed to grow a little larger if you prefer. Salad greens like the cool weather we’re having in Chicago right now but once it gets hot and they start to produce flowers, the leaves become bitter and tough so plant them soon. My favorite salad green to grow is a Romaine variety from Botanical Interests called “Freckles”.  The name comes from the splattering of red against the bright green leaves. I love growing “Freckles” with any red salad green because it makes such a beautiful and delicious salad.

My real job is in Information Technology, but in my head, I’m a gardener and a writer struggling to determine if my identity is Gardener or Writer.  Gardening is a vehicle for my writing but it has also restored my sanity and it’s changed the way I view our planet and made me realize how my personal decisions impact it.  As I have said to many friends, there is something about being in the dirt that puts things into perspective.  Take growing salad greens for example. I believe everyone could be a little happier if they’d just try growing a few homegrown salad greens from seed. Serving family and friends a beautiful salad made of lettuce grown in your own garden is so empowering and inspiring. And cost effective! Organic salad greens are expensive!  So if you’re new to gardening or if you’re an experienced gardener that’s never grown salad greens, go grab a pack of seeds, give it a try and be sure to come back and leave a comment letting us know how the turned out.

Read more about my home garden at or follow me on twitter or facebook.

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Garden To Do List: April

Trees, shrubs, perennials and cool season annuals (hello pansies!) can be planted.

Cool season crops can be planted: leafy greens such as kale, spinach and Swiss chard; root vegetables such as radishes, carrots, beets and potatoes; and climbers like peas are all cool season crops. Hold off on peppers, tomatoes and delicate herbs like basil until temps are averaging 70 degrees or more and evening temps are above 50.

Trim back ornamental grasses to 6″ or less, cut back browned perennial foliage; this early spring you should see many perennials already coming up so it makes the job easier to make way for the new growth.

Prune off “dead” wood from roses. Knockout (shrub) roses can be left alone to achieve greater size this year or trimmed back; your choice. You still can remove any dead growth for a tidy appearance.

Now is a good time to divide later blooming perennials; Aster, Iris, Sedum and Hosta are all great candidates for division. Simply remove the plant from the ground, slice it in half through the roots and reinstall as two separate plants. What a great money saver and garden expander…you may even want to share with friends!

For more tips on eco-friendly gardening and organic lawn care, visit Dig Right In Landscaping’s website and Facebook.

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