Elmhurst Garden Faire

My mom and I had a wonderful time at the Elmhurst Garden Faire this year.  Pioneer was welcomed with open arms.  I am still constantly amazed by the loyalty of our nearby communities and by our customers who have been shopping at Pioneer for years.

I wanted to share some pictures from the beautiful day--weather reports turned out wrong and it was sunny and gorgeous.  Of course if you see anything you like...we have more at the store!


Our customer gardens

We love to see what customers create in their own yards.  A beautiful vignette.  A place for birds to call home.  A bit of color in a shady spot.  A bluebird sighting!  Please feel free to share your own pictures, we'd love to see your special corner of the world.  And what a great way to get new ideas!

Mother's Day Weekend 2015

Tony and I have learned so much in this last month.  We kept hearing from vendors and others in the business that Mother's Day is a garden center's Christmas.

Boy, they weren't kidding!  We had so much fun meeting local gardeners and helping with their yards.  I thought I'd share some pictures of all the beautiful flowers and plants that arrived for this big gardening holiday.  And if you haven't started in your own yard yet, no need to worry, we have plenty more coming in all the time.


The Big Day

We are pleased to announce new ownership at Pioneer Garden and Feed!  

My husband, Tony, and I are really looking forward to sharing our dream business with you.

Besides living in and being active members of the Villa Park community for 17 years, we are avid gardeners and nature lovers.  We preserve food, love to grow plants with our boys, enjoy birdwatching (and feeding!) and are really looking forward to serving you, our customers.

Bill Karges, our staff botanist known to gardeners across the area, will remain a dedicated employee, and is there to answer any question you can think of about your lawn or garden.

Please feel free to stop in and say hi.  To Pioneer's long time customers...we look forward to getting to know you.  And new customers...you have never been in a store quite like this.  Old time charm with up-to-date knowledge on all things gardening--you'll want to stay a while.

--Angie & Tony Rojek

The Rojek family

The Rojek family

Bill Karges will help gardeners of any age!  Here he gives some Pioneer history to a local Girl Scout troop.

Bill Karges will help gardeners of any age!  Here he gives some Pioneer history to a local Girl Scout troop.

Birds attacking your windows?

No, it's not an Alfred Hitchcock nightmare, it's springtime, and the birds are keeping busy.  

You may notice birds attacking your windows in these next few weeks.  They have not lost their little bird brains, although it may seem that way to you.  The male birds are seeing their own reflection, and attacking what they think is another bird in their territory.

What can you do?  We have window decals in the shape of hawks that may help scare them away.  Or "scare tape", which flutters in the wind and helps block their reflection.  Anything you can put on or in front of your window that will block their reflection (but they won't get their feet caught in) will usually work--bridal veil fabric, bedsheets, bamboo stakes.

Luckily, the nesting season only lasts for a few weeks and the birds should be back to normal.

Cool Season Veggies

Spring is just around the corner.  If you’re wondering what to put in your vegetable garden first, here’s a list of cooler season veggies that don’t mind a little cold weather or snow.  Most of them taste better before summer arrives with hot temperatures.


Asparagus (perennial–takes several years to produce)






English peas








Swiss chard


Mesclun mix lettuce

Mesclun mix lettuce

Heirloom Vegetables

They seem to be all the rage with foodies these days, but what exactly is an heirloom vegetable?

There are several schools of thought on the precise definition, but basically an heirloom veggie is one that was grown a long time ago, and has not been modified to use in modern, large scale agriculture.

Take these pictures of tomatoes.  You can see the different colors and shapes, which are generally not sold in supermarkets today.  Why?

Most stores want perfect, round, red tomatoes to meet consumer demand.  The tomatoes need to be able to ripen in a truck that will often sit for weeks or months at a time.  They are grown in huge fields in monocultural (only one type) plots.  Because of this, tomatoes (and other vegetables) have been hybridized and chosen for specific characteristics such as productivity, resistance to pesticides, and the ability to put up with mechanical pickers.

Notice, they are not necessarily grown for taste.

And this is why people grow heirlooms.  The shapes and colors are strange, they might not last for weeks and weeks in your fridge, but you can not beat the taste of an heirloom veggie straight out of your garden.  Purple carrots, pink tomatoes, blue pumpkins–you wouldn’t believe the huge variety that are now available that are dedicated to bringing back taste to people’s gardens.

You often need to grow heirloom varieties from seed–which is part of their charm.  Just think about growing a pepper that has been lovingly passed down through generations.  There are many sources for heirloom vegetable seeds–and sometimes the best source is talking to gardeners you know! 

Pioneer has many heirloom seed varieties at the store--why don't you start your own heirloom garden?

BLT with "Green Zebra" heirloom tomato and Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard.

BLT with "Green Zebra" heirloom tomato and Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard.