Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Video Wednesday: Celery Stalks at Midnight

Our EdibleHarvest columnist, Elizabeth Olson, shared the discovery of a Big Band-era hit called "Celery Stalks at Midnight." As she had just written all about growing celery in our January 2015 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, this tune really caught her attention!

Here is also a link to the lyrics:

And, um, had no one read Freud and been able to solve the mystery for this girl?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Washington Gardener Magazine ~ January 2015 issue ~ Monkshood, Celery, and much more

Washington Gardener is the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region. The January 2015 issue is being sent now as a PDF to all current subscribers.
It is also now posted at:

This issue includes:
~ Monkshood: Pretty Poison
~ Celery Growing Tips for the Mid-Atlantic
~ January Garden Tasks
~ Garden Photo Contest Rules
~ A Visit to the Robinson Nature Center
~ New Veronica Introduction
~ Winter Bird-Feeding Tips
~ Seed Exchange Details and Registration
~ Local Garden Events Listing
~ Wistful Winter Windowsills
and much more...

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the February 2014 issue are due by February 10.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY by using the link at the top-right of this blog page.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seed Exchange 2015 Speakers Announced

Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2015. Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats. For more information on the exchanges and how to register, go here.

Saturday, January 31 at Behnke Nurseries, Beltsville, MD

Saving Your Vegetable Seeds

Speaker: Paul Blundell, Owner, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
This workshop will give an overview of the hows and whys of seed saving.  We will explore the state of seed in the world today to discover why seed saving is not only a practical skill for gardeners to develop but also an important one for communities to practice.  We will then dive into the biology of seed production and cover techniques and considerations important for producing quality seed from most common garden varieties.  Resources for reference and further learning will be provided.
   Paul Blundell has been a worker-owner at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange since 2005.  SESE is a worker owned coop mail order seed company in Central Virginia which specializes in heirloom, open-pollinated, and organic vegetable seeds especially suited to the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast.  He has done a little bit of everything and a lot of a few things while there.  Most recently he headed up the design and construction of a new eco-groovy headquarters for the business.


Tips for Starting Ornamental Plants for Seed

Speaker: Carol Allen, Certified Professional Horticulturist
This talk will cover ornamental annual, biennial, and perennial seed saving and growing tips. It will cover: what flowers do best direct-sown versus started indoors, which seeds need special preparation, and the selection of best plants for our Mid-Atlantic region.
   Carol Allen has been involved in many aspects of gardening and horticulture since childhood and likes to describe herself as a committable plant-a-holic. She has more than 25 years experience in the horticulture industry with special interests in Integrated Pest Management, landscape design, native plants, tropicals of many kinds, and especially orchids. Carol enjoys helping people understand how to care for their plants and holds a monthly diagnostic clinic in Washington, DC. After serving a term of two and one half years as supervisory horticulturist at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory, Carol returned to college and earned a degree in horticulture. Fascinated by the interplay of pest and prey, Carol continues her education on plant pests and diseases. She enjoys teaching people how to outwit their garden pests with little or no pesticide application and also authors the “InsectIndex” column in the Washington Gardener Magazine.

Saturday, February 7 at Green Spring Gardens, VA:

Planting Schemes for Vegetable Gardens: Companion and Succession Planting

Speaker: Elizabeth Olson, Certified Professional Horticulturist
Explore different ways to maximize the space and yield of vegetables gardens. Systems include succession and relay cropping, intercropping, and crop rotation.
   Elizabeth Olson is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist and Specialist in Composting & Compost Utilization with the Maryland Nursery & Landscape Association. She is also a Certified Judge in a number of areas including Vegetables, Fruits & Nuts, Herbs & Vinegars, Canning, and Photography with the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs & Shows. Elizabeth belongs to the Garden Writers Association and is the “EdibleHarvest” columnist for Washington Gardener Magazine.  She has published kitchen garden articles on topics ranging from garlic to icebox watermelons.


Seed Saving Traditions

Speaker: Pat Brodowski, Monticello's Vegetable Gardener
The historic tradition of seed saving in America provides a meaningful model for modern gardeners eager to get the most from their gardens. Many special (and more common) garden plants are unavailable from commercial sources and need to be preserved from year to year. Learn the dynamics of seed production—pollination, timing, seed identification, cleaning, and storing.
   Pat Brodowski plants and maintains Jefferson's two-acre kitchen garden of about 180 vegetables and herbs. She has been at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation since May 2009. Previously, she was the Historian/Educator at the Carroll County Farm Museum.

For more information on the exchanges and how to register, go here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Win Two Passes to Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges

For our January 2015 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away two passes to either of the Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges (prize value $40).
   The 10th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, takes place on January 31, 2015 at the Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD AND on February 17 2015 at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. You have a choice on which side of the DC beltway you want to attend! Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats. The event also includes such “green” features as the garden book and catalog swap. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds and gardening inspiration!
   To enter to win the Seed Exchange Passes, send an email to by 5:00pm on January 23 with “Seed Swap” in the subject line and in the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on January 24.

See full details on the Seed Exchanges at


The winner of the January 2015 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest is Alison Kindler of Arlington, VA. Congratulations, Alison, and we hope you and your guest enjoy the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Video Wednesday: Building a Grow Closet

Local Maryland gardener, Gary Pilarchik of The Rusted Garden vegetable gardening blog shares his basic ideas for a grow closet, grow light stations, and ways you can start growing vegetable seeds indoors in this new video.

Monday, January 12, 2015

In Case You Missed It...

If you were away over the holiday season or just taking a break from the online world, you may have missed some of our important announcements about upcoming Washington Gardener Magazine events and deadlines. Here is a quick recap:

~ The 9th Annual Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest is now open for entry period, The submission deadline is Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Details are posted at:

~ The 10th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges take place on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at the Behnke Nurseries in Wheaton, MD and on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats.
Details and registration information is at:

~  The Washington Gardener Book Club will be discussing: Tulipomania by Mike Dash at the Shepherd Park "Juanita E. Thornton" Neighborhood DC Library for Tuesday, February 10 from 6:00-7:30pm. Details are at:

Washington Gardener Magazine has two tours this year going up to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The two tours are on different days; from different locations.  The first one is Wednesday, March 4 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to downtown Silver Spring, MD. The second one is Thursday, March 5 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD. Details and registration information is at:

~ Local Gardening Talk Series on Capitol Hill next March-April. Join Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener for this wonderful 5 class series as she helps you prepare your garden for Spring. These classes are great for non-gardeners and expert gardeners looking to brush-up.
Details and registration information is at:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Native Spotlight: Sedum ternatum

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw 
Sedum and Carex
 An easy to grow shade-loving native groundcover

With few exceptions there’s not much green in the yard right now, covered as it is in a blanket of white. Under the layer of snow I know that a few green things survive. Most, unfortunately, are aggressive non-natives like English ivy, and the seemingly indomitable winter cress that has proven to be frustratingly hardy in my gravel driveway. But one of my favorite plants resting under the snow is Sedum ternatum, an evergreen groundcover native to much of the eastern U.S.

When I dug through the snow to take a look at one of my patches of Sedum, it didn’t look bad, but many of the leaves seemed so much tinier than I remembered  that I wasn’t sure I’d found the right plant. I found an explanation for this on the Missouri Botanic Garden’s website. In winter the stems break away and die, separating newly rooted plants from the mother plant.

Sedum ternatum is a small plant with nicely rounded fleshy leaves. Even at its peak of spring bloom it is no more than about six inches high, including the flower stalk. The white star-like flowers bloom for a few short weeks in April or May in our area.

early spring sedum
This versatile little groundcover likes moist conditions and part-shade to shade, but is also quite drought tolerant. In my yard it is one of the few things I have been able to grow under the dry shade of a large silver maple on a slope, together with the native Pennsylvania sedge, Carex pensylvanica. I have transplanted bits of it to the edge of my driveway, and from there to shady moist patches in the front yard. It seems happy wherever it lands.

It is easy to propagate (break a stem off and stick it in the ground) and to transplant. Just keep in mind that it is not the most rapid of spreaders, and as the plants are small, it is not the best choice for filling in a large space rapidly. On the other hand, if you decide for whatever reason that you need to take it out, removal is easy. But my guess is that you’ll want to spread it around the yard, not get rid of it!

About the author:
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at
This guest blog post is part of a monthly Native Plants series that Rachel will be posting here around the 10th of each month.