Friday, August 26, 2016

Fenton Friday: Peppers Popping

I am only growing two kind of peppers at my community garden plot this year - 'Fish' peppers and 'Black Pearl..' The latter are really just ornamental and they are just gorgeous right now -- as shiny and dark as a Black Widow spider. I hope they last this way through Halloween.

The Fish peppers are for culinary use. Truthfully though, they are merely ornamental for me as well. In the garden they are quite pretty plants with their mottled foliage and small, bright fruits.I plan to cut and hang them to dry in the kitchen -- and on the wall they shall hang until they grow dusty or the cats knock them down. I am not much of a cook nor am I a fan of hot sauces.

Are you a pepper person?

About Fenton Friday:
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 5th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Sunshine Farm & Gardens

 Rare and Exceptional Plants for the Discriminating Gardener and Collector

Barry Glick
Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Road
Renick, WV 24966, USA

Every Thursday on the Washington Gardener Magazine Facebook page, Blog, and Yahoo list we feature a current advertiser from our monthly digital magazine. To advertise with us, contact today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: Chicory

For this month's Wildflower Wednesday share, I have chosen a roadside perennial weed that is one of those love-it-or-hate-it plants -- Chicory (Cichorium intybus). Personally, I find Chicory quite charming. Those sky-blue flowers in mid- to late summer are a welcome sight growing out of the sidewalk cracks and along my hellstrip planting.

The stems are tough as old leather. Just try to pull them by hand., I dare you! After they finish flowering, I take a pruner and cut back the spindly foliage that tends to stick out at odd angles and that is all the maintenance I give it. Likes its cousin, the Dandelion, this is another edible weed that came over with the European settlers and quickly naturalized.

This plant has a long history of medicinal uses as well as folklore around it. Lately, it has been cultivated as a forage crop for horses.

I find it to be a lovely counterpoint to wild (ditch) daylilies. The colors are so striking together and they both tolerate roadside plantings with compacted, saline soils.

Occasionally, it blooms in white or pale pink hues, which is a treat to see. The flowers open in the morning and close up at night.

Sadly, Chicory makes a horrible cut-flower. I have attempted it a few times and find that it wilts fast. Best to enjoy it popping up in barren spots along your summer strolls and country drives.

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers from all over the world. It was started by Gail Eichelberger on her "Clay and Limestone" blog. It is always on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Invasive Species Spotlight: Canada Thistle

Guest post by Jacqueline Hyman 
Though many types of thistle exist, both nonnative and native, a largely invasive plant in the greater Washington, DC-area is Canada Thistle.

    Canada Thistle (Circium arvense) is an invasive that “is designated a noxious weed in 43 states,” according to Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. It was introduced accidentally to North America in the 1600s, according to the book. 

    The plant blooms from late June through August with purple to white flowers and “strongly-prickled” leaves. This perennial invasive can grow up to 4 feet tall.

    “Canada Thistle is an aggressive competitor,” wrote Rochelle Bartolomei, the native plant specialist at Montgomery County Parks, in an email. “It crowds out native plants and changes the composition of the plant community. It can create monocultures preventing other native species from thriving and thereby reducing food sources for native insects and birds.”

    Bartolomei said the plant thrives in disturbed soil, but that she finds it in many environments, such as sunny meadows, roadsides, cropland, and gardens. According to Plant Invaders, the thistle is not very tolerant of shade.

    The book notes that the seeds are dispersed through the wind, and that it “expands locally by vegetative means through lateral roots and root fragments.” Canada Thistle is dioecious, meaning it requires both male and female plants to produce seed. Additionally, even a small part of the plant left in the soil can produce a new plant, said Bartolomei.

    Canada Thistle is a tough plant to remove and is not very susceptible to chemical treatment. I suggest cutting the plant to the base and painting a bit of Roundup on the root and basal leaves in summer. The plant will try to store resources at that time and will draw the herbicide into the root,” Bartolomei wrote. “You can also just keep cutting it to the base and eventually it will die off and definitely don't let it go to seed.”

    Because the plants are intolerant of shade, Bartolomei said growing taller plants in the same area may be helpful, but “since it grows and flowers in the cool season, these taller plants may not be effective at shading it out so repeated cutting back is the safest course.”

    Bartolomei added, “To help reduce the spread of the plant, collect seed heads and dispose of in a sealed bag, cut plants to the ground and remain vigilant.”
    Canada Thistle is very common and is found in many parks and other natural areas such as gardens and farms. It is important to deal with this invasive species properly and ensure that it is being eradicated whenever possible.

The  "Invasive Species Spotlight" is a summer blog series focusing on a different plant each week that is a problem for Mid-Atlantic home gardeners.

About the author:
Jacqueline Hyman is a junior journalism and English major at the University of Maryland. She is the editor-in-chief of the Mitzpeh, an independent Jewish newspaper at UMD. In addition, Jacqueline enjoys musical theater, and teaches piano and voice at Guitar Center. She is excited to be interning this summer for the Washington Gardener.

Image credit: 
Photograph by Jim Kennedy,

Monday, August 22, 2016

Win Garden Voyage Botanicals Soaps in Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest

For our August 2016 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a set of new botanical soaps that were inspired by public gardens. (The prize pack is valued at $20.)

   There’s nothing quite like the natural smells of garden herbs and flowers. So it’s no surprise that the all-natural, made-in-America soaps from Garden Voyage Botanicals were inspired by long walks through the world-class botanic gardens in the Delaware Valley.

   The fragrant soaps from Garden Voyage Botanicals produce a rich, creamy lather than leaves skin feeling  clean and rehydrated. The Gardener’s Soap contains cranberry seeds, the essence of the Southern Bayberry shrub (Myrica cerifera) and delicate notes of floral, balsam and spice to provide a pleasant garden aroma. Lavender Soap contains lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) to provide a calming, stress-reducing fragrance. Peppermint Soap features peppermint essential oil (Mentha x piperita) to energize both the mind and body. All three soaps contain Shea butter, Certified Sustainable palm oil, and natural botanical ingredients. Gardener’s Soap, Lavender Soap, and Peppermint Soap come in 5-ounce, triple-milled bars that sell for $6.95 each at garden centers and online at  

   To enter to win the soap set, send an email to by 5pm on Wednesday, August 31, with “Garden Soap” in the subject line and in the body of the email tell us which was your favorite article in the August 2016 Washington Gardener Magazine issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced and notified on September 1.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fenton Friday: Bean Waiting

my beans with Jesus House Church in background
Finally the record temps are falling to highs "just" the low 90s and we had some decent, soaking rains this past week. The bean trellis was knocked over twice by the strong storms, but it was easy enough to put back in place. The beans plants themselves are putting on lots of growth and flowers. I expect a big harvest any day now...

Last weekend I entered the county fair, those who have been by already tell me I won about 9 ribbons, which include 2nd place for both my Okra and the 'Sungold' Tomatoes. I think my zinnias, sunflowers, and celosia from the garden plot also placed, but I won't know for sure until they release the awards on Sunday.

I should be planting my cool-season edibles for fall now. I am procrastinating though as the heat may return and I am just not ready to say farewell to summer yet -- even in the abstract.

How is your edible garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday:
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 5th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Best Baptisia for the Mid-Atlantic Region featured in the August 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The August 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.
Inside this issue:
~ Best Baptisia for the Mid-Atlantic Region
~ Introducing the Meatiest, Tastiest Eggplant Ever
~ Your Monthly Garden Tasks To-do List
~ Confessions of a Trash-picker
~ What Causes Deformed Cucumbers?
~ Local Gardening Events Calendar
~ Where Have All the Native Earthworms Gone?
~ Massage Therapy’s Role in the Garden
~ Meet Frank Asher, Old City Farm & Guild
~ Tall, Blue, and Handsome: American Bellwort
and much more!
Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the September 2016 issue are due by September 10.

  Subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine today to have the monthly publication sent to your inbox as a PDF several days before it is available online. You can use the PayPal (credit card) online order form here: