Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BEWARE!

Gardeners across the land, beware the lure of Mother Nature and her Green Man - lest you be turned into one yourself! Resist the urge to garden every day and night! Cast off the lust for flowers and foliage! Repent your fertilizing ways! You have been warned...

Happy Halloween!

Yes, that is me taking root and blooming in my brother's herb garden last weekend with a rather large monarch resting on one of my sturdy stems.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pumpkin Memo

To: Silver Spring Squirrels and Their Friends
From: WashingtonGardener
Re: The Pumpkins on MY Porch

The pumpkins on my back porch are not for occasional snacking or tooth-sharpening. They are there for Halloween holiday decor. In the future, I'd appreciate if you left the carving to ME!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Worms! Why did it have to be worms?

Now comes word from the green industry enewsletter GMPRO greEn-MAIL (October 24, 2006 issue) that reported:

Worms may help disperse weed seed
Researchers at Ohio St. Univ. are studying the role earthworms play in the collection and dispersal of weed seed. One weed in particular, giant ragweed, may benefit from the behavior of earthworms and explain why the weed has been labeled one of the most stubborn weeds in Ohio to control. OSU weed scientist Emilie Regnier found that earthworms were collecting seed around their burrows. Although earthworms will collect other weed seeds, giant ragweed seed seems to be a favorite. Regnier said about two-thirds of ragweed seeds buried by earthworms are capable of producing viable seedlings. Earthworms previously have been known to disperse small weed seeds by ingesting them and then ejecting the seeds in their casts."

That's just great. Here I am encouraging these little gross things to take over my garden and now I find they are responsible for some of my weed problems! Oh yeah, and "casts"?! Just say "worm poop" and stop with the euphemisms.

Kinda like how much I detest Praying Mantids -- I've always found them to be evil, ugly things. I left them alone under the advice of those who said they were "beneficial" and ate "bad" insects. Well, newsflash they have no moral code about protecting your garden plants -- they eat EVERYTHING including beautiful Monarch Butterflies (I have piles of torn off wings to prove it) and Lady Bugs. They also dismember crickets alive one leg at a time. I hear the cricket screams in the shrubs. It is NOT pleasant. I yell at the Praying Mantis, "Just kill it already!" My neighbors have not yet reported me to the authorities, but I know they must wonder...

Okay, back to the worms. So now what do I do with this new finding? Leave them alone or do what I do to the white Japanese Beetle grubs when I come across them in my digging? Which is flick them in the pond for my goldfish or on the sidewalk for the birds to enjoy. Hmm, I'll leave the worms alone for now, but I'll be keeping one eye on them and watching for any suspicious weed seed dispersal.

Photo from: exploreventura.com/blog - no worms would come forward to cooperate with this worm expose story. It seems they only pose for photos if the story has a positive worm spin. Reminds me of certain politicians and celebrities.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Acorn Crop Coverage

Last week I began work on an article on the abundance of acorns this year. It is all the buzz of our local neighborhood list servs and I thought it was a fun topic. Wanting to go beyond just observing the phenomenon and explaining why this year had such a bumper crop, I put out a call to the NativePlantsEast discussion list serv asking if any one of the native plant groups collected acorns or needed them for projects. I recalled doing an acorn collecting few years ago and donating them for a Maryland reforestation service. I wrote the article and turned it on Tuesday for publication today in the Washington Examiner. You can read it here (Select the 10/20 print edition then scroll to page 64 online or pick up the print edition and turn to the Real Estate section's page 8). For the Real Estate/Home&Garden stories they work on a much earlier deadline than the rest of their paper.

I was a little perturbed to say the least when the next day a short article on the acorn bumper crop was in John Kelly's Metro section column. Then I was even more annoyed to see on the front page of Thursday's WashPost Home section another acorn story. I guess the two sections don't communicate.

Now this is about the 15th time in the past year that story topics that I've announced I'm working have coincidentally shown up in the WashPost. Yes, it is a small gardening world in Wash DC. And yes, some gardening topics are just timely and of course will be covered at roughly the same seasonal timing. But it is starting to wear on my nerves and make me suspicious. So do I keep our editorial calendar a deep-dark secret? Do I stop asking for quotes and inputs in public forums? I really don't see how we could operate without constantly reaching out to our readers. Unlike other institutional publications, we are built around reader input and I'd like to keep it that way.

I'm happy to say that neither of the WashPost stories addressed the "what to do with the acorns" questions -- other than the Home section describing how to plant an acorn. The squirrels take care of that for me, thanks. ;-) If anyone wants some oak saplings next spring, just drop me a line. I gave away over 60 this past year and I'm sure I'll have many more in 2007.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

We Can Be Heroes

Washington Gardener magazine has been added to the Magazine Heroes List. Basically that means we use recycled papers for our printing and other Earth-friendly practices. We have been from our inception, but this makes it "official." Aside from recycled papers I try to cut back on paper use in general by keeping most correspondence online and most records on my computer (along with a separate back-up hard drive). I still feel like I'm drowning in paper though and feel that a "paper-less" office is just not realistic. Other ways we try to save the Earth's resource like using public transpiration and then there is our magazine content itself: promoting gardening and green living! Got more Earth-friendly ideas? Feel free to share them here.

PS We are currently offering a10% off ad sale special to our Blog readers. Contact us today to find out more.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Apple-On-Ya

The Washington Gardener Enews 10/15/06 is out and now posted to our archives. This issue I did a story on Apple Picking and decided not to do just the usual "here is where to go" story that runs in every local paper each fall. I expanded on that and actually offered tips on the apple picking itself. After years of being yelled at by certain family members not to jerk and rip the apples off the trees, but to easily roll them off and not to drop them in the basket, but to gently place them -- it has finally sunk in and I'm happy to pass on the advice.

On a side note, my blog posts may be few this week as it is deadline crunch time for the Nov/Dec 06 issue of the magazine. This past weekend's GreenFestival was the best event I've done so far in terms of sales and interest. I wouldn't have missed it for the world and can't wait for next year - though it certainly put me under the gun for getting everything to the printer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Science Schmience

A press release today reads: "A behavioral study conducted at Harvard University shows people feel more compassionate toward others, have less worry and anxiety, and feel less depressed when flowers are present in the home." Here is a link to the full text.

When I get things like this or read about them (usually in the WashPost Health section), my bullshit meter goes past 10.

Now I'm all for more flowers in the world and in people's homes, but really are these studies needed? My first reaction is, "Duh?" You spent money on this - I could've told you that and saved everyone the effort.

My second reaction is usually that the studies are greatly flawed in their viewpoint -- they are almost always looking at it from the wrong end. This particular study finding should be corrected to read: "People who are less worried, anxious, or depressed tend to buy more flowers and keep them in their homes." Having flowers does NOT make you happier, it is instead an indication of your level of happiness, ease, and contentment with the world. People who are depressed or anxious don't even THINK to buy flowers, while people who are well-adjusted may indulge themselves or loved ones with the gift of flowers.

These findings are ass-backwards. They did not prove that depressives are cured by flowers, only that nondepressive people have more flowers in their homes. There is no cause-effect shown here. You know what else?

If Harvard wants to throw away their money on worthless studies they can send a few bucks my way, I'll conduct a few of mine own and prove things like: "Ugly people are less popular (or as they would have put it: Pretty people are happier!)," "You can get sick from licking the floor (Non-floor-lickers are healthier!)," and how about this ground-breaker: "People with smelly homes have fewer visitors (Homes that smell good are more welcoming)." You think?!

How about it Harvard? I'll even give you some free blog space to promote these findings when they come out ;-).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bulb-ing Over

I referred to this in passing in our Oct. 2 blog - but wanted to left everyone know of our extensive article on bulbs featured in the October issue of Washington Woman monthly magazine. You can pick up a copy for free at many local stores, such as Whole Foods, as well as libraries, local community events, etc. They did a nice plug for the magazine at the end of the piece as article payment and we plan on working more with them next year.

The bulb planting article includes a full-page side piece I did on bulb forcing. This is a subject I get asked about a lot and it is one of my favorite gardening things to do. Mostly because I hate winter and anything that bring a bit of spring inside in the dreaded Jan-Feb timeframe is welcomed by me. Moreover, bulb forcing is so easy and almost a no-brainer. It also takes care of any extra bulbs you may not be able to get plant outside for whatever reason (lack of time, room, etc.). Plus, forced bulbs make the perfect gift. And even those who object to receiving cut (dead) flowers, can have nothing bad to say about a living bulb that can be transplanted outside and come back for years to remind one of the gift-giver.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

GreenFestival Contest Announced

We are exhibiting in booth #306 at the GreenFestival DC next weekend and have 20 passes to give away to our readers. See the full contest rules on our web site.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Coyote Ugly?

Part 2 of our "Outdoor Living" trends article is in today's Washington Examiner print edition on page R4
or go online and scroll to page 60.
Which got me thinking about the opposite of outdoor living -- the coming indoors of outdoor creatures. Yeah, I'd be pretty perturbed if a family of squirrels was running around inside my walls or a raccoon moved into my attic. But can you really blame them? It's cold, wet, and windy out there today - just plain yucky. Hey, it's only fair as we move into our outdoor living rooms, that they get to experience a bit of the indoor amenities may be not be using. The movie Over The Hedge this year really illustrated that point. You expand your territory and they will adapt into yours.
This coyote-in-the-city pic is from the National Wildlife magazine. I just adore these guys and their clever ways. (I'd rather sit next to this creature on the metro, than most of the humans that plop down next to me. At least he keeps to his portion of the seat!) Their article photo examples are from Central Park in NYC. My neighbors in Rock Creek Park and along the beltway have spotted coyotes running around here as well. So they are just a few blocks from me in all directions. It is only a matter of time before I spot one drinking from my pond. If they eat the rats from nearby restaurant trash dumpsters, I welcome them! If they did anything to keep the deer away, it'd be great as well - though they have not proven a real deterrent so far to any deer-afflicted neighborhoods. I do fear for the small pets and hope folks have the brains to not have their cats and small dogs out at night around these predators.
Interesting point in this NWF piece was that coyotes are native to these parts and that they do belong here in the food chain. The frightening part to me was that people are actively feeding them. Live and let live is one thing, but actually trying to attract them is just ridiculous. While they are cute, they are not Disney characters nor are they your friends.

10/12 Update
Just got this from the THE MARYLAND-NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION - MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PARKS
PRESS RELEASE
INCREASED COYOTE SIGHTINGS REPORTED IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY PARKS AND AROUND THE COUNTY
SILVER SPRING, MD - Natural Resources staff in the Montgomery County Department of Parks report coyotes are being seen regularly throughout the county. First reported in the 1980s, their population remained fairly low through the 1990s then rose in the last five years. Reports of coyote sightings are averaging one a month. Before five years ago coyote sightings reports were received once or none a year.
Suburban environments, which include landscaped yards, parks and agricultural lands provide the ideal habitat for many wildlife species, particularly the adaptable coyote. Coyotes that become too comfortable around humans can quickly become pests.
Here are some things to do and not do in order to keep coyotes wild and to minimize conflicts.
· Never feed coyotes or other wildlife (with the exception of birds) · Don’t leave bowls of pet food or water outside at night · Keep garbage in sturdy containers with tight fitting lids · Keep compost in enclosed bins instead of exposed piles · Keep bird feeders out of reach and don’t let seeds accumulate on the ground · Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds where coyotes could rest and den · Supervise small children at all times · Keep cats indoors · Keep dogs indoors at night · Watch small dogs while outside even during daylight hours · Always walk your dogs on a leash. · Spay or neuter your dogs · Don’t tolerate coyotes around your yard - chase them off by yelling, throwing objects toward the animal (not at them)
Above all, keep coyotes wild and fearful of humans.
Generally coyotes are shy and will run as soon as they see or smell a human. In the unusual event that a coyote seems unafraid or even bold, chase it off by waiving your hands over your head, to appear as large as possible, and yelling in a deep voice. If need be, throw sticks or rocks. Most animals will be easily frightened off.
Report unusual behavior to authorities. For Montgomery County Parkland call 301/949-4149 or 301/949-2909. For other areas call the Department of Natural Resources Emergency number 410/260-8888.
For more information on coyotes in Montgomery County visit www.mc-mncppc.org/environment <http://www.mc-mncppc.org/environment>.
I just want to add that I tried that rock throwing and shaking a stick thing last year with a big, fat raccoon in my yard, it does NOT work. He basically gave me a "come on, you and I both know you are not going to actually hit me" look. He called my bluff and I caved.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Good Read

A tip of the mousepad to the folks at E, the Environmental Magazine. Their current cover story THE SCOOP ON DIRT - Why We Should all Worship the Ground We Walk On is a masterpiece. Because they write about green issues in such a comprehensive and utterly compelling way, I just thought I'd share. They don't just cover an issue, they pull it apart to its essential elements and give it a thorough sifting.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Nice Pat on the Back

We had a really nice plug for the magazine coming soon in print in the Alexandria Times community newspaper. Here is the text:

The Washington Gardener is a marvelous new garden magazine for our area. Subscribe for $18 a year, well worth it. They also have a free online monthly Enewsletter or
contact Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher at 301-588-6894 or
editor@washingtongardener.com or http://www.washingtongardener.com/.

(Update - here is the actual link.)

This review was courtesy of Nancy A. Burns. Nancy is their regular garden columnist and according to her bio is also: a Master Gardener, Horticulture Information Director on the Board of District 2—National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs, President of the Belle Haven Garden Club, and an officer in the National Capital Orchid Society.

I went back through the Alexandria Times archives and read a few of her garden columns. This is a real gardener who has her pulse on local northern VA garden scene. And she is a nice lady to boot! We met in person a few weeks ago at the Friends of Brookside Gardens sale, where we had a table set up. This just goes to show that even though our goal that days was to get new subscribers (which we did), there are bonus benefits to going to every possible garden event in the area. Next on our agenda is our Open Garden on October 9 and then the GreenFestival on October 14-15. Another busy month!

Oh yes, over the weekend we got a call through the Washington Woman folks saying that local NBC affiliate WRC Channel 4 would like us on tomorrow (Tues. Oct 3 for the News 4 at 4) to do a segment on bulb planting, which is the subject of an article I wrote for the current Washington Woman issue. I'm very excited about this and seeing how many people we reach with this weekday afternoon versus the early Sunday morning segment on WUSA Channel 9.