Friday, September 30, 2011

Fenton Friday -- Tomatillo: Food or Cat Toys?

purple tomatillos

So I have these five purple tomatillos I grew at my Fenton Community Garden plot sitting on my kitchen windowsill. They are pretty and all, but I have NO idea what to do with them. Too few for a salsa or really any recipe. Too tart to just eat them straight. So there they sit. Or should I say, there they MOSTLY sit as every morning this week I have found one or two rolling around on the kitchen floor. Cat toys in some nocturnal kitty soccer game. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see cat hair on the one that is second from the right as evidence. At this point, I may sacrific them all to the cats unless someone has a good recipe idea?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Martha Adventure

So it started a few weeks ago when a couple friends both separately mentioned wanting to take a NY trip this fall. I remembered I had wanted to take in a Martha Stewart Show taping sometime and figured I'd check the television taping schedule to see if any would make timing sense with the NY trips.

On the Martha Stewart web site, the first show listed was for a "Harvest" show and they wanted gardeners to bring in their home-grown edibles. I shot off a quick online note that night describing my new community garden plot and saying I'd bring okra. I got a call and email the next morning say "yes" -- to bring the okra (as no other applicants had mentioned it) and could I bring some gardening friends.

I immediately thought of my fellow garden writers and New York natives, Ellen Zachos and Ellen Spector Platt. I called the Ellens and they were both "in." I made my bus reservations and started planning my basket design and wardrobe. The show sent a few more notes asking again for more gardening friends, for garden advice tips, and to tell us all the rules. Those included not to wear black, tan, or grey; to not bring Martha "gift" or expect an autograph; to arrive on time (8:30am for our 10am live show); etc.

Packing up my basket the day before my departure, I saw I was a little low on okra so I added a strawberry basket in of tomatillos, yellow cherry tomatoes, and a small jar filled with ground cherries. I then asked a few fellow community gardeners if they had okra to spare. I cut 2 green from one plot and 3 reds from another. I figured more was better than looking skimpy. I'm glad I did as I lost a couple okra somewhere along my journey!

The morning of the show, the Ellens and I arrived at the studio to find a long line out front. We had a little time as they brought in groups a few at a time through security and screening. We compared basket contents with our line-neighbors and exchanged stories/backgrounds/introductions. It became clear to me that most others there were not home gardeners, but instead were professional farmers. Indeed, as we were grouped and seated for the show, they called folks in by their farm names. I was disappointed that the theme and focus had shifted off of backyard, urban growers, but I understand the staff had to make sure there was a full bounty and good turn-out.

While we waited outside, Joey, the warm-up guy, and a few producers came out and told those of us still in line to get ready for a camera pan and to put on our "TV smiles." They did a few passes with a steady cam then we got in and filled out release forms, checked our bags, and got seated.

Before the show and during the commercial breaks they played amped-up energy pop like Eminem and the Pussycat Dolls. I had to wonder if Martha actually liked it or merely tolerated it. 

The opening segment, Martha pulled out HER basket of home-grown okra and proceeded to cook with it. So, yeah, my presence or basket were not needed - LOL.

It was an interesting show with chef Emeril Lagasse as the only guest. He came in the ground and made a dish from the ingredients he collected from baskets. To me he seemed rather subdued and quiet, maybe Martha makes him nervous?

Next, they pulled a NY corn farmer from the audience and he got to use his sweet corn with Martha showing some cooking and preserving tips.


A segment taped at the National Heirloom Exhibition in Sonoma, CA, was very well done, and actually made me want to go to it next year. Though I believe the time conflicts badly with the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello :-(.


Most of the produce brought to the show went to City Harvest, a NY food bank. (You were given a choice if you wanted to take it back or donate it and Martha even commented off-camera that she knew it would be hard for some to give-away their home-grown babies as they put so much work into them.) I gave all the okra (about 5 pounds worth), but kept the jar of ground cherries as I promised to try and save the seeds for a few fellow gardeners. The ground cherries and tomatoes I shared with seat neighbors to snack on.

After the show, we all received two books, ""Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders," by Emeril Lagasse and "The Heirloom Life Gardener," by Jere and Emilee Gettle. I perused both on the bus ride back to DC. I'll be adding the heirloom edibles book to our review pile for the magazine and think I'll make the Emeril book a prize in a future contest.


Ellen Zachos in blue, Ellen Spector Platt in red, and me in tangerine sweater set (waving).

Don't blink or you'll miss me!

Emeril picks the lilac wine from Ellen's basket. I'm on her left.

Emeril trying to open Ellen's lilac wine on air.

During the Q&A, the women in front of us gets picked first. You can see Ellen Spector Platt's herb basket on her left and my okra basket to her right.

As the end credits roll, they panned up the aisle and you get a really good luck at us and our "tv smiles."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video Wednesday: DC School Garden Week 2011 Kick-Off



DC School Garden Week 2011 kick-off event at the Walker-Jones Academy in NW Washington DC at the Walker-Jones Farm.

The events this week include workshops, talks, networking, and school garden tours. Find out more at http://www.dcschoolgardenweek.org/.

Music in this video is "Everything Begins" by http://www.danosongs.com/.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tip for Halloween Pumpkin Shoppers: Buy Local and Buy Early

Margaret McGrath, associate professor of Plant Pathology at Cornell University, comments on the current growing season and the availability of pumpkins to consumers this fall.

She says: “There has been a lot of concern about the pumpkin crop this year because conditions were very favorable for diseases to develop with all the rain during recent storms. But just like a bad flu season when many of us are able to avoid becoming sick, there are some nice healthy pumpkins available, especially for the early shoppers.
   “Our farmers put a lot of effort and money into producing top quality pumpkins and other produce. In a year like this when they have lost more than usual, it is especially important to buy local to help support these farmers so they can stay in business. They don't increase their prices to make up for their losses.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pruning the Social Media Maze for Gardeners and Garden Organizers

You are invited to a FREE talk -- part of DC School Garden Week --
Pruning the Social Media Maze for Gardeners and Garden Organizers

Moderator:
Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine

Panelists:
~ Abbie Steiner, The Capital Area Food Bank
~ Lola Bloom Co-founder, City Blossoms
~ Frances Evangelista, Community Outreach and Development, Walker Jones Education Campus

Tuesday, September 27, 5:00 p.m.

In the school library at the Walker Jones Education Campus. 1125 New Jersey Avenue NW.

FREE to attend
Find out where gardeners are hanging out in the social media sphere and how to best reach them. We’ll discuss the pros-cons, hows and whys of Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, e-newsletters, and, the newest to the party, Google +.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fenton Friday: Watermelon "Feast"

garlic
Another water-logged week in the Mid-Atlantic, so I'm not doing much over at my Fenton Community Garden plot other than oicking some okra, cherry tomatoes, and corn as well as pulling the occasional weed. I did see that the garlic I planted has popped right up. Maybe next year, I'll have some nice-sized heads.








'Sugar Baby' watermelon on the vine

I also finally picked one of my 'Sugar Baby' watermelons. It never grew much bigger than a large grapefruit and rather than let it rot out there, I figured I might as well cut it and see what is inside. The outside flesh is a very dark green, almost black, which is just as 'Sugar Baby' should be. The inside flesh was red and sweet, though not that much to it really. It has more seeds than I care for when eating it, but I suppose I should collect and save some for the upcoming Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges this winter. For anyone who wants a "personal-sized" watermelon, this would do well. I think though as I love to snack on watermelon in the summer heat, I'll look for a variety that is a bit bigger, seedless, and ripens earlier in the season.
'Sugar Baby' watermelon cut up


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eyewitness Gardening

Guest Blog by Sharon Corish

I have always loved gardening, but recently I have really gotten interested in the botany aspect of gardening. I have gone to the library to pick up books like Botany for Gardeners: Revised Edition by Brian Capon, and the Eyewitness Books on plants. I have turned to encyclopedias and browsed various web sites in search of answers to plant questions. Though, nothing quite beats the privilege of hands-on learning.

My favorite way to learn about the plants around me and how they work is by watching them. For instance, most of this past summer I was wondering why I did not see many impatiens seedpods. I soon learned that they would not produce many pods until later in the summer, and when they do, the pods burst when they have ripened fully. Learning from real-life experiences is the only true way to learn something and actually remember it. I do not think any textbook reading or online article can match to the excitement and surprise I felt when that impatiens seedpod suddenly exploded out of my hands shortly after being picked. Nature is an exciting classroom, best experienced in person. Articles are great for background knowledge, because without them, sometimes we have a hard time knowing what to look for.

About Our Guest Blogger:
Sharon has started blogging at http://sharon-corish.blogspot.com/. She loves botany, art and writing, and has a passion for helping others.

We welcome guest blog posts from beginner and experienced gardeners. If you'd like to submit a guest blog post, contact us at wgardenermag (at) aol (dot) com with "Guest blog" in the subject line.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?

This past week I visited a great exhibit at the National Archives in downtown DC. The free exhibit runs through January 3 and is all about the government's effect on the American diet. It sounds like a rather dry subject, I admit, but don't let that prevent you from going. I found a lot of the displays were quite fascinating and much ofthe subjects were centered on gardening/growing of food in this country and how the government has had a hand in guiding it.

For instance, did you know the US government gave out free seeds from 1839-1924 just for the asking? A log book is on display at the exhibit as well as some of the seed packs. Not just crops like wheat, just also cosmos flowers and more ornamental plants. The practice ended after the American Seed Trade Association successfully lobbied against the practice as clearly this hurt the seed trade.

Another fact I had not known was that while the folks back home were on rations during World War II and told to grow their own food, our boys overseas were alloted 5,000 calories per soldier and the average joe came back 15-20 pounds heavier!

If you go, be sure to stop by the gift shop on your way out. They have some nifty cookbook reprints and retro-style items. I have my eye on a tin mug stamped "Dig for Victory" that will make a great holiday gift for a couple folks on my list.

BTW absolutely NO photography is allowed inside the exhibit, so leave the camera at home.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Heritage Harvest Fest this weekend!

I'm ecstastic that Washington Gardener Magazine will be the part of the 5th annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello this year. It is a celebration of gardening, sustainable agriculture, and local food, held on the breathtaking West Lawn of Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA. Taste heirloom fruits and vegetables and learn about organic gardening and seed-saving at this fun, family-friendly festival talking place Friday-Saturday, September 16-17, 2011.

We'll have a table in the Tasting Tent all day Saturday where you can sign up for subscriptions or buy current and back issues. I'll also be talking on "Small Space Gardening" on Saturday from 3:15-4:15pm in Classroom 7, Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center.

I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my friends and colleague there as well as participating in the old-fashioned Seed Swap on early Saturday morning. One booth I'll definitely stop by is Landreth Seed Company. If you have not already heard, they could really use your support.

I hope you will join me for all or part of the festival!

Fenton Friday: Tomato Time!

So finally the tomatoes are doing something! After weeks of piddly fruit and those few I did get all cracking/splitting from the hurricanes/tropical storms, I finally have a good crop ripening all at once. I am surprised to see that many of my fellow Fenton Community Gardeners have already ripped out their tomato plants (fruit and all) and throw them on the compost pile. There is still plenty of life in those vines left folks and I guarantee we'll have more 90+ degree days in the next few weeks as summer is NOT over yet. (Despite what big retailers and marketers would have you believe.) Even if we do not have any more hot days, you can still pick the green one and let them ripen at home or use them "green" in salsa, jams, or other savory recipes. Personally, I'm not pulling my tomatoes until the frost blackens them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Annuals -- Washington Gardener Enews -- September 2011


Washington Gardener Enews ~ September 2011

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
~ Fall Annuals: Colorful Plants for the Cooling Season
~ Magazine Excerpt: Amsonia hubrichtii
~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2011 Day Trips
~ Reader Contest: Win a copy of "The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer" by Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Grafter Tomato and Vegetable Plants
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for September-October
~ The Top Local Garden Events Calendar
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

The issue is posted online at:
http://issuu.com/washingtongardener/docs/sept11

NOTE: As of August 2011, the monthly Washington Gardener Enews will only be sent out as a PDF to current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers.

The Washington Gardener Enews is a monthly, online sister-publication to the printed quarterly Washington Gardener Magazine, they have the same mission, but different content and delivery methods.

Without your sup­port, we cannot continue publishing this enewsletter nor Washington Gar­dener Magazine!

To subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine, see the form on page 9 of the attached Enewsletter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video Wednesday: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day



I figured this week I'd kill two birds with one stone and combine my weekly video post with Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Here is a short video of a few of the things blooming in my garden. I especially tried to highlight interesting plant color combinations. Enjoy!

Music: "I'm Gonna Go" from Free Royalty Free Music by DanoSongs.com

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living Tribute to 9-11 Victims

(I originally published this blog post on 9-12-2009, and thought it'd be appropriate to share it again today.)

This past Friday was 9-11. I'm sure that many of you reflected on the events of 2001 that day. One of the things it has re-affirmed for me is to celebrate life and to focus on the living. The Remember-Me Rose Garden project does that by creating living tributes to those who lost their lives that day. Pictured here is the 'Patriot Dream' rose, one of a collection of 11 new rose varieties commemorating the heroes of that day. It was planted at LaSalle-Backus Education Campus in NE Washington DC (near Ft Totten) at a ceremony attended by educators, city officials, and the press as well as friends and family of loved ones on Flight 77. I have posted a series of photos from the rose planting ceremony at LaSalle at the Washington Gardener Magazine Facebook page here.

Friday, September 09, 2011

FOBG Plant Sale Attracts DC-area Plant-a-holics

Washington Gardener Magazine will be at FOBG Plant Sale, sponsored by the Friends of Brookside Gardens, this Saturday, September 10 from 10:00am-3:00pm outside the Brookside Gardens' Visitors Center. We'll be signing up new subscribers and taking renewals plus selling current and back issues as well.

FOBG members get in early and get first dibs from 8-10am -- and yes, you can join FOBG onsite and shop the early morning hours too.
Directions: 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, MD 20902
This event is rain or shine.

PS This once-a-year sale is well-known amongst DC-area plant-a-holics. I'm hearing rumors about some hardy pomegranates, variegated caryopteris, and other rare/choice finds.

Fenton Friday: Waterlogged!

This week I hardly spent anytime outdoors, much less at my plot in the Fenton Street Community Garden. It was one day of torrential downpours after another. Today is no exception. I did get over to the plot yesterday afternoon during a brief reprieve just so I could quickly clean up anything down on the ground and pick a quick collection of things for dinner.

I got another 'Snow Leopard' honeydew melon, this one bigger and even more tastier than the previous ones. I also picked 3 ears of corn, a cup or so of pole beans, more okra, and lots of cracked tomatoes. I discovered one of my beloved 'Sugar Baby' watermelons was rotting and invaded underneath by worms, so I chucked that along with all the crack tomatoes into the compost pile.

When I got home I shucked the corn and found one ear was pretty wormy too so that also went to compost. The other two I cleaned, wrapped in wax paper, and zapped in the microwave together for 4 minutes. The ears are smaller than "store-bought" ones, but the individual kernels are quite plump and large in a golden yellow. With a nice pat of butter, they were so yummy.

I cut up the 'Snow Leopard' honeydew melon and shared a few tiny pieces with the cats. They beg for it and also like to share my cucumbers. Go figure.

The pole beans I cleaned and cut off the ends, then snapped the larger ones in half. I threw them all into a small pot of boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Again, with a nice pat of butter, they hit just the right spot on a cool, wet evening.

What are you picking and eating from your vegetable plots this week?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Video Wednesday: "You'll Find Me in the Garden" Student Documentary



This short student documentary is entitled: "You'll Find Me in the Garden." It was filmed in my garden in early spring 2010 and debuted a year ago at the Docs in Progress student film screening. I have just located it on Youtube and can now share it with you all. (A typo in the description kept it hidden from my previous searches.) Enjoy and stay dry during this post-hurricane week!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Landreth Seed Company Needs Our Help! part 2

BARBARA MELERA: Heirloom Seed Saver
interview by Kathy Jentz
photo by Drena J. Galarza

Barbara Melera is co-owner of D. Landreth Seed Company based in New Freedom, PA. She has a whirlwind schedule, but we caught up to her during the recent New Jersey Flower & Garden Show.


Q Tell us about your background and how you came to the decision to purchase D. Landreth Seeds?

A I was a venture capitalist for 20 years and worked with leading edge technology companies. I decided I wanted to retire from it and someone who knew me (another venture capitalist) knew of my passion for gardening and history. She laughingly told me about this seed company and I fell in love with it.

D. Landreth Seed Company was family run from 1784 until it was sold in 1940s. It was run for the next 30-odd years by Ben Goldberg. He passed away at age 95 and his son was looking to sell.

The company has had over the last three centuries many loyal customers who bought from them for decades. They sold all throughout the country and were a modest wholesale operation. The customers were largely family-run hardware stores and nurseries.

The inventory it offered was vintage classic heirloom seeds – a huge selection of 500 different varieties – with that in place we decided the business should take advantage of its history and take a place in that heirloom market. But within the first year we also discovered there were two other promising, undeveloped markets for these seeds. The market in children’s gardening and that of container gardening. We found we could target plants just for them, since many of the classic varieties lent themselves well to both of those markets. It was a natural extension of the offerings we hand on hand. We didn’t need to develop new ones; we had the inventory on hand already to market to those needs.

What is typical work day like?

A I get up around 4:30 in the morning, pick up one of our employees in Baltimore City at 6:30, and we are in the office between 7-7:30 depending on traffic and weather.

From November through January, there are four of us and we are packing seeds either with an automated machine or by hand for the more valuable seeds. In the January to May period, we are either at flower shows or filling orders.

Starting March to September, we are tending our trial gardens, which consist of more than 300 containers with more than 450 varieties largely veggies and some flowers. Throughout the summer we are visiting customer’s gardens and spend time with them as well getting photos and material ready for the annual catalog.

Beginning in July, we do germination testing of our current inventory, which takes about three months to complete. Also in the summer we are looking at new “old” varieties to add to our catalog. We are cleaning the warehouse and reconditioning the equipment — readying for fall.

August to September, seed orders for our inventory is completed and the catalog is done. We do two mailings: by November 15 to our wholesale customers and we aim for the retail catalog to be in our customer’s hands right on December 26.
What mistakes/triumphs have you encountered in your work with heirloom seeds?

A Lots of mistakes! Seed integrity is definitely an issue. People we buy from can innocently get varieties confused. As an example, The Long White cucumber and White Wonder cucumber are often confused. We are trying to offer the consumer the correct seed variety. It is a big issue for anyone dealing in heirloom seeds and believing that your seed sources know what they are doing is not always guaranteed. Not that they are deliberately doing it, it is accidental – which you just don’t know.

Availability of seeds in the heirloom market is precarious. They are not grown on a mass scale so you become vulnerable to the growers and what is available. Knowing or hearing about outstanding varieties that are ceasing to exist is hard. The Dr. Martin lima bean has only one source on the East Coast. He is an 80-year-old man who has promised us his seed stock — about 40-50 pounds from his crop this year. The Dr. Martin lima is two inches long when dry. It is legendary in size and loaded with flavor. We don’t have a second source for them. It is an agonizing issue.

One triumph we had is a great story. My husband, Peter, and I had owned the company for less than six weeks when he was assigned the duty of cleaning up the inventory. He got to the pumpkin section and found Boston Marrow, a cherished pumpkin pie squash. He took the 15 pounds of seeds and threw it all out as it looked buggy. Another employee then set about ordering more and found no sources. She spent 18 months – one or two days every week with no luck in getting more seeds. We panicked thinking we had destroyed the last seed stock for that variety!

So I went to Aaron Whaley at Seed Savers Exchange and asked him to look for a family still growing them. We finally found three sources a year later. They started growing them for production. Then last summer, he called and said we were going to have Boston Marrow squash for you. It turns out the most reliable seed was from Aaron’s father who purchased it from Ben Goldberg at Landreth back in 1986. It has come full-circle and is now finally available again in our 2007 catalog.

What advice would you give to beginners/amateurs in designing their own home landscapes or vegetable gardens?

A My advice is wherever possible to create edible landscapes especially in the DC-area where land is at a premium. I’m becoming passionate about it. You could have a gorgeous garden that is all edible ornamentals. That is how we should garden in our region.

One suggestion I’d make to gardeners in our region are to grow the Belgian White carrot. The green feathery top is magnificent. It flowers in late August through September. You can pick some of carrots as well as leaving some to go to seed.

Another suggestion, it is not an heirloom, but certainly one of the most stunning, is the Black Pearl hot pepper. Every garden should have them. Of the same caliber is the Fairytale eggplant which is absolutely beautiful and very easy to grow.

What vegetables/plants are your favorites to use in the greater DC area?

A I recommend the smaller carrots, Thumbelina and Tonda Di Parigi, for small, urban gardens. I like the mini sweet peepers – Miniature Chocolate Bell, Miniature Red Bell, and Miniature Yellow Bell. I love the fava beans. We don’t use them enough here. The Brits use them all the time and grow them in small spaces. Try Aqaudulce favas to start. Grow the whole beans – not bush beans – if you are in an urban environment. It is just a more efficient use of space. My all-time favorite eggplant is the Louisiana Long Green and for cukes try to Lemon cucumber. Finally, every urban garden should try a summer squash called Lemon.

Conversely, what plants would you advise others to avoid?

A Avoid the butterhead lettuce. Novice gardeners have such high hopes of raising a perfect Iceberg lettuce. It is very hard in our regional environment. People get very disappointed

It is not cool enough for long enough in our springtime without a frost to grow them well. Try leaf lettuce instead.

I also caution against artichokes for two reasons. The only way is to do it in a container and it has to be brought inside and protected in the winter months. It must be in big pots, at least a half whiskey barrel. In general though, it is hugely disappointing and not worth it in this climate.

What do customers request the most?

A The always ask what vegetables and flowers will deer, raccoons, squirrels, etc. not eat. With the exception of daffodils almost anything will be eaten.

They also all want a reliable red sandwich-size heirloom tomato. Customers who haven’t grown heirlooms are scared to try them and think they will not have good productivity. I recommend Mortgage Lifter first to them. They can also try Purple Calabash or the old standby Brandywine.

The next most prevalent question I get is for squash unattractive to the dreaded squash borer. The answer is there are none, but the most resistant is the Lemon squash.

Anything else you want to add or think would be of interest to our readers?

A There is a perception that heirlooms are hard to grow or less bug resistant or more finicky. Our experience is that is not the case. Especially when grown in containers, they are as vigorous, if not more so, than the common varieties. They’ve been around a long time and are every bit as susceptible to the vagaries of weather and disease as other plants, but are certainly not more so. Every garden should have a few heirlooms and embrace some of the new varieties as well that have outstanding potential.

Barbara Melera can be reached at 800.654.2407 or bmelera@landrethseeds.com. D. Landreth Seed Company is online at http://www.landrethseeds.com/.

This interview profile was reprinted from Washington Gardener Magazine's March/April 2007 issue.

Please see part 1 of this blog posting for how you can help Landreth Seed Company survive and thrive.


.

Landreth Seed Company Needs Our Help! part 1

Landreth Seed Company is a generous sponsor of Washington Gardener Magazine's annual seed exchanges and has been extremely supportive of the local gardening community, please order from them and pass on the word to fellow gardeners.

I have just spoken to Barbara Melera and she says the new catalog will be extraordinary. It will contain the origins and history of the foods we grow. Knowing that in past years their catalog was snapped up and out-of-stock immediately, I am pre-ordering a few dozen copies for my garden club and a dozen more for personal holiday gifts.

Here is an email she put out last week explaining the company's dire situation:

To All of Our Customers & Friends

All of you know the story of Landreth and most of you know me, Barb Melera. My husband, Peter, I have been working to restore this historic American company for the past 8 years.

We set about to restore this Company because it is the most historically important American small business in existence. It is the only American company, still operating daily, that existed when this country became a ...nation. Its founders were honorable men who helped establish and guide the agricultural and horticultural industries of this country in the 1700s, the 1800s and the 1900s. Landreth exemplifies American business and the ethics and integrity that built this nation.


On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the Company’s accounts were frozen by a garnishment order initiated by XYZ law firm of Baltimore, MD at the request of a Miss Liz King of Petaluma, CA. Landreth owes Miss King $250,000 plus interest. In 2009, the management of Landreth asked Miss King to give them an additional 2 years to pay off the debt owed to her. She and her lawyers refused and sued the Company and the owners in 2010. Miss King provided her lawyers with an incorrect address for Landreth so that notification of the trial was never received by Landreth management. A Baltimore judge ruled in favor of Miss King because no one from Landreth showed up at the trial to defend Landreth and to request a modest extension of the note for 2 years. In today’s troubled economic environment, the request was not unreasonable. Both Miss King and her lawyers knew this.


If this garnishment order is not satisfied within the next 30 days, Landreth will cease to exist and a part of America’s history will be lost forever. I need to sell 1 million 2012 catalogs to satisfy this garnishment and the cascade of other indebtedness which this order has now initiated.

If you want to help save this piece of America, if you love gardening and heirloom seeds, if you care about righting the injustices of a legal system badly in need of repair, then please help Landreth. Please purchase a Landreth catalog, and if you can afford it, purchase several for your friends. Please send this link to everyone you know, www.landrethseeds.com. One million catalogs is a big number, but with the internet it is achievable. Please help us to save Landreth.
~ Barbara Melera, Landreth Seed Company
In part 2 of this blog post, I will post an interview with Barbara that we published published in spring 2007. This will give you just a hint of what makes this woman and the Landreth Seed Company such a treasure to our local and national gardening communities.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Crafty Gardeners Share their Favorite Projects

Our August 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine reader contest call for crafty area gardeners brought out some impressive entries! Here are some of the inventive creations by Mid-Atlantic gardeners.

Lynn T. of Lanham, MD shared her artistic craft: "Ed A. and I were captivated by the hanging mirror art at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore -- so we went to a workshop given by the artist, Bob Benson, at his home in Glen Burnie, MD. Here is a photo of one that I did at his workshop. These were easy, great fun, and even imperfect work looks wonderful flashing in the sun."
 
Madeline C. of Washington, DC says: "Garden crafts I have created are various support structures made out of bamboo. My husband (with my help) made a bamboo fence, we both made a bamboo trellis (see pics at TakomaHort.org), and I have made smaller bamboo supports (mini-trellises) for house plants. I like the look of bamboo, that it can be made into functional items for the garden, and that bamboo is a renewable garden resource."

"My garden craft is my wattle fence, which is rustic even by wattle standards. Three pictures are attached. I started the fence in the Spring of 2010, using small branches from a cedar tree that my neighbors lost in that winter's storms for the vertical posts. Then I started weaving wattle from any source I could find, so it's quite an eclectic mix. Existing wattle dries out and breaks, so I always have my eye out for new wattle," said Sue H. of Kensington, MD

Rachel E. of Alexandria, VA submitted her entry noting: "I have experimented with terrariums a little bit - here is a wall bubble that I purchased and then put in a small succulent from this summer's farmers market with a tiny ceramic turtle that I purchased at a random souvenir shop in Costa Rica. It is hanging above my desk and I love to observe it while thinking/taking a break from the work day."

Holly B. of Sunderland, MD modestly wrote, "One of the garden crafts that I make is dish gardens in emu egg shells. Here is a picture."

Kenneth M. of Washington DC said, "I haven't actually made much in the way of garden crafts, which seems unusual, given my crafty bent. But! I do plan on making little plant pockets over the winter for a massive guerilla gardening project in the spring. (For example, see: http://agritate.tumblr.com/post/9511264823/a-great-combination-of-my-passions-crafty)." Kenneth, those are a darling idea. I do hope you share photos of the project when you complete it!

*Drumroll* And the winner chosen at random from among the submitted contest entries is Holly B. of Sunderland, MD! She wins a copy of Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant from Timber Press. Easy to make and a wonder to behold, jewel-like terrariums are winning over a new generation of crafters and gardeners. Terrarium Craft is the first step-by-step project book for this new audience. Authors and nursery owners Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant offer up everything a beginning terrarium crafter needs to get started, from advice about tools and materials, information about plant choices and simple maintenance tips. 50 unique projects offer fantastical inspiration alongside easy-to-follow instructions and ingredients lists.

I hope you all are as inspired as I am by these crafty gardener entries and will post (with photo links) any creations you make in the comments below.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Fenton Friday: Hurricane Harvest

After a week away at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium (this year in Indianapolis), I came back expecting to find my hurricane-impacted plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden in tatters. Instead, it looked pretty good. My corn is somewhat bent, but the ears are ripening and seem no worse for the storms. Thanks to Diane S. who looked after my plot while I was away. (I had looked after hers the week before.) I was able to pick all that you see pictured here plus leave some out there for later consumption. Some of the tomatoes are splitting and have worms moving in, so those went straight to the compost pile.

I also finally have beans! Lots of them! I picked just a few representative pole beans for the photo above, but did not want to pick the rest until right before I consume them.

Back at my home garden, the hurricane brought down lots of small branches and a few big ones. Overall though, most things actually seem to have greatly enjoyed the repeated soakings followed by cooler temps. Many plants have jumped into bloom and my pond plus rainbarrel are over-flowing again. After a horribly dry July, what a difference a month of good storms makes!