Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Video Wednesday: The Takoma Horticultural Club Commemorates their First 100 Years


The Takoma Horticultural Club commemorated the first 100 years of their existence with an afternoon reception with live music and light refreshments in the afternoon of Sunday, August 27, 2016, in the great room inside the EF Language School at 6896 Laurel St. NW, Washington, DC.

The video was taken by Carole Galati.

Additional photos and videos are posted to the club's Facebook page at -- https://www.facebook.com/groups/48402553606/

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tomato Taste 2016 Results: The Favorite Wins, But Second Place is a Hotly Contested Race


We had almost 300 people come to yesterday's Washington Gardener Magazine 9th Annual Tomato Taste at the FreshFarm Silver Spring Market last Saturday. Here are the results of the more than 200 ballots submitted.
  1. Sun Gold from Chicano Sol
  2. Green Zebra from Three Springs Fruit Farm
  3. Chocolate Cherry from Mock's Greenhouse
  4. Yellow Pepper from Quaker Valley Orchards
  5. Cherokee Purple from Spiral Path Farm 
  6. Valencia from The Farm at Our House 
  7. Beefsteak from Spring Valley Farm and Orchard
Last year  'Black Cherry' upset both perennial favorites 'Sun Gold' and 'Sun Sugar,' but this year the sweeter tomatoes came roaring back. The second place spot was very close, with just a couple votes separating them. I was personally surprised by 'Green Zebra' pulling it out in the end.

If we had excluded the cherry varieties from our contest, then the 'Green Zebra' and 'Cherokee Purple' would have been at the top as the slicing tomatoes with the most votes.

Do take a minute to click on the photo link here to view the Facebook album of photos from the event. I think you will agree that the market tomatoes are absolutely gorgeous and very photogenic. Also, many people stopped by to create colorful tomato art and to pick up the free tomato seeds, growing tips, and recipes that we gave out.


Ethan of College Park, MD, (pictured here with his younger brother) won the prize drawing of a market bag full of gardening goodies and $25 worth of market tokens!

Most of the taste attendees were local, though we also had many who came quite a distance. About half live in Silver Spring. Another third live close by in Washington, DC or the neighboring towns of Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, Kensington, and Bethesda. From farther away in Maryland, folks came from Glen Burnie, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Ellicott City, College Park, Owings Mills, Baltimore, and Annapolis. From across the river in Virginia, attendees came from Crystal City. From out of the area, we had attendees from Portland, ME, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Boston, MA, Tucson, AZ, and Arcadia, CA. And we even had one taster this year from New Brunswick, Canada!

Thank you to all who came and participated. Thanks to the farmers for growing great tomatoes and to FreshFarm Markets staff for hosting us. Special thanks also to Ronit and Shely for helping with all the tomato sample cutting and helping greet all the tasters in the short two-hour event. See you next August!

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
Email: barry@sunfarm.com
www.sunfarm.com

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK Details:
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 wgardenermag@aol.com 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, www.flickr.com/photos/nature80020/sets/.

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 www.gardenvoyage.com.  

   To enter to win the soap set, send an email to WashingtonGardener@rcn.com 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.

UPDATE:
We have a winner! Congratulations to Elizabeth Berry of Washington, DC. Her entry was chosen at random from among those submitted. We know she will enjoy the relaxing and restorative scented soaps :-).

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: http://www.washingtongardener.com/index_files/subscribe.htm

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Invasive Species Spotlight: Devil’s Tail

Guest post by Jacqueline Hyman 


Devil’s Tail (Persicaria perfoliata), also known as Mile-A-Minute weed, is a fast-growing invasive that shrouds other plants, preventing them from receiving important nutrients and sunlight. 

    The plant was introduced to Beltsville, MD, in 1937, as well as in other parts of the United States, according to Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. It was also introduced to a nursery site in York County, PA, in the 1930s, which is likely the source of the plant’s growth in the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S., according to the book.

   University of Maryland Extension Educator Charles Schuster said the plant thrives in many conditions, including farmland, landscapes, and nurseries.

   “I find it everywhere I go,” said Schuster, who works in commercial horticulture. “There’s not an area that I have not found it in my normal travels.”

   Mile-A-Minute is an annual trailing vine, with pale green triangular leaves. It also has what Schuster calls a reverse-facing thorn.

  “Instead of having a thorn at a direct right angle to the stem facing toward the outside of the stem, this has a thorn that as you grab the stem and start to pull and your hand slides a little bit, it literally digs in,” Schuster said.


   This thorn is one way the plant spreads and repopulates, as it can dig into people and animals, being dragged through different areas. Additionally, birds eat the seeds and spread the plant that way, Schuster said.

   Water is also an “important mode of dispersal as fruits can remain buoyant for seven to nine days,” according to Plant Invaders.

   Schuster said the plant likes temperatures 70 degrees and above, and grows aggressively.

    “In optimum conditions with adequate soil moisture and appropriate temperature, Mile-A-Minute will take off, and it will grow inches in a day,” he said. "It is very aggressive in that you have a bare spot in a forest or a bare spot in a landscape …  this is the type of one that will aggressively take that spot, grow up into the shrubbery, up in the trees."

    Devil’s Tail is in competition with other plants for moisture, and during dry times sucks up a lot of moisture that other plants need, Schuster said. It also forms a canopy over other plants, preventing them from getting the necessary sunlight, diminishing ability for photosynthesis.

    Many herbicides, including natural ones, will kill Devil’s Tail, Schuster said.

   "It’s an easy-to-control weed from the aspect there’s a lot of chemicals that will knock this out quickly and easily," he added. However, Plant Invaders recommends biological control.

   Schuster said in his own garden, he simply puts on a pair of gloves and pulls the weed. Gloves are important when dealing with this plant in order to avoid injury, he said, because of its unique thorn.

    “If I’m not to the point of where it’s having berries, I’ll just pull and drop it and let it decay right there on sight,” said Schuster. “It might not be the most beautiful way of doing it, but I’m trying to recycle as much as I can right on the site on which it’s found.”

   In order to prevent spreading the plant, people should check to make sure they are not carrying it when visiting forested areas or anywhere the plant might thrive. "If you see it catch onto you, you should make sure you remove it so that you’re not taking it to a new location, especially home," said Schuster.

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:
At top, Persicaria perfoliata (non-native) by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, wikipedia commons.
At middle, Mile-a-minute thorns by Dalgial, wikipedia commons.
At bottom, Mile-a-minute in flower/fruit Washington Gardener Magazine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Hot Enough for Ya?




It is the 15th of the month, which means Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day again. To view links to other garden bloggers' blooms around the world to see what it blooming in their gardens and to read their collective comments, go to http://www.maydreamsgardens.com/2016/08/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-august-2016.html.

It has been a scorching month here in the Mid-Atlantic. Several heat records have been set over the past few weeks and the few storms we do get are fast-moving and don't provide much relief. My rain barrel is crying out to be filled. Even my small pond, with blooming water hyacinth and pickerel weed, had to be topped off this last week. What other blooms I have now are the ones I can keep alive by dumping a bucket of water on them every day or so. They include: sunflowers, black-eyed susan, goldenrod, bronze fennel, crape myrtle, zinnias, celosia, tall phlox, Japanese anemone, butterfly bush, tall verbena, petunias, various hydrangeas, and a pot of shade impatiens.

 So what is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fenton Friday: Fair Time Again



It is Montgomery County Fair time again and I fear I will have far fewer items to enter for this cycle. The potatoes, beans, and peppers are far from ready. The only real hope I have are my zinnias and cherry tomatoes. If I have enough okra, I'll throw those in as well. Wish me luck!

(The picture above was a fair visit from several years ago with my nieces -- when they were still into pink and unicorns! I am still into both.)

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.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Video Wednesday: Garden Photo Show Winners 2016


The video is of the winning images of the 10th annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest at an art show at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. All 17 stunning photos were taken in DC-area gardens. Both inspirational and educational, this show represents the best of garden photography in the greater DC metropolitan region.

  The photo show runs through September 21 at the Meadowlark Visitor Center's lobby. The opening reception is open to the public and is free to attend. You may also come by and view the photos any time during the normal Visitor Center hours (10am-7pm daily).

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Invasive Species Spotlight: Norway Maple


Guest post by Jacqueline Hyman 

There are many different types of maple trees, and they are often used as ornamental plants because of their attractive leaves. However, the Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is an invasive maple tree that overpowers other native plants and trees.

    The tree is not native and was first introduced to the U.S. in 1756, marketed for its shade, hardiness, and adaptability to adverse conditions, according to Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas.  The tree has been reported as invasive throughout northeastern U.S. and in the Pacific Northwest. 

    The plant can grow up to 90 ft. with dark green leaves. They flower bright yellow-green in the spring, and the fruits mature in the summer, according to Plant Invaders.

    The Norway maple is invasive because “while native red maple or silver maple have to deal with specific insects and diseases that are pests, the Norway maple doesn’t, which means that it grows faster and creates more seeds than the native trees do, which means that they can’t compete,” said Todd Bolton, Takoma Park’s city arborist. 

    Although other nonnative trees, such as Japanese maples, are planted in the area, the Norway maples are harder to remove and grow much larger. “Japanese maples are not as hardy, they don’t produce as many sprouts, and they don’t grow to full-size canopy,” Bolton said.

    Many trees are hybridized, Bolton said, in order to display the more desirable qualities. However, these trees reproduce with the original qualities of their parent plants.  “Crimson King is a Norway maple variety that was hybridized so the leaves are red, like the color of a red Japanese maple except that they get full size, about 50 feet tall,” Bolton said. “So somebody buys a Crimson King maple because it looks good and doesn’t realize that actually it’s a Norway maple.”

    Bolton said the trees are not being sold as actively as in previous years, but are now coming from trees that were seeded out as early as 30 years ago. “The main problem now is that they’re growing wild,” Bolton said. “Many of those wild trees in the forests in peoples’ backyards are now Norway maples.”

    Bolton said that in Takoma Park, MD, people wanting to remove trees must replace it as part of receiving a permit. “Now if there was a Norway maple growing in that same place and you were going to build a house,” Bolton said, “you would only have to one half of x replacements, because that tree is not as valuable in the ecosystem.”  The tree is on the city’s list of undesirables because it grows faster and taller than other plants, draining the native plants’ resources.

   “They have become endemic and displaced many of our native plants,” Bolton said.

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: Crimson King Norway Maple during autumn leaf coloration along Terrace Boulevard in Ewing, NJ. Photo by Famartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.