Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Plant Profile: Russian Sage (Perovskia)




This woody perennial or “sub shrub” is neither Russian nor a true sage. It is a terrific filler plant for the garden border with its silvery green foliage and bright violet-blue flower spikes that bloom from mid-summer into fall.

This so-called “sage” is a member of the mint family and when you brush by it, you’ll notice its strong menthol odor.

Russian sage requires at least six hours of sun. It prefers a lean, rocky soil, but regular garden soil is fine. It doesn’t like heavy clay soil, however. It does best in garden situations with great drainage such as along a retaining wall or curb.

Russian sage is drought-tolerant, deer-proof, and seldom troubled by disease or pests.

Pollinators love it. Bees and hummingbirds are especially attracted to the small, tubular flowers that blossom in rows along its stems.

Don’t fertilize it — doing so will encourage leggy growth and this sage has a tendency to spread wide and flop a bit. So, plant it among other tall perennials for support and for an attractive contrast. Try it with ornamental grasses, tall sedums, and mums.

It is best planted in the spring, rather than in the fall. Leave it up in winter as the silhouettes of the white-ish stems are quite attractive, then cut the whole plant down to the ground in March.

Some commonly available cultivars to try include ‘Blue Spire’, ‘Filigran’, ‘Longin’, and a dwarf cultivar ‘Little Spire’.

For more about Russian Sage, see the Fall 2010 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

   Try growing Russian Sage in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)
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Friday, November 01, 2019

DIY: Decorated Pumpkins 3 Ways



Decorating just the surface of your pumpkins, rather than carving them, allows them to be left intact for eating later. 

These three methods also use more delicate designs in various botanical themes than most home crafters could accomplish with carving kits.

Here are three quick and easy ways to decorate your pumpkins this season.


Materials:




Steps:

Cover your work surface with newspapers and gather your materials.

Method 1: Lay the stencil on your pumpkin and dab gently inside the stencil with black paint using a foam brush. Go slowly and carefully. Pick up the stencil and wipe off any excess paint outside your design with a damp paper towel.

Method 2: Cut out the designs you like from the stencil sheets and lay them on the pumpkin. Use a popsicle stick to rub the design on to the surface. It can take a while to get all the edges and fine details adhered. Carefully lift off. Continue all around the pumpkin as desired.




Method 3: Use painter's tape to mask off a square or rectangle area on your pumpkin. Paint inside the area with chalkboard paint and let dry. Then do a second coat. Wait until that coat is full dry, then write a message in chalk.


Tip: Don't carry your pumpkin by the stem as it can snap off. Carry it from the bottom.



Optional: Paint on a coat of sealer before your designs and then after they are dry so another coat of sealer. This will help your designs last, especially the chalkboard paint, which is a very fragile layer on the pumpkin's surface.






This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a few pennies from Amazon.

This is a monthly blog series on DIY projects for the beginning home gardener. Look for the other installments in this DIY blog series by putting "DIY" in the search box here at washingtongardener.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Plant Profile: Kale


Plant Profile: Kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica)

Kale is "king" according to nutritionist and trendy chefs alike. This frilly cabbage cousin is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Kale is a versatile green and can be used as a spinach substitute in virtually any recipe.

   In the February 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine,our "EdibleHarvest" columnist Elizabeth Olson provides the following advice for growing kale.
   “Growing requirements for kale are very similar to those of cabbage. Gardeners who want to grow kale in spring should either purchase transplants in early to mid-spring or start seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the last expected frost date.

   “Seeds for autumn-harvested kale should be started indoors in mid-summer and the plants should be installed in the garden by mid-September.” You can also direct-sow from seed in late August.

    “Kale grows best in full sun. The soil should drain well and be well-worked and amended with compost. Fertilize the plants with an organic vegetable fertilizer. A consistent moisture level in the soil is necessary for the highest-quality leaves. Keep the kitchen garden well-mulched and free of weeds.  
   “The plants should be covered with a floating row cover to protect them from flying insects. It is challenging to extract pests after they have gotten into the leaves.”
   Kale is also quite ornamental. Try inter-planting edible purple kale in your containers and beds with cool-season annuals like pansies and snapdragons. Harvest the largest kale leaves to eat whenever you like. You can also buy kale specifically bred for its looks, rather than for its taste, to grow for show in your winter garden.
   Try growing Kale in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz. If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Fenton Friday: Gleaning and Clean-Up

Broccoli protected under rowcover cloth.
I usually end the Fenton Friday posts each year when a killing frost hits, but so far we are frost-free. This weekend is our official community garden clean-up and gleaning project, so I'll take that as the "end of the growing season" and make this the wrap up for the year.

We will keep growing our kale, carrots, and spinach. The interns will post here in about 6 weeks about their final results with those crops. I also have broccoli that I will harvest likely around Thanksgiving.

Perennials I am overwintering in the plot are: garlic, calendula, asparagus, and strawberries.

Overall, I think this year was "meh" in the vegetable garden. With all the spring rains and then the late summer drought, I had to skip several crops that I'd like to have planted (melons, pumpkins, etc.) and those we did plant were minimally productive (okra, large tomatoes, etc.) If you are a beginner veggie gardener in the DC area, don't blame yourself if you had a tough go if it - next year is bound to be better!

How was your year overall in edible garden?

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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Win a bag of Organic Mechanics' Insect Frass Fertilizer in our October 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest


For our October 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away a 2-pound bag of Insect Frass Fertilizer 3-2-2 (prize value: $28) from Organic Mechanics (https://organicmechanicsoil.com).
   Use this natural and organic fertilizer in garden soil or potting mixes. It also makes a great liquid foliar spray or addition to compost teas. It contains insect frass (cricket manure). It is a 3-2-2 organic, vegan fertilizer for amending soils and nourishing plants. Use it for all stages of plant growth. It is also perfect for all plant types, from houseplants to edibles to Bonsai trees. It is 100% natural and 100% organic. It is available in 2 lb. and 5 lb. bags.
      To enter to win the 2 lb. bag of Insect Frass Fertilizer 3-2-2, send an email to WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com by 5:00pm on October 31 with “Organic Mechanics” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the October 2019 issue and why. Please also include your full name, mailing address, and phone number for shipping. The winner will be announced and notified on November 1.

UPDATE:
We have a winner! Congratulations to Jennifer Whalen of Silver Spring, MD, who won a  bag of Organic Mechanics' Insect Frass Fertilizer in our October 2019 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Garden Cemeteries, Heuchera, Assassin Bugs, and much more in the October 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine



The October 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out now and posted online at:
and at: https://issuu.com/washingtongardener/docs/washingtongardeneroct2019

Inside this issue:
·         DC’s Garden Cemeteries: The First Urban Parks
·         Plant Profile: Heuchera
·         Short & Sweet: Iris verna
·         Assassin Bugs Doing the Dirty Work for You
·         Meet a Wildlife Habitat Conservation Expert
·         What To Do in the Garden This Month
·         DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
·         8 Key Tips for Layering Bulbs
·         and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the November 2019 issue are due by November 5 to WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com.

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


Friday, October 18, 2019

Fenton Friday: A Rather Inappropriate Sweet Potato

With a freeze/frost warning in effect for the region, I ran over to the plot to dig my one sweet potato plant this season. I cleaned off most of the soil and was shocked to see a rather inappropriately shaped tuber. I don't know what to say, except it is a hefty one at 15.7 oz.



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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Plant Profile: Calamintha



Calamintha (Calamintha nepeta) is a low-growing, bushy perennial that prefers full sun and well-drained soils. Once established, it is extremely drought-tolerant.

It is a member of the mint family. It resembles catmint and the Latin epithet “nepeta” and common name “Calamint” leads to some confusion between the two plants.

It has a long bloom period – typically from June up to a hard frost.

Calamintha’s flowers are loved by pollinators and detested by deer.

It does well in rock gardens, at border edges, and in containers. In ideal situation for Calamintha is planted under and among roses, where it creates fluffy underskirts around the bare lower rose canes. Think of it as a great-smelling replacement for baby's breath.

Two Calamintha varieties that I recommend are ‘White Cloud’ and ‘Montrose White’. The latter is sterile and won’t reseed.

It is maintenance-free beyond cutting it back in late fall or early spring. 

   Try a Calamintha in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out

FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Drought on Bloom Day

Salvia - Mexican Bush Sage
Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, the drought pattern continues, where most every storm seems to just skirt the DC metro area.It is getting extremely desperate out there.

I am trying to focus on the positive -- namely, this Mexican Bush Sage that I bought 3 pots of at Pepper's Greenhouses to cheer me up. The fuzzy purple flowers remind me of Gonzo from The Muppets. Every weekend, I see folks coming back from the Silver Spring farmer's market with arm-fulls of this salvia from the cut-flower farm booth. You cannot help but smile when you see it!

Elsewhere in my garden, I have blooming:
- Mums

- Toadlily
- Goldenrod
- Butterfly Bush
- Rose of Sharon (double, sterile)
- Blue Mist Shrub
- Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
- Torenia
- Petunia
- Fuchsia
- Bacopa
- Impatiens
- Begonia

- Marigolds
- Alyssum
and more...

What is blooming in your garden today?

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 today and to read their collective comments, go to:

https://www.maydreamsgardens.com/2019/10/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-october-2019.html

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fenton Friday: Highlight on Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'


The season is winding down in the vegetable plot. (Though I did just buy a 4-pack of Broccoli seedlings yesterday and will plant those today.) The cistern is empty and will be prepared for the winter, so from now on, if there is no rain, I have to hand-haul water from home. Speaking of rain, still none. The drought has put made the late summer-early fall garden very demoralizing and tough-going.

One highlight has been the Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'. These plants have weathered months of record wet, then record heat, and now months of record drought and they look terrific! I have harvested from them really one twice -- both times for collections for the Shepherd's Table soup kitchen. I plan to do so again for the last collection of the year in a couple weeks. 

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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.



Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Plant Profile: Heuchera (Coral Bells)



Whether you pronounce it hoy-ker-uh or hue-krah or hew-ker-a, this terrific perennial species, with the common names of Coral Bells or Alumroot, has seen an explosion of new introductions in the last decade or so.
   Heuchera are native to North America and do well in woodland garden beds, rock gardens, containers, borders, and as ground covers.
   They are drought-tolerant and prefer soil to be a little more alkaline than acidic. If you have heavy clay soil, than it is necessary to add some lighter gardening soil when transplanting them into the ground.
    To get more plants, carefully dig and divide the clumps in early spring — make sure that each piece you re-plant has some good roots attached. 
   For those gardening where there are hot and humid summers, select those with Heuchera villosa in its lineage. H. villosa is a species native to the southern Appalachian Mountains. Villosa means “hairy leaf” and those fine hairs not only make it heat-tolerant, but also deer-resistant.
    The hybrids that have been developed in recent years have an extensive array of colors, shapes, foliage types, and blossom sizes. Heucheras will bloom from early June until the end of summer, but the foliage is the most eye-catching aspect of these perennials. Most varieties do best in part-shade with some morning sun, but there are recent introductions that flourish from full-sun to full-shade.
   Heucheras have also been hybridized with another native shade perennial called Tiarella to produce the Heucherella, which has added even more fantastic colors and textures to this extraordinary line of perennials.
   Some of my favorite Heuchera cultivars include ‘Midnight Rose’, ‘Silver Gumdrop’, ‘Plum Cascade’, ‘Berry Smoothie’, and 'Lime Rickey'.
   Try a Heuchera in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out

FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/WDCGardener
https://www.instagram.com/wdcgardener/
facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine


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