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.

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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

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Friday, October 04, 2019

Fenton Friday: Last of the Okra

The nights are starting to cool off so the tomatoes have slowed down and I think the okra is about done too.

The kale has really taken off and the cilantro seeds have germinated.

Now is the struggle to decide which parts of the plot to turn over full to cover crops, which will remain "in production," and finally, which to just mulch over with straw. It is always a crapshoot guessing on when the first real frost will hit and what space I may need set aside for the garlic. With the prolonged drought we have been experiencing since early August, I am about ready to pack it all in for the year. How about you?

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 02, 2019

Plant Profile: Hakone Grass



Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra) is a tough, ornamental plant with attractive foliage. It also known as Japanese Forest Grass, after its country of origin.
   It forms a pretty weeping mound of bright foliage that looks stunning on the edge of a path, as a groundcover, and in containers.
   The foliage colors range from bright green to variegated gold and white hues. In autumn, the grass even takes on gorgeous coppery shades. This is a true multi-seasonal interest plant.
   Hakone Grass is adaptable to many garden situations. It prefers moist, shady spots and well-draining soils. It is resistant to disease or pests and is generally low-maintenance. Keep it out of direct afternoon sun, as the leaves can get a bit scorched and make sure it never totally dries out.
   Give it a bit of extra mulch in the fall and if it starts looking tattered, you can cut it back in late winter, when the new shoots appear.
   It slowly spreads by rhizome and after several years you might want to divide it. The best time do that is in the spring.
   The most popular Hakone Grass cultivars are ‘Aureola’ and ‘All Gold’ – both are widely available and look terrific combined with other shade-loving plants like Hosta, Toadlily, and Hellebore.
   Try a Hakone Grass 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
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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

DIY: Flower Mandala


The mandala is Sanskrit for "sacred circle" of the cycle of life and is a concept shared by most cultures around the globe.

You can create a mandala in a hidden spot in your garden or on a table-scape for a special event or just for fun. If you place it in a spot that others may accidentally stumble across it, that is even more fun to brighten someone's day and see their reactions.

This is a very easy craft that can be done by anyone with just simple materials gathered from your own landscape.

Materials:

• flower petals, leaves, stems, and seeds -- harvested from the garden
• paper and pencil (optional) or chalk

Steps:

1. Gather various plant materials -- the more colorful the better. I used marigolds, sedum, garlic chives, begonia leaves, sunflowers, marigolds, and butterfly bush.

2. If working outdoors, find a roughly round base. In my case, I had an old stepping stone I used. You could also use a wooden stump or a manhole cover. You could also draw a circle using sidewalk chalk. (If working indoors, take a pencil and draw or trace a circle onto a sheet of paper.)

3. Assemble your mandala. You can be as meticulous or as carefree as you like. Some people take hours to do a small one and are very precise in their placement (hint: use tweezers), while others use a freehand and let the materials fall where they may. You are done when it pleases you.

Tip: This is an ephemeral craft so take a photo so it lasts longer for you. The next strong wind or rain could erase it and that is exactly how it should be.

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


Friday, September 27, 2019

Fenton Friday: Groundcherry Surprise

It is amazing what you find during a drought and when you start yanking out the weeds. These self-sown Ground Cherries are in about the same spot as where I planted some last year.

If you are not familiar with them. they are a native edible, related to tomatillos, but much sweeter. They are known by several names - Ground Cherry, Cape Gooseberry, Goldenberry, etc. - the Latin is Physalis spp. and you can find out all about sourcing and growing Ground Cherries in our September 2014 back issue of Washington Gardener Magazine posted here.

I have been watering the seedlings most every day. The Kale, Spinach, and Carrots plants by the interns are coming along nicely. The Tomatoes, Okra, Sweet Potato, and Marigolds are hanging in there - for now.

Everything else in the garden is a dried-out husk and I am slowly making my way in from the edges trying to weed them out. It is very tough going though as the ground is as hard as concrete. I pray for rain, any rain, but an all-day soaker would be such a blessing!

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, September 25, 2019

Plant Profile: Tall Sedum


There are two general types of Sedums for the garden – creeping Sedum groundcovers and tall sedum.  The tall type grows between 1to 3 feet high and perform best in full sun locations with well-draining soil.
   They thrive through summer’s dry heat and are extremely drought-tolerant. There is no need to fertilize this plant. If you do, the growth can become leggy and flop over.
   The tall Sedum varieties work well as border perennials or can be planted in groups to give a mass affect.  They combine well with Ornamental Grasses, Asters, and Echinacea.
   The taller, upright varieties of Sedum typically develop large flower heads in mid-summer and bloom from late summer through fall. The flowers can be left to dry and stay on over the winter to provide seeds for wildlife.
    Sedums are an easy perennial for even the novice gardener. They are very low maintenance, requiring virtually no pruning to shape. They make good cut flowers, attract pollinators, and are a great addition to any landscape.
   Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a classic selection. Some of the newer selections to try include those with darker, purple leaves like ‘Vera Jameson’ and ‘Purple Emperor’ or bright, variegated foliage like ‘Frosted Fire’ or yellow flowers like ‘Lemonjade’.
   It is very easy to divide and propagate tall Sedums. Much like the other members of its large succulent family, you can pull out a few stems, strip off the leaves, and simply stick them in the ground. They will form new roots within a few weeks.
   Try a tall Sedum 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
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Monday, September 23, 2019

Win a pairs of passes to the Fall Maryland Home & Garden Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds


For our September 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away five pairs of passes to the Fall Maryland Home and Garden Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds (prize value: $18).
   Fall is when we spend more time with friends and family in our homes. With the holidays approaching, it is a great time to update, remodel, redecorate, and landscape your home. This is an opportunity to see hundreds of contractors in one location and purchase handmade crafts and gifts. Sample wine from several of Maryland’s wineries while you browse over 300 exhibits. There is something for everyone, and many exhibitors are offering special show pricing.
   A special guest is author Boyce Thompson, who will be bringing 10 awesome new cutting-edge products for the high-tech home—including a security drone and weeding robot.
   Trash or treasure? Bring it in! Dr. Lori, a TV personality; author; and art collectibles, and antiques appraiser with a Ph.D. in art, antiques, and architectural history from Penn State University, will see if something you own is trash or treasure. Get there early to be included in the show.
   The Fall Maryland Home & Garden Show runs Friday, October 18, through Sunday, October 20. See more details online at www.mdhomeandgarden.com/fall.
   To enter to win a pair of passes to the Maryland Home & Garden Show, send an email to WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com by 5:00pm on September 30 with “Maryland Home & Garden Show” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the September 2019 issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be announced and notified on October 1.

UPDATE:
The winners of a pair of passes each to the Fall Maryland Home and Garden Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds are:
- Robert Alonso. Glen Burnie, MD
- Barbara Delaney, Bethesda, MD
- Annie Shaw of Greenbelt, MD
- Taylor Markey, College Park, MD
- Jeavonna Chapman, Baltimore, MD
 The Fall Maryland Home & Garden Show runs Friday, October 18, through Sunday, October 20. See more details online at www.mdhomeandgarden.com/fall.
Congratulations to all!  

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