Thursday, August 24, 2006

At The Intersection

Our local NPR (public broadcast) radio station recently got a new talk format and one if the new shows, The Intersection, invited me on today. Here is a link to the site:
For the short-term, you can hear the show and see the related links at:
I'm on for the last 20 minutes or so taking about garden questions and discussing related topics. We had a good number of callers and emails, which is always a good sign. The show is obviously doing something right.

I came home after the interview to find a few strange messages on our voice mail. Um, is it stereotyping to say radio brings the freaks out? The calls are not threatening or anything - but clearly these people are not altogether in the head. One mumbled on about doing something with our web site - then left no name or number to call back. Another said he had a "special tree" we needed to see, but could not let others know about. Yeah, that is exactly what we garden writers do -- trek to unknown parts to view plants that we can never inform our readers about. My policy is to return all calls - but got to say I'm questioning that now.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Melon Baby

The Sept/Oct 2006 issue of the Washington Gardener magazine is now at the printer and I have a small breather where I can do things like clean my house, weed the garden etc. before going off in a few days to the Garden Writers Annual Meeting.

This summer has been so dry, aside from the one downpour of 12 inches in June, that I had to break down finally and top off my pond with the gardennhose *shudder*. The drought has been so bad this summer that my edible bed looks like the surface of Mars despite daily watering.

I did manage to grow this sweetie pictured here. She (he?) is an heirloom veggie that I got courtesy of Barbara Melera at D. Landreth Seeds in Baltimore, MD. It is a Queen Anne's Pocket Melon - meant not for eating but for carrying in your pockets to cover up the smells of daily life in the times prior to regular bathing and sanitation practices. The melon is indeed pocket-sized and has a rather soft outer layer. The one pictured here is now sitting in my kitchen adding a light melon-y scent to it.

The first melon that ripened off my plant was a bit larger and darker in color. However, apparently some rodent decided to take a few nibbles on it right before I harvested it. I noticed the bite marks, but brought it inside anyway - it last about 5 days before it started to decay and I had to give in and chuck it into the compost pile. Then I harvested this second one before it got nibbled on as well. No more fruit has set on at this point so I think I will pull the shriveling vine up and plant some cool season crop after my trip next week. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August Enews Now Out

The August 15 issue of the Washington Gardener Enews is now out. The feature story is on local farmers' markets. This issue also includes award-winning area community gardens, a garden-related event listings for the region, an August to-do run-down for your yard, and much more. You can view the archived version here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Day at the Fair

I took a few hours today off from laying out the September/October issue of the magazine and getting the August 15th Enewsletter ready to send out to have some fun at the Montgomery County Fair with my brother, his wife, and my two young nieces.

I also entered about 17 flowers last Saturday into various categories for the Agriculture judging and today I found out the results. This is the only kind of plant or flower contest I enter and frankly it is more to boost the fair participation )as they've had slim pickings to judge these past few years) than to earn actual prizes.

Well, I did not do as well as last year's first and second prizes -- this time around I have two third-places, one fourth, and one fifth. I'm surprised I even got those as on the way to the judging my flowers were smushed and my coleus clipping was pretty much in tatters despite the best of my efforts to get them safely intact to the event. I've learned my lesson and will stick to hardier selections from now on. Oh well, there is always next year! Pictured here is a grand prize winner in the rose category - must definitely NOT from my garden, but is my inspiration to prep more next time.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Book Worms

On a whim yesterday while at the Timber Press (stellar garden publisher) media web site, I looked to see if any of our Volunteer Reader Panelists who do book reviews for us had been quoted. On my first try I found two quotes for the Shade Perennials Pocket Guide, one by hosta expert Taffy Turner and the other by garden ranter, Susan Harris. Madeline Caliendo, one of our frequent volunteer book reviewers reports finding a link noting her review at Timber Press as well as two other sites quoting her: and
Anything that gets the Washington Gardener magazine out there more is great!

It does also remind me that I have a related project on my ever-growing to-do list that will entail adding a page of all our past book reviews to our web site along with an Amazon link to purchase them and hopefully throw us back a few cents as well. That will move higher on the list - but I doubt I'll get to it until early Fall. As soon as it is up, I'll link it here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Easy Being Green

I've been writing a garden column for the local free commuter paper. It is given out to 1,000s of metro riders each morning and also gets delivered to high-income zip codes around DC. I had started off as every-other-Saturday, then was every-other-Thursday in their "home" section, and now have just been moved to every-other-Friday in the "real estate" portion. This is all to promote the magazine and for the author tag-line mentioning our web site. I'm just coming up on a year of doing this and can attest I've had some subscribers as a result, though as usual it is hard to measure.

See page 54 of today's Washington Examiner at for the latest story. Or email me for the a PDF of the page in color. Don't know why they chose to put these beauties on a black-ink only page!

In a last minute arrangement, I'm going to have a booth at this year's GreenFest in DC on the weekend of October 14-15. This is the third year of the show here and it attracts big crowds -- are they garden magazine readers/buyers? We shall see. At the event, the for-profit booths include many sustainable living and fair-trade companies -- for last two years as an attendee and volunteer I've treated it as a great networking forum for those who work in the "green industry." One of our regular "EcoSavvy" columnists may also be a speaker at this one, so this could really be a good tie-in for us. Here is a link for the show details:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Water Garden Pleasures

FINALLY my Water Hyacinth have bloomed. It is not why I purchase and put in these annual pond floaters, but it is a nice bonus to have lilac, scented flowers in the dog days of DC.
I think I actually enjoy my water garden more than any other aspect of my yard. I am captivated by the creatures it attracts. I love the beauty of the water lilies. I enjoy watching my little fishies gobble up more than their weight in insects. Most of all I love the LOW maintenance aspect of it. After the first two years of set-up and getting the right water balance -- all I do now is a spring clean-up/set-up and a fall prep for the winter. That is it. Just a few hours of work twice a year. No other part of my garden gives such reward with such little effort.
BTW, there is a myth I keep encountering and would like to bust: Water Gardens Do NOT attract or create mosquitos. (However, Bog gardens are a different story...) Here is a link to a good story on the subject: Scroll down to Randall Tate's article.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Zonal Envy

I picked up two Fuchsia Gartenmeister for the price of one at the Garden District store during the Dog Days Sidewalk Sale yesterday on U and 14th Streets in DC. They are now filling in a hole in my front bed. Come the first frost though, I'll need to find a new hole-filler. As these beauties are tropical zone 10/11 plants and my place is zone 7. I'm going to do my damnedest though to winter these puppies over by digging and keeping as houseplants and maybe attempt a few cuttings. I do not have a greenhouse though which makes this is an iffy proposition at best. It will cost me no more than time and effort - so why not.

This is a total 180 from my prevailing philosophy of live-and-let-die. In general, I don't believe in babying anything in my garden. If you live, you live. I try to choose the right plant for the right place and give it a good start. After that, it is on its own. Thrive or not. It is all up to you little plantling. Okay, I admit this philosophy stems from basic laziness on my part. but it is also from pragmatism and knowing myself after all these years. I know I may start with the best intentions. However, I get easily bored and that nursery center cutie will not be so cute anymore to me if I have to check on it daily and fuss over it. It will start to be a weight around my neck and pain in my rear. I will resent it and then where will we both be?

What makes me think I'll treat these Fuchsia Gartenmeister. Well, first they are in a feature position that I'll pass by several times a day and not in some forgotten corner. Second, I posted about it here and now will have to ensure their survival lest ye blog-readers jeer me later on. Wish them luck and drop me a comment on your overall garden-survival philosophy.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stupid Questions

Today I'm here to testify there are most definitely stupid questions -- for instance, "Are you pregnant?" When does this EVER need to be uttered? If they are AND if it is your business to know, they'll tell you.

Well, the currently most irksome stupid question I get asked about once every week or so is, "What is your day job?" or some iteration of this that implies running this business is a lark or hobby. I find it extremely insulting and most of the time asked purposely to belittle.

The answer for the record is not only is publishing a bimonthly magazine, monthly enewsletter, this blog, hosting an online discussion group, writing a biweekly newspaper column. making regular TV/radio appearances, selling advertising, attending every area garden event possible, spending my weekends selling subscriptions at festivals and garden shows, processing said subscriptions and business paperwork, etc. a full-time job, but that it is eating up about 100-hours per week but I'm woefully behind on many tasks.

I'm posting this for all those other entrepreneurs and one-person publishing operations out there. My response so far is an incredulous look and an emphatic: "My job is full-time -- it is far more than full time. It is my life right now." That usually shuts them down.

Great cartoon:

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