Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Video Wednesday -- CSI: Garden Pests

This week, Washington Gardener Magazine staffers are away at the annual Garden Writers Association symposium, so we have another guest video to share. This one features Mike Raupp and is called "CSI: Garden Pests.” I know you'll enjoy it.

Michael Raupp, Ph.D., is a Professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland. (Go Terps!) Many of you know Mike from his multiple local radio and TV appearances or from his web site:

You can see more videos like this one courtesy of the University of Maryland Extension Services at

BTW, if you like what you saw of Mike on the video, he is talking more about Garden Insects on Wednesday, September 21, from 7:30-9:00pm at the Auditorium, Takoma Park Community Center 7500 Maple Ave, Takoma Park, MD. His talk is the monthly meeting of the Takoma Horticultural Club, which is being co-sponsored by the City of Takoma Park. This event is Open to the public and Free. Directions and details at and

Monday, August 29, 2011

Are You a Crafty Gardener?

For our August 2011 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away 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.

To enter to win Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds, send an email with “Terrarium” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on August 31. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, mailing address, and tell us about a garden craft you have created. Photos of your garden craft are welcome! The book winner will be chosen at random from among the entries and announced on September 2. Note: some of the entry responses may be used in future online or print articles by  Washington Gardener Magazine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fenton Friday: Corn-tas-tic!

This week at my Fenton Community Garden Plot, I harvested my first ever ear of corn. I planted the corn hills a bit late in the season, so did not have high hopes for any yield. I have about 3-4 ears per plant and that is far exceeding my own predictions. I have been waiting weeks for the first ear to become fully ripe.

As you'll see pictured here, the first few kernels are damaged as I kept piercing one each day with my nails to see if it was at "milky stage" and ready to eat yet. When I got it home and shucked it, I saw the next few sets of kernels were being eaten by a little worm (now dead!). The rest of the ear was perfectly fine, so I zapped it in the microwave and had it with dinner. It was a bit scrawny, but it was super sweet and I have my eye on several more ears of corn whose tassels are starting to brown-up,. My hope is to catch those at peak ripeness before the little worms move in.

This week I also harvested and ate several more ground cherries and okra, a few small tomatoes, and one of my two eggplants.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Video Wednesday: Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

This week, while Washington Gardener Magazine staff is preparing to get away for the annual Garden Writers Association symposium, we have a guest video to share. This one features Mike Raupp and is about “Integrated Pest Management (IPM).” Michael Raupp, Ph.D., is a Professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland. (Go Terps!) Many of you know Mike from his multiple local radio and TV appearances or from his web site:

You can see more videos like this one courtesy of the University of Maryland Extension Services at

BTW, if you like what you saw of Mike on the video, he is talking more about Garden Insects on Wednesday, September 21, from 7:30-9:00pm at the Auditorium, Takoma Park Community Center 7500 Maple Ave, Takoma Park, MD. His talk is the monthly meeting of the Takoma Horticultural Club, which is being co-sponsored by the City of Takoma Park. This event is Open to the public and Free. Directions and details at and

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A DayTrip to Chanticleer and Nemours with Washington Gardener Magazine

Treat yourself to a daytrip on Wednesday, September 21, to Chanticleer and Nemours, two of the most beautiful gardens on the East Coast.

This tour is a partnership between Washington Gardener Magazine, Behnke Nurseries of Beltsville, MD, and Cheval’s Second Act Garden Tours. The partners will host four Mid-Atlantic region garden tours in 2011 and plan to expand to six tours in 2012. The trips all depart and return to the Behnke Nurseries location in Beltsville, MD.

See this flyer for full trip details and to register today. We expect an early sell-out so urge you to sign-up soon. Note that current Washington Gardener Magazine receive a discount of $5 off the fee.

Details and tour information on the other tour dates are posted at,, and

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Back to the Garden” Seminars on September 3 at Behnke Nurseries

Come join us for a morning of seminars to get you “Back to the Garden” after a long, hot summer. The seminars take place on Saturday, September 3, 10:00am to 1:00pm at the Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD, and they are FREE.
The seminars are presented by Washington Gardener Magazine and Behnke Nurseries. This morning of free workshops to get gardeners back into the growing frame of mine and ready for the fall busy season. Attend one or two or stay for all. No need to RSVP.

•10:00am From The Ground Up—a Garden from a Bare Hillside with Jim Dronenburg, Washington Gardener Magazine Book Reviewer and author, garden columnist for Montgomery Life (InSight) magazine, one of Behnke Nurseries’ resident experts in season. Jim also manages the Four Seasons (DC Metro area) garden club.

•10:30am Edibles for the Fall Season with Elizabeth Olson, a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist and avid home gardener.

•11:00am Using Native Plants in Your Flower Bed with Cheval Force Opp, a garden writer, lecturer and tour guide.

•11:30am Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter with Kathy Jentz, editor and publisher, Washington Gardener Magazine.

•12:00noon Day Trips to Local Gardens with Cheval Force Opp and Kathy Jentz

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm BeRibboned!

Today was the Montgomery County Fair ribbon pick-up day and I was happy to find out I won in several categories this year that I entered for the first time.

For my the first-ever potatoes I'd grown, I got Third place, and am very happy with that as their was a lot of competition on display. I also won Second place in the Most Unusual Vegetable category for my Ground Cherries.

I won both First and Second place in the Marigolds -Africa (aka Aztec) category. (You are allowed to have two entries per category.)  That was book-ended by my Fourth place and an Honorable Mention for my two Coleus entries. My last two ribbons were Second place showings for the Aster and Ornamental Sunflower categories.

I have been entering for just a few years now and with the summer drought, I'm very pleased with this showing. Next year, I'm thinking about entering more edibles like okra and peppers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fenton Friday: Niece's Visit

My nieces, 8 and 10 years old, visited me this week and we went out daily to the Fenton Community Garden Plot to inspect for bugs and pick any ripe items. We harvested two cucumbers, a few yellow cherry tomatoes, one 'Red Star' tomato, some okra, a few ground cherries, and this honeydew melon (pictured at left).

We found bugs in abundance as this video shows and also insect eggs as shown in the photo below. We also found and squashed many cucumber beetles and a few stink bugs. I'm hoping the stink bugs are not after my corn and that I'll be able to harvest some to taste it. I'm hearing so many stink bug horror stories from local farmers that I'm seriously in dread of what they could do to our small. fledgling community garden.

insect eggs on squash

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Video Wednesday: Bug Detectives!

Here are my nieces, Lexi and Savannah, help me hunt down and identify evil bugs in the community garden plot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living Fences: Green Barriers Make Good Neighbors ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ August 2011

Washington Gardener Enews ~ August 2011

~ Living Fences: Green Barriers Make Good Neighbors
~ Magazine Excerpt: Growing A-Maize-ing Corn
~ Washington Gardener Magazine 2011 Day Trip to Chanticleer and Nemours Registration Form
~ Reader Contest: Tell Us About a Garden Craft You Have Made and Win a copy of Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant from Timber Press.
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for August-September
~ The Top Local Garden Events Calendar
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...
The issue is posted here or you can access it at:

Note that only current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers will receive the issue as a PDF attachment direct to their email.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Late Summer Color

This is usually the time of year in DC, that all of our annuals have started to lose energy and most all the flowering shrubs and perennials are long gone. I still have a few spots of color to show here for this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. So what is blooming in your garden?

African marigolds

Rose of Sharon

Black-eyed Susans

Trumpet creeper vine

Cannas and other tropicals in containers


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Myths & Facts About Native Plants

Guest Blog by Beth Lacey Gill, Irvine Nature Center

Often, gardeners are nervous about stepping into the native plant arena. But they shouldn’t be! Planting native is best for the environment, but also easy and affordable. Plus, Irvine Nature Center offers one of our region’s best native plant learning opportunities. The 2011 Native Plant Seminar & Sale will take place on August 27 from 8:30am-4pm. You can register online at

1) MYTH: Native plants are not as colorful or showy as exotic plants.

FACT: The colors and textures in a native plant garden are restricted only by the designers' taste. Really! There are hundreds of hues and shades of every color, hundreds of textures, shapes and sizes of native plants to choose from. All it takes is just some knowledge on the best plants for your space. Or a walkthrough Irvine’s Woodland Garden, which is currently in bloom and showcases at least 30 colors.

2) MYTH: Putting native plants in my garden is too expensive.

FACT: It’s true that sometimes a native plant is a little pricier than non-natives at the retail store. But when you factor in the far reduced cost of water, zero fertilizer, zero herbicides, zero fungicides and zero insecticides, as well as the lack of mowing and mower maintenance, gasoline, oil, labor, de-thatching, aeration, weeding, etc., and you have a huge, beautiful return on your small investment.

3) MYTH: Native plants are finicky or hard to grow.

FACT: These plants have been evolving for millennia before we came along with our trowels, fertilizer blends and chemicals. They like our soil and climate just the way it is. If you do your research properly, and plant species where their requirements will be met in your yard (ie. Shade for shade lovers, wet areas for those that like damp feet, etc.) your native plants will thrive for many lifetimes to come.

4) MYTH: Native yards and gardens look like the forest, or are too wild and messy.

FACT: You can have as manicured a native yard as you like, using low-growing ground covers with borders of taller plants, shrubs and trees to look like a conventional yard, or branch out and use color and texture to design a structured and formal bolder look. Dramatic sculpturing and manicured yards are easily achieved by plant selection and placement.

5) MYTH: Native plants are not easily available.

FACT: Many local nurseries are stocking more and more native plants each year, as the trend takes off. If your nursery has yet to offer a variety of local natives, encourage them to get what you want in. In our area, the Nature Store at Irvine sells native plants almost year round. Irvine’s Native Plant Seminar & Sale will have more than a dozen native plant vendors with an amazing selection.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fenton Friday: Harvest Bounty

This is the first week at my Fenton Street Community Garden plot that I feel like I'm actually starting to see some decent returns. Pictured here is a cucumber, 'Snow Leopard' honeydew melon, and some okra. I also picked lots of ground cherries, a couple tomatillos, more okra, and some cherry tomatoes.

Where I dug out the 'Banana Fingerling' potatoes last week, I have put in a 'Jim Jam' mix of Autumn gourds and squash -- funky shapes, mini pumpkins, and odd colors. I'm optimistically thinking I'll have something from that planting for Halloween decor, but more likely I'll be able to use some for Thanksgiving.

Also this week I gave in and bought fish emulsion. The smell is revolting and the thought of how they process the fish to make the stuff, really turns my stomach, but everyone in our garden who has gorgeous tomato plants swears by it. So I'm holding my nose and adding  a couple capfuls when I water.

'Snow Leopard' honeydew melon
Here is a photo of the 'Snow Leopard' honeydew melon cut up and ready to eat. The rind is very thin and the same color as the flesh. I'm enjoying a couple slices now. It is definitely a milder, more delicate flavor than the classic green honeydew. I have a second melon on the vine just about to be ripe and several small babies. I highly recommend growing it, if you have the space. It has sprawled in every direction and I guide it back constantly. The one plant still covers a good 4.5 ft wide by 10 ft long. BTW, you know who else loves this melon? My little cat, Versace! I give him tiny pieces off my slice and he begs for more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Washington Gardener Magazine's Tomato Tasting

Washington Gardener Magazine's

4th Annual
Tomato Tasting
at the Silver Spring FreshFarm Market

It’s ‘Big Boy’ vs. ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ hybrid vs. heirloom, the tomato wars have just begun. Everyone is sure that their tomato pick is the tastiest. Join Washington Gardener Magazine at the FreshFarm Market in downtown Silver Spring, MD, on Saturday, August 20 from 10am-12noon for a Tomato Tasting.
Farmers at the market will supply their locally grown selections — from super-sweet ‘Sungold’ to not-so-pretty ‘Cherokee Purple’ — and we’ll explore which tomatoes make the short list of favorites. We’ll have tomato gardening tips, tomato recipes, tomato activities for kids, and much more. Best of all, this event is FREE! The fabulous Montgomery County Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer your questions about tomato growing challenges. All to celebrate one of our summer’s greatest indulgences — the juicy fresh tomato.
Come by anytime from 10:00-11:45am to taste and vote -- then we'll tally the votes and announce the winning tomatoes at 12noon. (The voting results will be posted to this blog later that day, so you can also come back here to check the final results.)
Bonus! We'll pick a drawing winner at random from among the voting ballots submitted to receive an assortment of prizes including a year's subcription to Washington Gardener Magazine.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Fenton Friday: Potato Harvest!

Digging for Potatoes
So I found out a few things this week. First, that the demise of my 'Banana Fingerling' potato plants was due to a Potato leafhopper attack. They also attacked the adjacent 'German Butterball' potato plants, but those seem to have all recovered and are now thriving.

Hoppers move fast and en masse to suck all the sap of potato plants overnight. Their attack also introduces a toxin into the plant causes "hopperburn." Here is what I found on "As a result of the potato leafhopper's attack, the leaf's conducting tissue is plugged; the plant leaves curl and begin to turn brown near the tip, and eventually the whole leaf appears blighted." Yep, that is exactly how I'd describe the leaves: scorched. Here was my initial post with the damaged plant photos.

my "big" potato harvest
 It was finally cool enough these last few days to get out a shovel and dig up the potatoes underneath the dead plants. I got a small yield. Nothing to brag about at the county fair, but hey, better than nothing which is what I thought I'd end up with after seeing the damaged plants.

The second thing I learned this week is that okra is supposed to be harvested by cutting them off. I have just been grabbing and snapping them off, which sometimes results in a clean break and sometimes not. I have been getting a couple okra to snack on everyday from my two plants. I like to eat them raw as I'm watering the rest of the plot.

Green Zebra ripening

Eggplants forming

Climbing cucumber

                        This week I have a few eggplants and cucumbers forming. One cuke even climbed a corn plant to give itself some more room. I also accidentally knocked a 'Green Zebra' tomato off its vine, so I have it on a windowsill ripening - but how does one know when a green tomato is ripe? Guess I'll just cut and eat it with my lunch today and take a chance.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Video Wednesday: Summer 2011 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

Create your own video slideshow at

The Summer 2011 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine done Animoto style. Emjoy!

To subscribe, online go to and use our PayPal (credit card) link OR send a check for $20.00 payable to “Washington Gardener” magazine to: Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants

The winner, chosen at random from among the many entries to our July 2011 Washington Gardener Reader Contest is Shirlie Pinkham of Gaithersburg, MD.

She receives a 32-ounce bottle of Messina Wildlife’s Deer Stopper spray (a $14 value). Messina Wildlife’s Deer Stopper products come in a variety of ready-to-use and concentrate sizes, as well as a revolutionary, proprietary pre-treated barrier ribbon. These highly effective products prevent deer, elk, and moose from bedding down, rubbing, and foraging damage to all shrubs, flowers, edible crops, forest areas, fruit trees, and turf areas. Safe for use around fruits and vegetables, made of organic ingredients. These pleasant to use products all dry clear and odor-free, and they work by smell, taste, and feel. Concentrates make 10 times their size in ready to use material. The 32oz. trigger bottle will cover approximately 1,000 sq. ft.

We received many great entries telling us their favorite deer-resistant plants. Here is the compiled list of entrants selections for Mid-Atlantic proven deer-resistant plants.
~ Pulmonaria 'Trevi Fountain'
~ Butterfly bush
~ Creeping jenny
~ Ostrich fern
~ Painted fern
~ Pieris japonica
~ Peonies (any kind)
~ Vitex agnus-castus
~ Caryopteris spp.
~ Helleborus spp. and stinking hellebore
~ Euphorbia robbiae
~ Various Mint family (Lamiaceae) members, e.g.:
Agastache spp.
Monarda spp.
Salvia spp. (sage)
Geranium spp.
~ Astilbe
~ Datura
~ European ginger
~ Hops
~ Pachysandra procumbens (Alleghany Spurge)
~ Arisaema triphyllum, (Jack in the Pulpit)
~ Dryopteris marginalis (Wood Fern)
~ Allium spp.
~ Ornamental grasses, e.g., Miscanthus, Panicum, etc.
~ Dicentra eximia (native bleeding heart) – The blue-green lacy foliage is stunning and it flowers all summer, unlike the non-native dicentra spectabilis. Each plant can be impressively wide by its second year. D. eximia self-seeds readily although fortunately not as excessively as D. spectabilis.
~ Actaea racemosa or cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh, black snakeroot, etc.) – Mine took three years to decide they were happy and would propagate. Now, from the original two, or maybe three, plants I have dozens covering a sizeable area with their lovely low leaves and tall spikes when in bloom. They cannot take full sun.
~ Amsonia hubrechtii and amsonia tabernamontana – The A. hubrechtii’s tall feathery foliage is my preferred of the two Amsonia that I have. Both have lovely blue spring flowers, and the A. hubrechtii turns a nice yellow in fall, A. tabernamontana not so much. A.hubrechtii also self-seeds modestly and has large easily collectible seeds; A. tabernamontana has yet to spread in my garden and I could not find any seeds last fall, although perhaps I just didn’t look at the right time.
~ Schizachyrium scoparium “The Blues” (little bluestem) – A wonderful medium-tall arching silvery blue grass that does not go monster like Miscanthus (a non-native). It can droop late in the season if there’s a really heavy rain, but a short tomato cage ring around it works well if needed then. Self-seeds a bit, not much.
~ Asclepias tuberose (butterfly weed) – Just such a cheery bright orange color, self-seeds robustly (thank goodness, given the voraciousness of monarch butterfly caterpillars) with those cool-looking, fluffy, readily collectible seeds.
~ Aconitum (5 feet tall under good circumstances with deep purple-blue blooms in late September, I’m not sure which type mine is).
~ Thalictrum rochebrunianum (5 ½ feet tall, tiny pink flowers with yellow centers, self-seeds but cannot stand full sun; there are also 12 native thalictrum but I don’t have any although I have 4 different varieties)
~ Caryoptis divaricata “Snow Fairy” (small green leaves with white edges that just light up their area, mine is in partial shade so it hasn’t flowered).
My Opuntia, prickley pear cactus, have been very resistant so far! And, they are native to Maryland, and perfectly hardy.
~ Aesculus parviflora aka Bottlebrush Buckeye -- Large native shrub ideal for woodland understory that flowers in July and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, blooms well in both shade and sun.
~ Epimedium spp. -- Tough, evergreen, drought-tolerant ground cover plants featuring delightful "fairy flowers" in early spring, some with leaf coloration.

~ Narcissus (daffodils) -- My favorite deer resistant plants are the daffodils that have naturalized in the woods near the yard. Their spring appearance brightens the spirits of all who see them, and reminds me that there is at least something in the undergrowth that the deer haven't munched out of existence.

Are there any favorite deer-resistant plants of yours not on our list?
Deer photo provided by Randy and Beth Cleaver -- large buck spotted in their Takoma Park, MD garden.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Renewal Notices Mailed

If your subscription to Washington Gardener Magazine has just lapsed or is about to do so, in the next few days you will be receiving a reminder email and a postcard notice in the mail from us with a sunflower photo on it askng you to renew. Your continued support is vital to the future of this local gardening publication.
Subscriptions are $20 for one year, $36 for two years, and $54 for three years.

To renew, you have several options.

You can mail a check or money order to:
Washington Gardener Magazine
826 Philadelphia Ave.
Silver Spring MD 20910

You can use the PayPal (credit card) online order form here:

You can see me in person at the following upcoming event including our upcoming Tomato Taste at the Silver Spring farmer’s market on Saturday, August 20 from 10a-12noon. Full event details are here:

Our Summer 2011 issue is full of great local gardening information -- from a profile of the show-stopping perennial Amsonia hubruchtii to the basics of growing Corn in the Mid-Atlantic to photos from Prince Charles recent visit to a DC community garden – this issue is a must-read.

I hope you can join us for a year filled with abundance!

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