Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Read Any Good Gardening Books Lately?

For our July 2012 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, we asked entrants to tell us:  
What is your favorite gardening book(s) and why

In all the submissions there was only ONE book that was mentioned by more than one entrant and that was The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. I concur that if you grow perennial flowers this book is a must-have in your home library.

Here were some of the entries with many more suggestions for summer reading and to add to your garden library:

Shirlie Pinkham of Gaithersburg, MD said her two favorite gardening books at the moment are:
1        ~ Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening & Conservation by Donald J. Leopold,  Timber Press, Portland, 2005.  For each plant, gives zones, soil, light, attributes (flowers, height, color change, etc.), propagation, natural range, and notes, with a picture.
~  Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines: A guide to using, growing, and propagating North American woody plants by William Cullina of the New England Wild Flower Society,  Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2002.  For each plant gives zones, soil, native to, size, color, culture, uses, wildlife usefulness, propagation, and a nice narrative about the plant, plus a chapter on propagation methods, and lists of various plan

Dorothy Cichra of Silver Spring, MD's favorite gardening book is "Plant Propagation" from The American Horticultural Society. It has a good discussion of propagating techniques and also information on appropriate propagation techniques for a wide variety of plants. It is quite clear and thorough. As an avid gardener I enjoy propagating plants to give away and grow myself. It is quite useful."

Alan M. Cohen, President of  BioLogical Pest Management, Inc. in WDC said: "My favorite garden book is: The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. Her book gives me answers when I want them, and inspiration when I need it. She does not talk down to you, but encourages you to try new things, and makes you feel good with personal anecdotes about her mistakes or failures, as well as her successes."

Lucy Goszkowski of Annapolis, MD said: "My current favorite gardening book is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy Disabato-Aust.  It has more useful info per page than any other book."

Leah Cohen of Winchester, VA chose: Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
"Because Rodale is the master of organic gardening, something I was raised with and continue to apply today."

Mavis Burdett of Silver Spring, MD wrote: "My new favorite gardening book is one that was reviewed by Washington Gardener Magazine --Container Gardening for All Seasons by Barbara Wise.  I've turned to container gardening up on our deck to keep my treasures away from the deer.  So far the deer have not learned to climb up on our deck."

Erica Smith of Germantown MD picked Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver.  It's a decent guide to selecting varieties of heirloom vegetables and growing them, but mostly I just love to dip in and read for the history, the personal observations, and the obsessive detail.  It's out of print (and quite expensive used) but available on a CD to read on the computer.

Madeline Caliendo of WDC said: "My favorite gardening book is The 20 Minute Gardener: The Garden of Your Dreams Without Giving Up Your Life, Your Job, or Your Sanity by Tom Christopher and Marty Asher. It is my favorite because it makes gardening accessible and fun."

Rose E. Apter of Alexandria, VA picked the New York/Mid-Atlantic Gardener's Book of Lists
by Bonnie Appleton and Lois Trigg Chaplin. "This is a handy reference work with loads of information about plants given in lists such as Native Trees.”
Joe Luebke of Hyattsville, MD said: "My favorite book is Crocketts Victory Garden by James Crockett.  This was the companion book to the original Victory Garden PBS show. As a boy in Indiana I would watch every Saturday and marvel at what they would grow. It helped nurture me to become a gardener. I still have my original copy from 1977 and it is absolutely relevant in today's world."

Dani Sandler of Washington, DC said: "I love Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. I never knew how beautiful edibles could look until I was given her book."

Lynn Title said: "It's a tossup:  my well-thumbed copy of Dirr's Handbook of Woody Plants and Henry Mitchell's Earthman books. Each in its own way provides a truly comprehensive listing of plants, with good stories and personal opinion thrown in. "

Kate Detweiler of Arlington, VA said: "I like You Grow Girl for it's focus on gardening in less than ideal conditions."
Jeavonna Chapman of  Baltimore, MD  picked The Fragrant Year by Leonie Bell Helen Van Pelt Wilson. "Really changed the way I garden. I don't grow many non-fragrant ornamentals any more. It also contained valuable lessons on extending bloom season by choosing different varieties of the same plant (daffodils and azaelas, for example). I learned that some plants in the same family may be fragrant and others not at all. I began using the bloom pattern and timing to identify plants, as well. It was a library book I started reading then had to seek out and purchase. It was out of print and difficult to find, but I got it. Still one of my all-time favorite books of any kind."

Tom Pluecker of Annapolis, MD said: "The best book I have in my library and the one I consult most is:  The ever-blooming flower garden: A blueprint for continuous color by Lee Schneller. It is not only the best planning book, but it really warns you about the size and nature of plants you may be considering. "

Caroline Phillips Rodin of Brooklyn, NY said: "My favorite gardening book is The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C Smith, because it covers everything you need to know and more, while still being accessible to gardeners of all levels."

Rachel Shaw of Rockville, MD had 3 favorites:
"The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. It is so helpful for what plants to deadhead, prune, etc. and when.
Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham. This book talks about gardening organically by using companion plants to attract beneficial insects. It’s a nice, unpretentious book with a surprising amount of information on a variety of topics. 
Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, Chesapeake Bay Watershed from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This book is so helpful when thinking about what other native plants might work in my yard."

Dorothy Wells of Kearneysville, WV said: "My favorite gardening book is Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich because it is direct to the point, easy to understand and most of all, his principals work. Lee Reich teaches how to put down newspaper and cover the newspaper with a layer of compost to block light from weed seeds in the soil. After applying the newspapers and compost, the only weeds that come up in the garden are those left by birds and they are easy to pull out of the friable compost. He also teaches how to irrigate without wasting water to evaporation and weeds by using a drip system that waters frequently throughout the day. The system only drops the water at the plants that need to be watered. He also teaches how important air pockets in the soil are and why gardeners should not walk in thier gardens. I buy this book in multiples to give as gifts to anyone who is interested in gardening."

Ellen McBarnette of WDC said: "Fave gardening book: Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. Even though the gardener is the bad guy and it gives no instructions on how to grow anything, it was the first book to pique my interest in home grown veggies."

So what gardening books are among your favorites?

The winner of this month's Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest chosen at random from the submitted entries is Dorothy Cichra. Congratulations, Dorothy! She gets a copy of Homegrown Harvest (a $20 value).
   Homegrown Harvest: A Season-by-Season Guide to a Sustainable Kitchen Garden (Mitchell Beazley/Octopus Books USA; November 2010; Paperback May 2012; $19.99) is the perfect resource to help you do so. Compiled by noted gardening expert Rita Pelczar, with the assistance of the editorial staff at the American Horticultural Society, this book has something for everyone—whether your garden consists of hundreds of square feet, or simply a few containers on the patio.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fenton Friday: Finally Tomatoes!

This past week saw another 100+ degree day, a couple perfectly gorgeous days of low humidity, and another heavy rain. Not complaining about the rain (better than the alternative!), but it is causing the tomatoes to crack from the excess moisture. The tomatoes have already had it extra tough this season as their pollinating and ripening pretty much slowed to a crawl in all the record heat. The photo of this week's harvest at left also includes one tomatillo along with the tomatoes knocked from the vines by recent storms.

Amana Orange heirloom tomato
One tomato plant I have, the sweet "AMANA ORANGE" beefsteak heirloom tomato took quite a beating from the Derecho storms which broke many of its branches off, but it is producing very well this week -- 4 tomatoes over a pound each (I used my postal scale to weigh them). I did not pick them as they ripened last week as I was waiting for the color to deepen. I got the plant at a swap this spring and the name got lost so I had no idea pale orange WAS the actual final ripe stage. I now have the ID and know now what "ripe" looks like. I have to say it is sweet and very juicy. I hope I have enough of it by August 25 to make it an entry in our annual Tomato Taste challenge.

Not pictured, pulling lots of carrots and last of the lettuce.

UPDATE: the heirloom tomato above could be "Azoychka" and not Amana according to the lady who shared the seedling plant with me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Win a Copy of Homegrown Harvest

For our July 2012 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a copy of Homegrown Harvest (a $20 value).
   Homegrown Harvest: A Season-by-Season Guide to a Sustainable Kitchen Garden (Mitchell Beazley/Octopus Books USA; November 2010; Paperback May 2012; $19.99) is the perfect resource to help you do so. Compiled by noted gardening expert Rita Pelczar, with the assistance of the editorial staff at the American Horticultural Society, this book has something for everyone—whether your garden consists of hundreds of square feet, or simply a few containers on the patio.
   To enter to win the book, send an email with “Homegrown Harvest” in the subject line to WashingtonGardener@rcn.com by 5:00pm on Monday, July 30. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, mailing address, and tell us: What is your favorite gardening book(s) and why? The book winner will be announced and notified by August 2. Some of the entry responses may be used in future Washington Gardener online or print articles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Video Wednesday: The Garden Song

Singer/Songwriter David Mallett performs the Garden Song (Inch By Inch, Row by Row) at the American Horticultural Society's 2012 National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, River Farm, Alexandria, VA.

This is just a short clip of one verse and the chorus. You will recognize it immediately. Sing along if you know the words.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Parade of Ponds Tour THIS Weekend

Parade of Ponds
July 28-29, 2012
Spend the weekend, a day, or a few hours touring water gardens
in Montgomery, Frederick, and Howard Counties in Maryland,
as well as Washington, DC.

Please join Premier Ponds as we celebrate our 5th annual Parade of Ponds. Pond owners and enthusiasts are invited to tour the beautiful ponds and water features designed and constructed by Premier Ponds, with all proceeds benefitting Shepard’s Table. Donations to this worthy organization that provides food and other necessities for those less fortunate in our community will be accepted at designated tour stops.

Over 30 unique and awe inspiring ponds, streams, waterfalls, fountains and water gardens will be available for a self-guided tour at your leisure.  The majority of these stops include gardens at private residences with a few of commercial properties also offering their fountains for viewing. The tour includes properties in wooded settings, large scale properties, and even small water garden features for the intimate setting. Participants can visit all the gardens over the weekend in any order they desire or just pick-and-choose to visit a select few.

For further details, visit Premier Ponds’ web site
and click on “Parade of Ponds” page
or call 434-981-0259.

Washington Gardener Magazine is proud to be a sponsor of the annual Parade of Ponds weekend in the DC-MD.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buy Local Special: 10% off Washington Gardener Magazine This Week

Washington Gardener Magazine’s BUY LOCAL ~ SOCIAL MEDIA• SALE!
Get 10% off a year’s subscription by subscribing now and we’ll start you off with our new Summer issue!
Tell your local gardening friends!

•By local gardeners, for local gardeners.
Washington Gardener magazine is for you!

Our single issue cover price is $4.99. A year’s subscription (4 seasonal issues) is normally $20.00 — for a year full of inspiring garden articles, great tips, and secret tricks! BUY LOCAL SPECIAL: a 10% discount for our Twitter followers, Blog readers, Pinterest fans, and Facebook friends!

Name _________________________________________________
City _____________________ State______ Zip________________
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• Send a check or money order for $18.00 payable to Washington Gardener Magazine along with this completed form today to:

     Washington Gardener, 826 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 

(Discount expires on 7/31/12.  Order must be postmarked on or before 8/1/12 to receive this discount.)

In support of Maryland's Buy Local campaign!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Post Produce Day

Fellow garden writer Daniel Gasteiger had started "Post Produce" day on the 22nd of each month over at his blog, http://www.smallkitchengarden.net/. We garden bloggers are instructed to post about what our edible gardens are producing and to share it with a link back.

This month at my community garden plot, the carrots are producing very well. This was a big surprise to me as I'd always been told carrots do not do well for us in the Mid-Atlantic region. Am please to say, that the prevailing wisdom was wrong -- at least for this growing season.

So you are probably wondering why a cat is in my carrot photo above. That is because Santino, the cat, would not leave the carrots alone after I harvested them and washed off most of the soil and brought them in for their photo op. This is what I get for buying him a stuffed-carrot catnip toy! He is now busily chewing away on a small one I sacrificed to him, the rest are in the crisper drawer awaiting a carrot-raisin salad I plan to make later.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fenton Friday: Bolted

It had to happen eventually *sigh* -- my cool-season lettuces finally bolted (set flower/seed) this week in my community garden plot at Fenton Street. It took two weeks of near 100 or over temps to induce it though, so I'd say it more than had its full run.

I'll yank it out in the next few days and plan on putting in Broccoli seeds for harvest this fall. I have never grown broccoli and I know here in the Mid-Atlantic it is not the easiest crop, so your advice is welcome.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sourcing Locally Grown Plants ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ July 2012

Washington Gardener Enews ~ July 2012
~ Sourcing Locally Grown Plants
~ Magazine Excerpt: Carrot Rust Fly
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for July-August
~ Reader Contest: Win a copy of "Homegrown Harvest"
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: New Geranium Hybrid from Syngenta Flowers, Inc.
~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for July-August
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Contained

It is an overcast and EXTREMELY humid morning here in the Mid-Atlantic ISA (zone 7 - DC/MD border to be precise). This Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day I thought I'd share a few of my mixed containers now that they are starting to fill in nicely. I have about 20 large planters going, but will share a sampling of just three. (If you are viewing this on my blog at washingtongardener.blogspot.com, you can click on any of the photos to look at them in detail at full-size.

At top, Petunia Debonair Black Cherry with Fuseables Chocolate Symphony Coleus (that is one coleus bright green and burgundy edged with green). In the middle of it is an elephant ear that I cannot recall if I received for trial or got at a plant swap this spring.

At middle, Petunia Shock Wave Rose Improved with Angelonia Serenita Lavender Pink. In the middleof it is a yellow Brugmansia that I got a plant swap this spring.

At bottom, Colorblaze Marooned Coleus with Superbells Lemon Slice Calibrochoa peaking out below it. There are two other plants in this container, but the coleus has "proven" to be a container hog.

So what is blooming in your garden today?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Whole Foods Local Business Expo

Washington Gardener Magazine will have a table at Whole Foods Market Silver Spring (MD) on Sunday 7/15 from 12noon-4pm at their Local Business Expo. Stop by for gardening tips, information on how to subscribe, and free seed packs while supplies last.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fenton Friday: Mini-Harvest

We had a monsoon on Tuesday evening. It was a really gully-washer that last about an hour. I was afraid my new seedlings were swept away, but they are still there and everything at the community garden plot got a good 2+ inches.

I picked several mini bell peppers, a couple 'SunGreen' tomatoes, one red cherry tomato (cannot recall variety), and lots of carrots plus salad greens.

I don't know HOW my salad greens have not bolted yet, but they haven't so I'm letting a half-row of them stay for now.

Also pinched back some of my basil plants which are starting to flower and ripped out my old Calendula. It was still flowering, but was looking rather woody, overgrown, and sad. It had made several babies around it so I thinned them and hope a few take its place.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Video Wednesday: How to Water a Tree

This video courtesy of Casey Trees gives some good tips on watering street trees. Many of us got deluged in the storm last night, but we are still below the normal rain amounts for area and it could be a long, hot summer ahead, so keep these guidelines in mind over the weeks ahead.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Fenton Friday: New Herb Markers

With temps hovering around 100 for the last week (and a water-use restriction over last weekend), there was not much to do at my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Garden except pick carrots and salad greens to eat each night, pinch back flowering basil, and water when I could.

My nieces came to visit and since they enjoy arts-and-crafts, we spent an afternoon creating new herb markers for the community garden's shared herb space. I went to the local Ace hardware and asked for extra paint stir sticks. We used acrylic paints and gave each one a base-coat in lime green then the nieces set to work painting the herb names in purple and painting a small picture of each herb. While they did that, I grabbed a spare piece of wood and painted a welcome sign to go near the front gate of the garden. I hope our fellow gardeners and passers-by enjoy the garden art.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Gardening and Immediacy

My little one and my father transplanting a Chinese herb

GUEST BLOG by Wendy Kiang-Spray

I had a great neighbor who has since moved away. On day one, he invited us over for empanadas. He and his wife were perfect neighbors for first-time homeowners to have. Old enough to know the neighborhood stories, young enough to hang out from time to time and share a bottle of wine. As we settled in and began to make some changes around the house, the well-intentioned nay-saying began, "The city is not going to take those boards away unless you take all the nails out." "Every piece of tinsel has to be removed or they won't recycle the tree." "You shouldn't go up on the slope because there is poison ivy there." "You can't grow vegetables here because the soil is all clay." It got to the point where I tried to do household tasks at odd hours hoping I wouldn't get caught.

Good thing we're stubborn. My husband didn't remove the nails nor the tinsel, and I both climbed the slope and grew vegetables in the clay.

This posting is a little late, but I attended the International Master Gardener's Conference back in October of 2011. The sessions have been largely forgotten, but I did attend a session by speakers Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila. I'm not a handout keeper, and in classes, I prefer to listen rather than take notes, so I probably don't retain as much info as your average attendee, but there are many parts of Janet and Steve's lecture that were so interesting and important and pieces keep coming back to me in my life.

One point they made was about IMMEDIACY. As a gardener, if someone asks you for help, avoid jargon.  SHOW them how to do what they need to do You want to make it do-able for the novice gardener -- and for them to feel the excitement of it. She shared an example of an inexperienced gardener friend who was suddenly motivated to move a tree. And during the worst part of the year to do it! Despite the chance that the tree might suffer or not even make it, she helped him move it anyway. There's an excitement that gets into us -- you're a gardener -- you know this feeling too.

This makes me think of my neighbor. It's true there was poison ivy on the slope. I got a case so bad I went to the hospital (and I'm a tough cookie). But when I got better, I got back on the slope to do more work up there. It's true it's VERY difficult to grow vegetables in clay. But I tried, and then I learned.

This also makes me think of an interaction I recently had at work. Some of our students held a plant sale -- everything was $1! I bought things like chives, ferns, parsley. Great deal. Later, one of my friends (a particularly exuberant friend) bought some seedlings too and was so incredibly delighted about it!  In her box, that she was showing me, she had a lettuce seedling and a beet seedling and was telling me she was going to have fresh salads for her family all summer. I didn't have the heart to tell her that the lettuce seedling wouldn't provide enough leaves for one salad, that the plant would probably bolt in a couple of weeks, and that the one beet seedling she bought would produce exactly one beet. A beet she paid a dollar for. I felt a little badly about not sharing the information, but I thought of my neighbor, and I thought of Janet and Steve.  I figure if she gets her hands dirty and does a little experimenting, she may catch the gardening bug -- it's not difficult. She may complain that the lettuce didn't produce enough to garnish a sandwich. She may ask questions. And that is when I'll show her how to sow her own row of beets and how to start her own salad bed. 

About the Author:
Wendy blogs at http://www.greenishthumb.net. She is a high school counselor by day and a landscape architect or possibly farmer in her dreams. She volunteesr as a DC Master Gardener. In spare moments, she is a freelance writer with national publication credits.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Video Wednesday: How Plants are Bred to Become Proven Winners Plants

This week's video comes from friend of Washington Gardener Magazine, Shirley Bovshow. Watch "How Plants are Bred to Become Proven Winners Plants" with Shirley Bovshow and Chris Berg. Plant trials are a combination beauty pageant/Olympic games where only the most beautiful and most vigorous plants make the cut for development. Next time you see a branded plant at the garden center, you'll understand what makes this plant different from plants with "no name" distinction!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Container Garden: You Can Grow That!

The 4th of every month is "Garden Bloggers: You Can Grow That" Day, the brain child of C. L Fornari.

Since tomorrow is Independence Day* I thought I would share this new container I created for the occasion. Very easy to do and you CAN grow that!

I took a large container, you can use anything with good drainage holes and at least 18" wide. In this case, I have a pot left from a small tree planting.

So that I did not use a fortune in potting soil and to keep the container fairly light, I filled the bottom in with empty plastic soda bottles with the tops screwed back on.

I then add a layer of bark mulch over the bottles and fill in the next third with good potting soil.

Next I placed my plants. To the back is a "Big Blonde" Coleus from the Stained Glassworks™ that take a good deal of sun. To the left, I placed a red Verbena. In the middle front, a white Wave petunia, and on the right a blue Lobelia (it looks more blue in real life). I then filled in around the plants with more potting soil and watered everything in well and placed it in a sunny, high-traffic corner of my garden.

In the middle I stuck an American flag. You can, of course, eliminate the flag and let the red, white, and blue speak for themselves.

You can also substitute other plants that may suit your climate better or that are more available to you. For the red, you could do a red coleus or zonal geranium or a Fire begonia. There are lots of white annuals from impatiens to alyssum to snapdragons. For the blues, you could go into the purple range of petunias or pop in a sage.

For large containers like this, you will want to check daily to see if it needs watering. Also, add a liquid fertilizer to your watering about every two weeks. Pinch back any flower spikes forming on the coleus to keep it full. The three flowering plants I selected are basically self-deadheading, but if you see anything looking tired or damaged, you can cut it off or shear it back.

Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That! Day was started by C. L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening because she believes “Gardening is one of the most life-affirming things we can do.…We need to thoroughly saturate people with the belief that plants and gardening are worth doing because of the benefits gained.” Garden bloggers who agree post about something worth growing on the fourth day of every month. Read this month’s You Can Grow That! posts.

*Minor pet peeve: when people call it "the 4th of July." Yes, it is on the 4th, but that is not the holiday we are celebrating. Do you also celebrate "the 14th of February" and "the 25th of December?"

Monday, July 02, 2012

Favorite Summer Edibles

The winner of our June 2012 Washington Gardener Reader Contest is Faith Hood of Falls Church, VA. Congratulations, Faith! She was chosen at random among the entries received to win a stunning Black Rose Necklace from Minou Bazaar (a $26 value).

We asked our June contest : What is your favorite summer edible?

Faith said: "My favorite summer edible has to be melons. I love my watermelon and cantaloupe isn't far behind"

Cindy Walczak of Olney, MD commented that her favorite summer edible is a juicy ripe nectarine.

Sue Hauser of Kensington, MD chimed in: "My favorite summer edible is okra. It is easy to grow, yummy to eat, and bears an exquisite blossom."

"My favorite summer edibles are giant, sweet, juicy Brandywine tomatoes," said Dani Sandler of Washington, DC.  

So what is your favorite summer edible?

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