Friday, August 31, 2012

Fenton Friday: Sweet Potato Eruption

I have re-buried this sweet potato mound twice, but it has broken way above the soil's surface again. I think it is time I just harvest them, but it still seems a bit early. Any tips from veteran sweet potato gardeners?

The rest of my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Garden is humming along. I have been snacking on more okra, another cucumber, some small tomatoes, and a few carrots.

My spinach seedlings almost dried out in this hot, windy week. I need to keep a better eye on them as well as add a fabric row cover as other gardeners are reporting harlequin bug problems in their plots.

The honeydew melon vine is finally setting fruit. The eggplants look past their prime, I suppose I should pick and use them too. The tomatillo plant has about 30 fruits ripening on it, but still at least a week or two from being ready to use in a salsa.

Finally, as promised, I let some of the 'Indigo Rose' tomatoes go until dead ripe. Here it is pictured whole and cut open. As you can see, the purple color is only skin deep. The tomato itself tastes "okay" -- not sweet enough for me to snack on, but would be fine cut up in a salad.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Video Wednesday: Wangari Gardens

Looking through some old emails this morning, I realized we had forgotten to share this video about our friends at Wangari Gardens. A little late, but here it is. Enjoy!

Planting Community from Still Life Projects on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hottest Gardener in the DMV Contest

Although most of the summer heat has passed, we know there are still many "hot" gardeners out there in DC-area gardens.

For our August 2012 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is asking for nominations for the “Hottest Gardener in the DMV (District, Maryland, and Virginia).”

“Hotness” will be left open to a wide interpretation. Depending on the number of entries, we may split the categories by gender and age group and declare multiple winners. There will be fun prizes for each “hottest” gardener. And yes, you can self-nominate!

To nominate a hot DMV gardener, send an email with “Hottest Gardener” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on Friday, August 31. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, mailing address, and attach the Nominee’s Photo plus a few details about them: name, age, and city, state where they garden. The winners will be announced and notified by September 2. Some of the entry responses may be used in future Washington Gardener online or print articles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tomato Taste 2012 Results

 We had almost 200 come to yesterday's Washington Gardener Magazine 5th Annual Tomato Taste at the FreshFarm Silver Spring Market yesterday. Here are the results of the more than 150 ballots submitted.

  1. Sun Sugar from Spiral Path Farm received 50 votes
  2. Green Zebra from Evensong Farm received 41 votes
  3. Pink Lady from Koiner Farm received 16 votes
  4. Chocolate Stripe from Mock's Greenhouse received 15 votes
  5. Arkansas Traveler from Three Springs Fruit Farm received 14 votes

Anne Miller of Silver Spring, MD, won the prize drawing of a tin basket full of gardening goodies.

Most of the taste attendees were local, though we also had many who came quite a distance. About half live in Silver Spring. Another third live close by in Washington, DC or the towns of Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Hyattsville, Rockville, College Park, Gaithersburg, and Wheaton in MD. From across the river in Virginia, attendees came from Vienna, Falls Church, and Springfield. From out of the area, we had attendees from Elizabeth City, NC, Stratford, CT, and Haddon Heights, NJ.

See more photos from the event at

Thank you to all who came and participated. Thanks to the farmers for growing great tomatoes and to FreshFarm Markets staff for hosting us. Special thanks also to Doree and Martha for helping with all the tomato sample cutting and helping greet all the tasters in the short two-hour event. See you next August!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fenton Friday: Anticipating Autumn

The broccoli seedlings are popping up and I still need to seed my spinach and other cool weather crops.

Meanwhile, I FINALLY got one scrawny cucumber off my vine. So I picked it and sliced it up. Then I put the slices on top a toasted bagel smeared with cream cheese. This is the quintessential summer meal to me, much like a good grilled cheese in the depth of winter. Another cucumber is forming, maybe that can be another lunch sandwich by next week.
 The tomato plants are really starting to produce. Picture here are the Yellow Pear. So sweet and delicious to snack on that they rarely make it out of the garden plot and home to my kitchen.

I've also been snacking on raw okra, carrots, and made a meal of some of my 'German Butterball' potatoes (boiled and then added a dollop of butter and some seasoning salt-substitute mix).
Also, this week the first watermelon ripened on the wild vine that sprouted up in the communal herb garden corner. We had a gathering to cut it open and sample it. It is a funny yellow-pink combination inside, but is nevertheless sweet and firm of texture. Two more are ripening and should be ready to share in the next week or two.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Washington Gardener Magazine's Tomato Taste at Market is Back!

Washington Gardener Magazine's
5th 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 25 from 10am-12noon for a Tomato Tasting. Best of all, this event is FREE!

Farmers at the market will contribute 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. All to celebrate one of summer’s greatest indulgences — the juicy fresh tomato.

Tip: Your tomato taste voting ballot is also your entry into our prize drawing for a basket full of gardening goodies. The drawing is at 12noon, so be sure to fully fill out your ballot by 11:45am and then stick around for the prize announcement as you must be present to win.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Video Wednesday: Tastiest Tomato Contest at the DC State Fair 2012

The DC State Fair held its Tastiest Tomato Contest in August 2012 at the Columbia Heights Farmers' Market in Washington, DC. Gardeners from across DC were encouraged to enter their home-grown tomatoes. Washington Gardener Magazine was a co-judge and prize sponsor.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Local Farmers’ Markets in the Mid-Atlantic ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ August 2012

Washington Gardener Enews  ~ August 2012 
~ Local Farmers’ Markets in the Mid-Atlantic
~ Magazine Excerpt: A Visit to Brent and Becky's Bulbs in Gloucester, VA
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for August-September
~ Reader Contest: Nominate the "Hottest Gardener in the DMV"
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: New Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ from PlantHaven
~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for August-September
 ~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

My Fair Ribbon Tally

My fair entry ribbons. 2 firsts. Woo hoo #gardendc on Twitpic

Of my 30 entries, I won 10 ribbons, so 1-in-3 not too bad.
The awards were:

First Place - cosmos
First Place - coleus
Second Place - cosmos
Second Place - miniature cluster rose
Third Place - most unusual flower - I entered a sprig of Jewels of Opar
Third Place - coleus
Fourth Place - rose miniature single
Fifth Place - hydrangea - I entered Limelight
Fifth Place - carrots - I entered Little Finger
Fifth Place - potatoes other - I entered German Butterball

My usual winning entries are for Black-eyed Susans and Ornamental Sunflowers, both of which I failed to place in this year. I have a feeling my entrants were a bit too beat up by judging time. Plus, I'm sure I had stiff competition. Now to plan next year's entries. I've got my eye on that "vegetable resemblance" category -- perhaps a sweet potato will have a Nixon profile or an eggplant due will be Laurel & Hardy. We'll see what I can scout out in next season's garden plot...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fenton Friday: Garden Tour

It has been a quiet August week -- my favorite time of year here in the DC region. Everything is more relaxed, easier, and just more civilized.

At my garden plot at the Fenton Community Garden, I planted a row of broccoli and dug out more potatoes. I've been snacking on more okra and tomatoes. I also had some strawberries appear overnight and ate those right then and there, forgetting to pause a take a photo!

My cucumber vines look awful and I was thinking I'd rip them out, but one cucumber actually set finally and is growing well, so go figure. Nearby, the sweet potatoes pushed themselves out of the ground, so I tried to mound up soil and compost over them as best I could.

Finally, a few eggplants are forming. I doubt they will get very large as the plant is fairly small itself. I'll give them another week or so to see how they do.

Today I'm hosting an Open Garden and YOU are invited. We'll walk over to look at the community garden plot about 7pm, so if that interests you, join us then.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Video Wednesday: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day August 2012

Since Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day August 2012 falls on a Wednesday, which is the day of the week I've chosen for putting video blog posts online, I figured why not make a video of what is blooming in my garden. This is not comprehensive, but a few highlights from what catches my eye as I weed, water, and putter. BTW, for those new to this blog, I'm solidly zone 7 and located near the Washington, DC/Silver Spring, MD border.

So what is blooming in your garden today?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club Forming

I have reserved (pending approval) a meeting room at the MLK Library (near Metro Center and Gallery Place) on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM. The room allows snacks, so you can bring in munchies to share.

Our first book will be: Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation by Andrea Wulf. I have confirmed that the DC library and other local library systems currently have several copies available for borrowing.

At this first meeting, we'll discuss the book and then also decide on future book club timing, location, and book selections -- so please bring your garden book suggestions.

I will announce the final details and how to RSVP when the library room approval goes through.Meanwhile, you can get started reading the book :-).

UPDATE: The DC Libary has CONFIRMED our meeting time and place as above. So mark your calendars, grab a copy of the book, start reading, and RSVP to "WG Book Club" at I will be limiting attendance to 20. If you need to cancel, let me know asap so we can give your spot to someone else.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Fenton Friday: Potato Dig

Tomorrow is the entry date for the Montgomery County Fair, so I looked over the possible categories to see what I could cull from my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Garden to enter. In most all categories, you have to have 5 of each time. (Some like Okra you have you have 10!) Most of my stuff is not in large enough numbers ready/ripe at the same time. Right now at my plot that pretty much leaves the Little Finger carrots and my German Butterball potatoes.

So I dug up some of each to make sure they'd be "fair worthy." As you see in the photo here, some of my potatoes have rotted -- the dark one on the right is soft and pliable -- nothing you'd want to eat. I will dig more this evening in hopes of finding 5 of about equal size and that are nice (e.g. not rotting). It is always a mystery what the judges are looking for in these contests as there are no guidelines beyond the simple category names, but "squishy" would definitely not earn me a ribbon.

I had also planned to enter my garlic -- though their are several onion categories, there is none for garlic and am not sure if "vegetable - other" really applies. In addition, I'll be submitting my usual cut flowers (single hydrangeas, roses, etc.), but also trying for the first time to flower arranging categories with a simple mixed-flowers in a tea cup entry I'm putting together.

Are you entering your local fairs? If so, feel free to brag here about your ribbon haul.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Open Garden: Tropical Paradise

Our Open Garden is back by popular demand!

You are Invited to a Tropical Paradise 'cause this summer has been  -- Hot Hot Hot!

Friday, August 17 from 5-8pm

Hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine

☼ Come by with your garden questions

☼ See our trial gardens in progress

☼ Pet our garden kitty, Santino
☼ Renew or subscribe to the magazine in person

☼ Purchase gift subscriptions

☼ Pluck a weed or two as a keepsake souvenir

☼ Single copies of our back issues and current issue are also for sale

☼ Pick up a pack of seeds with any purchase

☼ Take photos of whatever is in bloom for our upcoming Photo Contest

☼ Light refreshments

☼ Children’s activities - Fish Pond, Ping-Pong Throw, and Fairie Garden

☼ Information table on various area garden events and groups

☼ Surprises and Prizes

☼ Dress in your tropical best (think pink flamingos, palm trees, big floppy sunhats, etc.)
☼ At 7:00pm we will cross the street for a brief tour of the Fenton Street Community Garden

Come to 826 Philadelphia Ave. (Rt. 410), Silver Spring, MD - at the corner of Fenton - across from the Public Storage building. Please walk, bike, bus, metro, or car-pool. We are a 10-15 minute walk from either the Silver Spring and Takoma Park metro stops. Also, several Metro and Ride-On bus routes pass nearby. If driving, there is limited free parking available nearby on King Street and in nearby public garages/lots along Fenton.

The Open Garden is shine or light rain. We’ll quickly duck in the gazebo, if it drizzles.
(In case of a big storm, we'll cancel and reschedule.)

The event is free. Registration/reservations are not required.

Please pass this invite on to your DC-area gardening friends and family.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Great Blue Lobelia: You Can Grow That!

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica L) is a native perennial plant to the Eastern half of the United States. It is a woodland plant that prefers part-sun and even moisture. (Do not allow to fully dry out or it starts to get "crispy.") It grows to about 1-3 ft high. It tolerates most any soil type -- heavy clay to sandy.

When I lost a huge oak tree in my backyard a couple years ago, I started to seek out plants to replace my deep shade garden there and this has made a great transition plant.
The Great Blue Lobelia is a good plant for attracting pollinators with its brilliant blue-violet flowers in mid-late summer when many other things in the garden are starting to flag.

To propagate it, divide clumps in the spring. I received mine as a division at a local garden club plant swap. It does also re-seed a bit especially in a damp yard, but it is very easy to pull.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Fenton Friday: A TRUE Purple Tomato

There is a very funky tomato ripening this week at my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Garden. It is purple -- true purple -- not just purple in name as so many other tomatoes are but actually ripen to a dark burgundy shade. This one is 'Indigo Rose.'

The foliage on the plant is also interesting as it started out as a seedling growing almost charcoal black, now it has greened up a bit. The 'Indigo Rose' is slightly larger than a cherry tomato and is oval-ish in shape. I have not tasted one yet, but will this week after giving it a few more days to ripen fully on the vine.

It is new to the home grower market. The 'Indigo Rose' was developed by Jim Myers at Oregon State University. Don't worry folks, it is not some GMO monstrosity, this tomato was bred traditionally with wild varieties from Chile and the Galapagos Islands.

The breeders were seeking to create a tomato with high levels of antioxidants and this is the first one to have anthocyanins in its fruit. (Other tomatoes have it in their foliage, which is inedible.) According to the OSU web site, "Anthocyanins are in the class of flavonoids – compounds found in fruits, vegetables and beverages – that have aroused interest because of their potential health benefits. They have many varied effects on human health, but while they are powerful antioxidants in the test tube, we don’t really know whether they have an antioxidant effect in the human body."

So time will tell, whether this tomato breeding break-through is a true boon to human health. Meanwhile, it sure is pretty!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Video Wednesday: Monarch Visit

Just when I thought no Monarchs were going to visit this summer, this one stopped by and stayed awhile. I ran in to get my camera as he circled the whole garden several times and finally found the clump of milkweed in my sidewalk "hellstrip" planting.

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