Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Video Wednesday: Unusual Edibles 2013

Unusual Edibles: Myoga Ginger and ‘Japanese Red’ Sweetpotato -- Elizabeth Olson speaking at the Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange 2013 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.

Elizabeth is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist, a member of the Garden Writers Association, and the “EdibleHarvest” columnist for Washington Gardener Magazine.

Washington Gardener Magazine hosts an annual Seed Exchange on National Seed Swap Day -- the last Saturday of January -- in the greater Washington, DC area.

If you missed last Saturday's event, you can still join us this Saturday, February 2, 2013, at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA, for our second Seed Exchange. See details here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

National Ag Library Tour - Save the Date

For the past few years, Washington Gardener Magazine has co-hosted an open house and tour at the USDA's National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD. We had scheduled it in late winter thinking that was a good time to get people to the library as they would not be out gardening. However, we always have to bite our nails over the forecasts and worry about ice on the roads.

This year, we thought we'd change it up to be a mid-summer date. Our thinking is that it would be relief to spend a Saturday morning at the library and be out of the heat and humidity. We also hope to catch some folks who are maybe not in town during the winter months.

So, save this date: Saturday, August 10 at 10am, and look out for more details and how to RSVP this summer.

Friday, January 25, 2013

National Seed Swap Day Logo/Slogan Announced

We put out the call in our January Reader Contest for a logo and/or slogan for National Seed Swap Day. This day takes place the last Saturday of each January and celebrates the saving and sharing of seeds by home gardeners across the United States and beyond.

Our winner is Matthew Smith of Richwood, OH, who submitted this simple, striking design:

Matthew said, "Sharing seeds and fostering the ability of communities to garden is something I'm deeply passionate about.  I'm excited to contribute this."

We hope those in the greater Washington, DC, region will join us in celebrating  National Seed Swap Day tomorrow at our annual Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD. If you cannot make that, you can also join us the following Saturday at Green Spring Gardens, Fairfax County, VA. Here are the event details.

If you are not in our area, please consider hosting a localm in-person seed swap of your own. They are springing up all across the nation and we'd be happy for you to use the above logo to spread the word on your events.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Seed Exchange FAQ

Seed Exchange Frequently Asked Questions (UPDATED 2/1/13)

I have been getting a number of emails and phone calls about the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange at Green Spring Gardens THIS Saturday. February 2. I thought I'd put together the following FAQ. Feel free to pass it on to any fellow gardeners:

- Yes, you can still register. We have plenty of spaces open. The preregistration to have the forms mailed has ended, you can still fill out the registration form and bring it with payment to the event starting at 12:00noon on Saturday. The form is posted here: or email before 5pm Friday and we can email it directly to you.

- The event is at Green Spring Gardens and parking should be plentiful for our event. It
Here is a link to directions and a map:
We will be in the  Horticultural Center in the Main Auditorium.

- We recommend eating lunch before coming. We will be serving a healthy, light snack break mid-way through the event -- fruit, granola bars, etc. We have filtered water - if you have a travel mug, bottle, or cup you like, please bring that to fill up. We will have some plastic/paper cups on hand, but are trying to keep this event as “green” as possible.

- We will have generic blank name tags -- but we ask participants to be creative and make their own tags or if you have your own name tag from work or another event, by all means bring it. We will do prizes for the most creative name tags :-). Again, we are trying to recycle and make this event eco-friendly.

- When you get your goody bag at check-in, please make sure to label it with your name -- all the bags look alike and can get easily mixed up. Bringing a few sheets of those personalized address labels you get with charity mailings will come in handy for this and for labeling your seed packets, giving out your contact information to fellow gardeners, etc.

- If you are bringing seed catalogs for our give-away table, be sure to rip off the address labels and tear out any order insert with your personal information on it. 
~ We also welcome gardening books for swapping, so feel free to bring those too.

- We screen incoming seeds and do not accept any invasives listed in the "Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas" booklet from the National Park Service. See the listing at:

~ You can bring unused seeds from purchased packs or seeds you gathered from your own garden. Carefully pack and label your seeds as best you can. The more information you can provide, the better. More details on seed packing and labeling are on the registration form. Did you know you can make your own seed packs? Get great free downloadable templates are here:

   Please do NOT bring large quantities of seed in one bag. Our volunteers are over-whelmed at the check-in tables already with sorting seeds into the table categories, please break them up into smaller quantity packs ahead of time or we will not be able to put them out.
    (No, you don't have to bring seeds. It is great though if you do bring them. Store-bought is fine.)
    (Yes, you can bring bulbs, tubers, corms, etc. to the swap. They should be bagged and labeled just like seeds.)
   (Older seeds are fine, if you can test for viability that would be great. The exceptions are lettuce, onions, and impatiens seeds, which should all be less than a year old.)

~ Make a list of your seed “wants” in advance.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day and forget the basics that you came for or the rarities that you had been seeking.

- Here is the updated event schedule*:

12:00-12:30 Registration and seed drop off to WG Staff & Volunteers

12:30-12:35 Introductory remarks and overview

12:35-1:25 Speaker 1: "Growing Great Greens Year-Round" Cindy Brown
 1:30-2:00 Speaker 2: "Seed Collecting from Herbs & Flowers." Ira Wallace

2:00-2:30 Refreshment Break and Seed Swap Preview
2:30-3:00 Seed Show and Tell**

3:00-3:30 Seed Swap!

3:30-3:45 Garden Photo Contest Winners Presentation
3:45-4:00 Final Door Prizes and closing remarks - Kathy Jentz Washington Gardener magazine

*As with all live events, the schedule is subject to last minute change.

**Show-and-Tell participation is voluntary. We encourage you to introduce yourself, share some fun facts and background on the seeds you bring, or tell us about any local garden projects or groups that you are involved in.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Video Wednesday: A Visit to the Seed Exchange

This video was taken at our Washington Gardener Seed Exchange four years as part of the "ThinkGreen" show and it aired multiple times on Montgomery County, MD cable television.

To sign up for this year's Seed Exchanges, go to this form and print it out. Be sure to mail it in soon, registrations are rolling in and space is limited!

A BIG thank to to Phil Shapiro of self-described "public geek" of Takoma Park, MD for his assistance in ripping and uploading this file online.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Broccoli Feast: Post Produce January 2013

I have not been good about doing the Post Produce blog reports on the 22nd of each month about what we are growing and eating from the garden. Today though I have something to report!

I have been "babying" the broccoli plants I bought from Monticello in September. In my community garden plot, they are under reemay fabric cover and surrounded by bricks and water jugs to form a bit of wind protection. This worked for the mild winter we've had thus far. However, a big arctic deep-freeze has swept into the Mid-Atlantic this week so it was time to collect whatever broccoli spots I could.

I checked yesterday and came away with six heads (pictured above) that were at least ping-pong-ball-sized. Not that giant heads I had dreamed of back in September, but still decent eating. Last night, I put them in boiling water until tender (about 5-7 minutes) and boiled some rotini pasta with them. After I drained them, I added pats of butter and generous sprinklings of Parmesan cheese. This for me is the ultimate winter comfort food. Noms!

Monday, January 21, 2013

National Seed Swap Day Slogan/Logo Contest

For our January 2013 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine is giving away two passes to the Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges (prize value $30).

The 8th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, takes place on January 26, 2013 at the Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD AND on February 2, 2013 at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. You have a choice on which side of the DC beltway you want to attend! Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats. The event also includes such “green” features as the garden book and catalog swap. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds and gardening inspiration!

National Seed Swap Day is the last Saturday of January each year and we want to spread the word about this holiday and get more communities involved in swapping. For this month’s contest, we are asking entrants to design logo art for National Seed Swap Day and/or to come up with a catchy slogan for the event that we can print on T-Shirts, buttons, and other promotional materials to celebrate seeds. 

To enter to win a Seed Exchange passes, send an email to by 5:00pm on January 24 with “Seed Swap” in the subject line and include your National Seed Swap Day slogan and/or logo art. In the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on January 25.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Seed Exchange 2013 Speakers Announced

Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2013. Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats. For more information on the exchanges and how to register, go here.


Saturday, January 26 at Brookside Gardens:

Starting Vegetable and Flower Seeds Under Florescent Lights
Kent Phillips
Howard County Master Gardener
and star of several UMD-HGIC videos

“Unusual Edibles for Your Mid-Atlantic Garden”
Elizabeth Olson
Prince George's County Master Gardener
and EdibleHarvest columnist for Washington Gardener Magazine

Also, at the Seed Exchange during the break period wil be Pam Rowe from the Montgomery County Watershed Management Division Rainscapes Rewards Rebate program.  The RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program offers financial incentives in the form of rebates to property owners who install RainScapes techniques.

Saturday, February 2 at Green Spring Gardens:

"Growing Great Greens Year-Round"
Cindy Brown
Smithsonian Gardens
Find out how to collect seeds, direct sow, and grow various greens through-out the year in the Mid-Atlantic. Special emphasis on how to prevent premature bolting and bitterness.


"Seed Collecting from Herbs & Flowers."
Ira Wallace
Seed collection and propagation techniques from various edible herbs and annual flowers.

We hope to see you at one or both of the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges. Please send in your registration today as space is limited and spots fill fast. Print out the details and registration form here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pruning Shrubs and Trees ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ January 2013

The Washington Gardener Enews ~ January 2013 issue is now sent to all current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers. It is also posted and archived online at:

~ Pruning Shrubs and Trees
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange Details and Registration
~ Magazine Excerpt: Growing Icebox Watermelons
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest Entry Details
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for January-February
~ Reader Contest: Win Passes to the Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ Spotlights Special: Lifeberry® Goji Berries
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Philadelphia Flower Show Trip Details
~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for
~ Washington Gardener Magazine Back Issue Sale!
and much more...

You can access it as well as all of the other Washington Gardener Enews back issues online now and anytime in the future at

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Community Garden Plot Season

If you are thinking of signing up for a plot in a local community garden, waiting until spring is TOO LATE! NOW is the time when folks are renewing their plots and garden managers are noting what plots will be open for newcomers. Sign up ASAP to get on wait lists and/or apply for plots. Here are a few links to get you started in locating community gardens in the DC/MD/VA region near you:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Video Wednesday: Seed Starting Indoors

Master Gardener Kent Phillips gives us a timeline for how to start your seeds indoors. Kent will be one of the featured speakers at our upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD on January 26. He will talk to Seed Exchange attendees about "Starting Vegetable and Flower Seeds Under Florescent Lights." To sign up and join us at this Seed Exchange or the one of February 2, see the details here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Viola Verve

Viola - Sorbet(tm) series 'Orange Duet'

 It is a dreary Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the Washington, DC/Silver Spring, MD border here in Zone 7. It is raining and cold. A gray winter so far, but a fairly mild one.

My false "window boxes" I put in several years ago along my neighbor's fenceline are still looking good with these pretty Viola (pictured above). Also in one of the window boxes is a pale yellow snapdragon, which rarely bloomed all last year, and that set one bloom this week!

Also in bloom outside now are Christmas Hellebores, Winter Jasmine, Encore Azaleas, Alyssum, and Primroses. Still holding on to a few roses as well.

Inside I have Peace Lily, Begonias, and a few Violets.

What is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Personal Note

Some of you may be aware of the situation, but many of you are not, so I thought I'd post this to my blog and elsewhere to let folks know. After a three-and-a-half year battle with cancer, my father, Thomas L. Jentz, passed away on December 29. His memorial service took place this past weekend.

Initially, 3.5 years ago, the doctors gave my father an estimate of just a few months to live and he started to prepare for it at that time. Due to interventions and treatments from specialists at Georgetown Hospital and John Hopkins, he was able to far outlive those initial projections. But in the last few months of 2012, his liver started to fail and he ran out of treatment alternatives.

His wish was that his work on WWII German tanks be continued. His business partner, Hilary L. Doyle, will continue on publishing the Panzertracts publications. You can find out more at:

He elected to be at home with hospice care for the last weeks of his life. In that period, many colleagues, friends, and family members were able to visit with him and say their good-byes.

While this was happening, I tried to keep the Washington Gardener publications and events mostly on schedule and will be playing a bit of catch up with some of our back paperwork in the coming weeks. Thank you to all who have sent their condolences and support to me and my family.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Video Wednesday: Create a New Garden Bed Without Digging

Wondering what you can do now to get your garden ready for spring? From the Washington Gardener Magazine video vault at here is: Create a New Garden Bed Without Digging. In this video, Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, demonstrates how to create a new garden bed without digging.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club 2013 Dates

With the success of our first Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club meeting last fall, where we discussed Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation by Andrea Wulf, I have set a schedule of four book club selections/meetings for 2013 using the suggestions from our first meeting attendees.

For our first 2013 selection, we will be reading The Orchid Thief: A TrueStory of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean. (Bonus points for also watching the film, “Adaptation.”)

I have reserved a meeting room at the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library Room in the CPK Second Floor Large Meeting Room on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM. (We will move the location around to various DC library locations near public transit for each meeting pending library staff approvals, the location will be confirmed to you when you RSVP.)

The room allows food and drink and you may bring your dinner and/or snacks to share.

I have made sure that the DC library and other local library systems currently have several copies available for borrowing of The Orchid Thief.

The book club meetings are FREE and open to anyone who would like to attend.

Please 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, should we have a wait-list.

In case you like to read ahead, the other book club selections for 2013 are:
Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes by Judith Tankard

I will announce the date for the next book club meetings after each previous meeting. We will meet roughly once each quarter.


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Seed Exchanges 2013

Register NOW to Save Your Seed Exchange Spot

It's that time again! Washington Gardener Magazine's Seed Exchanges are coming up on Sat Jan 26 in MD and Sat Feb 2 in VA. I hope you can make one of those dates.

The full information and registration form is posted here:

(IF you have already signed up, thank you! I will be sending confirmations to those registration I have received so far over the next few days.)

Friday, January 04, 2013

Winter Jasmine: You CAN Grow That!

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is in bloom now across the DC region. You will see them in the large concrete containers that line the National Mall (pictured here) and in front yards cascading over retaining walls and down steps all about the city. 

It is often mistaken for Forsythia, but there are several differences. First, stems are squarish, flexible, and deep green versus the Forsythia's round, brittle, and brown branches. Second, the blooms are a lighter yellow and in flower in early Winter, while Forsythia normally blooms in March here in the Mid-Atlantic US.

The plant itself is classified as a deciduous perennial, though most consider it a shrub and it can be treated as a vine as well.

It thrives in a variety of growing situations from full to part sun, from wet to dry soils. I have never had to water mine even in the hottest of summers.

 The weeping habit of Winter Jasmine is really quite lovely. Try a Winter Jasmine trained on an arbor or spilling over a wall. It also makes a good ground cover, especially on a slope or hillside. If planted in the ground, it can sucker and spread, but is easily pulled and potted up to share!

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 other You Can Grow That! posts.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Video Wednesday: Victory Gardens 1941

A family in Maryland decides to grow a Victory Garden. The film shows each step necessary from planning to harvest. The entire family takes part as two successive planting are done in Spring and Summer.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Our Readers Tell Us Their MOST-DREADED Garden Chores

For our December 2012 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener Magazine asked readers to tell us what gardening chores you most dread doing and why.

We got some great answers that I'm sure many of you can relate to as well. Not surprisingly, many had to do with weeding, but many also despise the end-of-season garden clean-up. Here are a few of the submissions:

~ I hate cutting everything down/back. It feels like defeat, like I can't make it one more day. Which is why I still have roses and petunias. In a snow storm.
Getting rid of chickweed and henbit (are they the same?) that sprout up everywhere, not only among my flowers and veggies but especially among the few blades of grass that I try to coax into the semblance of a small lawn.
~ Turning the compost pile is my most dreaded garden chore because it is hard physical work!
The fall clean-up is definitely tops on my list of chores most dreaded.  It’s a must-do and seems as though it hits me all at once after the first killing frost.  Every year I try to plan for it and every year I fail miserably.
~ The garden chore I dread the most is cutting down ornamental grasses.  It takes a long time, using a hand pruner (because I do not use a chain saw), to make the remaining grass "stubs" look presentable.  A big pain is to stuff the dead grass into bags for county yard waste recycling.  I do not compost ornamental grass as it seems to take forever for it to break down. 
~ Well, mine is a love-hate issue.  I like to weed and have a neat garden, but it can be overwhelming if an area is too big.  Also, I have bad knees, so I'm usually in pain after weeding and planting.
~ The garden chore I most dislike it weeding--unless its after a hard rain and then I love it because I can pull them up easily and get the roots.  Also, fertilizing roses. No matter how careful I am, I always manage to get caught on the thorns.
The gardening task I dread most is inspecting for deer damage. :( Because it is heartbreaking.
~ The garden task I dread the most is weeding, because it is a never-ending battle. It feels like all of the work that I do is wiped out in a few days especially if I don’t keep up with it regularly. I have a lot invasive that creep into my yard from the adjacent woods, so I can’t eradicate them all, I can only cut them back. Also, some of them are hard to pull as they have thorns or are poison ivy so I can’t do them all on my way in out of the yard for a few minutes. I don’t like to use herbicides but it is tempting.
~  The garden task I hate the most is keeping ahead of the cool weather weeds.  They tend to be hard to pull and often the ground is very cold, they are brittle, and...any excuse not to do it!
~ Emptying and/or moving clay container pots to shed or garage or inside when the weather gets colder.
~ Pruning the climbing rose bush.
~ Raking willow oak leaves anywhere, but particularly out of the perennial garden.
~ The chore I most dread is weeding.  I am not always consistent about it and so when I let it go for too long it becomes a real chore. Moral of the story? (1) Prevention; and when prevention fails (2) Keep up with the weeding!

The winner of our Reader Contest chosen at random from among our entrants is Jeavonna Chapman of Baltimore, MD. She receives our brand new Local Gardening Task Calendar. Each month includes a list of what to do in the garden for local DC-MD-VA and Mid-Atlantic gardeners, along with a gorgeous photo of a seasonal flower from a local DC-area public gardens’ collection.

You can order one for yourself and as gifts for your favorite local gardeners by going to: (Note that you can select the calendar to start with whatever month you choose.)

So what gardening chores do YOU most dread doing and why?

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