Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Summer-Fall 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Issue

Summer-Fall 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Issue

Do a "little gardening" by plant a miniature world!

The Summer-Fall 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine issue is now out. To subscribe, send a check for $20.00 payable to Washington Gardener Magazine today to: Washington Gardener 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 or go to .

Our Summer-Fall 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine issue is now mailing to all current subscribers. The cover story is on creating Magical Miniature Gardens also known as Faerie Gardens.
   You’ll also find in this issue:
• Carrot Growing Tips
• Plant Profile of Abelias
• Kudzu Bugs Threaten Beans
• Rose Rosette Disease Spreads
• Annmarie Sculpture Gardens
• Easy-to-Make Stepping Stones
• Native Nashville Breadroot
• Preventing Powdery Mildew
• And much, much more...

The Fall-Winter 2013 issue is in the works with a cover story on Fabulous Ferns!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Surprise Pumpkin Patch

UPDATED Guest Blog by Arlene Montemarano of Silver Spring, MD

Here is our surprise Pumpkin Patch! This vine popped up and took over our front lawn. We have promised the local day care around the corner that they can enjoy it. They come by and have picked out the pumpkins that they would like to have.  I fear that the pumpkins, though pretty big, will not orange up in time for Halloween. (My husband suggested Orange Rustoleum.) I am planning to help that along by removing the sun blocking leaves where the pumpkins are located, as soon as everything dries up again. We are having so much fun with this astonishing uninvited guest!

We harvested on Sunday, with the help of my seven grandchildren. The results were 26 pumpkins, with some interesting varieties mixed in. Nearly all given away now. It amounts to a lot of free food.

One pumpkin weighed in at 28.5 38.5 pounds. I neither planted or took care of any of it.

Astounding. And furthermore, my grass, buried underneath these big leaves for months, is still green, though a little shaggy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Win a 1-quart bottle of LavaMite

For our October 2013 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, we are giving away a 1-quart bottle of LavaMite ( The prize retail value is $35.

   LavaMite is an organic spray designed specifically to kill spider mites without hurting the host plant. It can been used on many different types of plants, including fruit and vegetable bearing plants, houseplants, and more. Simply spray LavaMite onto the leaves of the affected plant and all spider mites that come into contact with the spray will be dead within 30 minutes.

   To enter to win a 1-quart bottle of LavaMite, send an email with “Mite” in the subject line to by 5:00pm on Wednesday, October 30. In the body of the email please include your full name, email, mailing address, and tell us: “What is the scariest creature you have ever encountered in your garden? What made it so scarey?” The winner will be announced and notified by November 1. Some of the entry responses may be used in future Washington Gardener online or print articles

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Video Wednesday: Re-Dedication of the Bishop's Garden

On October 9, 2013, the All Hallows Guild hosted a Re-Dedication of the Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The garden was re-stored after being damaged when a large construction crane brought in for earthquake repairs to the cathedral two years ago fell across the garden. The massive machinery decimated many specimen trees and planting long with the stone entrance arch and wall.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fenton Friday: Sweet Potato Harvest Time

I'm a bit behind on my working my Fenton community garden plot and am finally getting to digging up my patch of sweet potatoes. This year I only grew the tried-and-true Beauregard.

A few people on our Washington Gardener yahoo discussion list have asked about how to harvest and  cure them for storage. Proper curing makes a big difference in how sweet the potatoes are, so I'll go through the basic steps here:

1. To give yourself room and a better view for digging up your sweet potatoes, you can cut back the vines.
2. Next, use a garden fork or spade and start loosening the soil a good couple of feet back from the crown of the mound. I made the mistake last year of going in too close and stabbing a bunch of good tubers, mea culpa.
3. Work your way around the mound and gently pry up your tubers.
4. Brush off (gently!)  as much of the soil as possible.
5. Snip off with clean pruners if they are attached to a large root. Otherwise, leaves the small whiskers and such on them.
6. Lay out a layer of newspaper in a warm, humid, and dim space. I use my sun-porch with the blinds drawn. You do not want them to get cold though, so try to have the space be at least 80-degrees even at night. A greenhouse space works great for this.
7. Leave for 7-10 days.
8. Now they are cured and ready for cooking or storing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Store Winter Squash, Carrots, and Beets ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ October 2013 issue

The Washington Gardener Enews ~ October 2013 issue is now sent to all current Washington Gardener Magazine subscribers. It is also posted and archived online at:
~ How to Store Winter Squash, Carrots, and Beets
~ Top Local Garden Events Calendar for October-November
~ Drink Your Garden
~ Magazine Excerpt: DayTrip to AnnMarie Sculpture Garden
~ Tulip Growing Tips and Sources
~ Mid-Atlantic Garden To-Do List for October-November
~ Ripen Green Tomatoes
~ Reader Contest: Win a 1-quart bottle of LavaMite
~ Washington Gardener's Recent Blog Post Highlights
~ New Plant Spotlight:New Rose Varieties Inspired by “Downton Abbey
~ 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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Trial Plants

It is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day again! On the 15th of each month, we gardeners with blogs share a few bloom photos from our gardens. Here is the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, we had a very dry September and now a very wet October. The temps have been mild though, so most all my summer annuals and tropicals are still out and thriving.

For this month's GBBD, I thought I'd share photos of the the current blooms on three trial plants I was sent this past spring. All have done very well with pretty much total neglect on my part. The Dianthus and Lantana never stopped blooming from May to now. That is pretty darn great, IMHO.

Dianthus 'Dash Violet' Pan American Seed
Hardy Mum 'Fireworks Igloo' Blooms of Bressingham
Lantana Viva 'Chapel Hill Yellow' Monrovia

So what is blooming in YOUR garden on this bloom day?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Washington Gardener Magazine is offering a *Govt Shutdown Special*

Washington Gardener Magazine is offering a *Govt Shutdown Special* tomorrow (Sat 10/12) at the National Capital Orchid Society Show from 9am-5pm.
  Remember that the NCOS Show has moved because of the shutdown from its usual home at the US National Arboretum to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD!
   Govt Shutdown Special Details: 10% off on all new subscriptions and renewals to Washington Gardener Magazine placed at the NCOS show. Everyone is eligible -- no Fed Govt ID required!
   Don't forget to bring your camera -- the orchid competition displays are simply gorgeous!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fenton Friday: Rain Delay

It has been pouring rain this past week, today looks like another 2-inch day and it is predicated to continue on like this through to Sunday. I'm not complaining though! After the weeks of drought, this is a blessing. But due to it, I've stayed out of my community garden plot for fear of compacting my good soil. When I do get back in, I need to plant my garlic and dig my sweet potatoes. All in good time though.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping more than busy outside the garden giving garden talks and attending local gardening events like the re-dedication of the Bishop's Close Garden at the National Cathedral (pictured here). More on that here next Wednesday, when I share a video I'm putting together of that ceremony.

Stay dry and enjoy some indoor garden shopping at the NCOS Orchid Show and the Meadows Farms' Pink Day this weekend!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

How to Take Coleus Cuttings and Over-Winter Your Coleus

Washington Gardener Magazine ( shows you how to over-winter your coleus plants by taking cuttings from them and rooting them in water.

I posted this two years ago, but somehow it never made it onto our main Youtube channel.

My cat, Santino, was a BIG help filming this one. Because he would get out of the shots, I worked him into the video. I think a star is born!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Furloughed in the Garden!?!

DC-area gardeners, as well as gardeners throughout the country, are being directly impacted by the Federal Government Shutdown in several ways.

First, there are the gardeners who rent community garden plots on Federal land within Rock Creek Park. They are officially barred from accessing their plots and harvesting, planting, watering, etc. Can you imagine?!
   The nonprofit Neighborhood Farm Initiative's Kristin Brower says, "We cancelled our workday on Wednesday, but we need to go out! So since we have access (unlike the Washington Youth Garden) we are still planning to have a secret workday." Many gardeners share her sentiment that "I'm not going to have my garden shut-down just because of the shutdown!"
   The Washington Youth Garden on the grounds of the US National Arboretum (USNA) similarly cannot host volunteers or field trips in their garden. The Friends of the National Arboretum report that USNA collections are being watered as they are an "essential" activity, but all other access and activities at the USNA is at a standstill. Same thing goes for the US Botanic Gardens (USBG) on the National Mall. If you were signed up to take a class or go to an event at these public gardens, they are canceled for the time being. If you are a garden speaker, as I am, and you were set to speak to a class during this shutdown, you do not get paid.
   In addition, gardeners, visitors, and volunteers are prohibited from fully accessing the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens , Mt Vernon, and Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The latter two properties are privately funded and access was/is being blocked to their parking and roads, which may or may not technically by legal
   Gardener groups who hold their meetings and events at these public gardens have had to cancel them or scramble for alternatives. The National Capital Orchid Society (NCOS) has their big annual show and sale at the USNA each October and was fortunate to be able to move it to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD, this upcoming weekend. It will not be the same, but at least it will go on.

Second, gardeners are being cut off from vital information. The USDA plants database is down, as reported on GardenRant, and the National Agricultural Library is closed to the public. That means I'm also cut off from researching stories and accessing photo files. I cannot interview experts, nor even get official quotes for this blog post since all the press offices are closed.

Third, small gardening businesses are being severely hurt by the shutdown. Federal workers and contractors on furlough have told me in the last week that they have cut all purchasing to the bone. Which means, the plant sale at Green Spring Gardens last Saturday was not as well attended as in previous years, despite a perfect weather day and great selection of vendors.
   As fed workers and contractors are on furlough, landscape crews and landscape designers are having jobs canceled both due to the workers going the DIY route with the extra time of their hands and for the anticipated lack of pay once this is all over.
   For my own small, local business, I'm seeing that renewals and new subscriptions to Washington Gardener Magazine have slowed down to almost nothing this week as well. I also have single issue sales of our publication at the Arbor House store, which sits at the now-shuttered USNA property. This is directly impacting our bottomline.

I'm not reporting all of this for sympathy or to stir up political debate (plenty of other online venues for that!), just to relate that this shutdown has a far more reaching impact than the general media and our leaders acknowledge. Have you been directly affected by the shutdown?

Warning: Many of the links above do not work because of the shutdown -- try them again once it is over.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Fenton Friday: Lettuce Seed

This week in my garden plot at the Fenton Community Garden it was dry and hot -- a real Indian Summer for us. I only had time to go over and throw some water and harvest more okra and cherry tomatoes.

Rain is finally in the forecast. So, today I ran over to collect the lettuce seeds, I had let several lettuces bolt (go to flower and form seedheads) over the summer in hopes of getting a good crop of fresh lettuce seeds for next year.

After hosting our annual Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges for several years now, the one thing I have learned is that lettuce seed must by fresh - preferably just a year old - in order for good germination.

I pulled up all the bolted plants, shook the soil off their roots, and put them upside down in brown paper bags. I'll let them dry out a bit more in my sunroom, then give the bags a few good shakes to collect as many of the tiny seeds as possible.

Pictured at top are the lettuce seeds from one of the lettuce plants and you can see how small they are -- I hope to have many to share at the Seed Exchanges.

I only wish now that I had marked which lettuce was which variety with a ribbon or twist-tie or something. I definitely had two kinds that I personally preferred in my salads. Ah well, now I know for next year.

Are you saving seeds from any of your edible plants this year?


Salvia 'Black and Blue': You Can Grow That!

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

This tender perennial salvia grows best in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. It has bright green foliage and brilliant blue flowers with black calyces. The iPhone photo above does not do it justice, it is a true-blue that really is striking in the late summer-early autumn garden.

Butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators love it. 
Deer do not bother it.

Deadhead the spent flowers to encourage additional blooms. Otherwise, it is pretty low-maintenance.

It can survive here in the Mid-Atlantic if we have a mild winter, but if you think we will have a hard winter, cut it back and pot up several plants in the fall for overwintering in a sunny window.

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.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Video Wednesday: Tiny Houses of DC

Last weekend I attended a tour of the Tiny Houses of DC. These are located at the colorfully named Boneyard Studios off of North Capitol Street and next to an historic cemetery. There are four "tiny" houses on the pie-shaped lot and also several fruit trees and garden beds. In this video, you will get a quick overview of the site and the basics of tiny houses. The simplicity movement has always fascinated me and I think many of us share that "on Walden Pond" fantasy, but being able to live in the city gives you (in theory) the best of both worlds. I encourage you to attend a tour yourself. They are offered monthly, are free, and take less than an hour.

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