Friday, August 29, 2014

Fenton Friday: Harvest Donation for the Hungry

This week at the Fenton Community Garden, three of us gathered donations from various plots and then tallied and weighed our annual harvest donation for a local food pantry. Here is our preliminary total:

cut flowers 3 dozen (not counted in total weight)
squash 5 lbs
beans 2 lbs
swiss chard 1 lb 11 oz
beets 2 lbs 2 oz
cherry tomatoes 39 oz
tomatoes (full-sized) 6 lbs 11 oz
melons 5 lbs
peppers (hot) 1 lb 12 oz
carrots 3 lbs
basil 2 oz
parsley 2 oz
cucumber 12 oz
misc. 9 oz

TOTAL: 31 lbs 2.5 oz

Thank you to all who participated! If you would like to donate excess harvest from your garden, it can be as simple as picking it, weighing it, and dropping it off at your local food pantry or shelter. See the Plant A Row for the Hungry for more details.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Win Passes to the Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennslyvania

For our August 2014 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving passes to the Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennslyvania (

    Spend time with family and friends exploring the Arboretum’s 92-acre lush and colorful gardens just outside of Philadelphia, PA. Discover your favorite garden spaces and learn from 12,000 labeled plants, trees and flowers. See the forest from a new perspective from 50 feet up in the treetops on the Out on a Limb canopy walk, part of the Arboretum-wide interactive Tree Adventure exhibit.

  To enter to win one of three sets of passes for two, send an email to: by 5:00pm on August 31 with “Morris Arb” in the subject line and in the body of the email, please also include your full name and mailing address. Tell us: “I knew it is Autumn in my garden when...” The pass winners will be announced and notified on September 1.

UPDATE: Congratulations to our three pass winners: Joyce Crider of Landisville, PA; Kathy May of Kensington, MD; and, Mavis Burdett of Silver Spring, MD. They each won two passes to the Morris Arboretum and they are in the mail to them now. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Video Wednesday: Busy Bumblebee

I lost my computer hard-drive and as I was going through recovering files these last few weeks, I noticed that there were several videos I had created that were never shared on the Washington Gardener Magazine Youtube channel. This one of a very busy bumblebee was among them. I will try to add more of these "lost" videos to the channel in coming weeks, inbetween filming new ones and will share the links from this blog every Wednesday.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Support the Garden Media Before it is GONE ~ Washington Gardener Enews ~ August 2014 issue

The Washington Gardener Enews ~ August 2014 issue is now out. It was emailed as a PDF to all Washington Gardener Magazine current subscribers. It is also posted and archived online at: 

Inside This Enews Issue:
• Back Issue Sale
• August-Sept To-Do List
• Magazine Excerpt: Eastern Yellow Jackets
• Latest Blog Links
• Local Garden Events Listings
• Support the Garden Media Before it is GONE!
• New ‘Velour’ Wave Petunias
• Reader Contest to Win Passes to the Morris Arboretum

Subscribe to Washington Gardener Magazine today to have the monthly enewsletter sent to your inbox as a PDF several days before it is available online.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sun Sugar Reigns Supreme in Field Crowded with Sweet Competitors

Tomato Taste 2014 Results

We had over 150 come to today's Washington Gardener Magazine 7th Annual Tomato Taste at the FreshFarm Silver Spring Market. This is about 100 fewer than in previous years, but is not surprising given the weather. We had two heavy downpours and spitting rain throughout the morning, so many market shoppers may have stayed home.

Here are the results of the more than ballots submitted.

  1. Sun Sugar from Chicano Sol Farm
  2. Pineapple from Three Springs Fruit Farm
  3. Sun Gold from The Farm at Our House
  4. Chocolate (Black) Cherry from Mock's Greenhouse and Farm
  5. Doctor Yellow from Spiral Path Farm
  6. Beefsteak from Spring Valley Farm

Anne Hardmann of Silver Spring, MD, won the prize drawing of a gift bag full of luscious tomatoes and a tomato growing system.

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, College Park, and Riverdale in MD. Some were from farther afield in Maryland -- Columbia. Clarksville, Gaithersburg, LaPlata, Suitland, etc. A few attendees made the trip across the river from Virginia. From outside of the local area, we had attendees from Pennsylvania and even as far away as Alabama! 

See many more photos from the event at

Thank you to all who came and participated. A BIG thanks to the farmers for growing great tomatoes and to FreshFarm Markets staff for hosting us. Special thanks also to volunteers Teri and Martha for helping with all the tomato sample cutting and helping greet all the tasters in the short, intense two-hour event.

See you next August!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fenton Friday: Green Beans and Tomatoes (no Ham)

 This week in my plot at the Fenton Community Garden, I was able to pick a second quart of 'Kentucky Wonder' green beans. (The first quart I picked the day I left for the annual Garden Writers Symposium and gave to my neighbor/cat sitter as I was running out the door.) They were more than enough for a big dinner for myself and were delicious. If I'm lucky I may get a third quart off the plants before they are spent and I will have to pull them out.

My tomatoes are all ripening at once, it seems. The 'Evergreen' tomato though is a bit of a puzzler. How do you know when a green tomato is actually ripe? I tried one about a month ago and it was definitely not ready. As you see pictured here they are now beyond green and getting into the yellow-orange range. I left a few on the vine past this point and they rotted, so I feel fairly sure this is as ripe as they are going to get. I ate one of them and it was "okay" -- not sure I'll grow this one again.

How is your edible garden growing this week?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

YOU are Invited to the Garden Photo Show Reception

You are invited to view the winning images of the 8th annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest at an art show at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. All 17 stunning photos were taken in DC-area gardens. Both inspirational and educational, this show represents the best of garden photography in the greater DC metropolitan region.

The photo show reception is Sunday, August 31 from 2:00-4:00pm at the Meadowlark Visitor Center's lobby. The opening reception is open to the public and is free to attend. You may also come by and view the photos any time during the normal Visitor Center hours (10am-7pm daily). The photo show runs through October 1.

Washington Gardener Magazine is already announcing a 9th Annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest. Start gathering your images now and throughout this year. Most all of the entry rules will remain the same as this year’s contest. We will again accept the entries during the first three weeks of January.

Washington Gardener magazine ( is the gardening publication specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs. Washington Gardener Magazine’s basic mission is to help DC area gardens grow better. The magazine is written entirely by local area gardeners.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens ( is a park of beauty, conservation, education and discovery. Throughout the year at this 95-acre complex are large ornamental display gardens and unique native plant collections. Walking trails, lakes, more than 20 varieties of cherry trees, irises, peonies, an extensive shade garden, native wildflowers, gazebos, birds, butterflies, seasonal blooms and foliage create a sanctuary of beauty and nature. Meadowlark is part of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Video Wednesday: Garden Writers Get Happy!

I'm just back for the annual Garden Writers Symposium -- held this year in Pittsbugh, PA
I am exhausted from the 18+ hour ideas, but also inspired and most of all HAPPY to have such a wonderful week with my garden communication colleagues.
Take a look at this flashmob video we filmed there at Schenley Plaza.

Don't forget to PLANT SOMETHING!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Discuss the Signature of All Things with our Garden Book Club

For our final 2014 selection of the Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club, we will be reading:   
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

We will meet at the La Madeleine at 8435 Georgia Avenue  in downtown Silver Spring, MD, on Thursday, October 16 from 6:30-8:00pm. (Please plan to purchase some food and drinks while there, since we will not be paying them for this meeting space.)
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. 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

This Petunia is No Pig

Guest Blog post by Rachel Shaw

Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) is a charming and tough native blooming now in my yard. The delicate pale purple flowers last only about a day, but are constantly replenished. Wild Petunia, like many common names, is a bit misleading; they are no relative of cultivated petunias, though the flowers do have some similarity in appearance.

Like half the plants in my front yard, my Ruellia were dug up on short notice this spring to be transplanted back following replacement of a broken sewer line. The Ruellia took this disruption in stride. They weren’t fussy about the poor quality clay soil brought up by the dig, and didn’t seem to need much in the way of supplemental water following transplant.

Previously they had coexisted happily in amongst the Closed Gentian, and with a somewhat more upright appearance in the moister, richer soil. Now in the more sparsely planted and drier yard, they have stretched themselves out, with a look that is more that of a ground cover. Note to the horticulture trade: promote Wild Petunia instead of Periwinkle!

What native plants are blooming in your yard or nearby?

About the Author
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at

Check back here on the 10th of each month for the next installment in this guest blog series on Mid-Atlantic native plants.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Video Wednesday: Franciscan Monastery Gardens

Here is a terrific video of one of my favorite gardens in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Franciscan Monastery in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. I visit it several times a year as each season brings more to see and explore there. I recently took my garden club along for a formal tour of the grounds and they raved about the bulb displays. The garden grounds are open to the public every day of the year. Best of all, it is FREE and accessible by public transit!

Find out about how you can schedule your own garden tour at

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Register for a Fun Flower Arranging Workshop

Join me on Sunday afternoon, 8/24, and get your flower arrangement on at On The Purple Couch in Kensington, MD. The class will go over Flower Arranging basics and then jump into playing with flowers. In class, we will discuss the basics such as container selection, how to get flowers to last longer, design techniques, stretching your flower budget, and much more.

Each attendee will leave with at least one arrangement of her own to take back to their home/apartment. You will learn how to make a country casual, hand-tied arrangement that you can take home and proudly display or give as a gift. Aside from learning the Hand-Tied method, we will cover: Sourcing Cut Flowers. Prepping Flowers, Flower Arranging Tools, Making Arrangements  Last Longer, and the Basic Rules of Arranging (and the ones you can ignore). No prior florist skills or experience required! 

And YES, men and children over age 10 are most welcome to register too!

Register at:

Monday, August 04, 2014

Naked Ladies: You Can Grow That!

Naked Ladies in my garden:  How scandalous!

Lycoris squamigera aka Naked Lady, Surprise Lily, Magic Lily, Resurrection Lily. Truth is, they are not lilies at all and are in the Amaryllis family.

They are gorgeous and are a great cut flower as well, lasting well over a week in a vase. AND they smell lovely to boot! THIS is why I don't leave Washington, DC in the summer swelter, would hate to miss these gorgeous blooms.

Lycoris grow from a large bulb and can take a year or two to recover and bloom after you plant them. They are an old-fashioned favorite and you will often see them coming up around old, abandoned home sites. If you are not lucky enough to inherit some pass-along bulbs, you can order them from heirloom bulb companies.
They are hardy to zones 5-9 and prefer a sunny to part-sun location. Naturalizes by bulb-offsets. Provide medium moisture in well-drained soils. Cover with mulch in winter.

In the spring, you will see the foliage come up and then quickly die back and disappear. In mid-summer, after a good soaking rain, the tall stalks will suddenly shoot up and the flowers will appear without any foliage, hence their colorful nicknames. These are the ultimate "set-it and forget-it" plant.

Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That! Day on the 4th of each month 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.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Fenton Friday: Basil Bonanza

It is Pesto time! Faced with a garden club summer potluck gathering tomorrow, I have to whip up a main dish. (Annoyingly, appetizers and desserts are not allowed and those are really the only categories of food in my repertoire!) So I looked to my community garden plot for inspiration and found that it is the perfect time to pinch-back and harvest handfuls of fragrant basil to make pasta with pesto sauce.

I'm a bit of a pesto snob, it has to be fresh, made with toasted pine nuts, and a loads of Romano cheese. Truth be told, the green component is really just a vehicle for delivering those delicious bites of nuts and melted cheese into my mouth.

What is your favorite pesto recipe?

Featured Post

Gifts for Gardeners ~ Gardening Gifts ~ Cool Gardening Gift Ideas

Today is Amazon Prime Day, so I thought I'd again share the garden products I use almost every day. These are the tried-and-true w...