Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fenton Friday: Sweet Pepper Promise

I never have had much luck with Sweet Peppers, but I finally was able to harvest this handsome pair this week from my plot at the Fenton  community garden. They are very late in the growing season, as is the one cucumber I have been able to pick so far. We had a late start due to a long, cold winter followed by a long, cool, and wet spring. I just hope that we get paid back with a slow start to fall so the rest of my vegetables can finally mature and be pulled to make room for more cool season edibles.

Right now, I'm finding myself squeezing between plants and trying not to snap off errant tomato plant branches as I weed and plant and harvest around them. It is that time of year when the bounty of summer smashes up against the urgency of beating the deadline of coming frosts. Like all growers from time eternal, we have to hedge our bets and pull things before they may be done in order to accommodate later crops which may or may not do well, if the weather allows. Who needs a casino when you have a garden?

How is your edible plot growing?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Video Wednesday: How to Take Coleus Cuttings

After posting yesterday's Garden Tip of the Day*, I had several readers asking how to take cuttings. So I thought I'd share a video I made on how to take cuttings from your Coleus plants to make more plants and how to over-winter them. This is a simple, easy technique to save your favorite varieties.

*Garden Tip of the Day: I share a daily gardening tip customized to the Mid-Atlantic USA on our Twitter feed, Facebook page, and Yahoo group. It has proven to be very popular; to the point at which I'm having various people come up to me at talks and events saying they are cataloging all the past tips and that their day is not complete until they receive the garden tip. I encourage you to follow Washington Gardener Magazine on one or all of these social media channels in order to get the daily tips as well as many other local gardening facts, event notices, etc. that I share:

• Washington Gardener Facebook Page:
 • Washington Gardener Discussion Group:
• Washington Gardener Twitter Feed:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Win a Rain Barrel from District Garden in September 2014 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest

For our September 2014 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a basic barrel and diverter installation to a reader in Washington, DC, MD, or VA from District Garden.
      District Garden ( prides itself on offering a range of services to homeowners, commercial customers, nonprofits, schools, and government. This list provides many, but not all, of the services we offer in Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland:
    • Rain Barrel Sales, Repairs, and Installations
    • Rainwater Management
    • Rain Garden Installation
    • Downspout Extensions, Disconnections
    • Pergola Construction and Installation
    • Expert Garden Planning/Design
    • Raised Garden Bed Installation and Fabrication (Cedar, Stone, PT, Fir)
    • Expert Garden Maintenance (Pruning, Trimming, etc.)
    • Mulch, Landscape Fabric, and Stone  Installation and Weed Prevention
    • Tree Installation
   To enter to win the Rain Barrel, send an email to by 5:00pm on September 30 with “District Garden” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Please also include your full name and mailing address. Tell us: “My favorite article in the September 2014 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine was ...” The rain barrel winner will be announced and notified on October 1.

We have selected the winner at random from among the many submissions. Congratulations to
Irene Wu of Washington, DC! We hope you enjoy your new rain barrel from District Garden!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Read about Hosting Honey Bees in Your Garden, Black-Eyed Susan Cultivars, Growing Ground Cherries, and much more in the Washington Gardener Magazine September 2014 issue

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

Inside This Enews Issue:
• Hosting Honey Bees in Your Garden
• Black-Eyed Susan Cultivars
• Growing Ground Cherries
• Back Issue Sale
• Sept-Oct Garden To-Do List
• Dealing with Eastern Yellow Jackets
• Latest Blog Links
• Local Garden Events Listings
• Native Tasselrue
• Reader Contest to Win a Rain Barrel from District Garden
and much, much more!

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fenton Friday: Time to Seed

I have had hardly any time to get over to my Fenton Street community garden plot this past week, but I'm determined to spend at least an hour this weekend planting cool season greens, radish, and carrots. What varieties do you all recommend? Anything new or unusual I should try?

I ran over to pick some tomatoes to bring to my garden club meeting and saw that the 'Sun Gold' and 'Yellow Currant' are still performing prolifically, as is my lone okra plant, which seems to be happier than ever right now.

On the other hand, the cool season brassicas I planted a couple weeks ago are not doing well at all. It appears that even with a cover cloth on them and the shade of a nearby bed of orange cosmos, that many of them have fried in our moderate late summer temps. I think the kohlrabi is pretty much toast, but I may be able to salvage a few of the broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower plants. I am visiting two garden centers for events over this weekend and may just buy replacement seedlings to start over instead.

How is your edible garden growing?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Keep Calm and Garden On" at Behnke Nurseries' Gardener's Night Out Program

gardeners night out
I'll be there with a table with the "Keep Calm and Garden On" buttons and magnets for sale as well as signing up people for Washington Gardener Magazine. Stop on over!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Video Wednesday: How to Save Seeds from Your Garden

Get Adobe Flash player

Here is a video from our vaults on Easy Seed Saving Techniques. This is a great time of year to gather annual and vegetable seeds. And perfect weather this week for it too!

If the video does not play immediately for you on this blog, go to where it is hosted at:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: A Cool End to Summer

Common Boneset
Eupatorium perfoliatum
This Garden Blogger's Bloom Day finds me pulling on a sweater and scanning the garden for all those in-transition period blooms. I still have many summer annuals putting on a show (petunia, lantana, etc.) and several shrubs looking very nice (hydrangea, beautyberry, etc.). A few spring-blooming shrubs are putting on a second show for early autumn like the PJM rhododendrons and groundcovr roses, which is nice to see. Pictured here are a just couple of bloomers that are near my back door so they catch my eye whenever I come and go.

What is blooming in your garden this week?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fenton Friday: Harvest Time

I had to make room this week for several cool season seedlings I bought at a local garden center. I'm trying out cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kohlrabi. To fit them in my Fenton Community Garden plot, I had to yank out several rows of things that were long past needing to come out. They included:




I left the tomatoes in for now as they are still producing so much. My next thing to pull will be the potatoes and sweet potatoes. First though, I need to make pesto and figure out how to find space to store all these root vegetables!

How is your edible garden growing this week?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Native Spotlight: New York Ironweed

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw 
The tallest non-woody plant in my yard right now is New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis). These plants are a little outsized for my small yard, but I love their late summer color, and the bees love them too.

At one point I had almost decided they were unsuitable in my little landscape. But instead of taking them out, I adopted a strategy of whacking them back several times during the growing season. This seems to keep them in check, that is, closer to six feet rather than eight feet, without any effect on profuse blooming.

Still, by this time of year they begin to be top-heavy, and I start cutting off some of the stems, especially those going to seed, to lighten the load. This is a plant that wants full sun; those grown in slightly shadier conditions will be more prone to flopping, especially after heavy rain.

The Missouri Botanical Garden recommends cutting New York Ironweed back nearly to the ground in late spring to control height. I will try that strategy next year, and also be a little more vigilant about removing unwanted seedlings. These plants do have a tendency to spread themselves around! 

But these graceful giants are such a lovely feature at this time of year, I can’t believe I ever considered removing them from my landscape.

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

Video Wednesday: Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA

Here is a video I made of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA in September 2011. Yes, it was a bit chilly on top of the mountain that year. I hope many of you can join us at the 2014 festival this weekend!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Join Us at the Heritage Harvest Fest at Monticello next weekend!

I'm ecstastic that Washington Gardener Magazine will once again be the part of the 8th annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello this year. It is a celebration of gardening, sustainable agriculture, and local food, held on the breathtaking West Lawn of Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA. Taste heirloom fruits and vegetables and learn about organic gardening and seed-saving at this fun, family-friendly festival talking place Friday-Saturday, September 12-13, 2014.
We'll have a table in the Vendor Marketplace Tent all day Saturday where you can sign up for subscriptions or buy current and back issues. I'll also be talking on "Regionally Adapted Plants" on Friday at 4:30pm in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center. My talk is part of the premium workshop track and you must register separately for those. I urge you to do so soon at since they sold out last year in advance.

I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my friends and colleague there as well as participating in the old-fashioned Seed Swap on early Saturday morning. Here is a video I made of the swap in 2012:

I hope you will join me for all or part of the festival!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Fenton Friday: Melon Melody

The Minnesota Midget Melon I started from seed finally ripened last week in my Fenton Street community garden plot. This heirloom variety (introduced in 1948) is great for us procrastinators in zone 7 and for those with very short growing seasons in more northern zones. It  matures quickly at about the size of a softball as is the perfect size for a single-person household like mine.

I planted 3 seeds originally and let the two stronger vines grow; pinching out the smallest one. I ended up with only one vine that fruited and that had 3 melons on it. Two of those developed fully (see pictures here), but the third never made it past goose-egg-sized. The vine had succumbed to powdery mildew in our humid climate and so that one never had a chance. 

The flavor was pretty good. Not the best muskmelon I have ever had, but decent. I chalk part of that up to our summer this year being so unusually mild. I bet if we had our usually sultry heat that the flavors would have developed more.

How is your edible garden growing this week?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Japanese Anemone: You Can Grow That!

Japanese Anemone

Commonly known as Japanese anemones — they actually come from China — the fall blooming anemones found in our gardens are usually hybrids of these three Asian species: A. hupehensis, A. tomentosa, and A. vitifolia. Anemones are often known as windflowers, because the genus name was derived from the Greek word for wind, anemos. The appellation is perfectly understandable once you see a anemone swaying gracefully in the wind on its tall bloom stalk.

In our area, these flowers, members of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), are usually to be found blooming from mid-to-late August through October. Some varieties, like A.tomentosa ‘Robustissima’ (that species’ most commonly found cultivar), flower in the earlier part of that bloom cycle, and by planting a variety of cultivars, a gardener can keep the show going for 12 weeks.

Not only are Japanese anemones good looking, they are also easy to grow and care for. Give them a spot in partial sun with bit of moisture and they will reward you with masses of flowers for years. These fall bloomers can even take full sun, as long as you make sure you keep them well watered. Now, like just about every other plant on the planet, your fall blooming anemones would prefer a well-drained soil, but they will gamely put up with our heavy clay based soil and look good doing so.
All who are involved with You Can Grow That! (YCGT!) believe that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. We want people to be successful with what they grow and to become more aware of the many gifts that horticulture brings. Find out more at

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Video Wednesday: Brookside School of Botanical Art & Illustration

Here is a new video on Montgomery County, MD's School of Botanical Art & Illustration, which is based at Brookside Gardens. This is on my "when I retire and have time" list!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Next Flower Arranging Class Announced for Sun 9/21

Come and spend time with me at On the Purple Couch in Kensington, MD, and come and PLAY WITH FLOWERS AND CREATE. I will be teaching a Flower Arranging Class on Sunday, September 21st from 2:30-4:00 PM. The fee is $40.00 and all supplies are included.
The class will go over Flower Arranging and participants will have a hands practicum. 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.  Bahia will add a little Chalk Paint to this mix you don’t want to miss this…Did you know you could paint Chalk Paint on Glass…
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!  

Sign up at:

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...