Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Introducing the Fall 2015 Intern: Joelle Lang

My name is Joelle Lang and I am a senior studying multiplatform journalism at the University of Maryland in the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism. My experience with journalism falls all across the board; I've written for a few campus publications including, Her Campus and The Diamondback, as well as served as the social media editor for the campus’ Jewish publication, The Mitzpeh. After taking a few photojournalism courses, I purchased a DSLR camera, which I carry around with me everywhere I go. This past summer, I worked as a production intern for The Real News Network in Baltimore, where I assisted in shooting and editing videos for a documentary about the history of the city. I am looking forward to joining the Washington Gardener team for the fall semester and to enhancing my knowledge of magazine journalism and gardening. In the garden behind my house in New Jersey I grow basil, mint, tomatoes, and blueberries. I hope that after working for the Washington Gardener I will have the confidence to expand my garden and experiment with different plants!  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fenton Friday: Asparagus Berries

I spent the last week in Pasadena, CA, with the Garden Writers Association at the annual symposium. It was hot and sunny (one day reach 100-degrees!), so my photos aren't ideal and their drought plus Mediterranean climate did not give me much material for relating back to my Mid-Atlantic readers. Overall though, it was a wonderful time and I was introduced to  new-to-me garden edibles -- like California native grapes and Manzanita berry tea.
I left in blazing summer and came home to autumn. There is a definite nip in the air now. At my garden plot, the Cherry Tomatoes and Okra are still pumping out their produce.

Meanwhile, my Asparagus (pictured here) are setting seed. The little red seed pods or "berries" look just like the tiny Currant Tomatoes I have growing next to them. The Asparagus seedpods are not toxic, but they are not exactly palatable. Note to self, do not do that next year! I do not think I would every bother culling, drying, and collecting Asparagus seeds, but I read up a bit on it and it seems easy enough to do if one wants to try it.

How is your edible garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday:
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 4th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fenton Friday: Broccoli and Cauliflower Seedlings Finally In

Finally got my booty in gear and got the broccoli and cauliflower starts in the ground. While doing that, as I dug in I found lots of small carrots that I missed the first time around. Bonus!

We had one good rain last weekend and the plot was happy, but now we are looking at another 7-10+ days of no precipitation. It is beautiful weather -- crisp, clear nights and sunny, blue-sky days -- so I cannot complain much about the lack of rain

Next project will be to get all the seeds in for radish, arugula, kohlrabi, etc. Any favorite or unusual varieties that you think I should try?

How is your edible garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday:
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 4th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Washington Gardener Magazine September 2015 issue including Gorgeous Ninebark Shrub Cultivars, Apple-Picking Tips, Fall Planting Pointers, and much more

The September 2015 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out and posted online at:

This issue includes:
~ Ninebark: A Colorful American Native Shrub
~ Apple-Picking Time
~ Your Garden Tasks To-Do List
~ How to Edge Your Garden Beds
~ Local Garden Events Calendar
~ Why, What, and When of Fall Planting
~ Sniffing Out Overwintering Stink Bugs
~ Safe Lawn Care Resources and Allies
~ Take a Day Trip to the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
 and much more...

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the October 2015 issue are due by October 10.

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. You can use the PayPal (credit card) online order form here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bloom Day Annuals

 It is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day again! On the 15th of each month, we gardeners from all over the world share a few bloom photos on our blogs. My garden is in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border.

Here are three of my favorite annual flowers -- still going strong after this wet spring and dry summer. All three are pollinator magnets and I have to negotiate with bees to take these photos.

I never understood why certain gardeners are so snobby when it comes to the inclusion of annual flowers in their gardens. Nonstop blooming for 5 months (or more) is a great asset in my opinion.  They bridge the gaps between spring bulbs and summer perennials then on to the coloring-up of fall shrubs. As you can see, I favor the cool pink-purple-blue end of the color range, but also enjoy a display in the hot yellow-orange-red range when I see it in other gardens. To each his own, I suppose.

What is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Basic Flower Arranging Class on Saturday, September 26

Join me on Saturday, September 26, 3–4pm for a Basic Flower Arranging Workshop. I will be teaching cut-flower basics and how to simply and easily arrange your flowers. And we may even get to play a bit with that famous Annie Sloan paint! Most importantly, you will take home a beautiful hand-tied bouquet. Hosted by On the Purple Couch at 4228 Howard Avenue in Kensington, MD. Fee $35. Pre-register now as classes are limited in size and fill quickly. Details at

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fenton Friday: Okra-you kidding me?

So now, as summer winds down, my Okra has decided to take off. All 3 measly plants are producing at double-time. Even though I get by to grab them daily, I still have those tougher, too-big ones to pluck off. Now I'm just snacking on a few raw as I garden and the rest I'm picking and bringing home to place on a screen for drying and making holiday crafts. Anyone have any cute Okra projects? This one looks pretty darn easy.

How is your edible garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday:
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 4th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) 

Thursday, September 10, 2015


What is
   • Images and videos of DC-area gardens by month, enticing people to visit year-
    round (see for examples).
   • Deep local resources for turning more residents into gardeners.
   • Digital images donated by volunteers, so DC Gardens is inexpensive.
    managed and funded independently from the gardens; nimble and very useful! 

Why Gardens (and Gardening) Matter
The Washington, DC, area is blessed with fabulous gardens that are open to the public, most of them free. Sadly, many are largely unknown and lack the funds to get the word out. If people could just see what they look like throughout the year, more would visit, and that matters because:

    • Gardens bring visitors close to plants and to all of nature, which benefits them
     mentally, spiritually, and physically.
    • Visiting gardens is a gateway experience to taking up gardening at home and in
     the community.
    • Public gardens are the primary teaching facilities for turning residents into
     gardeners, with classes and workshops on growing food, providing for wildlife,
     protecting our waterways from polluting runoff, and creating beauty in our home
     gardens or balconies.
    • Turning people on to gardening results in more beauty for all of us to enjoy and
     better stewardship of our land — without nagging.

Every Thursday on the Washington Gardener Magazine Facebook page, Blog, and Yahoo group list we feature a current advertiser from our monthly digital magazine. To advertise with us, contact today.

Native Spotlight: Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonnii)

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw 
Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonnii) has been a feature in my front yard native plant bed for a few years now. This species is not native to Maryland according to the USDA Plants Database, but is native to several states both north and south of us.  Go figure. This spring I transplanted a few to a spot that received a little less sun than those in the main bed. I see that those in the slightly shadier spot have a deeper rich green color to the leaves, and appear a bit happier than those in the sunnier area. But those in both locations are rugged and have held up well over our very dry summer. The plants spread by rhizomes, and every few years I have to thin them out.

A couple of years ago I planted White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), which is native in Maryland, in a fairly shady spot in the back yard under a downspout. This small bed has been good for Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinali), and other moisture-loving plants. Unfortunately, not much rain has been shunted off our roof since June, so I’ve done some supplemental watering.

My hope with the White Turtlehead was to attract the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. According to most sources, its caterpillars feed mainly or exclusively on Chelone glabra. However, I heard recently that the butterfly is unlikely to locate small stands of White Turtlehead in residential gardens. Mine is definitely a small stand.

Another thing I learned this year is that pinching off White Turtlehead grown in shady areas is a good springtime practice. This year, I had whacked mine back hard earlier in the summer, as they had shot up before the flower buds had even appeared, and threatened to become top-heavy. Next year, I’ll be prepared to pinch them early. I don’t really expect to see Baltimore Checkerspots in my yard, but I like the idea of having their host plant available. Just in case.

About the author:
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, MD. She blogs at
This guest blog post is part of a monthly Native Plants series posted around the 10th of each month.


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Video Wednesday: How to Collect a Soil Test Sample

Director of the Home and Garden Information Center (UMD), Jon Traunfeld, demonstrates how easy it is to collect and send a soil sample for a soil test.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Discuss "Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest" by Joan Maloof at the next Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club Meeting

For our next Washington Gardener Magazine Book Club selection, we will be discussing: Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest by Joan Maloof. The book club meeting will be held at the Takoma Park* Neighborhood Library, Washington, DC, in the TPK Meeting Room
on Thursday, November 5, from 6:30-8:00PM.
The library room allows food and drink and you may bring your dinner and/or snacks to share.

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. 
  At this meeting we will also decide on our 2016 garden club selection. (We meet roughly once each quarter/season.) Please bring your garden-related book suggestions.

*NOTE: This is the library on the DC side of the border, NOT the City of Takoma Park, Maryland town location. 


Friday, September 04, 2015

Fenton Friday: You Slug Me

Late summer at my community garden plot is the time to give up on a few things. Like the Basil that I was constantly deadheading so it wouldn't flower and go to seed. At this point, I'm ready to let it go and let the bees have their way with it.

I am also thinking I will rip out all the cherry tomato vines -- even though they are still producing like crazy. They have just worn out their welcome and I'm frankly sick of re-tying them constantly and trying to keep them out of the pathways and off of the other plants.

On another topic, it has been dry as dust this past month, so HOW on earth did a slug manage to show up in my plot munching on a Swiss Chard seedling?!? I had given up on the failing chard in any case, but still, it is the principle of the thing. All the gall of this little booger to be all out in the open and brazen about it. He is lucky I did not stomp him as I was wearing sandals and also that is just too violent for my live-and-let-live temperament. Instead, I passive-aggressively moved him to a rocky spot that I hope a crow or other large bird would swoop down and eat him. He does have nice leopard-spotting, if you can get past his pest-like habits.

How is your edible garden growing this week?

About Fenton Friday:
Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 4th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) 

Thursday, September 03, 2015

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Green Spring Gardens

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Green Spring Gardens

Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax County, VA., is a "must visit" for everyone in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. It's a year-round gold mine of information and inspiration for the home gardener. It's an outdoor classroom for children and their families to learn about plants and wildlife. It's also a museum, a national historic site that offers glimpses into a long, rich history with colonial origins. There's something here for everyone: a wooded stream valley with ponds, a naturalistic native plant garden, over 20 thematic demonstration gardens, a greenhouse filled with tropicals, and a well-stocked horticultural reference library. Visit the Garden Gate Plant Shop and the two gift shops, where you'll find gift ideas ranging from books and gardening gloves to china and wind chimes. Green Spring will educate, inspire, and delight you. The gardens are always changing, so come back often for new ideas. 
Be sure to come to the FALL GARDEN DAY PLANT SALE on Saturday, September 19. Come and support Friends of Green Spring and one of Virginia’s most innovative public gardens. 

Every Thursday on the Washington Gardener Magazine blog, we feature a current advertiser from our quarterly print magazine or monthly online enewsletter. To advertise with us, contact today.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Video Wednesday: My Garden Gnome Collection

Here is the collection of Garden Gnomes at the Washington Gardener Magazine headquarters garden in downtown Silver Spring, MD. Count along! How many do you have? Which is your favorite?

Some are gifts, some I bought, and some just found their way to me.

On of our summer interns, Daven Desai, shot the video. Enjoy! 

PS Last week, I shared my Flamingo collection, see that here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

DIY: Compost Bin

Guest blog by Gaby Galvin

Ever thought about composting and then changed your mind because you don’t want to see a big smelly pile in your backyard? Let those fears wash away, because this easy DIY compost bin will take only about 10 minutes to put together, though you’ll be seeing the benefits for a long time after. Compost is full of nutrients and will help your garden look its best, not to mention it’s eco-friendly.

  • Storage bin (you can use an old one with cracks)
  • Drill


1. Drill random holes all over the storage bin, including the bottom and lid.

They should each be about an inch apart.

2. Fill the bin about a fourth of the way with dirt. This can be any excess dirt

you have or some cheap topsoil mix.

3. Add plant trimmings and fruit and vegetable scraps, especially peels or cores.

When considering whether to add something, think of whether it came from

the ground. Food with salt, butter, dairy, and meat are not okay to add.

4. Add some water to make the mix moist and shake it up.

You can put this bin anywhere outside, including on a deck or patio. Every time you add something to the bin, you’ll want to shake it up and add a little bit of water to keep it moist. You’ll have usable compost in as little as six months, but if you really want to quicken the process, consider adding some worms and cutting up what you add so they decompose faster!

About the author:
Gaby Galvin is a Washington Gardener Magazine summer 2015 intern who is studying multiplatform journalism at the University of Maryland. She does some gardening at home in Davidsonville, MD, with her mother and grandparents. 
This is the second in a 5-part series on DIY projects for the home gardener. Look for the next installments in this DIY blog series on the 1st of each month (through December 2015) here at

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