Thursday, January 28, 2016

Seed Exchange FAQ

I have been getting a number of emails and phone calls about the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges. 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 deadline is by Friday, January 29 for the Brookside event and by Friday, February 5 for the Green Spring event. To register onsite, 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 with "Seed Exchange" in the subject field and we can email it directly to you.

- 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, refillable 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/garden 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: (We do not allow GMO seeds in either, but chances are slim that any home gardener would have access to them.)

~ 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.
    (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
 1:30-2:00 Speaker 2
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 (only at Green Spring location)
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. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Explore America! at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Welcome SPRING at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Sick of SNOW and COLD weather? Me too! Come join us for a day-trip to a virtual Garden of Delights at the upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show!
Washington Gardener Magazine has two tours this year going up to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The Philadelphia Flower Show is the oldest and largest indoor flower show in the world. the theme for 2016 is “Explore America.” Guests will discover the range of horticulture in the national landscape, including the rainbow of wildflowers, desert blooms, coastal flora, verdant meadows, fragrant pinelands, and ancient redwoods. The Flower Show will tell the diverse stories that forged the United States with exhibits inspired by the nation’s monuments and places where history happened. “Explore America” will spotlight Independence National Historical Park, Lincoln’s birthplace, Liberty Island, and other sites honoring our national heritage.

The Flower Show attracts non-gardeners as well as die-hard green-thumbed people of all ages. Foodies of all tastes will love the Garden to Table Studio. Participate in the Lectures and Demonstrations series, Gardener’s Studio, and the “Make & Take” workshops. First-time and returning riders will enjoy the welcoming, custom details of our coach service.

The two tours are on different days; from different locations. Here are the details:
~ Wednesday, March 9 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to downtown Silver Spring, MD - includes a lunch and is nearby to public transit - see the registration form for more details:
~ Thursday, March 10 from 10am-10pm, leaving and returning to Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, MD - includes a lunch and has free parking - see this registration form for more details: 

Note: The forms are for printing and mailing along with your payment. They are not interactive online forms.
If you have any trouble printing them out, please send an email to and I can send the forms directly to you. 
Our coaches fill up quickly, so please act fast to reserve your spot with us!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Win Passes to one of the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges

For our January 2016 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away two passes to either of the Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges (prize value $40).
   The 11th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, take place on January 30, 2016, at the Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD and on February 6, 2016, at Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax, VA. You have a choice of which side of the DC Beltway you want to visit! 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 loads of gardening inspiration for the upcoming growing season!
   To enter to win the Seed Exchange Passes, send an email to by 5:00pm on January 25 with “Seed Swap” in the subject line and 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 27.

UPDATE: The winner (chosen at random from among the submitted entries) of the two passes to our Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges is Kevin Alsop of Capitol Heights, MD. Congratulations, Kevin, who says he is new to gardening!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Top 3 New Cars for Gardeners

I spent the last two days at the preview days of the annual Washington Auto Show. What, you may ask, was this car-free gardening girl doing there?

Well, I was invited to join with other female bloggers from the DC-area and beyond to see write and tweet and live chat our hearts out about the show. Some of us write on topics closer to the world of car shows (travel bloggers), others of us cover topics a bit farther afield (fashion, food, and gardens). I think, though, that we were all able to find our audience angle and bring a unique perspective to the event.

What I found most interesting was the many green features (hydrogen cell batteries with zero emissions) and safety improvements (driver-less cars) coming soon to the market!  What I though would be of most interest to you, my dear fellow gardeners, are the vehicles that will make your lives easier when hauling plants and soil bags back home, so without further delay, here are my choices for the top 3 new garden vehicles:

1. Chrysler Pacifica - This minivan is stylish and practical. When bringing mulch home, the available Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum powered by RIDGID provides easy access to all corners of the vehicle for quick clean-up. Also, the Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system has a new press-bttton to the move the front seat forward to allow the second-row seat to be stowed into the floor tub.

2. Toyota Tacoma - This small pickup is the perfect size for city living, but is tough enough for farm chores. I could someone looking to transition to a horticultural career in landscape design or garden maintenance really getting a lot of use out of this sporty vehicle.

3. Subaru Forrester - This wagon is Subaru's best-selling model and I can see why. It has all-around appeal and value. This model was also featured at last year's Philadelphia Flower Show and that is where I noticed it has a low-to-ground floor, so it was easy-to-load and bonus: you could easily get in while wearing a skirt!

See these models and many more at the Washington Auto Show. Note that the show is closed this weekend due to the blizzard, but will re-open from 1/25-1/31/16 at the DC Convention Center. Let me know what you think and if you see other vehicles that gardeners would love. Did I leave out your favorite gardening vehicle?

UPDATE: The show opening has been pushed back one more day to Tuesday, 1/26.

Sponsored blog post: #DCLovesAutos program.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Growing Indoor–Outdoor Citrus featured in January 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The January 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out and posted online at:

Inside this issue:
Growing Indoor–Outdoor Citrus
Grow Anywhere in Smart Pots
Your Garden Tasks To-do List
Battling Ambrosia Beetles
Local Gardening Events Calendar
New Perennial Kosmic Kale
Meet Holly Shimizu
Plant a Pollinator Victory Garden
Alternatives to Burning Bush
Top Coreopsis Selections for Mid-Atlantic Gardens
and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the February 2016 issue are due by February 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:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Seed Exchange 2016 Speakers Announced

Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2016. 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 30 at Brookside Gardens, MD

"Small Gardens – Big Harvests"
 Even if you have a large plot of land, there are several reasons to grow your veggies using a small-space, high-intensive gardening method: less work and maintenance, no tilling, less water use, easier to protect from weather, pests and critters, extended growing seasons, etc. We will explore Square Foot Gardening, squash arches, container gardening, Back to Eden gardening, H├╝gelkultur, table top gardening and more.

Speaker: Kim Roman is a Square Foot Gardening Certified Instructor who was trained by SFG creator, Mel Bartholomew. She currently serves as the SFG Foundation’s Public Relations Director and is collaborating with Mel to co-author two children’s versions of his book. In addition, Kim loves to teach different methods of small-space, organic vegetable gardening and works with schools, churches, homeless shelters, nursing homes, etc. to help them plan and implement their garden projects. She offers various vegetable gardening classes, and, in addition to teaching in the Glen Burnie area, would travel to your location. or find her on Facebook at Square Foot Gardening 4 U. 


 “Winter Sowing:  Following Mother Nature’s Way to Get a Head Start on your spring and Summer Garden”

This presentation will focus primarily on winter sowing basics and techniques, benefits of winter sowing and some basic do’s and don’ts of winter sowing. It will provide in-depth information on which seeds are the best candidates for winter sowing and why some are not the best choices. 

Speaker: Linda L. Jones, owner, Elements of Nature –, Clinton, MD; or
She produce a variety of nature-inspired natural skin care, gifts and collectibles. "My natural skin care line is HomeGrown Beauty Essentials. I am a five-year certified master gardener. Teaching and lecturing brings me great joy as I can share with others a knowledge of something that in some way may enhance the quality of their life."
 Also, at the 1/30 Seed Exchange during the break period will be a representative 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 6 at Green Spring Gardens, VA:

"Get Started Growing Herbs"
Learn what herbs grow in our climate, and get tips on how to start them so you can create a beautiful and productive herb garden.   
Speaker: Debby Ward, Founder and Owner of Prior Unity Garden, is Founder & Owner of Prior Unity Garden - Growing Your Own Organic Food Made Easy. She has been gardening since she could crawl. Her family always had food and herb gardens in which she participated and she has continued that tradition.   She loves to help grow gardeners and is a taught for many local groups including The Mason Sustainability Institute, Master Gardeners in Fairfax County VA and the Grow Your Health Festival. She has focused on plants for food and medicine since being a young adult and holds several certificates in medicinal herbalism and has training in native plants, biodynamics, organic and native gardening. She values biodiversity, community, healthy living soil, fresh organic food and the prior unity inherent in all beings. 


"Saving Your Vegetable Seeds" 
This workshop will give an overview of the hows and whys of seed saving.  We will explore the state of seed in the world today to discover why seed saving is not only a practical skill for gardeners to develop but also an important one for communities to practice.  We will then dive into the biology of seed production and cover techniques and considerations important for producing quality seed from most common garden varieties.  Resources for reference and further learning will be provided.
Speaker: Paul Blundell, has been a worker-owner at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange since 2005.  SESE is a worker owned coop mail order seed company in Central Virginia which specializes in heirloom, open-pollinated, and organic vegetable seeds especially suited to the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast.  He has done a little bit of everything and a lot of a few things while there.  Most recently he headed up the design and construction of a new eco-groovy headquarters for the business.


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.

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