Friday, October 27, 2017

Fenton Friday: Still Frost-Free

We had another frost/freeze scare this week and someone still came out unscathed. I check the basil and last few pepper plants and they show no signs of slowing down. That may change very soon and this may be one of the last Fenton Friday posts for the year.

In the plot, the 'Cherry Bell' radish seeds are up and the broccoli and turnips are chugging along.  The plot to the right of mine (#17) was weed-whacked down to the ground again, which was too bad as there was some slowly swiss chard and other things still going strong, despite the absentee plot owner.

The interns and I also stopped by the Ft. Totten community garden run by the Neighborhood Farm Initiative. Photos from our visit are at left here. It is a really nice set-up on National Park Service land right near the Ft. Totten metro.

One precocious young man showed us all around the garden and gave us all hot pink zinnia flowers. He definitely has the gift of gab and made a terrific tour guide and spokesperson for the garden.

The plots are very large -- 25x25. There is a shared tool shed with gas-powered wood chipper and tillers. One plot had an elaborate low-tunnel system set-up. They have a trench compost section (along with regular compost bins) and also running water with drip irrigation to most plots. I am so envious of that last feature!

One thing I definitely did not envy is the tremendous deer pressure this garden experiences. They have a tall deer fence, but the deer still manage to get in occasionally. When I left the garden to walk to the metro, a herd of 12 deer surrounded me and came within a few feet of me and other commuters using the busy path. The next morning I found out one of those deer was killed on the nearby train tracks and caused a major delay during the morning rush hour on the Red line.I hope that the park service acts fast to contain this herd before many more incidents like this happen.

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 6th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Video Wednesday: Spooky Succulents at the Catylator Makerspace

Washington Gardener Magazine hosted a Spooky Succulents Class on Friday, October 13, 2017, at the Catylator Makerspace in the "haunted basement" of the World Building in downtown Silver Spring, MD. This video shares a bit about what a makerspace is and also how the succulent creations turned out.

We plan on hosting another Succulent Class on Thanksgiving weekend at the Catylator Makerspace. Stay tuned for more details on that soon.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Win 100 bulbs in Colorblends Tulip Blend 'Purdy' in our October 2017 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

For our October 2017 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away one prize package of 100 bulbs in Colorblends Tulip Blend Purdy (pictured above)—a happy-go-lucky blend of deep-purple, poppy-red, and golden-yellow tulips for a bright splash of color in midseason (prize value: $34).
   Colorblends is known for its expertise in creating reliably successful pre-blended tulip mixtures that combine two, three, or more varieties.. Colorblends takes tulips to a whole new level, with spring displays that literally stop traffic.
   Colorblends is a third-generation American wholesaler of flower bulbs with deep roots in Holland. They are part of Schipper & Company, a wholesale bulb firm founded in the Netherlands in 1912 and based in Connecticut since 1947. sells direct to landscape professionals and home gardeners from coast to coast.
   To enter to win the package of 100 bulbs, send an email to by 5:00pm on October 30 with “Color-blends” in the subject line. In the body of the email, tell us what your favorite article was in the October 2017 issue and why. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address. The winner will be announced and notified on November 1.

Our winner, chosen at random from among the many submitted entries is Mary Alice O’Halloran of Silver Spring, MD. Congratulations and enjoy, Mary Alice!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fenton Friday: Potato Surprise

We had a frost scare earlier this week, but we made it through unscathed. A good thing too, as I was so busy getting the October issue of Washington Gardener Magazine out that I took no precautions. Zero. Zilch. At that point, I didn't care what lived or died. I was ready to sack the whole plot and start all over, if need be. Have you ever gotten to that point in the season?

Well, I got over it. Because the weather actually warmed up, I went out and put a row cover on the Broccoli seedlings and I cut down all the Cotton plants and harvested the heads to make into a wreath. (I'll share the wreath results once I finish it.) I then planted 16 cloves off Garlic.

With the interns, we pulled out the last of the 'Roxanne' and 'French Breakfast' Radishes and put in seeds for 'Cherry Belle' in their place.

While I was digging the spot for the Garlic, I turned up one Potato (pictured here). That was a surprise as I did not plant any this year, but I had in previous years. Potatoes are the plant that just keeps on giving -- no matter how deep I dig and how well we think we sift the soil, you always miss something. In this case, it is a welcome discovery. One small potato won't make much of a meal, but I can add it in with something else and happily eat it knowing there is likely more next year where this one came from... 

How is your edible garden growing this week?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 2017 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine - Stinky Ginkgos, Wreath Goldenrod, Long-storing Garlic, and much more

The October 2017 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is now out.

Inside this issue:
  • Why You Should Still Plant Stinky Ginkgos
  • Wreath Goldenrod: Nothing to Sneeze At 
  • Warming up the DC Design House Entrance
  • Which Garlic Last Longest in Storage?
  • The “Cool” Trick to Starting Pansies and Violas from Seed
  • Your Garden Task List
  • 7 Bulb Planting Tips for Spring Success
  • DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
  • Meet Eco-Artist Devin Devine
  • and much more!

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the November 2017 issue are due by November 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:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Video Wednesday: Toad Lily (Tricyrtis)

This is the third video in series of plant profile videos aimed specifically at the Mid-Atlantic home gardener. See the first one, Japanese Anemones, here, and second one on Asters, here.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bloom Day: Wedding Abundance

 It is the 15th of the month, which means Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day again. To view links to other garden bloggers' blooms around the world to see what it blooming in their gardens today and to read their collective comments, go to

Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, the past month started off very dry, then the rains finally returned. The temperature has stayed warm and nice, with no sign of frost -- yet.
For Bloom Day this month I thought I'd share the flowers from my garden that I used for my friend's wedding reception. When she mentioned a tight budget and the possibility of buying all $1 store fake flowers, I was like: "Oh, hell nah!" So I offered my garden flowers as my wedding gift to her. 
She wanted all fall colors from yellow to rust, so that left out all my lipstick-pink Celosia, purple Salvias, and pink Zinnias. The Mums and Sunflowers were my saving grace with some Black-eyed Susans still producing as well. I also cut some grasses and Love Lies Bleeding from my mom's garden for accent use.
It was fun gathering and creating the simple, rustic arrangements. I collected and cleaned every small glass jar I could find and bought 500-feet of twine to wrap around them for a unifying effect. The original table count was 20, but that quickly increased to 27 + the head table as the RSVPs rolled in. Luckily, I could keep on adding and even had a few extra arrangements leftover for the cake table, bar, and bathrooms.
I sent most all the flower-jars home with the guests and came home with a few that I'll bring to the Silver Spring Garden Club tomorrow as door prizes.
So what is blooming in YOUR garden today?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fenton Friday: Be Radishing

On September 10th, the interns direct-sowed seeds of:
- Radish 'Roxanne'
- Radish 'French Breakfast'
- Radish 'White Icicle
This week, almost exactly a month later, we harvested the 'Roxanne' (round ones) and 'French Breakfast' (long with white tips). The 'White Icicle' are still a week or two from mature size.

Elsewhere in the plot, the Turnips are growing quickly and the Broccoli starts are settling in.

The Arugula self-seeded from last year under the Zinnias and I have been picking some of that for adding to sandwiches.

This weekend I am helping a friend by providing some rustic flower arrangements from her wedding, which will include all the sunflowers from my plot. They are going a bit rampant right now and have fallen over into my neighbor's plot, but luckily they have moved away and no one is currently there to complain. Once I cut this crop, I'll leave the rest for the Goldfinches.

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 6th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Video Wednesday: Asters

This is the second video in series of plant profile videos aimed specifically at the Mid-Atlantic home gardener. See the first one, Japanese Anemones, here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Spooky Succulents Class

Spooky Succulents
Join us (if you dare!) for an "unhappy hour" on Friday, October 13 from 6:30-8:00pm at the Catylator Makerspace in the haunted basement of the World Building in downtown Silver Spring, MD 

You will be making a mini-terrarium with succulents and adding a touch of spooky decor to it. All materials included as well as care instructions for your little green monster plant. No prior gardening experience required -- beginners and ghouls welcome!

Decaying snacks and bubbling drinks will be served. Must be 21 and over to attend.

Come in costume or just as you are.

Catylator Makerspace is located in the iconic World Building in downtown Silver Spring Md at 8121 Georgia Ave, Suite LL1. It's a 10 minute (0.4 mi) walk from the Silver Spring Metro stop on the Red Line. Parking is available in the county garage on Silver Spring Ave (free after 7:00pm).

Register today at the low $25 introductory new class price! We are limiting enrollment so each student gets dedicated attention.

Purchase tickets at:

Friday, October 06, 2017

Fenton Friday: Broccoli Starts

I attended the 2017 Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit yesterday and spoke on "Social Media for Hort Professionals" during the high-speed popcorn session. It was a lot of fun and the afternoon was spent touring local urban ag sites. Three of them were basically community gardens and it was interesting to compare how they do things versus the Fenton Garden where my plot is at. I was envious of the Fort Barnard Community Garden water system -- spigots near every plot!

Also, they had a shed for shared tools and a bulletin board that displayed every plot owner's contact info, the garden history, planting tips, etc. Both of these things have long been in our request list, but have not yet materialized. Ft. Barnard is 40 years old though, so we have a long way to go to be that mature and robust.

The other urban ag locations we visited were inspiring and affirming. It was a pleasure to spend the day with "my people" immersed in growing talk and ways to expand access to garden space in the region. I look forward to building on the connections made at the summit.

I posted several photos from the tours to our Facebook page at:

This week in my plot, since the Spinach seeds look like duds at this point, we planted the six-pack of Broccoli 'Artwork' in their spot. The Broccoli have had a rough life so far -- since they were brought to two of my talks as demo plants -- but I think they should recover fine.

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 6th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


Asters are a hardy perennial that mostly bloom in late summer and autumn in the Mid-Atlantic region. Asters are native to Europe and North America. There are over 600 species in the Asteraceae family. They are deer-resistant, easy-to-grow, and vigorous plants.

The flowers are daisy-like in shape and come in shades of white, pink, lavender, and blue with a yellow center. The most popular variety is the New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae). Other popular Aster varieties include: 'Wood's Blue,' 'Monch,' and 'October Skies."

Their use in the garden is mostly as a filler plant in borders. They tend to get leggy and flop, so stake them or place them next to a plant or other feature that they can lean on. Look for some of the shorter, bushier cultivars to avoid the flopping. You can also try “pinching” them or cutting them back in late June to control their height.

Asters prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Once established, they are fairly drought-tolerant. They attract butterflies and make good cut-flowers as well.

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

Video Wednesday: Silver Spring Garden Club

In the spring of 1940, a small group of gardeners met at the Jesup Blair Community House to form the Silver Spring Garden Club in Silver Spring, MD. With more than 150 today, the club is one of the oldest, biggest, and most active in the Washington, DC region. To find out more, go to

Sunday, October 01, 2017

DIY: Flower Garland

Fall is the time in our gardens that the annual flowers are ending and we are planting cool-season blooms. It is also the time of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. The days are getting shorter and we are spending more time indoors. So I thought, why not pull out the last of my marigolds and make a traditional Indian flower garland? A little "sunshine" brought inside is always a good thing. Here is how to make one yourself in a few easy steps.

1: Gather marigold flowers from your garden or buy a bouquet of mums, carnations, or other sturdy flowers.
2: Gather your other supplies including: floral snips, wire cutters, floral wire, and ribbon (if desired). 
3: Snip all the flowerheads off their stems.
4: Cut a 2.5 foot length of thin-gage flower wire.
5: Make a loop at the end of the wire for hanging and as a stopping point so the flowers don't slide right off. 
6: Begin adding in your marigolds by threading the wire lengthwise through the flowers. String them on as if adding beads to a necklace. It is best to do them all in the same direction.
7: Once you have strung all the flowers on that you desire, create a second loop at the open end of the wire (cut off any excess wire). Add a ribbon for hanging, if you like.
8: Display your garland. Drape it over a mirror, doorway, or have it spilling out of a vase.

Bonus tip: These last a few days usually. If your garland starts to look a bit sad, you can give it an extra few days of "life" by soaking the whole thing in a big bowl of ice cold water for an hour or so. Then hang it to drip-dry over a sink or tub. It will be refreshed and looking like new.

These floral garlands are fun to wear as well. You can make them for the Mexican Day of the Dead or for a special occasion like an autumn wedding.

This is a monthly blog series on DIY projects for the beginning home gardener. Look for the other installments in this DIY blog series by putting "DIY" in the search box here at

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