Local Gardening 101
Guest Blog by Racquel Royer
Gardener, speaker, and editor-in-chief of Washington Gardener Magazine Kathy Jentz shared her tips for finding and taking advantage of local gardening resources at a talk for Knowledge Commons DC in Dupont Circle last week. Knowledge Commons is a “free school for thinkers, doers, and tinkerers – taught anywhere, by anyone, for everyone.”
“All gardening is local,” Jentz says.
Her first step was to “start with your soil.” That means getting a soil test to discover what your soil needs to help plants grow. In doing so, it’s important to let those testing the soil know what your plans are so that they can specify what you might need. Soil test kits can be purchased and mailed in to a lab like the one at Penn State. The next step is to amend the soil with aged manure and leaf compost. Kathy shared many local and free sources of both.
After taking care to prepare your soil, local plants can be obtained at garden club swaps, garden centers, public garden plant sales, and by posting on group lists like DC Urban Gardeners and DC Metro Plant Swap. There are so many gardening clubs and groups to join and most welcome new gardeners. A few good local plant swaps Jentz mentioned are those held by the local chapter of the Rock Garden Society, Takoma Horticultural Club, and the Four Seasons Garden Club. A few of Jentz’ favorite area nurseries and garden centers include Homestead Gardens, Merrifield, Behnke, and Meadows Farms among others.
If you’ve started growing your plants and encounter problems, Jentz advised to reach out to places like the UMD HGIC online, in-person at Master Gardener clinics, and to submit questions for the Washington Gardener’s “Ask the Expert” column.
Another great way to get involved in the local gardening community is to attend garden tours like the ones held by Brookland Garden Club and Virginia Garden Week, or to join local garden clubs. If you’d like to do some local garden adventuring on your own, some great, lesser-known public gardens to visit and get inspired by include the Franciscan Monastery, Tudor Place, Oatlands, and the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral.
Happy local gardening!
About the Author
Racquel Royer is a senior studying broadcast journalism in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is from Tampa. FL. This summer, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener.