Thursday, December 06, 2018

Discuss The Roots of My Obsession with WG Garden Book Club

For our next Garden Book Club selection, we will be reading: 

"Why do you garden? For fun? Work? Food? The reasons to garden are as unique as the gardener. The Roots of My Obsession features thirty essays from the most vital voices in gardening, exploring the myriad motives and impulses that cause a person to become a gardener. For some, it’s the quest to achieve a personal vision of ultimate beauty; for others, it’s a mission to heal the earth, or to grow a perfect peach. The essays are as distinct as their authors, and yet each one is direct, engaging, and from the heart."
Our Winter 2018-19 club meeting will be on Thursday, January 3 from 6:30-8pm at Soupergirl, located right next to the Takoma metro stop. Soupergirl offers soups for sale that are incredibly healthy. They are 100% plant-based, low salt, low fat, and most importantly, absolutely delicious, so plan to come a bit early to purchase and eat your dinner with the garden book club. 

Please RSVP to washingtongardener (at) or at the book club event page at, so we know how many chairs to reserve for our group.

The Washington Gardener Magazine's Garden Book Club is free and open to all. We meet quarterly on a weekday evening near a metro-accessible location in the DC-area. We will announce the details of each upcoming meeting about two months in advance. Please check back on this blog for schedule updates and announcements.

Want to read ahead? The next book club selections are:

Monday, December 03, 2018

Beet Reporter

Beet Seedlings
By Ashley O’Connor

I’ve never been inside a community garden prior to interning at the Washington Gardener, let alone grow something myself from seed. But this experience taught me everything from the importance of composting to the terror of finding a baby bunny in the plot.

With the guidance of editor and publisher Kathy Jentz, I decided to grow beets: a vegetable tempered for the cool-season. We later added a third row of Swiss chard for good measure.

I was forced to replant after a September day of heavy rains that washed away my seeds.  And a hailstorm in November froze portions of the Swiss Chard plants.

Swiss Chard
Because of the weather issues, the results weren’t extraordinary; many of the red variety didn’t grow beyond tiny roots. (The roots are still edible) But there were enough fully formed white beets and Swiss Chard greens to make a nutrient-packed salad, dressed with EVOO, salt, and pepper. Eating something that came from my own efforts—digging in the hot summer sun, watering in the cold fall winds—was truly special. In the future I would like to start a small garden of my own.

About the Author:
Ashley O’Connor, a senior multi-platform journalist at the University of Maryland. This autumn, she is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

DIY: Fairy Houses

Birdhouses make the ideal base for creating a Fairy* House. They are readily available at craft stores or you can easily make your own birdhouse from a kit or if you have basic carpentry skills. To make the birdhouse into a Fairy Abode, it only take a bit of paint, some glitter, and a few whimsical accents. 

This is an ideal rainy-day activity for doing with children or could be a nice activity for a whole garden club to undertake and create a fairy village.



Step 1- Sand off any rough edges on the birdhouse. Then wipe off any dust with a damp rag. Wait for it to dry, then you cover your work surface with newspapers. There may be a ledge sticking out for the birds to land on. Snap that off as faeries are expert flyers and don't need these.

Step 2 - Start painting. I prefer washable craft acrylics and using a foam brush for base coats, then moving to finer brushes for painting finer details. My Garden Faeries like tones of purple and green, but your resident faeries may have different tastes.

Step 3 - Plug in your glue gun and glue on accessories. I found round window frames in my dollhouse supplies that fit perfectly over the birdhouse hole to convert it into the side window. I also found a windowbox that was the perfect accent for under that. I then made my own door using some scrap balsa wood and glued that on.

Optional: I raided my jewelry box, craft supplies, and dollhouse for extra bits and baubles to decorate the house. You can dismantle lost-its-mate earrings to make the door hinges, as I did, or use your imagination to come up with other creative uses for your glittery odds and ends.

Step 4 - Paint the roof with a thin layer of Mod Podge or other shellac, then place the house in a cookie tray and gently sprinkle the glitter over it. This is where he magic happens, so take your time and do just a bit, then layer on more as desired. You don't have to stop at just the roof and can glitter up the whole thing -- do whatever your inner faerie tells you to do!

Step 5 - Add several more layers of Mod Podge or other shellac, waiting an hour or so between coats. This will ensure the longevity of your fairy house.

  • Decorate with found objects from found objects in your garden. These may not be as long-lasting as manufactured items, but can add a touch of "fairy realness." Try pine cones and acorns for roof shingles, birch bark for architectural accent pieces, and seeds for decorative accents.
  • Put your fairy house outdoors in a protected spot, such as under a large tree, and it will likely last a year or more out in the elements. The weatherization and decay are part of the charm of it.
  • You can use stencils to decorate the house with vines and flowers, if free-hand painting is not your strong suit.
  • This craft can be as complex or simple as you desire. Stop when you are happy with it or keep going and adding to it as you like.
*I personally prefer the spelling Faerie or Fae, but went with the more common term for this post.

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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