Monday, January 21, 2019

Witch Hazels, Cool-Season Edible Gardens, and much more in the January 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine

The January 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out.

Inside this issue:
  • Under the spell of Witch Hazel
  • 8 New Garden Trends for 2019
  • Year of the Dahlia
  • Your Garden Task List
  • Dealing with Pesky Critters Humanely
  • DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
  • Curtailing the Colorado Potato Beetle
  • Top Tips for Success with Cool-Season Edible Gardens
  • And much more….

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the February 2019 issue are due by February 5.

>>  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:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Win Passes to the Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges in our January Reader Contest

For our January 2019 Washington Gardener  MagazineReader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away two passes to either of the Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges (prize value $40).
   The 14th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges, hosted by Washington Gardener Magazine, take place on January 26, 2019, at the Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, and on February 2, 2019, 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!  We will have a “best nametag” contest, so get crafty!
   See the full event details at this page of this issue. Seed Exchange attendees are encouraged to bring their used or new garden books and seed catalogs to swap and share at this year’s event. We also ask you to bring your own water bottle or reusable mug and a home-made nametag.
   To enter to win the Seed Exchange Passes, send an email to by 5:00pm on Thursday, January 24, with “Seed Swap” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what you will be growing from seed in your garden this year. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on Friday, January 25.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Seed Exchange 2019 Speakers Announced

Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2019Seed 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 26 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD

Speaker 1:

"Growing Cut Flowers From Seed, A Flower Farmer Perspective"
Speaker: Leon Carrier of Plant Masters
Leon will share the production techniques that work for him on his commercial cut flower farm.  He will share what works and what doesn't, including timing and the many pitfalls in growing flowers from seed.
   Leon has a B.S. Ornamental Horticulture from the University of Maryland. He has been a market gardener in Montgomery County for over 40 years and is currently doing 8 farmers markets a week during the growing season. He grows on two farms in Montgomery and Howard County -- raising 200,000 seedlings a year for his farms and other growers.

Speaker 2:
“Introduction to Local Vertical Farming”
Speaker: Niraj Ray of Cultivate the City
Vertical Farming uses stackable growing containers and community-based farming to activate underused urban spaces, including rooftops, balconies, abandoned lots, or front yards. This session covers using vertical farming methods for higher yields, selecting to most suitable varieties for vertical growing, nutrient management, integrated pest management, and harvest techniques.
   Niraj founded Cultivate the City (CTC) in 2015 to inspire healthy and sustainable living by empowering local communities with the tools, training and resources for urban agriculture and vertical farming. CTC currently manages over 25 locations around DC, including a rooftop farm at the Washington Nationals Stadium. Niraj holds a B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology from the Ohio State University and a M.S. in Integrated Environmental Science from Bethune-Cookman University. He is a 2013 National Wildlife Federation Emerging Leader Fellow and formerly worked with the US EPA - Office of Water.

Washington Gardener Seed Exchange 1
on Saturday, January 26, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm 
National Seed Swap Day!
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
 Registration is now open at 

Speaker 1:
The What, Where & How of Seed Starting"
Speaker: Marianne Wilburn of Small Town Gardener
Starting seeds properly can make or break your entire growing season! Marianne will share tips that include when to start seeds, which seeds to start indoors, and how to do it.
   Marianne is the mother of two, wife of one and the voice of The Small Town Gardener. She gardens and writes from her home in the scenic (and exceptionally convenient) heart of Virginia's wine country. She is the author of "Big Dreams, Small Garden: A Guide to Creating SomethingExtraordinary in Your Ordinary Space."

Speaker 2:
"Choosing Seed: Companies & Qualities"
SpeakerDebby Ward of Prior Unity Garden
Enjoy Debby's passion for quality seeds and seed companies. Learn the 16 criteria she has developed to assist you in making wise seed and seed companies choices, interspersed with information about types of seeds, stories about being in relationship with seed companies, and some successes and failures. She will also pass on her a few of her favorite seed companies and why she loves them.
   Debby Ward is founder and 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 has taught for many local groups including The Mason Sustainability Institute, Master Gardeners in Fairfax County VA and the Grow Your Health Festival. 

Washington Gardener Seed Exchange 2
on Saturday, February 2, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm
at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
Registration is now open at 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Discuss Cultivating Environmental Justice: A Literary History of U.S. Garden Writing with the WG Garden Book Club

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

"Drawing on ecocriticism, environmental history, landscape architecture, and recent work in environmental justice and food studies, Emmett explores how the language of environmental justice emerged in descriptions of gardening across a variety of literary forms. He reveals early egalitarian associations found in garden writing, despite a popular focus on elite sites such as suburban lawns and formal southern gardens. Emmett considers a wide range of texts by authors including Bernard M'Mahon, Scott and Helen Nearing, Katharine S. White, Elizabeth Lawrence, Alice Walker, and Novella Carpenter."

You can order it new or used at our Amazon link:
Our Spring 2019 club meeting will be on Thursday, April 4 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:

Friday, January 04, 2019

WG Seed Exchange Registrations Now Open

Washington Gardener Magazine presents the 
14th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges
on Saturday, January 26, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm 
National Seed Swap Day!
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
 Registration is now open at 
on Saturday, February 2, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm
at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
Registration is now open at 

Join us for:
Seed Swapping
Door Prizes
Planting Tips
Expert Speakers
Goody Bags
Make-it Take-It Seed Crafting Table

Washington Gardener magazine, the publication for DC-area gardening enthusiasts, is hosting the 14th annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange at Brookside Gardens and Green Spring Gardens. These seed swaps are in-person and face-to-face. You bring your extra seeds and swap them with other gardeners. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds, new garden friends, and expert planting advice.

on Saturday, January 26, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm 
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
on Saturday, February 2, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm
at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
(Foul weather that day? Call 240.603.1461,
for updates about possible snow/ice delay.)

We are holding a duo of Seed Exchanges one week apart on opposite sides of the Washington Beltway. We urge you to attend the one closest to you.
   One exchange will be held at Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, MD. The other will be at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA.

How to Register
To register for Saturday, January 26, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
go to:
To register for Saturday, February 2, 2019, 12:30–4:00pm at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
go to:
    Registration fee is $20 per person. Friends of Brookside members, Friends of Green Spring members, and current Washington Gardener subscribers receive a discount rate of $15 per person.
We strongly urge you to register in advance. There is a limited enrollment of 100 participants at each location!

We are GREEN!!!
We also have a Garden Book and Seed Catalog Exchange table. Seed Exchange attendees are encouraged to bring their used or new garden books and seed catalogs to swap and share at this year’s event. 
   We also ask you to bring your own water bottle or reusable mug and a home-made nametag. We will have a“best nametag” contest, so get crafty!

Event Hashtags #GardenDC and #SeedSwapDay

If You Have Seeds to Bring and Swap:
Please package them in resealable plastic zipper or wax sandwich baggies. Put an average of 20 seeds per baggy — more for small seeds like lettuce, fewer for large seeds like acorns. Label each baggy with a white sticker (such as Avery standard 5160 address label sheets) giving all the information you have on the seeds. If known, include the plant's common and scientific names; its soil, sun, and watering needs; and, its origins — where and when you collected the seeds. If you don't know all the information, that is okay; just provide as much as you can.
Yes, you can bring unused or opened commercial seed packs.

What If You Don't Have Any Seeds to Swap?
Come anyway! Even if you don’t have any seeds to trade, you are welcome to attend. We'll have plenty of extra seed contributions on hand and many attendees will be there just to learn, network, and prepare for next year's seed collecting.

Education Program
Expert speakers from the local gardening community will give short talks on seed collection and propagation tips. There will be ample time for individual Q&A throughout the program with the featured speakers, and invited experts as well.

(Note: This schedule is subject to change.)
12:00-12:30 Registration check-in
12:30-12:40 Introductions
12:40-1:20 Gardening talk
1:20-1:55 Gardening talk
2:00-2:15 Snack break and room reset
2:15-2:30 Seed Swap preview time
2:30-3:00 Seed Swap
3:00-3:30 Photo Contest winners
3:30-4:00 Door prizes and closing talk

How Do We Swap?
As you check in, staff will collect your seeds and place them at the appropriate seed category tables.
You will be assigned a random seed swap number. There will be a short period for attendees to preview all the seeds brought in and available for swapping. You will be called in by your number to pick a seed pack from each of the category tables (if desired).
After the initial seed swap is complete, attendees are free to take any of the left over seeds and to trade seeds with each other. Dividing of packets is encouraged and extra baggies with labels will be on hand for that purpose.

What Types of Seeds?
Seed swap categories will include natives, edibles, herbs, exotics, annuals, perennials, and woodies (trees/shrubs). If you can pre-sort your seeds in advance into which of these seven major categories fits best, that would help us speed up the process on the swap day.

Door Prizes! Goodie Bags!
Each attendee will receive a goodie bag at the seed swap. The bags include seeds, publications, and garden items donated by our sponsors. In addition, we have some incredible door prizes to give away especially for area gardeners.
   If your organization would like to contribute seeds or garden-related products for the goodie bags and door prizes, contact Kathy Jentz at 301.588.6894 by January 22.

Charitable Donations:
Extra seeds from the swap are donated to local, nonprofit gardening groups.
A portion of the event proceeds will go to benefit Native Seeds/SEARCH for conserving crop genetic resources.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

DIY: Vintage Seed Pack Art

seed pack art
Seed pack art is all the rage. From calendars to t-shirts, I see vintage seed packs used everywhere these days. I bet you even have a few seed packs that you've held on to over the years, not for the seeds inside, but for the attractive seed packet itself. 

Seed packets themselves are full of terrific plant information and details. I have kept them in photo albums and scrapbooks to use as reference sources over the years. It is fun just to leaf through the albums at look at all the things I have grown. I thought of this craft as a way to enjoy looking at some of my favorite seed packs on a daily basis and not just hidden away in albums.

If you don't vintage seed packets, you can use new ones. Companies like Botanical Interests and Renee's Garden have gorgeous vintage-style packets you can buy new. You can also purchase reproductions of vintage seed packets on cards

This is a suitable project for doing with children or your garden club.

Glitter and Other Accessories, as desired


Step 1- You can use scrap wood from another project or buy already cut craft wood pieces. Squares are nice. Sand off any rough edges on the wood piece. Then wipe off any dust with a damp rag. Wait for it to dry, then you cover your work surface with newspapers.

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. One trick I learned from a folk artist is to paint all the outside edges black. This makes it look finished and no need for a frame. Let the paint dry and add a second or third coats as you wish.

Step 3 - You can use actual seed packs (vintage or new) that you have collected. You can also purchase seed pack art. Cut off any excess borders that you don't like. Lay it out on the wood piece for size and placement. Coat the seed packet (art) with Mod Podge. Let it dry.

Optional: I glued on a few of the seeds that come from the seed packets at each corner as a fun accent. You could glue a whole border of  them around the seed pack, in a fun pattern, or leave them off. You could also glue on dried flowers or other accents. Use your imagination to come up with other creative accents - like gems, stickers, or hand-drawn/painted flourishes. This is also the point to sprinkle on any glitter you may like.

Step 4 - Add several more layers of Mod Podge or other shellac over the entire piece (including seeds and any glued-on accents), waiting an hour or so between coats. This will ensure the longevity of your seed art.

Step 5 - Screw on a hanger on the back. If the wood is thick enough, it can simply be set on a shelf and doesn't need a hanger.

  • Decorate with found objects from found objects in your garden. 
  • You can use stencils to decorate the seed art, 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.

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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