Friday, May 17, 2019

Fenton Friday: Peas Lessons Learned

by Johnny Moseman

During my time as an intern at Washington Gardener Magazine this spring, one of the things I was tasked with was growing various types of peas to compare how they would grow. After planting the peas in the third week of March, we would check on the progress of my peas each week to see how they were doing.

The three types of peas I chose to plant were ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’, ‘Little Marvel’, and ‘Progress #9’ peas. Coming into my semester at Washington Gardener I had no gardening experience or any experience growing crops, so this was a first for me. With the guidance of our editor, Kathy Jentz, we planted the seeds about an inch deep and three inches apart from each other. Before planting the seeds in the ground I soaked all of them for about 24 hours before to let them germinate a little so they would be a little ahead of schedule when we actually planted them. We also put wiring around the plots where the peas were to prevent animals from getting in and eating the plant while the peas were growing.

It took a little more than two weeks for us to finally see something sprout, but once we did the emergence was quick and the first shoots were visible above the soil and straw we put on top to control weed growth.

Since it did not start to get warm up until the end of April, it took until then for me to see actual growth of the vines when they started to go vertical and starting growing up the supports I put them in front of. My first peas did not start to flower until the second week of May and soon after that the first edible pea pods formed by May 16.

The ‘Progress #9’ and ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’ were the peas that grew the larger vines, while the ‘Little Marvel’ barely grew above ground and it was definitely noticeable that this type of pea did not grow huge vines like the other two. ‘Progress #9’ was the first vine to flower in early May while ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’ was looking like it would flower any day after that.

About the author:

Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bloom Day Fleur de Lys

It is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day again! On the 15th of each month, we gardeners with blogs share a few bloom photos from our gardens. 

Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, we had a soggy and cool spring, so my garden is happy--though I've had little chance to get out there and maintain or enjoy it!

In my garden, I have a multitude of blooms, but I thought I'd focus on just the Irises this time. Most are bearded types. None have names as they were all pass-along plants that I got from other gardeners -- either at plant swaps or in direct trades. Likewise, the one patch of Siberian Iris I have is from a garden club friend.

One Iris that I forgot to take a photo of was the Yellow Flag Iris in my pond, also a pass-along plant. It is considered invasive, but on my urban corner location it isn't going anywhere (plus I snip the seedheads off before they can ripen).

So what is blooming today in YOUR garden?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fenton Friday: Girl Scouts Visit

This week a local Girl Scout troup came to visit our community garden. I took them around to all the highlights: the wood chip pile, shared tool bin, compost pile, and the cistern. They had a great time filling up watering cans and were very knowledgeable already about how composting works.

We visited various plots and interviewed the gardeners who were present about what they like to grow. We then sampled some stuff from my plot including asparagus and lettuce, both of which were eaten quickly with requests for seconds and thirds. We smelled and examined herbs of which chamomile was a particular favorite. Several went home with stems to dry and make their own herbal teas.

Finally, we potted up seeds for pollinator-friendly plants like Zinnias and Dill. All-in-all a very productive hour and a great group of intelligent scouts.

After they left, I planted my new strawberry plants and the cauliflower and broccoli seedlings.

What is growing in your edible garden 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 FentonStreet 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 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Discuss "Onward and Upward in the Garden" with the Washington Gardener Magazine Garden Book Club

For our next Garden Book Club selection, we will be reading: Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katherine S. White.
Our Summer 2019 club meeting will be on Wednesday, July 24 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.
You can order it at and we earn a few pennies if you do so via that link. The book is described as a "sharp-eyed appreciation of the green world of growing things, of the aesthetic pleasures of gardens and garden writing, and of the dreams that gardens inspire."
Please RSVP to washingtongardener (at) or on the Facebook event page, 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:
Fall 2019 - The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janisse Ray

Friday, May 03, 2019

Fenton Friday: Early Bolting

We had severe thunderstorms pass through the region with high winds this week -- and more predicted for the weekend. The cover cloth we placed over the peas and lettuces stayed in place -- except for one corner that I didn't pin down. Due to the early high temps this week accompanying those storms, the lettuce mix in the corner has already started to bolt (put up a flower and set seed) -- still edible, but not as delicious.

I have some Girl Scouts visiting the plot on Monday, so I want everything to look decent. I weeded out the whole plot. Without a billowy skirt of chickweed, the garlic plant last fall is looking very good. The peas have still not flowered yet. I harvested another handful of asparagus stalks. Next, I have a few more strawberry starts to plant to revive that bed a bit. 

I will also put in some cauliflower and broccoli seedlings today. It is late in the season for them, but I might as well put them in the ground. I had dragged them on public transit to a few talks I gave on vegetable gardening and they got banged up, so they deserve to retire and rest for a while.

By the way, I am hosting an educational booth on Gardening for Pollinators at the Takoma Park Farmers Market this Sunday, May 5 from 10am-12noon. Look for the Washington Gardener Magazine banner and the butterflies. We'll be potting up annual flower seeds for folks to take home and plant in their own garden.

What is growing in your edible garden 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 FentonStreet 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 7th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Community Gardens of the DMV: The Garden at UMBC

By Johnny Moseman

Sitting within the University of Maryland's Baltimore County campus, right next to the police station, is the school’s very own community garden. Started in 2014 by some faculty and students at the university, The garden gives students, or anyone who wishes to grow their own plants, access to raised beds with fertile soil to grow in.

The garden was sparked by students who saw the land on campus and thought they could use the space to make a difference and grow some food.

They started creating "The Garden" over a two year period by developing a proposal and gaining the approval and support needed. In Spring of 2014, the student body voted on the SGA Prove-It grant funding for a campus improvement project -- 70 percent voted for a community garden on campus. The raised beds were then built by student volunteers, along with a broad network of staff, faculty advisers, and mentors.

“The Garden is a social action and service organization dedicated to helping reimagine the role of higher education in addressing problems of the world through the creation and engagement of our food garden that enables creativity in research, applied learning, campus-community partnerships, social equity, diversity, and food sovereignty,” according to their Facebook page.

Along with raised beds on the site, there is a shed with basic tools for use by anyone within the garden.

The garden is run by a student group, Sustainability Matters, and has support and oversight from a bunch of different organizations on campus from Facilities Management to Student Life.

This community garden is managed and plots are allocated by this student group to other campus groups. The garden also provides an orientation for these groups to learn how to grow in their section of the raised beds.

The groups can then choose what to grow and do with the food they grow in their plot. The garden also provides a shared compost pile, fun events, and regular community work days.

Photos courtesy of the garden’s Instragram account: @umbc_thegarden.

About the Author: Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.

The Community Gardens of the DMV blog series is profiling community gardens across the DC-MD-VA region. If you have a community garden you would like profiled, please leave a comment below and let us know how to reach you.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

DIY: Rabbit-proof Cage

By Alexa Silverberg

Bunnies seem to come from everywhere to eat those delicious berries and greens you’ve been growing. See below for easy how-to steps to create a bunny-free zone in your garden.


*we used boards taken off a few old pallets

1. Measure your growing bed for how wide and long you need the box to be. Create a bottomless box with sides about 2-3 feet high. You can adapt a raised bed frame.
2.  Have a friend help hold the wood steady while you screw the wood corners and braces securely together with the drill. Repeat this until you have all 4 sides of the box finished.
3.  Put on gloves and safety glasses, they will protect your hands while you drill and while you are handling the wire hardware cloth.
4.  Start wrapping the hardware cloth around one side of the box.
5.  Have a friend securely press the hardware cloth flat onto the wood, while you begin stapling the wire down with a staple gun. In order to get the staples to stay, the hardware cloth must be as flat and taut as possible on the wood.
6. Staple the edges first to make sure they are secure before stapling the side. Repeat until all 4 sides of the wood box are wrapped in hardware cloth.
7.  Cut any excess of the hardware cloth with wire cutters and crimp/roll the cut edges over, to ensure you can easily reach over the box without catching your clothing and cutting yourself.
8. Place it around the plants you want to protect. There you have it -- a bunny-free box, perfect for protecting all of your favorite crops!

About the Author: Alexa Silverberg is a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland and is from Short Hills, NJ. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine this spring semester.

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