Friday, August 16, 2019

Fenton Friday: We Got Ribbons!





We entered the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, which runs through this Saturday. From our several entries, we earned ribbons for our Garlic, 'White Currant' Tomatoes, and African Marigolds -- all grown in our little plot at the Fenton Community Garden. (The final ribbon we earned was for an Obedient Plant flower that I cut at the last second from my front perennial bed.)

This is not a post to brag, rather to inspire. Our plantings and submissions are nothing special, IMHO, but we did take the time to grow them and submit them. Next year, set aside some of your garden's bounty for competition. Mark your calendars for next year's contests and plan to enter your local agricultural fairs and flower shows. As they say with the lottery, you got to play to win! 

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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th 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, August 15, 2019

Bloom Day: Pot Ghetto Survivor


Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, the past month started off very dry, then it got hot - really hot. After a very wet spring and early summer, we seem to have slipped back into our usual mid-late summer drought pattern, where most every storm seems to just skirt the DC metro area. I am watering containers as needed and that includes my "pot ghetto" -- that sad gathering on my driveway of not-yet-planted and half-forgotten things. 

Among the not-quite-dead hydrangeas and brown-ish boxwood is an intriguing plant scrambling out from among the pots. It has a tiny true-blue flower and pretty variegated foliage. I did some googling and find that it is Variegated Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis f. aureostriata). I suspect it came in from a plant swap. This often happens that other things hitch a ride with a plant you are gifted. Hence, the pot ghetto -- and a precaution of having a waiting period before adding some of these "gifts" into your landscape. (Once again, procrastination pays off in the garden!)

It is an annual and the non-variegated kind is classified as an invasive weed in our region. It spreads and re-seeds in moist soil. As I have predominantly dry shade, I'm not too worried about it, but will pull it and toss it once I get around to cleaning out that section of the pot ghetto.


Elsewhere in my garden, I have blooming:
- Obedient Plant
- Goldenrod
- Black-eyed Susan
- Butterfly Bush
- Rose of Sharon (double, sterile)
- Hydrangea
- Blue Mist Shrub
- Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
- Torenia
- Petunia
- Fuchsia
- Bacopa
- Impatiens
- Begonia
- Alyssum
and more...

What is blooming in your garden today?

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:
https://www.maydreamsgardens.com/2019/08/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-august-2019.html

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Plant Profile: Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)



Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) is also known as the Swamp Rose Mallow and it loves our hot, humid summer. This perennial hibiscus is winter-hardy to zone 4, while the tropical hibiscus is an annual for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic.

This dramatic flower of mid-summer into early fall is a real stunner in the back of flower borders or as a container plant. The individual flowers can reach 12-inches in diameter and are often referred to as “the size of a dinner plate.” Hardy hibiscus cultivars come in white, red, pink, and bicolor combinations.

For best flowering, plant hardy hibiscus in full sun (at least 6 hours). Give it some room, as the plant can grow up to five feet wide and high in one season.

It likes moist soil, so keep it well-watered and mulch it with bark chips.

Dig in a bit of compost each spring and that is all the fertilizer they require.

The hardy hibiscus is susceptible to insect problems such as aphids and Japanese beetles. The best way to prevent this is to keep the plants healthy and never let them get drought-stressed.

To prevent it from self-seeding everywhere in your garden, regularly deadhead the spent flowers and cut the whole plant back after a hard frost.

Note that any of their seedlings may not bloom the same color as their parents. If you want more of the same plant, you can propagate them easily from stem cuttings in spring before they start flowering.

A few popular hardy hibiscus selections to try are ‘Lord Baltimore’, ‘Peppermint Flare’, and ‘Kopper King’.

Hardy Hibiscus: You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.
It was shot and edited by intern Alexandra Marquez.

If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

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Friday, August 09, 2019

Fenton Friday: Tomato Trial Results


by Alexandra Marquez.

In late May, when I first started as an intern at Washington Gardener, I planted eight varieties of tomatoes that Kathy had been sent to trial in her community garden plot. It’s safe to say that in the last two months, I’ve eaten a lot of tomatoes.

The varieties we tested were ‘Sun Sugar’, ‘Sun Gold’, ‘White Tomato’, ‘Rutgers’, ‘Red Torch’, ‘White Currant’, ‘Firefly’, and ‘Celebrity’. We watered them regularly, if it didn't rain enough that week. We also added Espoma Tomato Tone, an organic vegetable fertilizer, once every two weeks to help the tomatoes. In the same patch that the tomatoes were growing in, we also planted three marigold species, because marigolds and tomatoes are good companion plants.

The first variety to shoot up and start to flower were definitely the ‘Sun Sugar’ and ‘Sun Gold’ plants, and we enjoyed some baby tomatoes from them just a few weeks after planting. The ‘White Tomato’ and 'Firefly’ sprouted fruit quickly, but they’ve taken a long time to grow and ripen, and we’re hoping to pick our first ‘Firefly’ this week. It’s hard to know when the ‘White Tomato’ fruits are ready, because as ripe fruits, they are a very similar color to their green unripened shade. Hopefully, we’ll be able to enjoy some of those soon.

The ‘Torch’ tomatoes are definitely my favorite of the ones we’re growing, because they’re not too big, but also not as small as the ‘Sun Sugar’ and ‘Sun Gold’ and they’re not too sweet, but also not too bitter. They’re a perfect plum tomato shape, though a bit smaller than traditional plum tomatoes. The flavor of these is also perfectly tomato-ey, and I really can’t think of another way to describe their flavor.

The ‘Sun Sugar’, ‘Sun Gold’, and ‘White Currant’ tomatoes are all cute, small, and easy to pop in your mouth straight off the vine, but they are a bit too sweet for my liking.

Overall, I had a really fun time working with and growing these tomatoes this summer. It was incredibly rewarding to water, fertilize, and weed a plot that then yielded these delicious tomatoes that I enjoyed every week.

About the Author:
Alexandra Marquez is a rising junior journalism and anthropology major at the University of Maryland. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this summer.

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 in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th 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, August 08, 2019

Discuss The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janisse Ray with Washington Gardener Magazine's Garden Book Club


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

"The Seed Underground is a journey to the frontier of seed-saving. It is driven by stories, both the author's own and those from people who are waging a lush and quiet revolution in thousands of gardens across America to preserve our traditional cornucopia of food by simply growing old varieties and eating them. The Seed Underground pays tribute to time-honored and threatened varieties, deconstructs the politics and genetics of seeds, and reveals the astonishing characters who grow, study, and save them."

You can order it new or used at our Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2YCKTUv
Our Fall 2019 club meeting will be on Thursday, October 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. 

The Fall Meeting of our Garden Book Club is also where we decide the four titles we will be reading and discussing the next year, so please bring your suggestions of garden-related books for the club.

Please RSVP to the book club event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/656515708188383/, 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.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Plant Profile: Black-eyed Susan

The Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is the Maryland state flower and is a native North American wildflower. It has one of the longest bloom periods of any perennial and can flower from July through September and beyond.

Deadheading will extend the bloom time. Rudbeckia is an excellent cut flower and can be used dried in arrangements as well.

  It prefers full sun, but can thrive and flower in part-sun situations. It is quite hardy and drought-tolerant, once established, and is not picky about soil types. There is no need to add any artificial fertilizer to it, instead I give them a thin layer of compost each spring.

Rudbeckia form clumps and can spread by runner or by re-seeding. It grows to about two to three feet wide by about as high. Black-eyed Susans are easy to dig and divide it to share with other gardeners.

   Butterflies and other wildlife are big fans of this flower. Leave the seedheads up for winter garden interest and to feed the birds.

   It is attractive massed in sunny flower borders or in a woodland garden. It pairs well with Echinacea, Yarrow, tall Sedums, Asters, Russian Sage, and ornamental grasses.

   There are many lovely cultivars of the Rudbeckia species. Three I like a lot are 'Goldsturm', ‘Maya’, and ‘Indian Summer’.


Rudbeckia: You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.
It was shot and edited by intern Alexandra Marquez.
 If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)
Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out
 FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE
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Monday, August 05, 2019

Garden Speaker

Looking for somebody to speak on something gardening or plant related? Learn more about me and what I could possibly do for your garden center, the next garden club or civic meeting, etc., at: http://greatgardenspeakers.com/listing/kathy-jentz-4c818b5cdacc5.html.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Fenton Friday: Harvest Donation

Rainbow Swiss Chard
Earlier this week, a few of us at the Fenton Street Community Garden gathered up some excess produce to donate to Shepherd's Table soup kitchen in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

From my plot, I gathered 'Rainbow' Swiss Chard, Broccoli, and Cauliflower. Donations from other plots included tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini. I can imagine a nice vegetable soup from these contributions.

It was another hot week and every day we were promised flooding rains, but instead they went north or south of us. It is getting quite stressful watching the storm fronts flare up on the radar daily and then getting nothing here. One bonus: where we haven't watered, the weeds are parched and dying back. 

At the cistern, honeybees are desperately trying to drink from the dripping faucet handles, so I put a few container lids out a bit of water in each to give them something to land in and drink from. I'll dump these out and refill them daily until the rains return.

What is growing in your edible garden this week?


About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I share an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th 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, August 01, 2019

DIY: Glass Garden Totems and Art Towers

Milk Glass Tower by Marie Mims Butler
My garden writer friend, Marie Mims Butler, shared this sparkling craft on her Facebook page recently and it reminded me that I have been meaning to make a Glass Garden Totem with the vintage glass vases I have been collecting. Pictured here are a few of the art glass towers that Marie created.
This an easy craft. However, this is a not a child-friendly project, except for under very close supervision.

Clear Glass Tower by Marie Mims Butler
Materials:
- glass gems (optional)

Amber Glass Tower by Marie Mims Butler
Instructions:
  • Select your glass pieces. They can be from your own collection or from vintage shops and garage sales. Ask friends and family if they have any old pieces laying around and collecting dust.
  • Stack your pieces. Some pieces of glass are not smooth and you want them to fit snugly against each other, so test them out first to make sure they have full contact. Use glass plates and saucers as a platform between two tall pieces (like a vase or candle holder) that don't match up perfectly.
  • Take photos with a digital camera or your smart phone and try out a few different options before you settle on the one you like best.
  • Wash and dry the pieces and try not touch the surfaces again that you will place the adhesive on, so you don't get oils from your fingers on them.
  • Join two pieces at a time together and set each grouping aside to dry according to the directions on your caulk adhesive. Then join those sections together and again wait for the proscribed drying time.
  • Place your finished totem in the garden in a level spot. Enjoy!
Glass Tower by Marie Mims Butler
TIPS:
  • You can use the caulk adhesive to attach more glass gems to decorate the glassware more, if desired.
  • The glass surfaces can fill with water, so add mosquito bits or check it regularly and tip out any standing water.
  • If you want the top level to be a bird bath, make sure the water level is shallow (1-inch in depth) and clean it at least weekly with a 10% bleach solution.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a few pennies from Amazon.

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 washingtongardener.blogspot.com

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