Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Plant Profile: Kale


Plant Profile: Kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica)

Kale is "king" according to nutritionist and trendy chefs alike. This frilly cabbage cousin is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Kale is a versatile green and can be used as a spinach substitute in virtually any recipe.

   In the February 2016 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine,our "EdibleHarvest" columnist Elizabeth Olson provides the following advice for growing kale.
   “Growing requirements for kale are very similar to those of cabbage. Gardeners who want to grow kale in spring should either purchase transplants in early to mid-spring or start seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the last expected frost date.

   “Seeds for autumn-harvested kale should be started indoors in mid-summer and the plants should be installed in the garden by mid-September.” You can also direct-sow from seed in late August.

    “Kale grows best in full sun. The soil should drain well and be well-worked and amended with compost. Fertilize the plants with an organic vegetable fertilizer. A consistent moisture level in the soil is necessary for the highest-quality leaves. Keep the kitchen garden well-mulched and free of weeds.  
   “The plants should be covered with a floating row cover to protect them from flying insects. It is challenging to extract pests after they have gotten into the leaves.”
   Kale is also quite ornamental. Try inter-planting edible purple kale in your containers and beds with cool-season annuals like pansies and snapdragons. Harvest the largest kale leaves to eat whenever you like. You can also buy kale specifically bred for its looks, rather than for its taste, to grow for show in your winter garden.
   Try growing Kale in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz. 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
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Fenton Friday: Gleaning and Clean-Up

Broccoli protected under rowcover cloth.
I usually end the Fenton Friday posts each year when a killing frost hits, but so far we are frost-free. This weekend is our official community garden clean-up and gleaning project, so I'll take that as the "end of the growing season" and make this the wrap up for the year.

We will keep growing our kale, carrots, and spinach. The interns will post here in about 6 weeks about their final results with those crops. I also have broccoli that I will harvest likely around Thanksgiving.

Perennials I am overwintering in the plot are: garlic, calendula, asparagus, and strawberries.

Overall, I think this year was "meh" in the vegetable garden. With all the spring rains and then the late summer drought, I had to skip several crops that I'd like to have planted (melons, pumpkins, etc.) and those we did plant were minimally productive (okra, large tomatoes, etc.) If you are a beginner veggie gardener in the DC area, don't blame yourself if you had a tough go if it - next year is bound to be better!

How was your year overall in edible garden?

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, October 24, 2019

Win a bag of Organic Mechanics' Insect Frass Fertilizer in our October 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest


For our October 2019 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away a 2-pound bag of Insect Frass Fertilizer 3-2-2 (prize value: $28) from Organic Mechanics (https://organicmechanicsoil.com).
   Use this natural and organic fertilizer in garden soil or potting mixes. It also makes a great liquid foliar spray or addition to compost teas. It contains insect frass (cricket manure). It is a 3-2-2 organic, vegan fertilizer for amending soils and nourishing plants. Use it for all stages of plant growth. It is also perfect for all plant types, from houseplants to edibles to Bonsai trees. It is 100% natural and 100% organic. It is available in 2 lb. and 5 lb. bags.
      To enter to win the 2 lb. bag of Insect Frass Fertilizer 3-2-2, send an email to WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com by 5:00pm on October 31 with “Organic Mechanics” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the October 2019 issue and why. Please also include your full name, mailing address, and phone number for shipping. The winner will be announced and notified on November 1.

UPDATE:
We have a winner! Congratulations to Jennifer Whalen of Silver Spring, MD, who won a  bag of Organic Mechanics' Insect Frass Fertilizer in our October 2019 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Garden Cemeteries, Heuchera, Assassin Bugs, and much more in the October 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine



The October 2019 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out now and posted online at:
and at: https://issuu.com/washingtongardener/docs/washingtongardeneroct2019

Inside this issue:
·         DC’s Garden Cemeteries: The First Urban Parks
·         Plant Profile: Heuchera
·         Short & Sweet: Iris verna
·         Assassin Bugs Doing the Dirty Work for You
·         Meet a Wildlife Habitat Conservation Expert
·         What To Do in the Garden This Month
·         DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar
·         8 Key Tips for Layering Bulbs
·         and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the November 2019 issue are due by November 5 to WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com.

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: http://www.washingtongardener.com/index_files/subscribe.htm


Friday, October 18, 2019

Fenton Friday: A Rather Inappropriate Sweet Potato

With a freeze/frost warning in effect for the region, I ran over to the plot to dig my one sweet potato plant this season. I cleaned off most of the soil and was shocked to see a rather inappropriately shaped tuber. I don't know what to say, except it is a hefty one at 15.7 oz.



How is your edible garden growing 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 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.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Plant Profile: Calamintha



Calamintha (Calamintha nepeta) is a low-growing, bushy perennial that prefers full sun and well-drained soils. Once established, it is extremely drought-tolerant.

It is a member of the mint family. It resembles catmint and the Latin epithet “nepeta” and common name “Calamint” leads to some confusion between the two plants.

It has a long bloom period – typically from June up to a hard frost.

Calamintha’s flowers are loved by pollinators and detested by deer.

It does well in rock gardens, at border edges, and in containers. In ideal situation for Calamintha is planted under and among roses, where it creates fluffy underskirts around the bare lower rose canes. Think of it as a great-smelling replacement for baby's breath.

Two Calamintha varieties that I recommend are ‘White Cloud’ and ‘Montrose White’. The latter is sterile and won’t reseed.

It is maintenance-free beyond cutting it back in late fall or early spring. 

   Try a Calamintha in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

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
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/WDCGardener
https://www.instagram.com/wdcgardener/
facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Drought on Bloom Day

Salvia - Mexican Bush Sage
Here in the Mid-Atlantic USA (USDA zone 7) on the DC-MD border, the drought pattern continues, where most every storm seems to just skirt the DC metro area.It is getting extremely desperate out there.

I am trying to focus on the positive -- namely, this Mexican Bush Sage that I bought 3 pots of at Pepper's Greenhouses to cheer me up. The fuzzy purple flowers remind me of Gonzo from The Muppets. Every weekend, I see folks coming back from the Silver Spring farmer's market with arm-fulls of this salvia from the cut-flower farm booth. You cannot help but smile when you see it!

Elsewhere in my garden, I have blooming:
- Mums

- Toadlily
- Goldenrod
- Butterfly Bush
- Rose of Sharon (double, sterile)
- Blue Mist Shrub
- Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
- Torenia
- Petunia
- Fuchsia
- Bacopa
- Impatiens
- Begonia

- Marigolds
- 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/2019/10/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-october-2019.html

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fenton Friday: Highlight on Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'


The season is winding down in the vegetable plot. (Though I did just buy a 4-pack of Broccoli seedlings yesterday and will plant those today.) The cistern is empty and will be prepared for the winter, so from now on, if there is no rain, I have to hand-haul water from home. Speaking of rain, still none. The drought has put made the late summer-early fall garden very demoralizing and tough-going.

One highlight has been the Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'. These plants have weathered months of record wet, then record heat, and now months of record drought and they look terrific! I have harvested from them really one twice -- both times for collections for the Shepherd's Table soup kitchen. I plan to do so again for the last collection of the year in a couple weeks. 

How is your edible garden growing 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 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.



Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Plant Profile: Heuchera (Coral Bells)



Whether you pronounce it hoy-ker-uh or hue-krah or hew-ker-a, this terrific perennial species, with the common names of Coral Bells or Alumroot, has seen an explosion of new introductions in the last decade or so.
   Heuchera are native to North America and do well in woodland garden beds, rock gardens, containers, borders, and as ground covers.
   They are drought-tolerant and prefer soil to be a little more alkaline than acidic. If you have heavy clay soil, than it is necessary to add some lighter gardening soil when transplanting them into the ground.
    To get more plants, carefully dig and divide the clumps in early spring — make sure that each piece you re-plant has some good roots attached. 
   For those gardening where there are hot and humid summers, select those with Heuchera villosa in its lineage. H. villosa is a species native to the southern Appalachian Mountains. Villosa means “hairy leaf” and those fine hairs not only make it heat-tolerant, but also deer-resistant.
    The hybrids that have been developed in recent years have an extensive array of colors, shapes, foliage types, and blossom sizes. Heucheras will bloom from early June until the end of summer, but the foliage is the most eye-catching aspect of these perennials. Most varieties do best in part-shade with some morning sun, but there are recent introductions that flourish from full-sun to full-shade.
   Heucheras have also been hybridized with another native shade perennial called Tiarella to produce the Heucherella, which has added even more fantastic colors and textures to this extraordinary line of perennials.
   Some of my favorite Heuchera cultivars include ‘Midnight Rose’, ‘Silver Gumdrop’, ‘Plum Cascade’, ‘Berry Smoothie’, and 'Lime Rickey'.
   Try a Heuchera in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

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
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/WDCGardener
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Friday, October 04, 2019

Fenton Friday: Last of the Okra

The nights are starting to cool off so the tomatoes have slowed down and I think the okra is about done too.

The kale has really taken off and the cilantro seeds have germinated.

Now is the struggle to decide which parts of the plot to turn over full to cover crops, which will remain "in production," and finally, which to just mulch over with straw. It is always a crapshoot guessing on when the first real frost will hit and what space I may need set aside for the garlic. With the prolonged drought we have been experiencing since early August, I am about ready to pack it all in for the year. How about you?

How is your edible garden growing 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 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.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Plant Profile: Hakone Grass



Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra) is a tough, ornamental plant with attractive foliage. It also known as Japanese Forest Grass, after its country of origin.
   It forms a pretty weeping mound of bright foliage that looks stunning on the edge of a path, as a groundcover, and in containers.
   The foliage colors range from bright green to variegated gold and white hues. In autumn, the grass even takes on gorgeous coppery shades. This is a true multi-seasonal interest plant.
   Hakone Grass is adaptable to many garden situations. It prefers moist, shady spots and well-draining soils. It is resistant to disease or pests and is generally low-maintenance. Keep it out of direct afternoon sun, as the leaves can get a bit scorched and make sure it never totally dries out.
   Give it a bit of extra mulch in the fall and if it starts looking tattered, you can cut it back in late winter, when the new shoots appear.
   It slowly spreads by rhizome and after several years you might want to divide it. The best time do that is in the spring.
   The most popular Hakone Grass cultivars are ‘Aureola’ and ‘All Gold’ – both are widely available and look terrific combined with other shade-loving plants like Hosta, Toadlily, and Hellebore.
   Try a Hakone Grass in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

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
WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/WDCGardener
https://www.instagram.com/wdcgardener/
facebook.com/WashingtonGardenerMagazine


Tuesday, October 01, 2019

DIY: Flower Mandala


The mandala is Sanskrit for "sacred circle" of the cycle of life and is a concept shared by most cultures around the globe.

You can create a mandala in a hidden spot in your garden or on a table-scape for a special event or just for fun. If you place it in a spot that others may accidentally stumble across it, that is even more fun to brighten someone's day and see their reactions.

This is a very easy craft that can be done by anyone with just simple materials gathered from your own landscape.

Materials:

• flower petals, leaves, stems, and seeds -- harvested from the garden
• paper and pencil (optional) or chalk

Steps:

1. Gather various plant materials -- the more colorful the better. I used marigolds, sedum, garlic chives, begonia leaves, sunflowers, marigolds, and butterfly bush.

2. If working outdoors, find a roughly round base. In my case, I had an old stepping stone I used. You could also use a wooden stump or a manhole cover. You could also draw a circle using sidewalk chalk. (If working indoors, take a pencil and draw or trace a circle onto a sheet of paper.)

3. Assemble your mandala. You can be as meticulous or as carefree as you like. Some people take hours to do a small one and are very precise in their placement (hint: use tweezers), while others use a freehand and let the materials fall where they may. You are done when it pleases you.

Tip: This is an ephemeral craft so take a photo so it lasts longer for you. The next strong wind or rain could erase it and that is exactly how it should be.

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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