Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Seed Exchange 2020 Speakers Announced

Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2020. Seed 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.

"Hardening off and Transplanting your Seedlings"
Speaker: Debby Ward of Prior Unity Garden
Hardening off your seedlings is an important step to ensuring they bound into growth and production when put unto the ground. Hardening off refers to how we acclimate seedlings; who have been started indoors, to their final outdoor environment, by slowing getting them used to increased amounts of sun, wind and rain. If we do not harden off our seedlings, they will experience what is called “transplant shock” and likely die, or at least not grow well and thrive. Hardening off does require a bit of flexibility and may be the most attention-intensive part of starting your plants from seed indoors.  Debby will share her best tips for success during that process as well as for transplanting your seedlings once they are hardened off.
   Debby Ward is Founder & Owner of Prior Unity Garden, helping make your organic garden dream a reality, and 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 taught for The Mason Sustainability Institute, Master Gardeners of Fairfax County, and many local events and organizations.  She has focused on plants for food and medicine since being a young adult and holds several certificates in medicinal herbalism and has training in biodynamics, organic and native gardening. She values biodiversity, community, healthy living soil, fresh organic food and the prior unity inherent in all beings.

Speaker 2:
“Companion Planting for Pest Management in the Home Garden" 
Speaker: Linda L. Jones, owner, Elements of Nature
Companion Planting is a method of growing plants in proximity to each other because of their ability to enhance or complement the other's growth or attract beneficial insects or repel insect pests. Companion planting includes techniques such as trap cropping, spatial protection, beneficial habitat, and nurse cropping.
    Linda L. Jones is a certified master gardener and owner of Elements of Nature - Botanicals and Farmaceuticals, Clinton, Maryland . She focuses on growing flowers and herbs and gardening education. She is an avid seed collector and has a collection of over 500 varieties of open-pollinated and heirloom, annual, perennial and herb seeds.
   She has presented on several diverse gardening topics and has led workshops throughout the DMV since 2010, beginning as a master gardener intern.
   She often incorporates tips on creative, effective and alternative ways to maximize growing potential and space. In addition she uses her knowledge of growing, food, herbs and flowers and incorporates them into designer and exotic loose leaf teas, lotions and other home arrangements and into her natural products and skin care line - all of which are available at
   She believes that “Through saving and sharing seeds we are all helping to spread hope and enrich lives across the world”

Washington Gardener Seed Exchange 1
on Saturday, January 25, 2020, 12:30–4:00pm 
National Seed Swap Day!
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
 Registration is now open at 


Speaker 1:
"Seed Saving 101"
Speaker: Niraj Ray of Cultivate the City  
With a little bit of space, time, and basic equipment, saving your own seeds can be easy! Different types of seeds require slightly different treatment to save them properly- learn about seeds that mature in wet fruits, seed heads, pods, and more! We will also discuss how to keep certain tender perennials alive through the winter for rapid propagation in the spring, so you don't have to start from scratch each year. 
   Cultivate the City is an urban farming organization based in Washington, DC. In addition to managing a network of school and corporate gardens, CTC also runs a rooftop garden center and nursery where they start most of their plants and hold weekly workshops. CTC focuses on growing hard-to-find and ethnically and culturally important foods- they have been practicing saving their own seeds for more than 5 years!
   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.  

Speaker 2:
"The Lost Art of Plant Sharing: Taking Cuttings, Saving Seed and Dividing"
Speaker: Carol Allen, Horticulturist
There was a time when you would admire a shrub or perennial in a friend’s garden and they would give you cuttings or root divisions for your garden. Unfortunately, the art of home propagation is rarely being passed down from generation to generation anymore. Enter Carol! She will give you guidelines on how to start with cuttings, seed gathering/planting, and how/ when to divide plants. 
   Carol Allen has been involved in many aspects of gardening and horticulture since childhood and likes to describe herself as a committable plant-a-holic. She has more than 25 years experience in the horticulture industry with special interests in Integrated Pest Management, landscape design, native plants, tropicals of many kinds, and especially orchids. Carol enjoys helping people understand how to care for their plants and holds a monthly diagnostic clinic in Washington, DC. After serving a term of two-and-one-half years as supervisory horticulturist at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory, Carol returned to college and earned a degree in horticulture. Fascinated by the interplay of pest and prey, Carol continues her education on plant pests and diseases. She enjoys teaching people how to outwit their garden pests with little or no pesticide application and also authors the “InsectIndex” column in the Washington Gardener Magazine.

Washington Gardener Seed Exchange 2
on Saturday, February 1, 2020, 12:30–4:00pm
at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
Registration is now open at 

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

DIY: Keeping a Garden Journal

Level: easy
Cost: minimal
Use: record-keeping

Notebook Paper
3-Ring Binder

Optional Materials:
Glue sticks
Graph Paper
Colored Pencils

One of the many joys of gardening is looking back and seeing where you came from. From barren weedy lot to perennial beds bursting with color, you put the work in and it shows.
    By keeping a garden journal you will be able to keep track of your progress from year to year and you’ll have a record you can constantly refer to when planning your garden in the future.
   Many gardeners spend a pleasant winter’s evening going back over their past garden journals, not just as a planning tool, but for sheer amusement. To paraphrase Socrates, the unexamined garden is not worth growing. 
   With all the fancy scrapbooking accessories available, it is easy to go overboard and be overwhelmed with the innumerable amount of information and decorations you could include in your journal. You can also keep your journal online as a blog or website or stored on your own computer. We suggest you keep it simple. Here is a list of things you can include in your journal.
  Step 1: Make a general information page. List your zone, frost date, soil test results, local Master Gardener hotline numbers, and anything else you will be referring to frequently.
  Step 2:  Keep a page for each month of the year. List on it what chores need to be done, what plants are in bloom, and any other incidental observations you may have.
   Step 3: Insert pages for plants purchased. If they are mail-order purchases, cut out the catalog photos and descriptions and paste those in. If locally purchased or grown-from-seed, staple the plant tags or seed packs to your pages. Leave space for future notes on where you planted these new purchases and how they did.
   Step 4: Cut out and/or print out useful magazine articles and either paste them in, hole-punch them, or insert into clear page protectors.
   Step 5:  Make a chart for seeds started. Draw columns for the plant name, seed starting date, outdoor sowing date, and any notes.
   Step 6: Use graph or blank paper to map out beds and draw plantings.
   Step 7: Set aside one page for bird sightings and other creatures that visit your garden. Note what they were, how many, time and date seen. Add photos if you take any.
   Step 8: Devote a page to a “wish list.” Plants you’d like to buy. Projects you are contemplating. Paste in magazine photos and ideas.
   Step 9: Take a few pages for an “inspiration” section. Quotes and poems you liked. Plant combinations you saw in a neighbor’s garden. Gardening books you’d like to read.
   The “how” of keeping a garden journal is not that difficult. Just pull out some blank paper and write. The hard part may be in finding the time to do so. Try scheduling in a regular appointment in your calendar to do some garden journal entries. Just 15 minutes a week can be plenty and you’ll be thankful in the years to come for all of the knowledge you have stored.

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

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