Saturday, October 30, 2021

GardenDC Podcast Episode 81: Beginner Houseplants

In this episode, we talk with Louisa Zimmermann-Roberts at Thanksgiving Farms in Adamstown, MD, about houseplants for beginners and what first-time plant parents need to know. The plant profile is on Tatarian Aster and I share what's going on locally and in my garden.


00:43 Meet Louisa! 01:26 Learn about Thanksgiving Farms: How it started and the story behind the name 02:25 “Can’t have your eggs all in one basket” — Louisa, on starting Mad Science Brewery 03:59 Reducing their carbon footprint and starting their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) 04:35 “My orders are still in a notebook” — Louisa, on being “old-fashioned” 06:13 Their connection to Lilypons Water Gardens 07:35 “A 14-year-old knowing all about beer is kind of funny” — Louisa talking all about the family business 10:35 About Louisa’s cut-flower program and growing 20 different varieties 11:11 “We decided that because the pandemic was so good to us that we need to give back more” — Louisa, on cutting prices and doing fundraising 13:20 Where to start as a “baby houseplant parent” 14:08 “There’s a plant for everybody” — Louisa 15:28 What to do if you’re a chronic overwater-er 17:35 “They’re your air-purifying pets” — Louisa 17:50 African violets and other houseplants we love 20:20 “You feel like a queen or goddess when you get one of these things to bloom!” — Louisa, on hoyas 21:20 Fertilizing flowering houseplants: “It’s not a one-size-fits-all” — Louisa 22:43 When to repot 25:10 “Collectors craze” — learn what are some of the most in-demand plants these days 27:52 What Louisa recommends as a gift for the holidays 31:47 “You do end up getting attached to these plants over years … like my husband with the half-dead poinsettia on our kitchen counter” — Louisa 32:12 Louisa’s favorites for foliage or “jungle look” 33:57 “That’s a true houseplant lover — when you can’t choose a favorite” — Kathy 34:24 How to combat common houseplants issues, like the white fly and fungal issues 35:42 What does a yellowing leaf mean? 38:28 “Transplant shock”: Louisa’s tips on taking a tropical houseplant home in the wintertime 39:54 How to be both pet AND plant parents at the same time 42:33 “There’s no such thing as ‘cat-proofing’ in my world” — Kathy 42:44 What are the next trends coming for houseplants? 45:40 Louisa talks about some of her not-so-favorite houseplants 47:00 Louisa and Kathy’s advice on growing ferns indoors 48:15 “Definitely get on board with the houseplants. It’s so fun” — Louisa’s final houseplant advice 49:12 How to contact Louisa: follow and like Thanksgiving Farms on Facebook! 50:30 Learn about the tall perennial Tatarian Aster in this week’s Plant Profile! 52:00 Garden updates: plans to pull some edibles and planting spring-blooming bulbs! 52:44 Upcoming events with Homestead Gardens, Green Spring Gardens, the Potomac Rose Society, and other save-the-dates!

BTW, YOU can become a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month! See how at:

The episode is posted at:

The GardenDC podcast is also available on -

We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

Episode Credits
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Interview Edits: Charlotte Crook
Notes: Melena DiNenna


Friday, October 29, 2021

Fenton Friday: Winding Down

Basil forming seeds.

We have not had a frost or freeze yet, but the plants are getting tired and worn out in any case. We've had some heavy rains and the cold nights are not kind to the summer crops. So I plan to pull the tomatoes and peppers next week and plant the garlic, then put straw down to suppress weeds around them.

The cutting garden flowers will also need to be pulled. I hate to see them go. The marigolds in particular are filling out so well, but I know a frost will zap them soon. I need to collect seeds from some of the best performers for our annual Seed Exchanges and to plant next year.

Somewhere under all the celosia are the potatoes and I'm eager to find and dig them out soon too.

I also need to harvest the rest of the basil and other tender herbs. I should make a bunch of pesto and freeze it - we'll see what I have time to accomplish. 

The lettuce, spinach, radish, and bok choi are still growing well and will continue on well into winter - and maybe until next spring - with the help of a row cover and some surrounding mulch to insulate them.

The days are getting shorter and Daylight Saving Time will be next week -- when it will be dark out by 5pm! That makes the days feel even more rushed this time of year. However, the garden plot and rest of my home garden need to be "tucked in" for the cold months coming and I have many other tasks waiting for me.

BTW, my talk on "Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter" on Thurs 11/4* at 6:30pm still has some spots open. You can register at

*It will be recorded for pre-registered attendees to view later, if they cannot attend it live. 

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 27, 2021

Cutting Lettuce Plant Profile

Cutting Lettuce (Lactuca sativaalso known as cut-and-come-again lettuce are salad greens grown for their leaves, rather than to develop a head. Cutting lettuces come in red and green varieties as well as several combinations of the two colors. The leaves can be flat, ruffled, or curly.

Lettuce greens are a cool-season crop and do best in the spring and fall here in the Mid-Atlantic United States. When the summer heat moves in, the plants bolt and send up a flower shoot that produces seeds. You can collect these seeds to plant the next season. Note that lettuce seed must by fresh in order for it to have good germination.

The seeds are tiny and can be planted directly into the garden soil or in a shallow container. Cover them with a fine layer of soil and water in well. Lettuce prefers rich garden soil and does not need fertilizers. For continual harvests, you can sow additional rows of lettuce seeds every week or two.

When the plants are several inches high, use a clean pair of kitchen shears to cut off the largest leaves down to an inch or so above the root crown. Harvest only as much as you will consume right away. In a few weeks, these lettuces will grow back up again and you will be able to come back for another round of cutting. Depending on the length of your growing season, you can usually get at least 3 or 4 rounds of cut greens from the plants.

Slugs and rabbits love tender lettuce leaves as do many other garden pests. You can protect your lettuce seedlings with a wire cage or a cover cloth. The cloth can also act to shade the tender leaves as the weather heats up in late spring and insulates the plants when the autumn frosts move in.

Cutting Lettuce: You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

Audio and Text by Kathy Jentz
Video and Editing by Melinda Thompson

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

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~ Podcast: GardenDC


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Win a Woodland Journal from Princeton Architectural Press in the October 2021 Washington Gardener Reader Contest

 For our October 2021 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away the Woodland Journal from Princeton Architectural Press (prize value: $19).

   Whether you’re in the forest or just dreaming of woodland wonderlands, immerse yourself in the little miracles of nature with the Woodland Journal. Charming original watercolor illustrations of mushrooms and wildflowers, frogs and ferns, and butterflies and rabbits fill the pages of this lined journal. The foil-stamped cloth cover complements the whimsical endpapers, and a ribbon marker keeps your place. The Woodland Journal is a sanctuary for writers, poets, and journal keepers who wish to enter the magical forest world to escape the everyday in their own imaginations.

   To enter to win the Woodland Journal, send an email by 5:00pm on October 31 to with “ Woodland Journal” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the October 2021 issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be announced and notified on November 1.

Congratulations to our winner: Dawn Szelc, Sterling, VA

Monday, October 25, 2021

Sunday, October 24, 2021

October 2021 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine – Goth Gardening, Hardy Begonia, Glory-of-the-Snow, and much more


The October 2021 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine is out.

Inside this issue:

·         Goth Gardens: Dark and Brooding Landscapes

·         All About Growing Glory-of-the-Snow

·         Fall Garden Tips

·         ‘Holy Smoke’! A New Big Bluestem

·         Hardy Begonia Plant Profile

·         How to Keep Your Pumpkin from Rotting Too Early

·         Meet Debby Ward, Garden Coach and Teacher

·         DC-MD-VA Gardening Events Calendar

·         Urban Tree Summit Lessons

·         Visit the New White Gardens Park in Falls Church, VA

and much more…

Note that any submissions, event listings, and advertisements for the November 2021 issue are due by November 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:

Saturday, October 23, 2021

GardenDC Podcast Episode 80: Bay-Wise Landscapes

In this episode, we talk with Wanda MacLachlan, Area Educator, Residential Landscape Management, University of Maryland Extension, about the Bay-Wise Landscape Program. The plant profile is on White Wood Aster and I share what's going on locally and in my garden.


·  00:45 Meet Wanda MacLachlan!

·  02:55 “I’ll study plants instead…” — Wanda, after having to dissect an earthworm in college 

·  06:50 Learn all about the Chesapeake Bay! Did you know it reaches all the way to Upstate New York?

·  08:15 … Or that the Bay is the largest estuary, which is a body of water where fresh and saltwater mix, in the United States?

·  08:49 90% of the Bay’s freshwater comes from five major rivers: Susquehanna (NY), Potomac (MD), Rappahannock, York and James (VA) rivers

·  11:00 The Bay is home to more than 500 finfish and shellfish species and 29 species of waterfowl, and the watershed home to 2,700 plant species … So, yeah, it’s pretty important! 

·  11:49 “So many ways it touches our lives” — Kathy

·  12:19 18 million people live within the Bay’s Watershed… “If you are one of those 18 million people … then the Bay actually starts at your back door” — Wanda

·  13:33 What does rain wash into the Bay? Fertilizers used in gardens, pesticides, road salts during winter time, oil and antifreeze from cars… and more.

·  15:44 Why exactly is “excess nutrients” a bad thing for our Bay? 

·  17:50 The “Dead Zones” of the Bay are called such because of excess nutrients: They aren’t getting enough oxygen!

·  20:10 The Maryland Yardstick Program: Visit to learn about it and how you can apply.

·  24:11 If you plant ground covers under trees, you already have a box you can check.

·  29:00 But if you plant invasive species... “Oh boy,” Wanda said. Don’t be surprised if you lose a point or two! 

·  35:50 This November, Bay-Wise is celebrating their 25th anniversary.

·  41:40 From day one, Bay-Wise has certified 3,329 landscapes.

·  43:30 “You don't have to have your landscape certified, but I would encourage people to … look at that yardstick and just use it as a guide to what you can be doing in your landscape that” - Wanda

·  44:35 “I'm definitely going to go through that checklist myself… I have like 3 other certifications, but now I need that Bay-Wise one” — Kathy

·  45:00 You can contact Wanda at or (410) 531-5973 with any questions.

·  46:05 “The daisy-like blooms are a pollinator favorite” — Learn about this week’s plant profile, the White Wood Aster.

·  47:40 Community garden update: Kathy has harvested her container-grown peanuts, and can’t wait to roast and taste them!

·  48:30 Home garden update on prepping for next year’s spring display and her newfound love for alliums!

·  49:00 Upcoming events: Giving a talk for Brookside Gardens, Master Gardeners of Northern VA composing sessions, U.S. Botanic Garden workshops, and “Pumpkin Painting” at Green Spring Gardens

BTW, YOU can become a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month! See how at:

The episode is posted at:

The GardenDC podcast is also available on -

We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

Episode Credits
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Interview Edits: Charlotte Crook
Notes: Melena DiNenna


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