Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tomato Taste 2015 Results: A Stunning Upset!

2015 Washington Gardener Magazine Tomato Taste

We had almost 300 people come to yesterday's Washington Gardener Magazine 8th Annual Tomato Taste at the FreshFarm Silver Spring Market yesterday. Here are the results of the more than 200 ballots submitted.

  1. Black Cherry from The Farm at Our House
  2. Sun Gold from Chicano Sol
  3. Sun Sugar from Spiral Path Farm tied with
    and  Red Currant from our own Washington Gardener Magazine garden plot
  4.  Pineapple from Three Springs Fruit Farm
  5.  Garden Peach from The Farm at Our House 
  6. Juan Flamme from Three Springs Fruit Farm
  7. Valencia from Country Pleasures
  8. Orange Banana Paste from The Farm at Our House 
  9. Sunny Boy from Three Springs Fruit Farm
  10. Green Zebra from The Farm at Our House 

It is amazing that 'Black Cherry' upset both perennial favorites 'Sun Gold' and 'Sun Sugar.' This may indicate a new trend in tomato taste towards more flavorful, less sweet kinds, or it just may be that the youths at The Farm at Our House have a special grower touch that lent their 'Black Cherry' an extra winning zing.

If we had excluded the cherry varieties from our contest, then the 'Pineapple' would have won as it was the top vote-getter of the slicing tomatoes.

Do take a minute to click on the photo link above to view the Flickr album of photos from the event. I think you will agree that the market tomatoes are absolutely gorgeous and very photogenic.

Daphne McCambridge of Silver Spring, MD, won the prize drawing of a market bag full of gardening goodies and $25 worth of market tokens!

Most of the taste attendees were local, though we also had many who came quite a distance. About half live in Silver Spring. Another third live close by in Washington, DC or the towns of Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Hyattsville, Rockville, Gaithersburg, and  in MD. From across the river in Virginia, attendees came from Crystal City. From out of the area, we had attendees from West Bath, ME, Stamford, CT, and Haddon Heights, NJ. And we even had one taster this year from Durham. England!

Thank you to all who came and participated. Thanks to the farmers for growing great tomatoes and to FreshFarm Markets staff for hosting us. Special thanks also to Doree and Martha for helping with all the tomato sample cutting and helping greet all the tasters in the short two-hour event. See you next August!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fenton Friday: Dry as a Bone

was my wildflower patch
 I know I should not complain about our lack of rain in comparison to my gardening friends out west, but really it has been a brutal month here as well. Just getting missed by nearly every storm has been excruciating. Nothing worse than watching the radar, anticipating a good soaking -- only to see the front break up and disappear or veer north or south around the DC beltway. Ugh!

So now I am at the point of choosing what to let go and no longer water and what I have to haul buckets of water to just keep barely alive. In my communty garden plot, I'm writing off the wildflower patch at the back and also have stopped watering any tomato plants.

I am concentrating efforts on my strawberry patch, which despite a good soaking every few days, looks crispy. I think it should recover okay though.  I'm also making sure my basil, okra, and beans get enough water to keep producing.

It also means I'm delaying planting any fall crops as those would need near constant water and my schedule is to busy to keep running over to the plot for that. Once I see real rain in the forecast, those seeds are going in!

How do you handle drought conditions in your edible garden? What do you prioritize?
strawberry patch hanging on

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. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 4th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

ADVERTISER OF THE WEEK: Sunshine Farm and Gardens

 Rare and Exceptional Plants for the Discriminating Gardener and Collector

Barry Glick
Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Road
Renick, WV 24966, USA

Every Thursday on the Washington Gardener Magazine Facebook page, Blog, and Yahoo list we feature a current advertiser from our monthly digital magazine. To advertise with us, contact today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Video Wednesday: Flamingo Collecting

Here is the collection of Yard Flamingos at the Washington Gardener Magazine headquarters garden in downtown Silver Spring, MD. Count along!

On of our summer interns, Daven Desai, shot the video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Garden Book Donations to Brookside Garden's Library

Guest blog by Gaby Galvin 

On July 29, 2015, the Washington Gardener team took a trip to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, to donate 25 gardening and landscaping books to the Horticultural Reference Library in the Visitor's Center. This donation marked 197 total books donated by us with a total value of $5,506.66 since 2013.

Jared Ashling, volunteer coordinator at Brookside, said Washington Gardener Magazine’s donations have been helpful in keeping their library collection up-to-date and relevant. They have more than 7,000 books for horticulturists to conduct research. They rely mostly on donations.

Kathy Jentz, editor and publisher of Washington Gardener, received many of the books as review copies from the books’ publishers and authors. She expects to have another large crop of reviewed books to donate this fall.

Ashling said the Brookside Gardens' library has many generous donors who support them and that over the years they have received more than 5,400 books through donations. They accept gardening and horticultural books in good condition as donations. They inspect each book before adding it to their library. Books that don’t meet the criteria are either sold to earn money to buy more books or put in one of the three free little libraries on the grounds, where anyone can come and take them. 

About the author:
Gaby Galvin is a Washington Gardener Magazine summer 2015 intern who is studying multiplatform journalism at the University of Maryland. She does some gardening at home in Davidsonville, MD, with her mother and grandparents. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Win Passes to Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy Butterfly Exhibit

For our August 2015 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away the five sets of passes to the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy live butterfly exhibit in Wheaton, MD (each set has two passes and is a $16 value). 

   Running daily through October 25, from 10am to 4pm, Brookside Gardens South Conservatory features live butterflies. Come witness the butterfly life cycle as tiny eggs hatch into crawling, chewing caterpillars, which then encase themselves in jewel-like chrysalides and emerge as sipping, flying adult butterflies. Learn about the best annual and tropical plants, and hardy shrubs that are used as nectar sources, to attract butterflies to your own garden. See more details at
   To enter to win a set of passes, send an email to by 5pm on Monday, August 31, with “Wings” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us which was your favorite article in our August 2015 issue of the magazine and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. The pass winners will be announced and notified on September 1.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fenton Friday: Fair Awards

 I finally got over to the Montgomery County Fair to be able to check on my entries. I did poorly in comparison to previous years which I blame on two factors: 1. I submitted the entries on Friday evening, when I normally wait until Saturday entry time, as judging is not until Sunday. I was so booked-up last Saturday though, that I had little choice in the matter. And 2. When I put the cut flowers in the vases, the water was HOT to the touch as the pre-filled glass vases apparently sat out in the sun all afternoon. I tried to choose the coolest of what was offered, but I still think that was a very bad decision to have made in haste. I should have insisted they be dumped out and refilled with cold water. I'm sure my entry submission wasn't the only one that evening that was harmed by that snafu. Anyone who works with cut flowers knows that hot water is the death of fresh-looking blooms.

Anyway, I did win some ribbons for my efforts. A first fora  multi-flora red rose, a second for my dried herbs, and several others for my edible entries -- carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes. I took pictures of some of my winners (see them at left).

I also learned some lessons for next year's entries, like to pre-make my own fancy labels for the fresh herb submissions. I had thought that was not allowed and the judges/entry volunteers did that.

There were a few categories that I definitely could have placed in had I entered like garlic, okra, and chard, so I've noted those as well.

Have you entered home-grown items into your local fair? How did yours do? Any winning strategies and tips to share?

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. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 4th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)