Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Keep Calm and Garden On" at Behnke Nurseries' Gardener's Night Out Program

gardeners night out
I'll be there with a table with the "Keep Calm and Garden On" buttons and magnets for sale as well as signing up people for Washington Gardener Magazine. Stop on over!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Video Wednesday: How to Save Seeds from Your Garden

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Here is a video from our vaults on Easy Seed Saving Techniques. This is a great time of year to gather annual and vegetable seeds. And perfect weather this week for it too!

If the video does not play immediately for you on this blog, go to where it is hosted at:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: A Cool End to Summer

Common Boneset
Eupatorium perfoliatum
This Garden Blogger's Bloom Day finds me pulling on a sweater and scanning the garden for all those in-transition period blooms. I still have many summer annuals putting on a show (petunia, lantana, etc.) and several shrubs looking very nice (hydrangea, beautyberry, etc.). A few spring-blooming shrubs are putting on a second show for early autumn like the PJM rhododendrons and groundcovr roses, which is nice to see. Pictured here are a just couple of bloomers that are near my back door so they catch my eye whenever I come and go.

What is blooming in your garden this week?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fenton Friday: Harvest Time

I had to make room this week for several cool season seedlings I bought at a local garden center. I'm trying out cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kohlrabi. To fit them in my Fenton Community Garden plot, I had to yank out several rows of things that were long past needing to come out. They included:




I left the tomatoes in for now as they are still producing so much. My next thing to pull will be the potatoes and sweet potatoes. First though, I need to make pesto and figure out how to find space to store all these root vegetables!

How is your edible garden growing this week?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Native Spotlight: New York Ironweed

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw 
The tallest non-woody plant in my yard right now is New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis). These plants are a little outsized for my small yard, but I love their late summer color, and the bees love them too.

At one point I had almost decided they were unsuitable in my little landscape. But instead of taking them out, I adopted a strategy of whacking them back several times during the growing season. This seems to keep them in check, that is, closer to six feet rather than eight feet, without any effect on profuse blooming.

Still, by this time of year they begin to be top-heavy, and I start cutting off some of the stems, especially those going to seed, to lighten the load. This is a plant that wants full sun; those grown in slightly shadier conditions will be more prone to flopping, especially after heavy rain.

The Missouri Botanical Garden recommends cutting New York Ironweed back nearly to the ground in late spring to control height. I will try that strategy next year, and also be a little more vigilant about removing unwanted seedlings. These plants do have a tendency to spread themselves around! 

But these graceful giants are such a lovely feature at this time of year, I can’t believe I ever considered removing them from my landscape.

What native plants are blooming in your yard or nearby?

About the Author
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at

Video Wednesday: Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA

Here is a video I made of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA in September 2011. Yes, it was a bit chilly on top of the mountain that year. I hope many of you can join us at the 2014 festival this weekend!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Join Us at the Heritage Harvest Fest at Monticello next weekend!

I'm ecstastic that Washington Gardener Magazine will once again be the part of the 8th annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello this year. It is a celebration of gardening, sustainable agriculture, and local food, held on the breathtaking West Lawn of Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA. Taste heirloom fruits and vegetables and learn about organic gardening and seed-saving at this fun, family-friendly festival talking place Friday-Saturday, September 12-13, 2014.
We'll have a table in the Vendor Marketplace Tent all day Saturday where you can sign up for subscriptions or buy current and back issues. I'll also be talking on "Regionally Adapted Plants" on Friday at 4:30pm in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center. My talk is part of the premium workshop track and you must register separately for those. I urge you to do so soon at since they sold out last year in advance.

I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my friends and colleague there as well as participating in the old-fashioned Seed Swap on early Saturday morning. Here is a video I made of the swap in 2012:

I hope you will join me for all or part of the festival!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Fenton Friday: Melon Melody

The Minnesota Midget Melon I started from seed finally ripened last week in my Fenton Street community garden plot. This heirloom variety (introduced in 1948) is great for us procrastinators in zone 7 and for those with very short growing seasons in more northern zones. It  matures quickly at about the size of a softball as is the perfect size for a single-person household like mine.

I planted 3 seeds originally and let the two stronger vines grow; pinching out the smallest one. I ended up with only one vine that fruited and that had 3 melons on it. Two of those developed fully (see pictures here), but the third never made it past goose-egg-sized. The vine had succumbed to powdery mildew in our humid climate and so that one never had a chance. 

The flavor was pretty good. Not the best muskmelon I have ever had, but decent. I chalk part of that up to our summer this year being so unusually mild. I bet if we had our usually sultry heat that the flavors would have developed more.

How is your edible garden growing this week?