Peg’s Picks: August Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

Peg’s Picks of Edible Gardening Events, August 2015

1, Saturday, University of Maryland Extension’s Grow It Eat It Open House, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm, Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. Free but must register for some classes, check their brochure. http://extension.umd.edu/growit/montgomery-county-vegetable-gardening-classes-and-events

1, Saturday 11:00 am and Sunday August 2, 11:00 am. “Your Edible Garden: Harvesting, Storing, and a New Seed Season”, lecture by Carol Allen. Also, on Saturday, August 15, 11:00 am and Sunday, August 16, 11:00 am, “Cannin’ and Jammin’” with Carol Allen. Free but registration required. Behnke Nurseries, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD, (301) 937-1100. http://behnkes.com

8, Saturday, 9:00 to noon, “Saturdays in the Garden: What’s that Weed?” hosted by The Master Gardeners of Prince William County, at the teaching garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA, free but must register, (703) 792-7747. http://www.mgpw.org

Arlington Central Library hosts the “Garden Talks” series of free presentations every Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 pm starting mid-March through end of October. The website lists the topics and provides gardening resources for gardeners in the area.1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks/

  • 5: Vegetables for the Fall
  • 12: Composting: Why and How
  • 19: Food Preservation: Canning, Drying, and Freezing
  • 26: Tours of Central Library Garden

8, Saturday, 2:00 to 3:30 pm, Legumes: Life with Special Roots, lecture by Todd Brethauer, USBG Science Education Volunteer, U.S. Botanic Garden’s Conservatory Classroom, free; must register. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington DC (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

25, Tuesday, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Extending the Harvest: Fall and Winter Crops. Also on Saturday 8/29, 10:30 am to noon, Fairlington Community Center, 3801 S. Stafford Street, Arlington, VA. sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, free but registration required. Call (703) 228-6414; e-mail mgarlalex@gmail.comhttp://www.mgnv.org

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation is offering over 50 free garden workshops from May through September, taught by the leaders of DC’s urban garden movement. Each class is 2 hours long, on Monday or Wednesday evening, and there are various Saturday field trips. Free but must register online. For a full list of classes and locations, check out http://dpr.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dpr/publication/attachments/SummerGardenWorkshopSeries2015.pdf. For further questions, contact the DPR community garden specialist, Joshua Singer, e-mail: Joshua.singer@dc.gov. Here is a sample of August topics:

  • Urban Garden Seed Saving
  • Improving Urban Soils with Biosolids
  • Cover Crops for Gardens
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Backyard Gardens including Rain Barrel Installation Demonstration

In My Virginian Garden: A July Update

I have not posted in a while partly because the garden is in full swing, I am so busy harvesting, and partly because we have been making changes here at the homestead that necessitate me being outside instead of inside at the computer. We had a few trees thinned and one chopped down entirely which has increased the sunlight, putting a few plants in shock, but great for some other plants that needed extra sun. I am now able to extend my front garden where the old crab apple tree was, which will be a fall project. We also had the deck power washed which traumatized the container plants that had to be put out on the lawn for now, including the tomatoes in the earthboxes, and greatly moved the soil around many plants. So I have spent much time moving, tending, nursing, and healing the garden but in the end I will have more light (always needed for edibles) and more garden beds.

Black Beauty Eggplant Flower

Black Beauty Eggplant Flower

So far, I have had great success with melons, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and the herbs of course. The puzzler of the year are the eggplants, which I grew successfully last year in a different place but this year, no fruit. Lots of flowers, and everything else nearby is flowering and fruiting, but no eggplant. I read that they are self fertile and I should brush the flowers with a paintbrush, which I just started to do, but still nothing. These are Black Beauty eggplants so maybe next year I will try a different type. I have about six plants among basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and squash, with plenty of bees,  and they are the only plants that do not bear fruit.

On the bright side, I am enjoying the Burpee celery plant,’Peppermint Stick’. I would have never grown a celery plant unless Burpee sent it to me but it has turned out to be really easy to grow and very tasty, much more so than what you get in a store. The stalks are more pungent and the leaves are so big they could be used to garnish as well. I am sold, will grow celery from now on!

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in ground

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in ground

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in bowl

Burpee Peppermint Stick celery in bowl

Another success is Renee’s Garden’s Gourmet Tuscan Melon plant. These I started from seed and grew in the large Smart Pots so they could get pampered with the richest soil and plenty of water. I have several melons so far. I have not eaten them yet but just having them is a success for me. We have been fortunate to have had quite a lot of rain in the early summer which I think is responsible for so many melons — it certainly has given me a bumper crop of cucumbers.

Renee's Garden's Gourmet Tuscan Melon

Renee’s Garden’s Gourmet Tuscan Melon

Another surprise was the Jericho lettuce, also from Renee’s Garden. It was partly shaded by a tree limb, which we cut down and since the sunlight has increased, these lettuce plants have been growing and doing well. Lettuce in July is a rare treat, will harvest these soon!

For fun, I planted Proven Winners’ Superbells calibrachoa ‘Holy Moly’, which is a flowering annual, in a large container with Burpee’s ‘Sweet Savour’ pepper. I really like the combination: Holy Moly lends itself to yellows, red and oranges but also plays off blue because it can been seen as an orange color (at first I could not decide if the container should be red, green, or blue). In early summer, the Sweet Savour peppers were yellow, but now at the end of July, the peppers have turned red and orange. They are small, perfect for a container, and although look like hot peppers are actually sweet.

Close Up of Proven Winners' Holy Moly

Close Up of Proven Winners’ Holy Moly

Burpee's Sweet Savour peppers in late July

Burpee’s Sweet Savour peppers in late July

Peg’s Picks: July Edible Gardening Events in Washington DC Metro Area

In addition to my pick of edible gardening events below, remember that July is National Park and Recreation Month so check local parks to see if they have demonstration gardens, classes, and tours related to gardening.

11, Saturday, 9 to noon, Composting and Starting the Fall Vegetable Garden. Hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Prince William County Master Gardeners as part of their “Saturdays in the Garden” series. Teaching Garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Free but must register in advance, (703) 792-7747 or e-mail master_gardener@pwcgov.org. http://www.pwcgov.org/grow

25, Saturday, 10 to 11:30 am., Low Tunnels and Winter Gardening, Course #316453, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. Must register, fee involved; (301) 962-1451.
http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside/

25 and 26, Saturday and Sunday, The Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale, most farms will be open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm both days. A map and brochure are on the site below.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/AgServices/agfarmtour.html

The Arlington Central Library hosts the “Garden Talks” series of free, one-hour presentations every Wednesday evening from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm starting in mid-March through the end of October. The web site lists the topics and also serves as a resource for gardening in the area.
1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA; (703) 228-5990.
http://library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks/

July 1: Top Ten Vegetable Plant Diseases: Rot Not!
July 8: Solar Cooking
July 15: Foraging the Wild Edibles
July 22: Lasagna Gardens – the Layered Approach
July 29: Preparing Your Entry for Arlington County Fair

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation is offering over 50 free garden workshops from May through September, taught by the leaders of DC’s urban garden movement. Each class is 2 hours long, on Monday or Wednesday evening, and there are various Saturday field trips. Free but must register online at http://dcdpr.asapconnected.com. For a full list of classes and locations, check out http://dpr.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dpr/publication/attachments/SummerGardenWorkshopSeries2015.pdf

For further questions, contact the DPR community garden specialist, Joshua Singer, e-mail: Joshua.singer@dc.gov. Here is a sample of July topics:
• Starting Seeds, Propagating and Grafting at Home
• Intro to Urban Bee Keeping
• Fall Asian Vegetables from the Garden
• Dealing with Deer and Other Mammal Pests in Your Garden
• Soil Biology

Look ahead: August 1, Saturday, University of Maryland Extension’s Grow It Eat It Open House, 8:30 to 1:00 pm, Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. Free but must register for some classes, check out their brochure.
http://extension.umd.edu/growit/montgomery-county-vegetable-gardening-classes-and-events

Free Master Gardeners Plant Clinics to Help You With Your Garden

Tomato hornworm, plucked off plant

Tomato hornworm, plucked off plant

School is out, summer is here and the garden is in full swing. Now is the time for gardening questions — what is that bug, why does my tomato look like that, and what should I do about my zucchini! Fortunately for us, the Fairfax County Master Gardeners offer free advice on caring for our gardens. They provide gardening fact sheets, soil test kits, and help us to identify bugs, insects, diseased plants, and assorted problems. It is always best to actually bring a sample of the diseased plant or the bug in a jar to show the Master Gardeners but if not, just talk with them at their plant clinics, no appointment necessary. The Master Gardeners staff plant clinics at the Fairfax County Farmers Markets, several Fairfax County libraries, Green Spring, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension office at the Fairfax County Government Center. Plant clinics at the farmers markets and libraries are open May through September 2015.

Farmers Markets

See the link below for street addresses. Note the times below are for the plant clinics, not necessarily for the rest of the market time; http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets

  • Annandale, Thursday, 9 am to noon
  • Burke, Saturday, 8 am to 11 am
  • Fairfax County Government Center FM, Thursday, 3 to 6 pm
  • Fall Church City, Saturday, 9 am to noon
  • Herndon, Thursday, 9 am to noon
  • Kingstowne, Friday, 4 to 7 pm
  • Lorton, Sunday, 9 to noon
  • Mclean, Friday, 9 to noon
  • Mt. Vernon, Wednesday, 9 to noon
  • Vienna, Saturday, 9 to noon
  • Wakefield, Wednesday, 2 to 5 pm
  • Reston, Saturday, 9 to noon

Libraries

  • Chantilly, Saturday, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
  • Fairfax Regional, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Kings Park, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Oakton, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Richard Byrd, Tuesday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Tysons-Pimmit, Saturday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Other Locations

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’

Amethyst in Snow (2)It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! An interesting perennial to grow for spring flowers is Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’. This member of the aster family is very easy to grow, tolerates poor soil, dry times, and full sun or partial shade. From April to June, I can cut the flowers and bring them to work where colleagues gasp, “ooh, aah!” (just kidding, but they do garner attention). The 2-inch flowers have a spiky, thistle-like appearance; purple centers are surrounded by white petals, like spokes on a wagon wheel. The species, often called mountain bluet, produces solid blue flowers while Amethyst in Snow is the first bicolor cultivar and the contrast between purple and white is striking.

Amethyst in Snow

My plants are five years old and so far, no problems despite full sun and poor soil. Over time they have spread enough that I can share divisions with friends or plant in other places in the garden. Hardy to zone 3, the plants are about a foot tall and you can tell by the silvery, woolly leaves that they are drought resistant; their leaves will not lose moisture fast. The butterflies love the flowers and supposedly the deer are not interested but in my Northern Virginia garden I don’t have enough deer to know if this is true or not. Grow Amethyst in Snow for a drought-tolerant, spring blooming, cut flower perennial.

Beans: Easier than Radishes for Encouraging Kids to Garden

bush beans (2)People recommend radishes for encouraging kids to garden but I say BEANS! Beans germinate quickly; are easy to grow; are more visible; are sweeter; and the leaves are not as prickly as radishes. I grow pole beans in the ground and bush beans in containers on the deck and my kids love to pick them as a snack and for dinner.

This year, I am growing ‘Rolande’ bush beans from Renee’s Garden. Bush beans make a pretty “deck” plant, as long as the container has drainage holes, is large enough (mine are 12 inches wide and tall), and is in full sun. Although bush beans do not have to be staked like pole beans, I put a short stick in mine to lift the plant up to better find the beans. This particular type is called “filet” or “haricot vert.” The beans will grow to be very thin, no thicker than a pencil, and about 6 inches long. Because they are thin, they cook quickly. I grew mine from seed indoors in early May but I could have started them outdoors after the last average frost (mid-May in Northern Virginia). By the end of May, when I was sure that night time temperatures were staying in the mid-fifties, I transferred one seedling to one container which had been supplemented with granular vegetable fertilizer. The plant in this photo is quite lush, but it will put all its energy into producing beans quickly (I can already see beans) over a short period of time and then exhaust itself.bush beans in container

My pole beans will produce beans later in the summer, but over a longer period of time. They are a little more work in that I have make sure their tendrils climb up a pole (until they figure it out on their own) and I have to harvest for a longer period of time. Beans should be harvested often, sometimes as often as every other day, in order to encourage more beans. I am growing Renee’s Garden’s ‘Emerite.’ ‘Emerite’ is a filet type, just as thin as ‘Rolande’, but longer, about 7 to 8 inches.  I have learned early on to keep it simple when it comes to beans. I don’t mix varieties in one place; I grow one type in one location so I know when to harvest that particular bean. With the filet type, I harvest when the beans are thin, so I know not to wait for them to “fatten up.”bush beans Fresh beans can be eaten raw or sautéed or steamed with herbs such a parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, tarragon, or dill. Garlic or onion is good as well as sliced almonds.

 

You Can Grow That: Hardy Geranium ‘Biokovo’

Biokovo

Early May Biokovo blossoms in my garden

Because June is Perennial Gardening Month, this month’s You Can Grow That plant on my web site is Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’ A hardy geranium, Biokovo has thrived in my Northern Virginia garden for 10 years. In April and May, the small, white/pink flowers, reminiscent of apple flowers, appear but what gives them away as hardy geraniums are the unusually long, pink stamens. Eventually, these flowers will create an elongated seed pod, similar to a crane’s bill, hence the common name, cranesbills.

Spreading by underground stems called rhizomes, these plants are easy to divide and give to friends or plant elsewhere in the garden. If given optimum conditions such as good soil and partial sun, they may spread but mine are in poor soil and full sun which tends to limit growth. After they bloom in the spring, the green leaves are low enough to serve as a groundcover or border plant. In the fall, the leaves turn red/bronze and most remain during the winter months. I like the fact that the leaves remain above ground over winter so you don’t have as much of a bare spot in the garden. By winter, the leaves are red and very low to the ground. In early March, as new green leaves appear; the plant puffs up a bit, giving it volume and height so the spring flowers appear about 6 to 8 inches above ground.

Biokovo (2)

reddish Biokovo leaves in March in my garden

 

Biokovo is the 2015 Perennial Plant of the Year, sponsored by the Perennial Plant Association (PPA). The PPA will be hosting its 33rd Symposium in Baltimore on July 27 to August 1, open to members of PPA as well as non-members.  Because Biokovo is the 2015 Perennial Plant of the year, the PPA website has more information on Biokovo and is selling T-shirts with pictures of the plant.

Click on “You Can Grow That!” for more gardening related posts. You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Gardeners usually post articles on their blog on the fourth day of the month.

Youcangrowthat