Giveaway for October Pegplant’s Post: CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator

Here is a great giveaway for the October issue of Pegplant’s Post: the CobraHead Original Weeder and Cultivator. The CobraHead has a very sharp blade that cuts through our clay soil, creates furrows for planting seeds and transplants, slices out weeds, and rakes up debris. The narrow blade, made from forged temperate steel, is able to get in between and under your flowers and veggies. The ergonomically designed curve shaped handle is made of recycled plastic composite and is comfortable for either right or left handed gardeners. Made in Wisconsin, the CobraHead is a multi-functional, lightweight tool built to last a lifetime. The CobraHead company also sells a mini version of this tool and other useful gardening products.

This giveaway opportunity is for subscribers of Pegplant’s Post, a free, online newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC metro area. Each issue provides:

  • Monthly events. Plan your social life with local gardening events. Each issue will have at least 50 events. Depending on the season, there can be more than 100 events, many of which are free.
  • New books. Stay abreast of gardening trends and practices with recently published books. Use this list for birthday and holiday gift ideas.
  • Tips and advice. Learn timely tips and advice relevant to our area and the current gardening season.
  • Giveaways. Enter the monthly giveaway contest to win items such as seed packets, books, tools, and plants.
  • Articles from pegplant.com. Catch up with articles from my website, pegplant.com, about plants, gardens, and resources.

To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter your e-mail address in the box above “subscribe!” on the right column. Pegplant’s Post will be issued on the last weekend of the month.

National Indoor Plant Week: Snake Plant

Snake plants vary in stripes, color and leaf shape.

This is the last day of National Indoor Plant Week. To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, I published an article each day on low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. I also collaborated with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Snake plants provide a strong vertical accent.

Today, Day 5, is about the snake plant, Sansevieria. The snake plant has one to 1 1/2 feet long, sword-shaped leaves, which usually are a mottled green, with yellow, gray or silver margins. There are varieties with more yellow or silver coloring in the leaves. For a new take on snake plant, look for Bantel’s Sensation, which has narrower leaves with white vertical strips or the cylinder snake plant with very narrow, cylindrical leaves. All are low light level, low humidity plants where the soil is kept barely most. Fertilize once a year.

To learn more low light, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home, see Day 4, pothos; Day 3, Chinese evergreen; Day 2, Arrowhead, and Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Pothos

This particular variety of pothos is called Marble Queen.

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Neon pothos has yellow leaves.

Today, Day 4, is about the devil’s ivy or golden pothos, Scindapsus. The heart-shaped leaves are variegated green and yellow or green and white with a waxy sheen. In the tropics, this is a vine so indoors it has a trailing or cascading effect. Take advantage of the roaming nature by putting on top of office credenzas or kitchen cabinets. Or cut the stems back to keep a round shape in a planter. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. However, this plant roots very easily in water and can be grown in a vase of water for a period of time. Fertilize once a year.

To learn about previous plants, click on Day 3, Chinese evergreen; Day 2, arrowhead, and Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen plant with white and green stripes

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Chinese evergreen plant with more pronounced silver bands

Today, Day 3, is about the Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema. Plants have large, wide leaves with variegated green and cream or green and silver coloring. There is a new variety called red aglaonema with red, pink, and green leaves. The plant has an upright appearance and grows from a foot to two feet. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. Fertilize once a year.

Click here for Day 2, the arrowhead, and for Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead plant with a blush of pink in the center of the leaf

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Today, Day 2, is about the arrowhead plant. Like the name suggests, arrowhead plant, Syngonium, has arrow-shaped leaves. The leaves usually are white and green but there are gold and green varieties and varieties with a blush of pink.  As the plant matures the leaf shape and color changes so that mature leaves can be all green. To keep the variegation, just cut off older leaves. The plant grows to about one foot tall. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. Fertilize once a year.

Baby arrowheads are often available for small containers or terrariums

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant (see Day 1 for a description), subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Low Light, Low Maintenance Plants

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Today, Day 1, is about the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which has distinctive foliage. The pinnate leaves are about a foot long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets, about 3 to 6 inches long. They are spaced in such a manner they look like a ladder. The dark green leaves are so glossy they look like they have been polished. Although ZZ plants are not grown for flowers, they do bloom at the base of the plant with peace lily type flowers. The plant can grow to a few feet tall, does well in low humidity, low light, and low soil moisture, and is pest resistant. The roots are actually swollen rhizomes, which means the plant can tolerate very dry conditions. Water when the soil dries out and use a general purpose houseplant fertilizer once a year.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

American Heritage: Native Paw Paw Trees

Paw paw flowers in the spring

It’s paw paw season! Paw paws (Asimina triloba) are native trees that bear fruit in August, September, and October. Fruit of cultivated trees look very similar to mangos—green, kidney-shaped, and about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. They have a variety of common names such as Indiana banana, poor man’s banana, and bandango. When cut in half, the interior reveals a yellow, custard-like pulp with two rows of large seeds. Paw paws can weigh from ½ to 1 pound. Technically a berry, they are the largest North American edible fruit. Paw paws taste like a cross between a banana and a mango with a splash of pineapple. They can be eaten raw or used in ice cream, pudding, smoothies, butter (such as apple butter), baked goods like cookies and pies, and even beer, brandy, and wine!

From Florida to Texas, north to New York, and west to Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, paw paws are native to 26 states and grow as understory trees in hardwood forests near streams and rivers. In the wild, the trees grow to 15 to 30 feet and sucker, creating colonies. Reminiscent of cucumber magnolias, they have foot-long, dark green leaves. Unlike other fruit trees, paw paw trees are not subject to a high level of pests and diseases.

Paw Paws in American History and Folklore

Paw paw trees are part of American history and folklore. Jamestown colonists wrote about them in the 1600s. John Lawson, an Englishman, described them in his travels in the Carolinas in the 1700s. Danielle Boone enjoyed eating them. Members of the Lewis and Clark expedition ate paw paws for pleasure as well as sustenance. George Washington grew paw paw trees at Mount Vernon and ate the fruit as dessert. Thomas Jefferson grew them and sent seeds to his colleagues in Europe.  William Bartram, a naturalist, described the trees in Bartram’s Travels. His father, John Bartram, a botanist, sent seeds to Europe. During the Civil War, soldiers as well as African American slaves collected the fruit in the wild to supplement their meager diets. There is even a popular folk song called “Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch” about collecting ripe paws paws from the ground and putting them in a basket.

Paw paw fruit develop in clusters

Finding Paw Paw Trees and Fruit

Currently, Washington DC residents can see paw paw trees in the wild along the C&O Canal and Potomac River and as native plant representatives in public gardens. There are paw paw trees at the Smithsonian Pollinator Garden, next to the National Museum of Natural History, and at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s newly renovated Bartholdi Park and their National Garden’s Regional Garden of Mid-Atlantic Native Plants. 

Although paw paws are part of American heritage, you may not find them in grocery stores. When the fruit is ripe enough to eat, it drops to the ground and is highly perishable. The thin skin bruises easily, discoloring to black. Paw paws are best eaten immediately or preserved by removing and freezing the pulp. You may find them at local farmers markets in peak season and you will definitely find them at paw paw events across the country in the fall.

Growing Paw Paws in the Home Landscape

Paw paw fruits can be eaten raw

“There is a paw paw renaissance now,” said Michael Judd, owner of Ecologia, an edible and ecological landscaping service in Frederick, MD. Author of Edible Landscape with a Permaculture Twist, Michael currently is writing a book about paw paws and hosts an annual paw paw festival that will be on September 22 this year at LongCreek Homestead. “I call the paw paw an edible landscape all-stars because the tree is very attractive, low maintenance, and very fruitful.”

As native, hardy trees, paw paws can be grown in typical suburban plots. “Paw paws grow easily here,” said Michael. “This is paw paw country.” Although they are not self-fertile, that is, there must be two trees to cross pollinate to produce fruit, one can trim the trees to fit in residential properties. Michael recommends growing the trees in full sun, 10 to 12 feet apart, and cutting the central leader back to keep the trees at 8 feet. This shorten stature also makes them easier to harvest the fruit. Therefore, homeowners could have two 8-f00t trees in the yard producing 50 pounds of fruit each year. If full sun is not possible, they can grow in part shade but will produce less fruit.

Paw paw trees have a pyramidal shape

Michael recommends purchasing either a grafted tree, a select seedling, or a specific cultivar. Starting from seed takes years to produce fruit. Also starting from a wild paw paw seed will result in less than desirable fruit. The taste of wild paw paws varies plus the fruit is small with a poor pulp to seed ratio.  Breeders spend years selecting desirable characteristics such as large fruit, a high pulp to seed ratio (more pulp, less seed), and good flavor.

You can’t go wrong planting paw paws. They are native, deer resistant trees that provide fruit and pretty yellow fall color. “Paw paw trees are very ornamental, they have a beautiful pyramidal shape,” explained Michael. “The leaves turn to a beautiful yellow golden color in the fall and when the leaves drop they reveal a tree with nice architecture in the winter.”

All photos taken by Michael Judd.

What’s That in the Tree? Fall Webworm

August turns up all kinds of pests and disease in the garden. You may be noticing large webs across the terminal branches of your trees now, similar to stretched pantyhose. Look closely and you will see small caterpillars inside, each marked with parallel rows of black spots on the back. The fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) is very noticeable now but at this stage, the caterpillars stay in the web and feed inside on the leaves. The web is unsightly but their feeding will not kill the tree. However, this would be a good time to cut the branches and bag the webs, caterpillars and all. Close up the bags tightly and dispose of in the trash. Later, after the last molt, they leave the web and crawl all over the tree. Then they spin cocoons, pupate, and emerge as white moths. If you are not able to bag the web don’t despair, there are many natural enemies of the fall webworm. Another tactic is to spray the first generation in the spring with horticultural oil, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), or insecticidal soap before they create the web. Don’t try to burn them out though, it is too dangerous to the tree. For more information on plant pests and diseases, check out the Plant Pests and Diseases tab on pegplant.com.

Pegplant’s Post Giveaway: Botanical Interests Seed Sprouter and Seed Sampler

I am so excited about the giveaway for the September issue of Pegplant’s Post. Botanical Interests, a Colorado-based seed company with a fantastic catalog, has graciously offered to send to one winner two products: their signature Seed Sprouter with instruction booklet (valued at $24.95) and the Sprouts Sampler (valued at $28.50). The Seed Sprouter is an easy way to grow sprouts indoors for salads, sandwiches, and stir fry. The Sprouts Sampler is a collection of 6 seed packets: alfalfa, broccoli, fenugreek, mung bean, radish, and sandwich seeds. These are organic seeds especially selected for their delicious sprouts, in a drawstring bag.

This giveaway opportunity is for subscribers of Pegplant’s Post, an online, free newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC area. Each issue provides:

  • Monthly events. Plan your social life with gardening events in the NoVA, MD, DC area. Depending on the season, there can be over 100 events, many of which are free.
  • New books. Stay abreast of gardening trends and practices with newly published books. Use this list for ideas of gifts to buy for birthdays and holidays.
  • Tips and advice. Learn timely tips and advice relevant to the current gardening season in our area.
  • Giveaways. Enter the monthly giveaway contest to win items such as seed packets, books, tools, and plants.
  • Articles from pegplant.com. Catch up with articles from my website, pegplant.com, about plants, gardens, and resources.

To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter your e-mail address in the box above “subscribe!” on the right column. Pegplant’s Post will be issued on the last weekend of the month.

 

Mid-Summer Review of Edibles in my Virginia Garden

August has a way of revealing what is truly successful in my Virginia garden. If the plant can make it through this hot, humid summer, it is a winner in my book. Here are my winners for edibles this summer (click here for my previous article on successful flowers).

Prettiest Vegetable in the Garden

Burpee’s Confetti pepper has green and white foliage

This year, the Burpee Confetti pepper wins the award for prettiest vegetable in my garden. The white and green foliage make this sweet pepper stand out as an ornamental. My plants are about 2 feet high and do not need staking. Although my plants are in the ground, I would recommend Confetti as a container plant because the foliage is so ornamental and the peppers are small enough but colorful. The 2-inch peppers change from green to cream to red. Combined with other edibles and annuals, Confetti could serve as the “thriller” in a container on the deck. Confetti is a snacking pepper, I can eat the entire pepper or slice it for the skillet. Try Confetti next year, you will be surprised at how well it grows and how good it looks and taste.

Most Prolific Vegetable in the Garden

Burpee’s Shimmer tomato plant keeps on producing

I always grow a variety of tomatoes and this year Burpee’s Shimmer wins the award for most prolific tomato plant. Shimmer is an almond-shaped tomato with streaks of green, only about 1 1/2 inches long and 1-inch wide. Shimmer is a plum tomato, a type of paste tomato that is “meaty.” This particular cultivar is sweet too. In my family, we eat them as snacks–you can pop the entire tomato in your mouth–or cut up in green salads. My plants are about 4 feet tall and staked. They produce so much fruit I have to give them away to friends and colleagues. According to the Burpee website, one plant produces 300 to 350 fruit in a season and I believe it! The fruit are in clusters like grapes so it is easier to cut the cluster off, eat the ripe ones and let the unripe ones mature indoors.

Best New Introduction in the Garden

Another prolific plant this year has been the new Proven Winners Amazel basil. Amazel has two features: it is resistant to downy mildew and it is seed sterile. Downy mildew is a fungal disease that destroys the sweet basil plants, making them inedible. There is no cure and once infected the plant has to be removed and destroyed. My plant is quite large, about 2 feet tall and a foot wide. My other sweet basils are small but I have already cut them back for pesto. I have used some leaves in the kitchen but I have not cut the Amazel back yet because I wanted to see how it would perform during these hot, humid days. This is mid-August and I have not detected any disease.

Proven Winners’ Amazel basil is resistant to downy mildew

Unlike other basils which have the sole purpose of flowering and setting seed to ensure survival of the species, Amazel is seed sterile so it does not put its energy into flowering and setting seed. This results in more leaves for a longer time. It actually can flower but will still keep on producing tasty leaves. I highly recommend this basil for both flavor and appearance. The plant is actually quite lush and could be effective as a “thriller” in a large container, surrounded by other herbs or edible flowers.

Most Unusual Edible in the Garden

A few years ago I tried growing roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The plant grew well in large containers but did not flower until very late in the season. Because it bloomed late, only a few of the red fat calyxes could be harvested and then, as a tender perennial, it died in the winter. The plant is about 3 to 4 feet tall and the yellow flowers are about 3-inches wide and look like okra flowers. After the flowers mature, they become enveloped by a large, red, fleshy calyxes. This is ornamental in itself but they are harvested for making tea (the prime ingredient in Red Zinger), jams, jellies, and candy.

Large red calyxes of Thai Red roselle are brewed to make herbal tea

This summer, I planted a variety called Thai Red from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. What a difference! These plants bloom much earlier, in the beginning of the summer, resulting in many calyxes.  Now, mid-August, I have so many I have to start harvesting and drying them. I use them to make an herbal tea. I have read that they serve as a cranberry substitute so this year I will try using them in scones. Using the Thai Red variety really makes a difference. The plant is not common but it is easy to grow from seed. Next spring, purchase a pack of seed from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and grow it like a hibiscus plant, full sun, rich soil, plenty of water. Roselle is a great ornamental herb that stands out in a large container or can be grown in the ground.