Category Archives: products

An Update on Bloom: DC’s Soil Conditioner for Gardeners and Landscapers

One 25 lb. bag of Bloom

In April 2017, I wrote about Bloom, a soil conditioner made from Class A biosolids. Biosolids are organic matter, recycled from sewage, which have been treated and processed in order to use as a soil conditioner. DC Water was producing Bloom in bulk and working with Blue Drop to promote and sell Bloom. Bloom provides essential nutrients to plants, increases organic content in the soil, and increases drought resistance in plants. At the time, DC Water provided “fresh” and “cured” in bulk. DC and MD residents could drive to the Blue Plains Advanced Water Treatment Plant in DC to load up their containers or truck or pay a delivery fee to have a truckload delivered to their home. Since then, I have seen bags at Homestead Gardens in Maryland that were small enough for me to lift and put in my car.

I contacted Blue Drop to see what has changed since my original article and sure enough, Bloom is now available in bags in some locations. You can purchase bags and bulk at Homestead Gardens in Maryland, bags at Annie’s Ace Hardware and at W.S. Jenks and Son in DC, and bulk at the Rock Stone and Sand Yard in Virginia. In addition, there are two new products: the “woody” blend which has 70 percent hardwood fines (in bulk) and “sand/sawdust” which has 3/7 Bloom, 2/7 sawdust, and 2/7 sand (in bulk).

Sand/sawdust blend on left; woody blend on right

“Anyone can come to the plant and pick up either blends,” said April Thompson, Director of Marketing at Blue Drop. “The blends and cured material are all great as soil amendment and can also be used to topdress lawns.”

Bloom is fertilizer and compost in one product. Bloom can be added when establishing turf and when planting and establishing a garden bed. Bloom also can be added to topsoil, used as a top dressing to an existing garden bed or lawn, or incorporated with a container potting medium.

Bloom is dark and crumbly

This weekend I put a 25 lb. bag of the cured type on a new garden bed of perennials that I had created in the spring. The consistency was like brownie mix–dark chocolate brown and crumbly. There was no odor. April sent me a small bag each of the woody blend and the sand/sawdust blend, which I placed side by side. The texture was great and again, no odor.

The Bloom website has a nutritional analysis of each product, videos, testimonials, research results, and information on bulk orders and local retail outlets. They even offer tours of the plant to show you how Bloom is made. They work with contractors, farmers, landscapers, and the home gardener. For more information visit the Bloom website or contact April Thompson at april@bluedrop.co.

Giveaway for October issue of Pegplant’s Post: Wild Valley Farms Wool Pellets

Enter your e-mail here to subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a free monthly newsletter about gardening in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Each issue lists 50 to 100 local gardening events, lectures, and workshops; recently published gardening books; and articles and tips specific to this immediate area. Each issue also features a giveaway and for the upcoming October 2019 issue we have collaborated with Wild Valley Farms to give away two 8 oz. bags of wool pellets. The wool pellets are compressed from all natural, 100% organic wool sheared from sheep at Wild Valley Farms in Salt Lake City, UT, and nearby ranchers. When the wool pellets are added to the soil, especially in containers and hanging baskets, the fibers naturally retain moisture and reduce the amount of time you have to water your containers. The expansion of wool pellets in the soil creates porosity, which aids in plant development. The wool also provides a natural source of nutrients: 9% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus, and 2% potassium. Only subscribers can enter the giveaway so sign up now for a chance to win two 8 oz. bags. Each is enough for 6 one-gallon pots or hanging baskets.

I met Albert Wilde, the owner, when I was in Salt Lake City a month ago. He explained that the idea came when his wife wanted to be able to spend less time watering her containers. As a sheep farmer, he looked around for what he could use on hand and added the waste wool (from shearing the sheep) to her containers’ soil. It worked but he began to notice that the plants actually grew better. He worked with local laboratories and discovered that the wool also delivers nutrients to the plants and increases porosity (like perlite). The plants can access the nutrients 30 days faster than other organic fertilizers. Wild Valley Farms also sells other products on their website, everything is made in the U.S.

Pegplant’s Post Giveaway: Bobbex Deer Repellent Spray

I am very excited about the giveaway for the January 2019 issue of Pegplant’s Post. Bobbex, a company known for effective deer repellent, has generously offered to ship one 48 oz. E-Z ready to use sprayer and one quart bottle of concentrated spray of their deer repellent, a $55 value. Their deer repellent was rated number 1 by an independent study conducted by the Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture. Environmentally friendly, the Bobbex deer repellent is a foliar spray that protects ornamental plantings, shrubs, and forest trees from browsing and feeding by deer, moose, and elk (we don’t have moose and elk in the DC metro area but we have plenty of deer). The spray is a blend of ingredients that are offensive to deer but harmless to humans and safe for wildlife. The Bobbex website has very useful information on how to recognize and deter deer, goose, rabbits, and small animal damage and offers a variety of repellent products.

This giveaway opportunity is for subscribers of Pegplant’s Post, an online, free newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Each issue provides at least 50 but up to 100 gardening events; newly published gardening books; local tips, advice, and articles; and a monthly giveaway contest.

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.

December Pegplant’s Post Giveaway: DRAMM garden apron and compact shear

I am very excited about the giveaway for the December 2018 issue of Pegplant’s Post. Sponsored by the DRAMM Corporation, the giveaway will be two items: a red ColorWear garden apron and a green ColorPoint compact shear (red and green for the holidays, get it?). DRAMM is a Wisconsin-based business that has produced well-known watering tools for over 75 years and has now expanded into gardening tools, fertilizers, and accessories.

The ColorPoint compact shear is perfect for cutting flowers, herbs, or bonsai. It has corrosion resistant, stainless steel blades and an ergonomic, non-slip handle for a comfortable grip.

The ColorWear garden apron protects clothing while holding tools, plants, or gloves. It is an ingenious three pocket design. The center pocket has side zippers enabling you to unzip the pocket and remove plant debris.

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

  • Monthly events. Plan your social life with gardening events in the area. Each issue has at least 50 events but depending on the season, there can more than 100 events, many of which are free.
  • New books. Stay abreast of gardening trends and practices with newly published books. Use this list for gift ideas.
  • 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 seasonal articles about plants, gardens, and resources from pegplant.com.

To be eligible for this giveaway subscribe now. Click here or visit pegplant.com and enter your e-mail address in the box above “subscribe!” on the right column. Click here to see a back issue. Pegplant’s Post is published on the last weekend of the month.

November Giveaway for Pegplant’s Post: Garden of Paradise Gloves

The giveaway for the November Pegplant’s Post is the Garden of Paradise Arm Saver Garden Gloves by Womanswork. A woman-owned family business, Womanswork sells gardening gloves that are made for women’s hands, plus related gardening accessories. The Garden of Paradise glove has an exclusive new print inspired by English cottage gardens. It has extra long cuffs to protect arms from scratches and bug bites and synthetic leather palms. Subscribers to Pegplant’s Post can enter the giveaway to win one pair of these gloves. Pegplant’s Post is a free, monthly newsletter for people who are interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe by entering an e-mail address at pegplant.com

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.

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.

 

Greenstreet Gardens Sets Up Shop in Belle Haven, Virginia

It’s no mirage–that is a tropical oasis on Richmond Highway. Residents of Belle Haven are noticing a pop of color now that Greenstreet Gardens has moved in.

Ray Greenstreet, owner of Greenstreet Gardens, is leasing the lot at 5905 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, Virginia, as an extension of the Greenstreet Gardens retail operation. Instead of building a new structure, Ray created an open air retail garden center featuring houseplants, perennials, annuals, containers, fertilizer, and gardening tools.

“This location just fell in our lap but it is a great opportunity,” said Ray. Despite the windfall, it took months to get the place into shape for the customers. “This was vacant for a long time, maybe 10 years,” said Ray. “Before we came, it was a VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) lot for the Wilson Bridge where they dumped gravel. We had to remove 5 dumpster loads of trash.”

Currently, the cash register is in an open shipping container. The products, from plants to fertilizers, are outside on racks or wooden benches. The fire hydrant on the sidewalk provides the water for the plants, most of which are in full sun.  Although Ray is working to have electricity, lighting is not an issue now with the long day length. Just the inventory alone, lush green foliage and eye-popping flowers, beautifies the neighborhood but Ray intends to enhance the location even more. “We intend to add trees to create a park-like setting,” said Ray. “In the fall we will sell chrysanthemums and pumpkins followed by Christmas trees.” After the holidays, the location will close in January and February and re-open in March.

I visited the corner lot last weekend. A large, tall display of tropical plants in containers marks the entrance to the parking lot, which is quite spacious. There was a wide variety of plants on benches and racks of new plants that had just been delivered. The plants were well watered and healthy and the employees were pleasant and helpful. Because this location is just south of the Beltway on Richmond Highway with plenty of traffic, stop lights, and median strips, I thought it would be difficult to access. It turned out to be easy to get in and out with no problems.  This new location truly provides a new source of greenery to residents on the northern end of Richmond Highway.

A native Marylander, Ray and his wife Stacy started Greenstreet Growers, a greenhouse operation in Lothian, Maryland, in 2000. They then ventured into retail and opened Greenstreet Gardens on 14 acres of their 65-acre farm in Lothian. In 2012, they expanded into Virginia and opened a retail store at 1721 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, which is thriving. Later they opened a smaller store in Del Ray, now closed. The Belle Haven location is the third Virginia location and is open every day of the week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. If you are ever in the area, stop by and say hello to our new neighbors!

 

Gardening-Related Media in the Washington DC Metro Area

I updated my page on local gardening media in the Washington DC metro area on my website, pegplant.com. This is traditional, not social, media. If you are new to the area or new to gardening check out the gardening columns in the Washington Post, the gardening shows on television and radio, two magazines, and my newsletter, Pegplant’s Post.

Discovering New Gardening Products at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

As mentioned in my January 14th article, last week I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), an annual horticulture trade show at the Baltimore Convention Center.  MANTS is one of the largest shows with over 10,000 attendees and almost a thousand companies exhibiting at booths in the Convention Center. Almost all the companies are wholesale, they are not selling directly to customers or to press such as myself. However, I enjoy attending because it provides me a glimpse of new products and plants and trends in the gardening world.

There were a few products that caught my eye and although the companies attended MANTS for wholesale orders, these companies below said they sell directly to gardeners through their websites.

Through a fellow Garden Writers Association member Ruth Rogers Clausen, I met Dorian Winslow, president of Womanswork, a women-owned, family business in New York.  Womanswork specializes in gloves that fit well for women (although they also sell gloves for men), gardening aprons, raffia and cotton hats, gardening tools, and related items such as hand cream and poison ivy soap. This company sells to garden centers and online directly to gardeners. For over 30 years, they have been specializing in gloves designed to fit women’s hands. Ruth attested to that, she has been using the products for so many years, she is even featured in their catalog. Not only was Dorian a delightful person to talk with but I also found out that she was interviewed recently by one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Jewell of Cultivating Place.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Mark Highland again, owner of Organic Mechanics Soil Company, a manufacturer and distributor of premier organic and peat-free potting soils and soil amendments in Pennsylvania. Gardeners can buy products from the site or search the retailer locator for stores. Mark gave a presentation at the Garden Bloggers Fling in June and generously gave us samples of Fuhgeddaboudit! Root Zone Feeder Packs. These small packages of fertilizer, mycorrhizae, biochar, azomite, and micronized oyster shell are placed under or next to a plant’s root ball when planting to help the plant get established. At MANTS, he gave a presentation on Biochar Blend, a bag of biochar, compost, worm castings, bone char, azomite, zeolite, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. Biochar is highly porous carbon that improves nutrition absorption and provides a permanent home for beneficial soil biology. Biochar can help boost yields and increase the effectiveness of plants’ growth — the best part is that it only has be applied once and will last a lifetime. Mark also published Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally (Cool Springs Press, 2017).

One company that was new to me was City Farmer USA, based in Nevada. Bruce Lebish, president, explained that his company sells raised, plastic planters that gardeners could order directly from their website. They have to be assembled (the instructions on their website look simple) and the models they had at MANTS were black with a strong oriental/bamboo texture because of their woven sides. 

Apparently this woven side is a patented ventilation design that promotes healthy root systems and the patented base retain water. The basket (where you put the soil and plants) is either 16 inches high from the ground or 30 inches, eliminating the need to bend down (may also be wheelchair friendly). There are different sizes and if you buy a few configurations and line them up they would create a very beautiful container appearance on a deck or patio.

More new products and plants in future articles!