Now That You Have Seeds, Order Bulbs for Summer Blooms!

Many gardeners focus on obtaining seed in the spring to start their garden. Now that summer is around the corner, don’t forget to order summer-blooming bulbs such as alliums, cannas, crinums, dahlias, lilies, gladiolus, and iris. For interesting foliage, try caladiums, colocasias, and alocasias. Below is a list of companies that sell bulbs in alphabetical order. For other companies that primarily sell seeds and may also sell bulbs, click on the “Seed Companies” tab on pegplant.com. Continue reading

Twenty Tomato Tips for the Washington DC Metro Area

Here are twenty tips for growing tomatoes successfully in the Washington DC metro area. Continue reading

Today is Sweet Potato Day

Sweet potato

Today, Monday, April 6, is sweet potato day. I find this odd because here in Virginia, one does not plant or harvest sweet potatoes at this time. So I did some digging (no pun intended) and discovered the origins of the date. Continue reading

Perennial Herbs for the Garden

I love being able to step out into the garden and snip fresh herbs whenever I need them. Yesterday, I was making ham and bean stew in the crockpot. I was inspired to add thyme so I cut off a few sprigs from the thyme growing in the front of the house. I looked around and snipped even more herbs: cutting celery, oregano, sage and rosemary. Continue reading

Local Gardening Books for the DC Metro Area

In the upcoming weeks there will be two new books related to gardening and gardens in this area, which are listed below. Because of this, I updated my page on my website entitled “Local Books.” Below is the same list, in chronological order, with the most recently published listed first up to the year 2000. These are about local public gardens as well as gardening in the DC metro area.

A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood by Kate Markert and Erik Kvalsvik, Rizzoli Electa, 2020

Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia by Ira Wallace, Timber Press, 2020

All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses: How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America by Marta McDowell, Timber Press, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Gardeners Handbook: Your Complete Guide: Select, Plan, Plant, Maintain, Problem Solve by Katie Elzer-Peters, Cool Springs Press, 2016

Gardens of Georgetown: Exploring Urban Treasures, text by Edith Nalle Schafer; photos by Jenny Gorman, Georgetown Garden Club, 2015

Maryland’s Public Gardens and Parks by Barbara Glickman, Schiffer Publishers, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Month-by-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year by George Weigel, Cool Springs Press, 2015

Chesapeake Gardening and Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide by Barbara W. Ellis; photographs by Neil Soderstrom, University of North Carolina Press in association with the Adkins Arboretum, 2015

Maymont: An American Estate (Richmond, VA) by Dale Cyrus Wheary, Scala Arts Publishers in association with the Maymont Foundation, 2015

Mid-Atlantic: Getting Started Garden Guide: Grow the Best Flowers, Shrubs, Trees, Vines and Groundcovers by Andre Viette, Mark Viette, and Jacqueline Heriteau, Cool Springs Press, 2015

The General in the Garden: George Washington’s Landscape at Mt. Vernon by Susan P. Schoelwer, editor, Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association, 2015

Native Plants for Northern Virginia by the Virginia Native Plant Society, available via Plant NoVA Natives and in its third edition, 2015

Great Perennial Plants, Vines, and Bulbs Guide for the Mid-Atlantic Garden by Donna Williamson, self-published, electronic and available via Amazon, 2014

The Mid-Atlantic Garden: An Insider’s Guide to a Successful Lower Maintenance Garden by Donna Williamson, self-published, electronic and available via Amazon, 2014

Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello by Peter J. Hatch, Yale University Press, 2014

Take Our Advice: A Handbook for Gardening in Northern Virginia by Margaret Fisher, Student Peace Awards of Fairfax, 2014

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace, Timber Press, 2013

Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Harvest the Best Edibles: DE, MD, PA, VA, DC, and WV by Katie Elzer-Peters, Cool Springs Press, 2013

Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners by Wesley Greene, Rodale Press, 2012

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama, Crown Publishing Group, 2012

Capital Splendor: Parks and Gardens of Washington DC by Valerie Brown, Barbara Glickman Countryman Press, 2012

A Guide to Smithsonian Gardens by Carole Otteson, Smithsonian Books, 2011

Historic Virginia Gardens: Preservation Work of the Garden Club of Virginia by Margaret Page Bemiss, University of Virginia Press, 2009

Virginia’s Historic Homes and Gardens by Pat Blackley and Chuck Blackley, Voyageur Press, 2009

The Virginia’s Garden Companion: An Insider Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia by Donna Williamson, Morris Book Publishing, 2008

Garden Walks in the Southeast: Beautiful Gardens from Washington to the Gulf Coast by Marina Harrison, Lucy Rosenfeld, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2006

Garden Walks in the Mid-Atlantic States: Beautiful Gardens from New York to Washington DC by Marina Harrison, Lucy Rosenfeld, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2005

The American Horticultural Society Guide to American Public Gardens and Arboreta:  Gardens Across America, Volume 1, East of the Mississippi by Thomas S. Spencer and John J. Russell, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2005

A City of Gardens: Glorious Public Gardens In and Around the Nation’s Capital by Barbara Seeber, Capital Books, 2004

Month by Month Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic by André and Mark Viette and Jacqueline Hériteau, Cool Springs Press, 2004

Selecting, Growing and Combining Outstanding Perennials: Mid-Atlantic and New England Edition by Teri Dunn, André Viette, Mark Viette, Jacqueline Hériteau, Cool Springs Press, 2003

Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Guide by André and Mark Viette and Jacqueline Hériteau, Cool Springs Press, 2003

Barnes & Noble Complete Illustrated Guidebook to Washington, D.C.’s Public Parks and Gardens, published by Silver Lining Books, 2003

Complete Illustrated Guide to Washington DC’s Public Parks and Gardens by Richard Berenson, Silver Lining, 2003

The Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Book by Felder Rushing and Walter Reeves, Cool Springs Press, 2002

Virginia Gardeners Guide by Jacqueline Heriteau, Cool Springs Press, 2001

The New York/Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Book of Lists by Bonnie Lee Appleton, Cooper Square Press, 2001

Today is National Spinach Day!

spinachToday is National Spinach Day! Spinach has to be one of the easiest greens to start from seed. Here in Virginia, I sow spinach in the cool spring months and again in the fall. Now in March, I sow seeds in the ground and in containers on the deck (for last minute dinner salad harvesting). I plant the seeds about a half inch deep and water. Later, I thin them to prevent overcrowded mature plants. Every couple of weeks, I sow again, in different places, for a continuous harvest. It is best to grow different types, from savoy (wrinkled) to smooth leaves, to heat resistant cultivars, and in different places in the garden to avoid slugs.

We use spinach in everything from salads to sandwiches, stews, egg dishes, soups, and pasta. For salads, we prefer the savoy and semi-savoy type, the wrinkled leaves, because the leaves hold up well in salads and the salad dressing clings to the leaves. For smoothies, quiches, and egg dishes, we use the smooth leaves, which I roll up like a cigar and cut with small scissors to create ribbons.

Although I may harvest the entire, mature plant when I need a lot of spinach for company; usually I cut the outer leaves as I need them. I always look for insects and then submerge the leaves in a large bowl of cold water (to drown anything hidden in the leaves). After draining in a colander, I spin the leaves in the salad spinner (hopefully flinging any survivors to their death against the spinner’s plastic walls). Fortunately, I rarely see bugs.

Like all greens, spinach needs nitrogen for its leaves. In early spring, I amend the garden beds with compost or alfalfa meal (a store-bought, nitrogen-rich amendment). Lately, it seems that all bags of potting soil come with fertilizer so the container spinach does not seem to need the extra boost.

By June, my spinach throw up their flower stalks in the air and call it a day. Rebelling against summer’s warmth, their leaves become too bitter to eat.  Now taking up precious real estate, spinach gets relegated to the compost pile and my attention turns to heat loving veggies while the remainder of my spinach seeds lie dormant in the house, waiting for fall.

Subscribe to DC Metro Area Gardening E-Newsletter

Enter your e-mail here to subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, an e-newsletter about gardening in the Washington DC metropolitan area. This free monthly communication lists recently published gardening books, articles, and tips specific to this immediate area. Each issue also features the opportunity to win a free plant or gardening product. For the upcoming April 2020 Pegplant’s Post, one lucky subscriber will win a voucher to redeem a 25-pound bag of Bloom, a specialty fertilizer rich in organic matter. The winner can redeem the voucher by visiting Homestead Gardens in Maryland or WS Jenks & Son or Annie’s Ace Hardware in DC.

I have written two articles about Bloom which is 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 safe soil conditioner. Bloom comes from DC Water and is available bagged or in bulk. Bloom provides essential nutrients and increases drought resistance in plants and increases organic content in the soil. It is a fertilizer and compost in one product and can be added to garden beds or used in containers. It is safe to use for ornamental plants as well as edibles.

Learning About Gardening Online

Since we have started this teleworking life, many of us are able to watch more shows online. Although we may be working from home during the day, the absence of a commute, errands, and basically a social life, grants us more time than before. Plant lovers and gardeners can take advantage of this to learn about gardening online in the Washington DC metro area.  Below is a sample of resources for webinars, videos, and online courses. No doubt, there are more; e-mail me if you know of virtual methods for learning about gardening at pegplant at gmail dot com. I may even post an addendum if we find ourselves social distancing for an extended period. This list is in no order; some are free videos while others require registration and payment. My intent is to provide resources of reliable and accurate information instead of having people randomly search on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, Good Gardening Videos has more than 1,000 gardening videos curated for accuracy and quality. This is a non-profit, ad-free educational campaign to find and promote evidence-based gardening videos and to help more accurate ones be made.

And if you are on YouTube and Facebook, no doubt you have seen Laura LeBoutillier aka “Garden Answer.” Laura has produced many videos on gardening as well as do-it-yourself projects, which are free to watch. She and her husband started filming gardening videos as a hobby and have become so successful they manage Garden Answer as a full time business. She has partnered with companies such as Proven Winners, Espoma, Gardener’s Supply Company, and Bonide so you will often see her promote products on her shows.  Although she lives to the west in zone 5 most of her videos are applicable to this area.

Another familiar face on Facebook is Philadelphian Doug Oster who has created the Everybody Gardens website and has produced the “In the Garden” video series on YouTube. He is a prolific writer, filmmaker, and author and he also has a radio show. Doug frequently appears on Pittsburgh Today Live Television show as their local garden expert.

And who could forget P. Allen Smith in Arkansas? He has produced so many videos that if you enter his name on YouTube you will see short vlogs, longer videos, and even full-length television shows. Plus, he produces a digital magazine called Naturally Magazine (I view mine on Issuu). When this is over I would love to visit Moss Mountain Farm.

Kerry Ann Mendez of Perennially Yours in Maine is a well-known garden speaker, author, and garden designer. She has a beautiful website, listing many webinars. On YouTube there is a video of her giving a presentation to an audience called “Growing Honkin’ Hydrangeas in the Northeast.”

Lisa Mason Ziegler, owner of the The Gardener’s Workshop in Newport News, VA, manages a very successful cut flower farm. She has written several books, gives presentations (including in the Northern Virginia area), and has produced online courses for seed starting, cut flowers, cool flowers, and flower farming. She is queen of cool flowers and for her books she has produced videos where she discusses each chapter and answers questions. You will often see her on Facebook Live.

Charlie Nardozzi is a well-known garden expert, he has published books, gives presentations, provides garden tours, and produces a library of on demand webinars at his website Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Topics include small space edible gardening, cottage gardening, native and invasive plants, organic pest control, and pollinator gardening. Charlie also publishes a free, informative newsletter. He lives in Vermont and I would love to hear him speak if he ever travels to this area.

The Ecological Landscape Alliance is a New Hampshire membership-based organization with a mission of promoting sustainable approaches to landscape design, construction, and management. They host events, some of which are near this area, and distribute a newsletter. Many of their webinars are suitable for home gardeners. For example, there will be a one-hour webinar on protecting pollinators for $10 for non-members or free for members, but some webinars are free.

Bluprint which used to be Craftsy, has popular garden figures such as Ellen Ecker Ogden, Karen Chapman, David Culp, Debra Lee Baldwin, and Jodi Torpey. They provide online courses for which you  must register and pay for on the Bluprint website but if you like their topic or their style you should check out their own websites.

Pith and Vigor Rochelle Greayer is a designer in Boston who has an online course called Garden Design Bootcamp and one called Planting Design Bootcamp. From her website, it looks like she may be producing additional ones. She has published a book and publishes a digital newspaper type of publication.

Karen Chapman is a garden speaker, author, and designer in the State of Washington. I have heard her speak in this area and she is an excellent speaker. She is a container guru with many online courses on creating beautiful containers. Karen has just published a book on deer resistant designs and has a webinar on this topic on her website Le Jardinet.

You Can Grow Sugar Snap Peas

March is the time to grow peas here in Northern Virginia. In our family we prefer the sugar snap peas where you eat pea and pod together but shelling peas and snow peas are also started during March’s cool weather.

St. Patrick’s Day is my cue to soak the seeds in water overnight, insert in cone shaped coffee filters (could have used paper towels too), and place in zipped plastic bags. I left them on a shelf, I did not put them under grow lights. Within two days, the seeds germinated. After a few days, when it was necessary for the shoots to receive sunlight, I planted them outside about 4 inches apart. Planting them when they have germinated as opposed to planting seeds makes them able to withstand the cold soil temperatures. Last year, we picked them almost every day when the peas had expanded enough to make the pods plump – hence – snap when you bit them or bent them. They were so sweet, we ate them raw as the vegetable portion of dinner.

Pea plants are light in weight and their small tendrils need to wrap around thin nylon, string, or wire. In the beginning, you may have to “train” them to wrap around the nylon or unwrap them if they find a nearby plant but eventually they learn to wrap up and create a pretty green screen.

 

Another great thing about peas is that the flowers are edible. They are great in green salads, they can be added as garnish to pea soup or tomato soup, and they can even be used to decorate cupcakes. Just remember, if you pick the flower, you won’t get the pea. But then, plant more peas!

DeBaggio’s Herb Farm and Nursery in Chantilly Is Closing

It is sad news that DeBaggio’s Herb Farm and Nursery in Chantilly, VA, is closing. It was a great place to visit for buying herbs and other plants. Because it was far from my home, I would make an annual trek in the spring to buy unusual culinary herbs to try in my garden. Years ago, I used to go to the location in Arlington, home of Francesco’s father, Tom DeBaggio, who started the business.  I have fond memories of picking few quite a variety of herbs in his driveway and bringing my mom and future mother-in-law (must be over 20 years now). I want to wish Francesco and Tammy good luck in their new adventures but I will miss the best herb specialty nursery in the area. I have updated two tabs on my website to reflect this change: the list of nurseries and the culinary herbs resources.