Tag Archives: University of Maryland Extension

Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree and Poinsettia

If you are spending this weekend looking for the perfect Christmas tree, check out the article on Merrifield Garden Center‘s website, “Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree,” by Michael Fahey.  For video format, watch David Yost when he explained how to choose the perfect tree on an archived Merrifield television show (old timers here may remember that Merrifield used to have a Saturday morning television show on gardening).  To select healthy poinsettia plants, watch Dr. David Clement, University of Maryland Extension specialist, describe what to look for and tips on taking care of this lovely euphorbia.

Local Resource for Growing Tomatoes Successfully This Summer

year-of-the-tomato-logoThe University of Maryland Extension (UME) has a fantastic “Grow It Eat It” program. This year, they have declared 2016 as the Year of the Tomato. To celebrate this popular veggie, they created a site devoted to learning more about growing, harvesting, and preserving/canning tomatoes, http://extension.umd.edu/growit/2016-year-tomato. The site has a variety of resources: a list of local UME offices, contact information for Maryland’s gardening experts, and the list of the Master Gardener plant clinics for getting answers to tomato problems. It also has a link to their Youtube playlist of tomato information; recommended cultivars; winners of the 2015 tomato tasting events; and tomato-related articles on the Grow It Eat It blog. Although this is a UME resource, the information is applicable to those of us who live in the Mid-Atlantic area so Virginia and DC residents can enjoy the bounty. If you ever wanted to grow tomatoes successfully, now is the time!

Learn to Grow Edibles at Grow It Eat It Open House

Next year, make plans to attend one of the Grow It Eat It Open Houses at the Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, Maryland. Grow It Eat It is Maryland’s Food Gardening Network, sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension. Managed by the Montgomery County Master Gardeners, all volunteers, the Grow It Eat It Open Houses are a great way to learn how to grow edibles in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. This year, there was an Open House in March, May, and on Saturday, last weekend.

Cherokee Trail of Tears bean plant

Cherokee Trail of Tears bean plant

salad table in demonstration garden

salad table in demonstration garden

For this particular Open House, there were three concurrent “tracks.” One track was a series of presentations by Master Gardeners or Extension staff. I attended the first presentation entitled “Keeping Your Animals Out of Your Garden” in the conference room for an hour. Master Gardeners Erica Smith and Terri Valenti had an excellent powerpoint presentation and a very informative handout but what really added value was the fact that they have years of experience growing edibles despite many different animals in their area. They could answer questions easily, offer lessons learned, and were more than willing to spend time talking to people afterwards. Erica is responsible for many of the unique vegetables in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden and writes for the Grow It Eat It blog. Terri has many years of experience growing a wide spectrum of edibles, including fruit trees. The second presentation was “Low Tunnels—How to Build and Use” by Master Gardener Gordon Clark. Gordon showed us how to erect a low tunnel, which is a method of erecting plastic over a garden bed to extend the growing season of small vegetables. Because he had been growing greens in the winter with this method, he was able to relate his experience and show us the materials he used. Starting from scratch, he pounded the rebars in the ground, erected the PCV pipes, and covered them with plastic in no time. It was easy to understand and easy to relate to the relatively low cost. I missed the third presentation on “Pests and Diseases” by Pat Lynch because I spent too much time in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden looking at new veggies to try next year and talking to Master Gardeners. According to the brochure there was a presentation on food preservation by Faculty Extension Assistant Karen Basinger (the only presentation that had a fee and required registration), but I also wanted to hit a few farms on the Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale so I had to leave early.

Gordon Clark bending pipe

Gordon Clark bending pipe

Concurrent to the other tracks, “Everything Tomatoes,” was attracting attention in a conference room/kitchen down the hall. Tomato enthusiasts were cutting many different types of tomatoes so people could taste and rate their favorite tomatoes. People were invited to share seeds, tomatoes, and recipes, sample tomatoes, learn how to save tomato seeds, and listen to cooking demonstrations all morning long.

Raising plastic over pipes to create a low tunnel

Raising plastic over pipes to create a low tunnel

The last track took place outside in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. The gardens themselves were very informative, people took time to make sure most of the plants were clearly labeled (which I always appreciate), and some signage had large timelines and photos depicting the plant’s growth. There were vegetables in containers, in beds, climbing up nets, and sprawling across arches; herbs in pots and in the ground; fruit shrubs; intensively planted beds; salad tables; straw bale gardening; flowers and bees and butterflies everywhere. A Master Gardener answered questions about composting; staff from the Montgomery County Recycling Center offered free compost bins and thermometers; and people demonstrated how to make trellises from bamboo. There were tables set up for Master Gardeners to distribute information on pollinators, gardening tools, starting seeds, and diagnosing plant problems. We had great weather and I came home with lots of handouts, ideas, and new veggies to try next year.

up close shot of ripe mouse melon

up close shot of ripe mouse melon

tromboncino squash

tromboncino squash

 

Peg’s Picks for July Events

FRONTmdfarmtourfinal2014July is the time to visit the public gardens, many of which have tours. Because there are too many to list here, see the tab or page above entitled “Public Gardens” and call to find out if a garden near you has guided tours and/or events. July is also National Park and Recreation month, sometimes local parks have demonstration gardens, classes, and tours. Below are just a few edible gardening related events this month.

Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD, has a catalog of classes for the season and the July edible related ones are below. Great place to take kids too. Must register, fee involved; (301) 962-1451.
http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside/
July 10, 10:00 am to 11:30 am, Dealing with deer
July 16, noon to 1:30 pm cooking class, truly tomatoes
July 19, 9:00 to 10:30 am, Low Tunnel construction Demonstration

University of Maryland Extension’s “Grow it Eat It” has a free summer open house on Saturday, July 26, 8:30 to 1:00 pm at the Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD.
http://extension.umd.edu/growit

The Montgomery County Farm Tour and Harvest Sale will take place on Saturday and Sunday July 26 & 27. Most farms will be open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm both days. A map and brochure are on the website.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/AgServices/agfarmtour.html

Open to the public, the Takoma Horticultural Club will have a speaker at their meeting on Wednesday July 16, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, Historic Takoma Building, 7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD. The speaker is Mike McConkey, who will talk about growing and propagating fruit trees. Mike owns Edible Landscaping, a nursery in Afton, VA, that specializes in edible fruit trees/shrubs for the Mid-Atlantic area, see http://ediblelandscaping.com).
http://www.takomahort.org

The Virginia Cooperative Extension in Prince William County has “Saturdays in the Garden.” Every month from April through October the master gardeners will host an event from 9:00 am to noon at the teaching garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Free but must register in advance, (703) 792-7747. On July 12, there is a lecture on simple ways to use water wisely in your landscape plus a talk on the fall vegetable garden, tips for planting the fall vegetable garden and extending the season.
http://www.pwcgov.org/grow

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 2: no events
July 9: Gardening with and for kids
July 16: Foraging the wild edibles
July 23: (indoors) How vegetables are used around the world
July 30: Therapeutic gardening