Washington Gardener June 2020

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JUNE 2020 VOL. 15 NO. 4

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gardener

the magazine for gardening enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic region

Growing Native Serviceberry Garden Touring in the Era of Social Distancing Local Gardeners Sharing Surplus Harvest

Meet the Curator of the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum What to Do in the Garden this Month Tips for LongerLasting Cut Lilies What Causes Plants to be Stressed?

How to Test Your Homemade Potting Mix

10+ Secrets for Successful Urban Foraging


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Green Spring Gardens

www.greenspring.org

A “must visit� for everyone in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area. It’s a year-round goldmine of information and inspiration for the home gardener. It’s an outdoor classroom for children and their families to learn about plants and wildlife. It’s also a museum, a national historic site that offers glimpses into a long, rich history with colonial origins. Located at 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria, VA. Information: 703-642-5173.

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GARDENER AND COLLECTOR & "$ # # ! & "$ # # ! Barry Glick & "$ # # ! Sunshine Farm and Gardens 696 Glicks Road $! !! $ Renick, WV 24966, USA % %% Email: barry@sunfarm.com

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o oo o oo Need a Garden Club Speaker?

Washington Gardener Magazine’s staff and writers are available to speak to groups and garden clubs in the greater DC region. Call 240.603.1461 or email KathyJentz@gmail.com for available dates, rates, and topics.

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INSIDEcontents

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FEATURES and COLUMNS

While many local public gardens are closed, some are open by reservation. Here is an example of a private pregnancy photoshoot at Mill Pond Garden in Delaware. Photo by Michael Zajic.

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Win a free Dramm rain wand in your choice of colors! See contest details on page 5.

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Serviceberry Jam made from locally foraged berries. There are two big caveats before going on your own urban (or suburban, or even rural) edible foraging walk: Know whose land it is and know your plants. You may forage as you wish in the public right-of-ways on sidewalks, streets, and medians. You may not trespass or reach into private property without the owner’s permission. Always ask with a friendly smile and respect the owner’s decision.

In addition to the harvest-sharing programs described in our article on page 20, there is a new one, Grow a Row FC, based in Falls Church, VA. They are seeking volunteers to join their community-wide effort to grow fresh produce for Food for Others and its food pantry partners during this public health and economic crisis. Participating is easy: Pledge to dedicate a row of your garden or a container to growing food to donate and report to Grow a Row FC the weight or size (example: five carrots) of your donations. No amount is too small. Sign up to volunteer on the GrowaRowFCcom website or by emailing growarowfc@gmail.com. This project is supported by Virginia Cooperative Extension and endorsed by the Fairfax Food Council.

ASKtheexpert 22 Cherry Tree Leaf Holes, Transplanting in Summer, Black-eyed Susan Bugs, Improving Asparagus Harvests BOOKreviews 18-19 Creatures, Organic Gardening, Cut Flowers, Garden Alchemy DAYtrip 8-9 Garden Tours in COVID Times EDIBLEharvest 20-21 Sharing the Harvest GARDENbasics 16 Testing Potting Mixes GREENliving 6-7 Foraging Basics NEIGHBORnetwork 14-15 Shaun Spencer-Hester, Curator, Anne Spencer House and Garden Historic Museum NEWPLANTspotlight 11 Tomato ‘Apple Yellow’ PLANTprofile 17 Serviceberry Tree TIPStricks 10 Making Cut Lilies Last Longer, What Causes Plant Stress

DEPARTMENTS

ADVERTISINGindex BLOGlinks EDITORletter GARDENcontest LOCALevents MONTHLYtasklist NEXTissue READERreactions RESOURCESsources

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ON THE COVER The ripe fruit of a Serviceberry tree. In our July issue: Firefly Gardens Container Combinations and much more . . .

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Credits

EDITORletter

Kathy Jentz Editor/Publisher Washington Gardener 826 Philadelphia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone: 301-588-6894 kathyjentz@gmail.com www.washingtongardener.com Ruth E. Thaler-Carter Proofreader

Your editor hosting virtual garden talks and garden club meetings via Zoom.

Zooming Virtually

Before this spring, I had participated in a handful of online meetings and even hosted two webinars myself for GardenComm, the association for garden communicators. I was so grateful to already have had these experiences under my belt when I was putting together my garden club’s virtual meetings this spring and then holding my own gardening webinars over the last few months. There is much talk lately of “zoom fatigue” and I have felt it, too. There are only so many hours in a day where you want to be sitting and staring at a screen, so I was a bit hesitant to switch my talk for Brookside Gardens from in-person to online. I worried that we wouldn’t get as many folks to sign up for it, since they’d be spending a Saturday morning on the computer and not out in the garden. I was pleasantly surprised that the session sold out with 99 attendees—including several from outside our growing region! People who could never have traveled to see me at Brookside were now able to take part in the online format. That experience showed me that virtual meetings have many side benefits and are here to stay. After this isolation period is done, we can continue to meet online when it makes more sense than being in person. I can see that from now on, we will not need to have another “snowed out” garden club meeting—as long as we have electricity and an internet connection, we can still gather. Of course, there are still innumerable reasons to meet in person. We lose out on the social time and spontaneous friendships that result from attending live events. I miss being able to mingle with attendees before my talks and staying afterward to chat a bit longer with my hosts. I also miss the “extras” we get from meeting in person—from sharing snacks, plant divisions, and seeds to the speakers being able to sign and sell their books directly with the attendees. Garden tours through photos and video are terrific, but they are far from the experience of visiting a garden in person and using all of our senses to take it in. I know that each of us picks up on different aspects of a garden and the photos I am seeing are just one person’s take on the garden. By looking at the photos people share on social media from the same gardens I’ve toured, I can easily see how each of us encounters that natural world in a unique way. The virtual tours are merely an appetizer that makes me want to get out and visit them even more. I look forward to the post-COVID days, when we will be able to make that choice. Remember: Gardening is not canceled! Happy gardening,

Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher, Washington Gardener KathyJentz@gmail.com 4

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Hadley Baker Taylor Calavetinos Anastazja Kolodziej Interns Cover price: $4.99 Back issues: $6.00 Subscription: $20.00 • Washington Gardener Blog: www.washingtongardener.blogspot.com • Washington Gardener Archives: http://issuu.com/washingtongardener • Washington Gardener Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ WashingtonGardener/ • Washington Gardener Twitter Feed: www.twitter.com/WDCGardener • Washington Gardener Instagram: www.instagram.com/wdcgardener • Washington Gardener Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Washington GardenerMagazine/ • Washington Gardener YouTube: www.youtube.com/ washingtongardenermagazine • Washington Gardener Store: www.amazon.com/shop/wdcgardener • Washington Gardener Podcast: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/ • Washington Gardener is a womanowned business. We are proud to be members of: · GardenComm (GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators) · Green America Magazine Leaders Network · Green America Business Network Volume 15, Number 4 ISSN 1555-8959 © 2020 Washington Gardener All rights reserved. Published monthly. No material may be reproduced without prior written permission. This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that the information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by the publisher as to legality, completeness, or technical accuracy.


READERcontt

Reader Contest

For our June 2020 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, Washington Gardener is giving away a 30" One Touch Rain Wand in the color of your choice to one lucky winner (prize value: $30). Water with ease with the One Touch Rain Wand. It allows complete and total water flow control with just one touch of your thumb, thus eliminating the strain from squeezing caused by many current watering tools. It efficiently saves water while watering from one plant to the next. The rain wand is made with aluminum for a lightweight and durable feel and has a rubber over-mold for additional protection at the natural wear-point. It comes in six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and berry with a lifetime guarantee to the consumer. To enter to win the 30" One Touch Rain Wand in the color of your choice, send an email to WashingtonGardenerMagazine@gmail.com by 5:00pm on Tuesday, June 30, with “Dramm Rain Wand” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in this issue and why. Include your full name and address. Winners will be announced on July 1. o

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Are you trying to reach thousands of gardeners in the greater DC region/MidAtlantic area? Washington Gardener Magazine goes out in the middle of every month. Contact KathyJentz@gmail.com or call 301.588-6894 for ad rates (starting from $200). The ad deadline is the 5th of each month. Please submit your ad directly to: KathyJentz@gmail.com.

READERreactions

May 2020 Issue My favorite from the May 2020 issue was the “7 Low-Maintenance, Powerhouse Perennials for Our Region,” because we are looking for perennials that are native, low-maintenance, can work in different light conditions, and can be planted to help us get rid of liriope that we really don’t like much. We are actively trying to plant more natives and edibles to combat non-natives around our garden. ~ Heidi Lovett, Silver Spring, MD My favorite article in the issue was on the Jeffersonia diphylla, because it told a little of the history and had a great picture. ~ Jenifer Simpson, Washington, DC I found it very difficult to pick a favorite article in the May 2020 issue as the magazine included a lot of fascinating information. I liked the article on “7 Low Maintenance Powerhouse Perennials,” as I am always looking for tips on plants likely to be winners. I liked the article on Mill Pond Garden, as I did not know about it and I am always up for new gardens to visit. But if forced to choose, I would say that the article on “The Science Behind the Smell of Spring” was my favorite! It was fascinating, explicating an aspect of gardening I had always enjoyed, but never stopped to wonder why. Thank you for opening my eyes as well as my nose! Thanks for a great issue. ~ Barbara Delaney, Bethesda, MD I loved the tips for a victory garden in the last issue—good information for those of us just getting into vegetable gardening. ~ Kathy May, Kensington, MD

Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) is an easy program to participate in and really does not take any extra resources than what you may have in your garden. In normal times, about 35 million people wonder where their next meal will come from. Most of these are children. That’s where PAR steps in. PAR is such a simple program: It urges gardeners to Plant A Row (or a container) dedicated to feeding the hungry, and then take the harvest to someplace or someone that needs it. Once you have donated, send an email to KathyJentz@gmail.com with the total (in pounds and ounces) of what you gave. That is all there is to it. Easy. Effective. Adaptable and Helpful.

My favorite article in the May 2020 issue is the article about the Lily of the Valley. I moved recently and inherited a beautiful little yard...I didn’t recognize these sweet little flowers and I am learning more and more all the time about how to take care of the garden. The article you wrote was so encouraging and helpful. I really appreciated the recommendation regarding these lilies and the encouragement to try them to gain some confidence. I have! ~ Rina Hakimian, Silver Spring, MD o JUNE 2020

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GREENliving

Foraging 101:

From the Sidewalk Edges to Your Plate By Hadley Baker

While at lunch one day, Ellen Zachos— author and founder of Backyard Forager (www.backyardforager.com), a website focused on cooking with foraged plants—found a passion and fascination for foraging. “One of the people who worked for me was a forager, and we were sitting around having lunch one day in somebody’s garden and I had nothing but a cheese sandwich,” she recalled. “And she reached over and grabbed a couple of leaves of garlic mustard, which is a very invasive weed but also very delicious, and she put it in my sandwich and said, ‘This is gonna make it much more interesting.’ And that’s really all it took.” From then on, Zachos was bitten by the foraging bug. Already an expert in ornamental plants from her time working at a garden design installation and 6

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maintenance company in New York City, she read everything foraging-related she could get her hands on—something she recommends that anyone new to the subject do. She also attended foraging festivals across the country, including the North Carolina Wild Food Weekend. April Thompson describes foraging as a way of “procuring your own food from the wild, be it from the sidewalk or the forest.” Thompson, a marketing director for Blue Drop and a passionate forager, emphasized the litany of benefits that come with foraging on your own, including free food, free medicine, exercise, nutrition, and getting in touch with the ecosystem around you. During the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson emphasized that foraging is even more vital than usual; right now, as people deal with reduced food

sources due to loss of income or more limited availability of food, foraging helps alleviate some of these concerns as a free and easy way to obtain food without taking an unnecessary trip to the grocery store. Before you set out to forage in your neighborhood or local park, there are a few caveats to be aware of. First and foremost, both Thompson and Zachos highlighted the necessity of knowing whether what you’re picking is, in fact, edible before you take a taste. “Number one rule: Never put anything in your mouth unless you’re 100% sure what it is,” Zachos said. She emphasized that this is not a tip, but a rule all foragers must follow—for safety from poisoning as well as for allergies. While you may think something is edible or can’t hurt you, it’s not worth taking the chance. Be sure to do your research before tasting anything on your foraging walks. Thompson suggested starting off by getting to know one or two easily identifiable plants that you know are edible. She named dandelions and milkweed as two potential starter plants. “Dandelions have so many different applications, and every part of the dandelion is edible,” Thompson said, adding that it’s essential to know which parts of a plant are edible and which are not. For example, the fruit of the yew plant is edible, while its leaves and seeds are toxic. Using plant identifier apps is a great way to access information and get a clear understanding of what a plant is, Thompson said. Her favorite app for this is Picture This, which allows you to take photos of plants and will then identify them for you. Although plant identifier apps are useful, Thompson said you still have to do some of your own research, including looking up dangerous look-alikes of a plant. Another factor to consider is the plant’s life cycle. “There are some things like pokeweed that are very delicious and perfectly edible at a young stage, but can become poisonous later in its life cycle,” Thompson said. Beyond making sure a plant is safe to eat, another essential foraging rule is to make sure you have permission to harvest. Some parks in the area allow


GREENliving for harvesting of plants, while others do not, so make sure to check beforehand. If you find something on private property, be sure to ask the owner before harvesting it. In addition, consider possible contamination before harvesting—whether it be from pesticides, herbicides, or animal waste—and ensure you’re foraging in a safe area. If these rules seem overwhelming, a great option to start your foraging career is to take a guided foraging walk. Thompson suggested Knowledge Commons DC (http://knowledgecommonsdc.org), Fox Haven Organic Farm and Learning Center (http://foxhavenfarm. org/), or Matt’s Habitats (https://sites. google.com/a/mattshabitats.com/ www/). While the guided walks are a bit more limited during quarantine, all of these organizations have made accommodations, from virtual foraging walks to guided one-on-one options. Another great resource is to join one of the many Wild Food groups on Facebook. Don’t be shy when it comes to asking other group members for help—they are almost always willing and happy to give advice or take you along on a walk, Zachos said. As for what to do with your foraged greens and fruits once you get home, there are endless resources of recipes for food and cocktails. Zachos’ Backyard Forager offers several recipes, as do her books, including Backyard Foraging and The Wildcrafted Cocktail. Zachos also recommended the Forager’s Harvest website, which runs the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival, and the various books by co-owner Sam Thayer, available to purchase on the site. Thompson added John Kallas’ book, Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate, and Leda Meredith’s The Skillful Forager as great introductory reads. As for what Thompson and Zachos are preparing with their foraged food right now? Thompson mentioned making milkweed cordial, elderflower wine, and a fir lemon ice cream that is perfect for summer, while Zachos talked about a delicious-sounding silverberry and beach plum pavlova. Finally, before you start foraging in your own neighborhood or your local parks, consider the importance of

sustainability in foraging. While foraging allows you to eat fresh, seasonal, organic food picked at its peak and eat fewer foods that required long transportation routes to get to your grocery store, as well as avoid the potential use of harmful pesticides and herbicides, foragers must be careful to ensure that their foraging practices do not take away from long-term sustainability by being mindful of overharvesting. Only harvest as much as you’re going to eat and only take parts of the plant you intend to use, Thompson said. “You leave the majority of anything you’re harvesting behind for the animals, for the other foragers, for the plants to propagate themselves,” Zachos said, adding that many foragers take it a step farther by taking some of their harvested seeds and replanting them near the plant.

While some non-foragers claim that foraging results in overharvesting and depleting local plant resources, Zachos insists that is simply not the case with the majority of seasoned foragers. “There is nobody who cares more about the environment, about maintaining a healthy ecosystem than the forager, because the forager depends upon it. And I think people who don’t forage need to understand that foragers are not out there take, take, taking—that we’re also giving back every time we go out.” o Hadley Baker is a rising senior studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She is from Takoma Park, MD, and her mother is a landscape designer in the area, She is an intern this summer with Washington Gardener.

A volunteer with EcolocityDC leads a foraging walk.

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DAYtrip

Garden Tours in COVID Times By Taylor Calavetinos

Staff member J. Uffellman checks in visitors to Mill Pond Garden on June 7. Photo by Michael Zajic.

While almost every local garden tour was canceled abruptly this year when the stay-at-home orders were announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a few organizations have found inventive ways to still hold their tours. Some went virtual; others came up with inventive ways to keep tour-goers safe and still open their gardens.

Garden Touring Virtually

Are virtual garden tours the new “normal” now? In historic Old Greenbelt, they sure are. Susan Harris, a garden blogger at GardenRant.com, knows about all things gardening in the town of Old Greenbelt, MD. Given the circumstances of the global pandemic the world is facing, Harris has put together a way for people all over to enjoy the open gardens without having to leave their homes. “There will be a lot more gardens on the ‘tour’ than there would be if it were 8

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in person,” Harris said. She’s asking people to send in email messages with up to five photos of their gardens or plants that they want to be featured in the online tour on the GreenbeltOnline. org website. The Spring Garden Tour is now live on the site, featuring 23 gardens, consisting of photos, videos, and comments submitted by gardeners in Old Greenbelt. There will also be summer and fall virtual garden tours that locals from Greenbelt can participate in coming up later in 2020. Summer photos will consist of pictures taken between June and August and fall pictures will feature pictures taken from September to November. “We’re close enough that people can go see these gardens in person if they want. Some of us are going to give our addresses,” said Harris. Some gardens can be seen from the sidewalks of

the neighborhood, so people can see them when they’re walking by and do not have to get too close to others, she said. As for the gardens you can’t see from the sidewalk, some gardeners will schedule times for one or two people to enjoy their garden by appointment. “An advantage of having more than one [virtual tour] is that if people are looking for plants for different seasons, they’ve got three choices. And some people’s gardens look great in summer, but not in the fall, so not everyone will have their garden in all three of them. I’ve asked for up to five photos, so some of them will just have a particular plant they want to show off and others will have more of a full garden view,” said Harris. She said another advantage of making the tours virtual is that they are easier to schedule, and are not weatherdependent. People will be able to enjoy


DAYtrip local gardens in Old Greenbelt from the comfort of their own homes if they don’t want to visit in person, so they can still be socially distant and following the state’s guidelines. People who want to go in-person need to make arrangements with those specific gardeners via email, but if they look at the gardens from the sidewalk, they can go anytime. “It’s kind of an opportunity for people who either want to remain anonymous or don’t want people showing up in person to still show off their gardens,” Harris said. In Old Greenbelt, she says the gardens are pretty small. “We don’t feel it’s an option to have an in-person event, so it will all be online.”

Garden Touring with Social Distancing

On the flip side of garden tours during this time, Mill Pond Garden near Lewes, DE, (profiled in our May 2020 issue) is having in-person tours with safe visitation procedures. The garden “re-opened successfully to public visitation in mid-May, complying with state guidelines, including parking 8 feet apart, touring family groups staying 10 feet apart, visitors wearing masks, and a new safe check-in proThe garden of Rash Jain in Old Greenbelt. Photo courtesy of Susan Harris.

The garden of Amethyst Dwyer in Old Greenbelt, MD. Photo courtesy of Susan Harris.

cedure for ticket holders to give their names through their car windows half down to a masked staffer at a distance from the car,” said owner Mike Zajic. Mill Pond Garden is having fewer visitors than usual to keep the number of visitors on the property at the same time down, admitting about 10 cars every half hour. On the website, there is also a list of guidelines that visitors must follow to comply with Delaware’s state mandates in regard to COVID-19—easily accessible under the visitation tab. Zajic said, “People tell us they are glad to get out into a garden. They accept with no complaint and many smiles and assurances they are happy for the opportunity...One party reserved the garden for a pregnancy photoshoot last Sunday. People are showing a positive wish for normalcy, but also showing compliance with safety necessity. Many visitors have gardening questions

and lots of plans for working in their home gardens.”

Garden Touring with Advance Reservations

With some flexibility and adaptions, the Mid-Atlantic Peony Society still held their annual peony tour in May at a private home in Glen Mills, PA. These adjustments included wearing masks at all times while at the garden. The garden tour was also self-guided, with tour-goers maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet apart. The tour organizers required advance registrations and allowed only two cars per half-hour onto the property to regulate the number of visitors. They had to cancel their tour refreshments, a potluck picnic dinner, and the in-person flower judging educational program. o Taylor Calavetinos recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism. This past spring semester, she worked as a reporter and anchor for Capital News Service. She is an intern this summer with Washington Gardener. JUNE 2020

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TIPStricks Lilium ‘Zelmira’ photos courtesy of iBulb.org.

Making Lilies Last Longer

Thanks to their beautiful flowers, lilies are one of the most graceful flowers. How can you enjoy these beauties for as long as possible? Once you’ve grown lilies in your garden or brought them home from the store, giving them proper care will ensure that they will brighten up your home for 10 days or even longer. 1. Choose lilies with flower buds that are just starting to open. 2. Remove the lower leaves from the part of the stem that will be under water. Submerged leaves will start to rot, which causes unpleasant smells and will make your lilies wilt sooner. 3. Use a sharp knife to cut the stems as diagonally as possible. The shorter the stem, the longer the lily will last. 4. Put the lilies in a vase with lukewarm water and cut-flower food immediately after cutting. Make sure the vase is clean by washing it with bleach or washing-up liquid. 5. Change the water every few days so mold does not have a chance to grow and the water stays clear. 6. Place your bouquet well away from ripe fruit like bananas. Fruits emit ethylene gas, which causes flowers to wilt faster. 7. If the pollen in the lilies cause a pollen stain, you can easily remove it with a piece of tape. For more information about bulb flowers, visit www.ibulb.org. o 10

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What Causes Plant Stress

We are constantly told by doctors and the media how dangerous stress is to our health. We can read about different tools or techniques that help reduce stress in our lives so we can live happier and longer. But did you know that plants get stressed, too? They’re not concerned with deadlines, or who’s picking up Johnny from soccer practice. Their stress comes from environmental triggers that can negatively affect their health. Humans can move out of the sun and into the shade if they get too hot, but a plant doesn’t have that luxury. And, unlike plants, most humans have access to water when they need it. You might not be too surprised about what causes stress in plants. Many conditions would have a similar effect on us if we were forced to endure them day-in and day-out. According to Wendy Zellner, a plant physiologist at the University of Toledo, in a post to Crops. org, the following are the top plant stresses. Temperature can have a role in causing stress in plants. If you were forced to live outside, you would wear heavier clothes during the cooler spring months. Then, you would shed your coat and hat as the temperatures began to rise. What would you do if a sudden cold snap hit? Or if you were in the midst of a mid-summer heat wave? Not having the recourses such as warmer clothes or potable water would lead to stress during that time. This is no different for plants. If a sudden frost hits young leaves or a heat wave hits mid-way through the growing season, plants need to respond rapidly to protect their leaves and roots from these extreme changes in temperature. Some plants have developed thick coatings on their leaves to adapt to environmental stress. Others are better at opening and closing their stomatapore-like structures on their leaves that help regulate temperature and water content. Water resources for plants can be a bit of a Goldilocks situation. Too much (floods) or too little (drought) are bad— and “just right” depends on the plant. Too much rain can also stress plants

because flooded conditions reduce the amount of air in the soil structure. Plants get much of their oxygen from pores in the soil, which are filled with water instead during flooded conditions. Droughts and floods alter how well the roots can absorb and move nutrients within a plant’s tissues. This reduction in nutrient mobility throughout the plant can introduce yet another type of stress. Chemical stresses can vary. Some soils are contaminated with other chemicals, like heavy metals or petroleum products, and this causes stress in many plants. Inconsistent fertilizer applications can also lead to stress, because too much or too little fertilizer reduces yields. Too much fertilizer can mean nutrients and water are shipped to areas such as leaves, pulling nutrients away from fruit or grain development. This leads to larger plants with lower yields. Too little fertilizer will leave the plant deficient and small, making it unable to perform well. Insect stress is something we can all relate to. Many insects and larvae feed on plant leaves, and some can even transmit diseases to the plant. Microbial stresses include mildews and other fungal infections. There is also a long list of viral and bacterial diseases that affect plants. Weed stress from other plants is harmful as well. Weeds can block sunlight from plants by growing taller. They steal nutrients and water from crops. Humans can use many techniques to reduce stress. The first few are simple: Get plenty of sleep; drink lots of water; and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Did you know that these steps can also help plants deal with stress? Plants that live in healthy soil—full of nutrients and a diverse mix of soil microbes—are healthier, too. Zellner’s research focuses on one main component often missing from the healthy, balanced diet of a plant: silicon. This element, when absorbed by the plant, helps protect it from many of these stresses. However, silicon application is only a portion of the tools and techniques needed to help plants grow productively. Gardeners have to think about all the factors that will reduce their plants’ productivity. o


GARDENnews

Quick Links to Recent Washington Gardener Blog Posts • Baby Kale Salad Recipe • Plant Profile: Lavender • Meet the New Interns • DIY: Women’s Suffrage Container • Power Circle Activated See more Washington Gardener blog posts at: WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com o

June–July Garden To-Do List

New Plant Spotlight

Tomato Apple Yellow F1 If you’ve never tried an apple-shaped tomato, now is the time. This AllAmerica Selections (AAS) Winner offers incredible garden performance; a uniquely dimpled, apple-shaped fruit; a deliciously sweet citrusy taste; and firm, meaty texture. Indeterminate 5-feet tall vines produce abundantly in clusters, resulting in up to 1,000 fruits per plant. The fruits are an eye-catching, bright, lemon-yellow color reminiscent of the “Big Apple” taxi-cab colors. AAS judges were excited that a non-splitting, longholding, uniformly shaped tomato had such good eating quality. With just the right balance of sugar and acid flesh in a firm exterior, Apple Yellow would be perfect stuffed with a savory cheese for a delicious appetizer. Bred by Gana Seed Co., Ltd. (www. ganaseed.co.kr) in Korea. o

Photo courtesy of All-America Selections.

• Direct-sow annual flower and vegetable seeds. • Water newly planted trees and shrubs weekly or as needed. • Contact a Certified Arborist to have your trees’ health inspected. • Check on your container plants daily and keep them well-watered. • Watch for insect and disease problems throughout your garden. • Mow in the early evening and cut off no more than one-third of the grass height at one time. Leave clippings on the ground to provide nutrients. • Add barley straw (in a bale or ball) to your pond to improve water clarity. • Take cuttings from azaleas and roses to start new plants. • Harvest herbs to use in salads and summer dishes. • Try a few new tropical plants on your patio. • Shape your evergreens and hedges. Prune boxwoods. • Look for slug trails in the early morning and put out slug bait as needed. • Tie up climbing roses and other wandering vines. • Fill in bare spots in the garden with annuals. • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage reblooming. • Prune flowering shrubs as their flowers fade—last chance to do so for fallblooming camellias. • Spray roses with Neem oil every two weeks. • Start a sunflower patch with help from a few kids. • Harvest strawberry beds daily. • Cut a few flowers to enjoy at your workplace. • This is the perfect time to apply grub control. • Change the water in your birdbath daily and throw a Mosquito Dunk (or bits) into any standing water. • Put in supports for tomatoes and tall-blooming plants such as dahlias. • Order spring-flowering bulbs to arrive for planting this fall. • Take photos and update your garden journal. • Inspect your garden hose for leaks and tighten all connections. • Weed. • Sow beets, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash for fall harvesting. • Sharpen your lawnmower blade. • Avoid using pesticides or any chemicals near your water garden. • Make hummingbird food by boiling 2 cups sugar in 4 cups of water. • Turn your compost pile. • Clean up fallen fruit and berries. • Cover berry bushes and fruit trees with bird netting. • Dig up garlic when the tops turn brown. Place in a well-ventilated room or a dry, shady spot to cure for three weeks, then store. • Fertilize your azaleas and rhododendrons, and monitor them closely for any lacebug damage. • Sow heat-tolerant greens like Swiss Chard and mustard greens in part- shade. • As the heat and humidity move in, take it easy by working in the morning or early evening to avoid intense sun and humidity. Leave the big projects for this fall. For now, concentrate on maintaining the beds you’ve already established and nurturing your new plantings. o JUNE 2020

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GARDENDCpodcast

GardenDC Podcast Episode Guide

The GardenDC podcast is all about gardening in the greater Washington, DC, and Mid-Atlantic area. The program is hosted by Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington Gardener Magazine, and features guest experts in local horticulture. Episode 1: A discussion with garden writer Marianne Willburn about the Philadelphia Flower Show, rose pruning, Edgeworthia, March gardening tasks, and more. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/ episodes/March-7--2020-ebb59b. Episode 2: A chat with Kit Gage, a Chesapeake Bay landscape professional, about the recent Green Matters Symposium, the novel The Overstory, and Doug Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope. Our Plant Profile in this episode is about the cool-season annual Sweet Alyssum. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/March-14--2020-eatace. Episode 3: A chat with Kim Roman of Square Foot Gardening 4 U (SFG4U) about Square Foot Gardening techniques, microgreens, and what coolseason edibles you can start right now. Our Plant Profile in this episode is about Forsythia. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/Match-21--2020-ebhqku. Episode 4: A talk with Doug Oster all about tomatoes — from the earliest varieties to ripen to combating blight issues—along with Doug’s best tips and tricks. Our Plant Profile in this episode is Heuchera. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/March-28--2020-ebvisr. 12

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Episode 5: A talk with Abra Lee of Conquer the Soil, who is a horticultural storyteller and Longwood Fellow. The Plant Profile focuses on the Pussy Willow and we add a new segment about what is growing in our community garden plot and home garden this week. The episode is posted at: https:// anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/April-4-2020-eccdu7/a-a1lkb1p. Episode 6: A chat with David Ellis, editor of The American Gardener, the magazine of the American Horticultural Society, about favorite spring flowering trees and shrubs. The Plant Profile is about pansies/violas and we reflect on the late, great Henry Mitchell. The episode is posted at: https://anchor. fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/April-11-2020-ecjig8. Episode 7: A chat with returning guest Marianne Willburn about chickens in the garden, her fuzzy ducklings, and new hugelkultur installation. The Plant Profile is about lilacs and we vent about leaf blowers. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/April-18--2020-ecsf6q. Episode 8: A chat with Heather Zindash about IPM and best practices for diagnosing and treating issues in your garden. I share why gardening is not canceled and the Plant Profile is on kale. The episode is posted at: https://washingtongardener.blogspot. com/2020/04/gardendc-podcast-episode-8.html. Episode 9: An in-depth talk with Barbara Bullock about all things azalea—from planting tips to pruning to favorite selections. She is the recently retired curator of the U.S. National Arboretum’s azalea collection. We also reminisce a bit about Behnke Nurseries and Barbara talks about what gardening in retirement is like. The episode is posted at: https://washingtongardener. blogspot.com/2020/05/gardendc-podcast-episode-9-all-things.html. Episode 10: A chat with Peter Pepper about growing Peppers, I describe my visit to Rachel Carson’s home a few years ago, and I discuss what is blooming in my garden. The Plant Profile is fothergilla. The episode is posted at: https://washingtongardener.blogspot. com/2020/05/gardendc-podcast-episode-10-peppers.html.

Episode 11: A chat about Lotus with Kelly Billing of Water Becomes a Garden, and I answer a listener question about harvesting Asparagus. Also, I share what is blooming in my garden and the Plant Profile is on Calamintha. The episode is posted at: https:// anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/May16--2020-ee50k0. Episode 12: A chat with Eva Monheim about her new book on Shrubs and Hedges. I opine about gardening in movies and the Plant Profile is on Hakone Grass. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/May-23--2020-eef975. Episode 13: A chat with Connie Hilker of Hartwood Roses about Heritage (aka Old or Heirloom) Roses. I share my love for Crocs and the Plant Profile is on Hardy Waterlily. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/episodes/May-30--2020---Heritage-Roseseemn32. Episode 14: A chat with Niraj Ray of Cultivate the City about Unusual Edibles, including Papalo, Malabar Spinach, and Megberries. I share my Confessions of a Plant Killer and the Plant Profile is on Daylilies. The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/kathyjentz/episodes/June-6--2020---UnusualEdibles-ef0j1m. Episode 15: A wide-ranging conversation with plantswoman Carol Allen about Orchids, Insects, Hummingbirds, and more. The Plant Profile is on Common Milkweed and I share why gardening has real value. The episode is posted at: https://washingtongardener. blogspot.com/2020/06/gardendc-podcast-episode-15-orchids.html.

Listener Support Needed You can become a listener-supporter for as little as $0.99 per month! We will give you a thank you shout-out on the next episode. See how at: https:// anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/support.

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TOP AREA GARDENING EVENTS DC-Area Gardening Calendar ~ June 16–July 15, 2020 Webinars • Friday, June 19, 10–11:30am Controlling Mosquitoes & Ticks in Your Yard without Pesticides Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia Register at https://mgnv.org/events/. • Saturday, June 20, 10am Winning the War on Weeds We’ll explore proven ways to combat weeds and keep them down to a dullroar, while still being able to enjoy your garden. This talk by Washington Gardener Magazine’s editor Kathy Jentz will also include a list of the “Dirty Dozen” weeds, which are the worst challenges to fight off in our local gardens. Warning: some material may be too graphic for gentle gardeners! Hosted by Homestead Gardens. Details at: https://homesteadgardens. com/upcoming-event/winning-the-waron-weeds/. • Thursday, June 25, 12n–1pm Top 20 Native Shrubs for Sun and Shade: Let’s Talk Gardens Series Turn your thumb green with Join Smithsonian Gardens’ horticulturists for a series of free lunchtime webinars on gardening basics. Smithsonian Gardens’ horticulturist Alex Dencker will share suggestions of native shrubs that make excellent substitutes for common, non-native landscape plants and help you garden with local ecology in mind. Register at https://gardens. si.edu/events/lets-talk-gardens/. • Friday June 26, 10–11:30am What’s Eating My [Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Beans, Squash]? Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia Register at https://mgnv.org/events/. • Sunday, June 28, 2pm Start Your Victory Garden NOW: It is Not Too Late! Whether you are a procrastinator or were just too busy this spring to get started, we’ll cover what you can plant right now to harvest later this summer. Learn what edible plants grow best in our Mid-Atlantic region, along with best practices, timing, crop succession,

starting from seed or seedling, and much more. Whether you are a novice or a veteran edible gardener, this talk by Washington Gardener Magazine’s editor Kathy Jentz is for you. Fee: $10. Register at https://py.pl/355sNqaplh8. • Every Tuesday and Thursday 6–7 or 6–8pm from May 12 to July 28 DPR Advanced Grower Webinar Series Now more than ever, people are understanding the importance of growing our own food. That’s why DC Parks and Rec (DPR) created the free Advance Grower Webinar Series. This series includes more than 20 free webinars taught by more than a dozen local experts on a variety of advance gardening techniques and skills. Most webinars will be recorded and sent to everyone on the waiting list. 6/18—Growing Mushrooms in the City, Drew Drozynski, Hobby Mushroom Grower 6/23—Beekeeping Basics, Izzy Hill, USDA Honey Bee and Pollinator Research Coordinator 6/25—DIY Organic Home Products, Regina Anderson, Executive Director of Food Recovery Network. 6/30—Forgotten Foods; Cooking from Garden and Field with all the Taste but None of the Waste!, Kate Mcylnn, Urban Gardener 7/2—Finding Land and Organizing Gardens in DC, Josh Singer, DPR Community Garden Specialist 7/7 —Website Optimization, Howard Lee, Marketing Manager 7/9—Design and Build a Trommel Compost Sifter, Neil Hoffman, Urban Gardener 7/14—Intro to Cover Crops, Andy Clark, USDA sustainable agriculture program 7/16—Intro to Seed Saving, Xavier Brown, DPR Small Parks Specialist Must register for each class you are interested in at DPR Online Registration at: bit.ly/DPRUrbanGardening.

Plant Sale • Saturday, June 20, 10am–8pm, and

Sunday, June 21, 12noon–8pm Plant Sale with Social Distancing The American Landscape Institute (ALI)

is holding a plant sale to benefit the ALI International Work Study Trip to Germany. For sale: native plants, perennials, shrubs, trees, pollinator plants, garden tools, cut flowers, shiitake logs, and more. The sale is at The Farmyard, 21133 Old York Rd., Parkton, MD. AKI is a two-year “Earn and Learn” program for the Maryland landscape and nursery industry. ALI combines paid employment and a college scholarship to study horticulture at the Community College of Baltimore County. See more sale details at http://www. americanlandscapeinstitute.com/.

Photo Show • Friday, June 19, through July 30 Garden Photo Show Display of 2020 Garden Photo Contest winners at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA.

Special Notice Because of coronavirus precautions, most area gardening events through July 15 have been postponed or canceled. To confirm whether events you’re interested in will still be held as scheduled, go to the websites of the host organizations. While programs and events have been canceled, a few local public gardens are still allowing visitors on their grounds. See our listing of current openings and closings at https://washingtongardener. blogspot.com/2020/03/public-gardensstill-open-during.html.

Event Listing Updates See updated event listings on the Washington Gardener Yahoo discussion list. Join the list at http://groups.yahoo. com/group/WashingtonGardener/.

How to Submit Local Garden Events To submit an event for this listing, email washingtongardenermagazine@gmail. com with “Event” in the subject line. Our next deadline is July 5 for the July 2020 issue, for events taking place after July 15. o JUNE 2020

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NEIGHBORnetwork

Shaun Spencer-Hester, Executive Director at the Anne Spencer House and Garden Historic Museum By Kathy Jentz Shaun Spencer-Hester was born and raised in San Bernardino, California, and moved to Highland Park, Michigan, when she was 10 years old, then to her father’s hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, when she was 16. She presently claims Virginia to be home. Spencer-Hester is the seventh child 14

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of Chauncey Edward and Anna Howard Spencer, lovingly known within the Spencer family as “Anne Jr.” Her father Chauncey, nicknamed “Woogie” is a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen whose aviation story is told along with others and includes his flight suit, goggles, and silk scarf displayed at

the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. Spencer-Hester was reared in an artistic and literary family, and encouraged to be creative and an independent thinker. This fueled her confidence and interest in the arts and interior design. At eight years old, SpencerHester entered the Orange County Fair Children’s Art Contest with an oil pastel of a horse, winning a blue ribbon. In high school, She was the first female student to enroll in and take mechanical drawing, which led her to further studies in interior design. After graduation, Spencer-Hester attended Bauder College (1979–1981), in Atlanta, Georgia, a private all girls’ college, where she majored in interior design. Her professional life took her in many directions, working straight out of college as a woman’s retail sportswear buyer before and after she married and raised her son, Jordan. Spencer-Hester held positions in the private and public sectors working for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Town of Farmville, where she established the mandated curbside recycling program and received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. Eventually, Spencer-Hester returned to her passion and became the proprietor of Artistic Antiquities, an interior design studio and antique shop, with her mother. After the loss of her husband, she moved to Washington, DC, in 2003. There, she held various positions, including assisting interior designers and architects on residential and commercial projects such as the Vice Presidents’ Home, Blair House, and several of the national properties in the DC area. In 2008, Spencer-Hester returned to Lynchburg, where she soon became the volunteer executive director at The Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation, Inc. and The Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum, Inc. As executive director, Spencer-Hester is involved in the museum, day-to-day operations and serves as tour guide, grant writer, chief window washer, and sometimes lawn care worker, trimming the hedges and cutting the grass. She is hands-on. She puts her design skills to good use in the museum, where she


NEIGHBORnetwork currently leads the ongoing interior restoration and preservation work. She staged the interior of the museum and cottage to create a feeling as if her grandparents, who have stepped out for the day and are expected to return at any moment. The Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum is included with the City of Lynchburg’s public gardens and to date, visitors from 22 countries have come to see the shrine. Local, state, and national recognition in magazines and periodicals such as Southern Living, The New Yorker Magazine, Garden & Gun, and most recently The World of Interiors, reveal the importance and share the unique stories of her grandparents’ life and beauty preserved. The Anne Spencer Garden is the only known restored garden of an AfricanAmerican in the United States. The garden restoration by the Hillside Garden Club, beginning in 1983, received the Commonwealth Award from the Garden Club of Virginia in 1985 and 2009. In June 2010, Spencer-Hester wrote “Annie’s Pencil,” a stage play that was produced by the Academy of Fine Arts in Lynchburg. The multi-media stageplay featured a cast of more than 50 actors and actresses portraying her Grandmother Anne, friends, and family in the life story of Anne Spencer and her connection to Harlem—even though she never lived in Harlem. Spencer-Hester is working on a book temporarily entitled Served and told from her own perspective. The book retells many family stories through the rose-colored lenses of her ancestors and incorporates African-American storytelling, folklore, and documentation in American history. It will document her families’ service to country and community during times when freedom came at a price and the payoff was a whole new world.

day, even though the museum opens in April, celebrating the Garden Club of Virginia’s Annual Garden Week, on Lynchburg Garden Day, and closes at the end of October. During those six months of the year, I wear my tour guide hat and meet individuals and groups who arrive by car and bus. It is the most fun and humbling feeling. I receive encouragement from the visitors. They come to hear about my family and their friends who stopped by and were overnighters. Make no mistake; this was no Green Book stop. What are the most-common things people misunderstand about Anne Spencer? That she was a recluse. She was not. Yes, she enjoyed her privacy and time alone, but Anne Spencer was engaged in her community and was a social and civil rights activist. She did not cut herself off from others; instead, she invited people into her home and garden even though she lived in divided times.

What is the most important aspect of the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum’s mission? Education. To engage in a broad range of innovative and traditional educational enterprises that use the Spencer properties, collections, and archives to illustrate and document Anne Spencer’s philosophy, vision, and literary accomplishments. What do you do when not working? I enjoy time with my son and friends. My son’s father’s family home place is where he is cultivating a lavender and mushroom business. I’m excited to see Jordan apply his agricultural education to growing it into a prosperous business. I also enjoy time outdoors on the walking and biking trails, and exploring historic sites with an eye and ear open to learning from others’ experiences. o Kathy Jentz is the editor and founder of Washington Gardener. Photos courtesy of the Anne Spencer House and Garden (annespencermuseum.com).

What is a typical workday like? One day to another at the museum is never the same. I often say, “You never know who you’re going to meet at the Anne Spencer Museum.” Unexpected guests continue to arrive. Although my role involves learning about various aspects of the nonprofit world, I don’t consider it work. It is a joy to be here. I go to the museum every JUNE 2020

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GARDENbasics In the UM Research Greenhouse, Dr. Andrew Ristevy, graduate student Ian Howard, and Dr. John Lea-Cox discuss the research they are doing into growing media for urban farms. Photo courtesy of Kim Rush Lynch, Prince George’s County Soil Conservation District .

An Intriguing Question About Potting Mix Salinity By Joan M. Kasura Sometimes gardening research will produce an interesting anomaly. That’s what happened to Neith Little, a University of Maryland (UM) Extension educator in urban agriculture, when she was looking into the pH and salinity of growing media typically used in high tunnels on urban farms. Little had bought a couple of potting mixes to use as controls for her germination bioassay tests of lettuce seeds. In compiling her results, she was surprised to discover that one of her potting mixes had a high salinity level. Her single data point anomaly could have resulted from either “the presence of sodium or the addition of nitrogen, which comes in various forms of salt” such as ammonium salts and nitrate salts, she said. Since it was potting mix, she theorized the latter may have been a more-probable source of the anomaly. Like Little, Jonathan Traunfeld, director for the Home & Garden Information Center at UM, as well as a vegetable and fruit specialist, thought her result was a one-off anomaly. Referencing his considerable experience, which includes not only more than 30 years in the horticultural field, but also being a frequently sought-after expert on home gardening, Traunfeld noted, “When you use a typical soilless potting mix with typical organic materials, I have not seen any issues. In fact, that particular problem very rarely comes up” in home 16

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gardening questions. Instead, many potting mix questions center around whether gardeners can reuse last year’s potting soil, particularly in container gardening. In response, Traunfeld noted that under ideal conditions, gardeners start with fresh potting mix each year for their container gardening, including with the recent porch pots trend. At the same time, Traunfeld acknowledged that buying fresh potting mix every year can become quite expensive. Instead, he suggested “mixing last year’s potting mix 50-50 with new mix, plus adding slow-release nutrients” to make up for the nutrients used up during the prior year. “Home gardeners should have pretty good luck with doing a 50-50 new-intoold mixture,” Traunfeld said. “The plants usually seem to do pretty well.” While Traunfeld typically buys his potting mix compressed and by the bale, Little recommended that beginning gardeners start with a small bag rather than overcommitting to a large bag or even a bale. Then, “test it out,” she said, particularly if you’re growing seedlings. Additionally, if you’ve decided to make your own potting mix based on one of the many online gardening websites, Little suggested doing a germination test (see instructions in the sidebar) before committing all of your seeds to it.

For more-experienced gardeners, who, like Traunfeld, have moved to buying their potting mix in large quantities, both he and Little emphasized the importance of protecting an open bag or bale from contaminating elements. “It certainly wouldn’t be any fun to go in your shed in the spring and find there’s a whole family of mice in your opened bag of potting mix,” said Little. To prevent that contamination risk, “make sure you store it in a dry place and cover it, or put it in a big heavy bag or galvanized metal trash cans,” advised Traunfeld. “Be sure to inspect it when you go to use it next as well.” If you still have questions, Traunfeld suggested accessing the articles from UM Extension’s Home & Garden Information Center, including this one on soilless potting mixes, and seed starting: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/ topics/containers-and-growing-mediumseed-starting. “There are many different ways to garden successfully,” he said. “We try to be a science-based counterbalance to the huge amount of information out there.” o Joan M. Kasura, J.D., M.S., is a freelance feature writer. She is also a professor in the Communications Mass Media Department at Towson University. A shorter version of this article appeared in Shore Home & Garden magazine.

Germination Bioassay Test for Homemade Potting Mix

This particular test, excerpted from a Penn State Extension article about “Potting Media and Plant Propagation,” was suggested by UM Extension Educator Neith Little. Home gardeners can use the following test steps to quickly determine if there could be a problem with their potting mix. This is especially important to do if you’ve decided to make your own potting mix. 1. Fill a small, flat container with potting mix. 2. Count out 25 seeds of cress, lettuce, or another similar fast-germinating crop. 3. Seed the flat. 4. Wait 5 to 7 days. 5. Count the number of seedlings. If they are less than the legal germination rate (for lettuce, that’s 80 percent or 20 seedlings), you may want to test your media for salts or other anomalies. o


PLANTprofile

Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) is a small, native tree that grows wild from Maine to the Carolinas. It is also called Saskatoonberry, Juneberry, Shadberry, Shadbush, and many other names. Serviceberry is being used extensively now in native landscaping, so you can find small groves of it in many public areas. It can be grown as a small tree or large shrub; it can reach up to 25 feet tall. It is not picky about soil type and does well in sun to part-shade conditions. The trees bloom in early spring with tiny white to light-pink flowers. Serviceberry also has a lovely fall color. One of the most-popular varieties is ‘Autumn Brilliance’, which has blazing foliage in brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. The berry is similar to a blueberry in size and flavor, but is much sweeter and has a small, edible seed inside each berry. The seed is reminiscent of an almond in flavor. The season to pick the berries is late May to mid-June. They do not have to be fully blue to be ripe, so pick them when they are any shade from burgundy to purple. Do so quickly before the birds get them and before any signs of rust appear on the fruit, which happens commonly in our area. The rust appears as a hard green spot on the fruit, which erupts into a coating of orange, powdery spores. It is unsightly and it will ruin any of the berries that it infects, but it will not hurt or kill the tree itself. You can adapt almost any blueberry recipe and substitute in service-berry— just drastically drop the amount of sugar or leave it out entirely because this berry is much sweeter than a typical blueberry.* o

Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) By Kathy Jentz

Kathy Jentz is the editor and founder of Washington Gardener. *See our easy Serviceberry Sauce recipe at: https://washingtongardener.blogspot. com/2014/06/serviceberry-sauce-recipe. html

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BOOKreviews but it’s a story that will stick in your mind. This book is a must-read if you want tips on how to get rid of mosquitoes, keep deer from chewing on your precious plants, and how much work goes into bird feeding. Michel leaves no details out, and you read about her own battles with creatures like rabbits and lightning bugs. After reading this book, I don’t think I’ll ever look at a garden the same way. I can now truly appreciate all of the creatures and critters that make gardens their home. After all, you’re never truly alone in your garden; there’s so much to discover about who’s living there. o Taylor Calavetinos recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in broadcast journalism. She is interning this summer with Washington Gardener.

Creatures and Critters: Who’s In My Garden Author: Carol J. Michel Publisher: Gardenangelist List price: $14.99 Order link: https://amzn.to/2zItaQg Reviewer: Taylor Calavetinos Gardens are usually busy places filled with creatures ranging from insects to animals to bacteria to people. Creatures and Critters by Carol J. Michel will make you laugh, yet also make you realize you’re never truly alone in your garden. Michel discusses creatures and critters from unusual visitors like “garden fairies” to the more-common visitors such as deer and spiders. All 25 chapters have some humor and knowledge to offer. Michel gives detailed accounts of all of the creatures and critters she has and hasn’t encountered, from reminiscing about her childhood and playing in her father’s garden to having a garden of her own. The book is fun to read while also being useful: Michel gives readers tips and solutions to ward off any unwanted creatures and advice for those creatures that you want to stay, like birds and earthworms. She tells stories of her encounters with these animals, even offering a story or two that will make you laugh out loud. One such story is of her sister’s 6-feet-long pet iguana, Phoebe, that now has a collar attached with a bicycle flagpole and bright-orange flag on top so she’s easy to spot when roaming outside. It sounds ridiculous, 18

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The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers Authors: Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtaul Publisher: Thames & Hudson List price: $60.00 Order link: https://amzn.to/30Q4Wyy Reviewer: Anastazja Kolodziej When I first browsed through The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers, a coffee table-style book by Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld, the gorgeous photography alone was enough to immediately convince me to read the book. I expected brief explanations of the photos, combined with advice on how to best grow, cut, and take care of flowers. However, as I began reading, I found myself confused about who the Land Gardeners even were and why they were the book’s focus. As it turns out, Elworthy and Courtauld—the title’s Land Gardeners— used the photography in the book to accompany a detailed discussion of their firm’s history and philosophies. The book begins by examining how the Land Gardeners’ home—Wardington Manor in Banbury, England—is innately related to their work. The first half of the book explores each part of the manor’s garden and their indoor flower room, including several sketches of the grounds in addition to the abundant photography. Although these details finally made sense once I realized the book’s purpose, I was disappointed by the choice of using a coffee table-style for the book. The large pages make the beautiful photos easy to appreciate, but it is difficult to read so much text—

which ultimately has more impact for the authors’ purpose—in such a large, hard-bound book. The second half of the book is called “A Year of Flowers.” There is a section for each season of the year, starting with spring. Each season has lists of gardening “to do”s and what flowers “to gather,” with the rest of these sections consisting of photos of flowers from the appropriate season. The last part of the book includes advice on how to grow your own cut flower garden, fulfilling my expectations from the beginning. I wouldn’t change a thing in the second half of the Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers—it’s exactly what a coffee table book should be, and I can’t praise the photography enough—but the book as a whole would be better if it were split into two. I’m certain people would want to read about the Land Gardeners’ themselves if it were a more regularly sized book. The current format, however, seems to imply the authors either didn’t trust that people would want to read their biography alone or refused to consider a smaller shape for the photography. Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers is a beautiful book. As a coffee table book, it succeeds in achieving its purpose: people will undoubtedly glance at the photos for a few minutes while at a friend’s house or a dinner party. As a biography, it does not. o Anastazja Kolodziej is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, double majoring in multiplatform journalism and the classics (Ancient Greek and Latin). She is interning this summer with Washington Gardener.


BOOKreviews

Organic Gardening for Everyone: Homegrown Vegetables Made Easy (No Experience Required) Author: CaliKim Publisher: Cool Springs Press List price: $22.99 Order link: https://amzn.to/2Y6Ol7I Reviewer: Hadley Baker Many people have started their own vegetable gardens in quarantine, whether as a way to occupy their extended time at home, save money, or take fewer trips to the grocery store. This book is perfect for beginner gardeners learning to grow their own fresh produce. In Organic Gardening for Everyone, author CaliKim—her online persona— lays out clear and detailed instructions, starting from picking your seeds and planting indoors, to transferring plants to your outdoor garden, and finally to harvesting your veggies. The book gives background on gardening terms for beginner gardeners, answers common questions you might have, and incorporates pictures of the step-by-step instructions and of CaliKim’s own home garden. When CaliKim started her home garden, she was a mom with a busy lifestyle, no gardening experience, and frustration about tasteless vegetables from the grocery store. After successfully growing her own organic vegetables in her home garden, she started a YouTube channel to share her advice. In this book, she shares much of that advice for those just starting out. She also shares many of her fears and troubles, to help readers avoid those same mistakes. Her enthusiasm and passion for gardening and nature in general are evident in this book, as she encour-

ages readers not to lose hope through the ups and downs of the process. She does, however, include the URL of one of her instructional YouTube videos at the end of almost every section in the book, causing me to think that much of this advice—while helpful—is probably very similar to that found on her free YouTube channel. CaliKim’s main focus throughout the book is that anyone can grow their own organic vegetables to use in their kitchen, regardless of their budget and how much—or little—time they’re able to put into the garden. She weighs the costs of various planting and watering options, as well as the other advantages and disadvantages of each. While much too simplistic for those already experienced in home gardening, this book is helpful for anyone who has been wanting to grow their own fresh, organic vegetables for their kitchen, yet is not quite sure where to start. If you have specific veggies you want to grow or have no idea where and how to start the process, this book is a perfect primer to the home gardening process. o Hadley Baker is a rising senior studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She is interning this summer with Washington Gardener.

Garden Alchemy: 80 Recipes and Concoctions for Organic Fertilizers, Plant Elixirs, Potting Mixes, Pest Deterrents, and More Author: Stephanie Rose Publisher: Cool Springs Press List Price: $22.99 Order Link: https://amzn.to/3d8gjEz Reviewer: Stacey Evers Despite the lengthy, all-encompassing title, popular Garden Therapy blogger Stephanie Rose’s sixth book is easy on the brain and the budget: a compact, easy-to-follow, and visually attractive collection of recipes for do-it-yourself garden rejuvenation. True to her title, Garden Alchemy, Rose concentrates on the transformation of matter, with the primary matter here being soil. Three of the five chapters are devoted to improving soil composition and nutrition through simple experiments, activities, and concoctions. These include DIY soil tests, numerous potting soil mix recipes, information about different types of mulches, the basics of composting (including worm composting), and instructions for making a host of

homemade fertilizers and garden teas. A weed tea made from the unwelcome likes of chickweed and plantains is especially appealing. The other two chapters focus on creating a thriving garden by propagating plants via seed bombs, seed tape, and homemade rooting hormones; encouraging beneficial birds, bees and bugs; and deterring pests with DIY traps and baits. These chapters are especially useful for new gardeners and those digging in the dirt with children. The book opens with soil composition and pH tests that the reader can carry out with household materials like distilled water, vinegar, and baking soda. Rose intends for readers to complete these recipes and become better acquainted with their soils’ needs. But after that, Garden Alchemy is meant to be read like a cookbook, with the reader leafing through the pages and choosing recipes that pique their interest or speak to their unique gardens. Instructions and definitions are clear and large photos amplify the text. This book is an easy buy for beginning gardeners who are getting to know their space, but there’s plenty for advanced growers who want a better understanding of the natural processes in their gardens, too. o Stacey Evers is co-chair of the Fairfax Food Council’s Urban Ag Working Group and teaches environmental education at an elementary school. Note: These book reviews include links to Amazon.com from the Washington Gardener Magazine affiliate marketing account. JUNE 2020

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EDIBLEharvt

Local Gardeners Share Their Surplus Harvest Photo by Cat Kahn.

By Anastazja Kolodziej As the coronavirus epidemic forced schools, businesses, and nonessential activities to shut down in March, Cat Kahn found herself the new owner of 400 one-month-old plants. Kahn, a Montgomery County Master Gardener, volunteers through a University of Maryland Extension program to teach Manna Food Center recipients to grow their own food in a bucket or grow bag. Because they used plants grown from seed, the Master Gardeners first planted these at a local high school to develop before the official start of the program in May. When Montgomery County Public Schools closed in the middle of March, they informed the program that the horticulture teacher at the school was not allowed to continue traveling to the school to water the plants, Kahn said. “She took them home and said, ‘Now, what do you want to do with them? They’re your plants,’” Kahn said. “So I came up with this idea that, maybe since University of Maryland Master 20

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Gardeners weren’t participating in education programs with the community, they would like to adopt this project, and we could all pool our resources, take these plants, and grow them to donate back to the community.” Kahn approached the Master Gardener organization with the idea of growing the plants to donate to food pantries, she said. But when they denied the proposal, Kahn took it into her own hands by creating HarvestShare. “Most of May I spent driving around picking up plants and redistributing them to anyone who said, ‘I think I have some extra space. I’ll take some plants,’” Kahn said. Although only about 250 plants remained from the initial 400 from being moved so many times, she said she managed to gather 200 more plants from various seed starters throughout the county to give away for the program. As Kahn was searching for people who would be interested in participating in the project, she reached out to

Michelle Nelson, program manager of Montgomery County community gardens. “She felt that the community garden program would be a really good place to potentially recruit some growers, but also a place where there might already be some excess produce that could potentially be donated or circulated to populations that may be more foodinsecure right now,” Nelson said. The community garden program has 22 volunteers across all 11 gardens, Nelson said, who are helping coordinate the effort by finding new people to participate in HarvestShare. About 50 people are currently participating in the program, said Kahn. One participant, Sue Kuklewicz, was volunteering to teach kids to grow their own food through the Master Gardeners’ Growing Forward program when the pandemic forced it to shut down. Because it was only officially canceled for the spring, Kuklewicz said she and other Master Gardeners in the area


EDIBLEharvt decided to plant produce in a garden at White Oak Community Recreation Center in case the program could restart in the summer. Now that the program has been canceled for summer as well, Kuklewicz said all the produce in the garden is dedicated for donation through HarvestShare. Because some of the plants that had been planted were spring vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, Kuklewicz said the group was already able to donate freshly picked produce twice in the past few months. “We have a responsibility as neighbors to help take care of other people in whatever way we can, and I think HarvestShare has arisen out of that— this is our way of helping,” Kuklewicz said. “Yes, you can donate money, but somehow it seems like it’s more a part of you if you donate what you’ve grown. It’s a different feeling.” After Kahn found people to participate in HarvestShare, she then needed to find a way to distribute the food donations, she said. Having previously worked with Manna Food Center through Master Gardener programs, Kahn reached out to Community Food Rescue, a Manna-run program that offers an app called ChowMatch to connect food donors with food assistance agencies. Once these two parties are matched, a Community Food Rescue volunteer handles the food donation’s transportation. “[Kahn] is still working on the logistics of garden food aggregation, so she’s not yet ready to donate food,” Cheryl Kollin, Community Food Rescue’s program director, wrote in an email. “But we are ready when she is.” HarvestShare’s efforts are needed now more than ever because the pandemic has caused an increasing number of people to seek the services of food pantries. Throughout April and the first two weeks of May, Shepherd’s Table—a food bank in Silver Spring, MD—saw a spike in the number of people who sought their services, said Haile Gebregziabher, Shepherd’s Table’s director of operations. Meanwhile, the amount of food donated to the pantry remained consistent with the amount before the pandemic.

Other than following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines while gathering donations, the pantry has not changed food collection protocols during the pandemic, Gebregziabher said. This means Shepherd’s Table still accepts freshly grown produce from farmers markets, organizations, and individual gardeners. HarvestShare is not the first program in the area that encourages donating surplus grown produce to food banks. Various community gardens have previously organized drives to donate surplus food to Shepherd’s Table, Manna, or women’s shelters, among others, Nelson said. In 2018, the community garden program established a rule that allowed garden liaisons to initiate garden-wide harvest parties, in which they collected surplus produce from any interested growers at that garden, Nelson said. This idea did particularly well at the Fenton Street community garden, where they collected 100 pounds of food from one harvest party in 2018 and upward of 400 total pounds of food from two parties in 2019, both times donating to Shepherd’s Table, she added.

Plant a Row Yourself

Another project similar to HarvestShare is GardenComm’s Plant a Row for the Hungry. Plant a Row began in 1995 in former GardenComm president Jeff Lowenfels’s garden column, where he encouraged his readers to plant a row of food to donate to their local soup kitchens. For those gardeners who wish to donate to food pantries but don’t know how to take the first step, Lowenfels said the solution is simple. “Google your area and the words ‘food bank.’ Really easy,” he wrote in an email. “It isn’t hard to find people who need food these days. Unfortunately.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one household in eight in the United States experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. o Anastazja Kolodziej is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, double majoring in multiplatform journalism and the classics (Ancient Greek and Latin). On campus, she serves as an assistant managing editor at The Diamondback. She is an intern this summer with Washington Gardener. White Oak garden at White Oak Community Recreation Center. Photo by Sue Kuklewicz.

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KNOWitall

Ask the Expert by Debra Ricigliano

Cherry Tree Leaf Holes

Q: My Yoshino cherry tree has me very concerned; the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. It bloomed beautifully in the spring, but now it looks terrible. The leaves are also riddled with perfectly formed small holes and it looks like something is eating them. What can be the problem and what can I do about it? A: What you are describing is one of the cherry shot hole diseases. One is caused by a fungus; the other is a bacterial disease. They cause similar symptoms and distinguishing one from another is difficult. Most people think it’s insect feeding. The centers of the leaf spots, caused by these diseases, dry up and drop out, leaving holes. The wet, cool spring weather we experienced provided the perfect conditions for the disease to infect many cherries this year. It is too late for treatment. Trees tend to recover even if they are not treated. Rake and dispose of the fallen leaves in the fall to reduce the amount of overwintering fungal spores. You could contact a licensed arborist for advice about treating the tree preventively next spring with a fungicide. Especially if this is a valuable tree or this happens for several years in a row. Fungicides will only work if the disease is caused by the fungus. Spraying has to begin as the tree leafs out and multiple sprays are necessary. Keep the tree watered during droughty periods this summer.

Summer Transplanting

Q: With all this time at home recently outside in my yard, I have been evaluating where some of my shrubs are planted in my landscape. Can I go ahead and transplant a viburnum, Virginia sweetspire, and holly now? They have been planted for more than three years. Am I taking a chance now that the weather is turning hot and dry? A: You just missed really good weather for transplanting trees and shrubs. Long, cool, moist springs provide the best conditions for reducing transplant shock, helping plants become established faster, and overcoming the loss 22

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Cherry shot hole disease. Photo courtesy of HGIC.

of roots. Wait and evaluate the early fall weather. If we are experiencing a droughty period, then you will need to wait until early next spring to move them. Never transplant plants when they are drought-stressed. Transplant early enough in the fall so their roots have had a chance to grow before the first deep frost. Do not plant them any deeper than they were originally planted and place 2–3 inches of shredded leaves or mulch around the base of the plants. Water them deeply before the first frost.

Black-eyed Susan Bugs

Q: Black aphids are attacking my blackeyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta). They are clustered around the stems. I tried a number of things to get rid of them, but they keep coming back. I don’t see any evidence of predators. Will my plants survive this attack? A: Chances are your Rudbeckias will be fine even though it appears that large numbers of aphids are attacking them. Now that the weather is warming up multiple predators that help control them should begin showing up. Look for ladybird beetles and their larvae, and the larvae of syrphid flies and lacewings. Parasitized aphids are called mummies; the aphids turn brown and remain on the leaves, but are dead. You can also try knocking the aphids off with a hard blast of water from a hose. As a last resort, spray the leaves thoroughly, including the undersides of the leaves, with insecticidal soap. Follow label directions for how often to re-apply

a spray. Do not spray when temperatures are above 85 degrees F., because leaf damage can occur.

Improving Asparagus

Q: For the past 15 years, my asparagus patch has always yielded a good crop, but this spring, I noticed that the crop was less and that there are empty spaces between the plants. It looks a little sparse. What can I do to improve the yield next spring? A: You can plant new crowns to fill in the rows. One of the best things you can do is add a lot of organic matter this fall, either compost or well-rotted manure. Top-dress now with compost around existing plants and incorporate where you will plant new crowns. The organic matter will increase the soil’s waterholding capacity. Spread an organic mulch such as mulched or shredded tree leaves, straw, or grass clippings (no herbicides). By taking these measures, you should see an improvement next spring. o Debra Ricigliano is a Certified Professional Horticulturist. She has worked as a horticulture consultant for the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center since 1997. She is a graduate of the Institute of Applied Agriculture at UMCP. To ask a gardening or pest question, go to http://extension.umd. edu/hgic and click on “Get Help.” Digital photos can be attached.


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MARCH/APRIL 2005 • Landscape DIY vs. Pro • Prevent Gardener’s Back • Ladew Topiary Gardens • Cherry Trees

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