Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Small Fruits page is up at GIEI

Please visit our Year of Small Fruits 2017 page and learn all about the fruit plants you can grow easily in your garden!


Ooh, look at those aronia flowers and fruit! Both a good fruit for jam AND a native plant. What fruits are you growing this year?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

MC MG Spring Conference, and climate change links

Readers in Montgomery County and environs are invited to register for the upcoming MoCo Master Gardeners' Spring Conference on February 25:


Register (and read the event schedule more clearly!) here. I'll be giving a talk called "Vegetable Gardening When Mother Nature Doesn't Cooperate," which is about weather challenges. We hope to have a page up at the GIEI website on this topic by March, which will include links to our pages on plant problems caused by cold, heat, rain, drought, and other weather conditions, and also resources on climate change and extreme weather.

Visit HGIC's page on gardening and climate change for more information right now. You may also be interested in the National Wildlife Federation's publication "Gardener's Guide to Global Warming" and the Union of Concerned Scientists' "The Climate-Friendly Gardener." Neither are specific to vegetable gardening, but contain good strategies and useful information for all kinds of plant-growing.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 is GIEI's Year of Small Fruits

Every year we celebrate a particular group of edible plants, and this year we're moving out of the vegetable world into small fruits!


Small fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, grapes, and many others can be long-lived, attractive, and productive additions to your garden, and don't require lots of labor once a site has been prepared well and the young plants cared for. Watering, weeding and mulching will be regular but not strenuous tasks; most small fruits require pruning once or twice a year; and a few plants (such as grapes) will need pest control. But on the whole small fruits are easier to care for than tree fruits, and the results are delicious and nutritious.

Read our Getting Started with Small Fruits page for more information and links to care instructions for particular plants. Soon we'll have a page up for 2017's Year of Small Fruit - expect an update here when it's ready! And start perusing your catalogs for small fruit plants you might find room for in your garden.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Make your own seed packets

Check out this easy to make seed packet for storing your seeds!



Download the template


A fun suggestion to add some style: trace the template onto wrapping paper, or use old greeting cards.

Thanks to University of Maryland Extension Garrett County for the template!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Garden Resolutions

January is a great time to make resolutions for the year, in all aspects of one's life but definitely including gardening. I find that it's better to keep goals to a minimum - that way it's much easier to achieve them, and if you exceed them you can congratulate yourself! So here are some of mine, and I invite all readers to add comments about your own.


  • As a Master Gardener I resolve to keep trying to educate the public about safe, effective, and environmentally positive ways to grow plants, especially the ones that feed us. In particular, I plan to do a better job making educational signs and labels for the Derwood demonstration garden so that all visitors can learn.
  • In my own garden, I resolve to add some more delicious and healthful herbs, and to keep my dehydrator accessible spring through fall so I can dry them while they're still fresh and flavorful, instead of forgetting about it until fall frost threatens and nothing is at its best. I'll also grow and dry some more roselle hibiscus.
Use the outer parts of the red "fruits" that form after flowering. Remove the seed pod.
If it's brown you may be able to use the seeds inside to grow plants next spring.

We had Jamaican sorrel drink from my own plants at Christmas!
  • I resolve, where at all possible, not to waste seeds (it's so hard not to buy or trade more than you have room for, especially with the seed catalogs spread out before you in wintertime), or food.
  • And I resolve to keep the soil covered, whether with mulch, cover crops, or close planting of food plants and ornamentals.
What are your garden resolutions for 2017?