Friday, July 29, 2011

Eco-friendly gardens are "no-sweat"

Every summer at about this time, I sit back, relax with an ice-cold drink, and think about some of the added benefits of eco-friendly gardening. In many ways, eco-friendly landscapes require less work, meaning that I can have more of a “no-sweat” summer than some of my friends and neighbors with more labor-intensive landscapes.

Below are some great reasons to think about turning your traditional landscape into an eco-friendly, “no-sweat” one:
  1. Eco-friendly gardeners work WITH Mother Nature, not against her: choosing plants that fit the site means plants are better adapted to survive with minimal care, which means Mother Nature takes care of the plants, not you.
  2. Eco-friendly gardeners leave part of their landscape natural: Why tear out existing, native species only to replace them with more labor-intensive exotics? Native plants, which are present on a property, will require less work and will provide an immediate benefit to local wildlifespan>
  3. Eco-friendly gardeners plant trees with energy conservation in mind: Shade trees can significantly reduce air temperatures in and outdoors in the summer, as trees intercept and absorb the sun’s heat while transpiring cooling moisture into the air.
  4. Eco-friendly gardeners incorporate drought tolerant species, which means less work watering. Drought tolerant trees drought tolerant perennials
  5. Eco-friendly gardeners group plants by their care requirements : plants that do require extra water or fertilizer are all in one place, rather than scattered throughout the property.
  6. Eco friendly gardeners include beneficial plants: beneficial plants attract bugs and birds that help cut down on insect pest populations, eliminating the need to apply pesticides.
  7. Eco friendly gardeners have their soil tested to determine the right mix of fertilizer for their lawn rather than applying fertilizers that aren’t needed.
  8. Eco-friendly gardeners identify weeds and pests rather than spending time indiscriminately killing them all. Some bugs are good bugs. And a weed-free lawn is not necessarily a healthy one.
  9. Eco friendly gardeners replace lawn with ground covers : Most ground covers need little or no maintenance once they’re established.
  10. Eco friendly gardeners use plenty of mulch : adding mulch helps cut down on both weeding and watering
  11. If they do have lawn, eco-friendly gardeners mow less oftenMowing grass to the proper height is the single-most important thing you can do to improve the health of your lawn.
  12. Eco-friendly gardeners don’t rake their grass clippings : Leaving grass where it falls adds nutrients back to the soil. However, be sure to sweep up your sidewalk, driveway or street so clippings don't pollute nearby lakes or streams.
  13. Eco-friendly gardeners create compost : why lug bags of trash to the curb and bags of purchased soil enhancers to your landscape? Composting your yard and kitchen scraps saves time and money.
  14. Eco-friendly gardeners water less: Plants should be watered only when they begin to droop and in the early morning hours before 10 a.m. Grasses naturally grow slower in the summer, so brown grass usually means your lawn is just dormant, not dead.
  15. Eco-friendly gardeners use hardscapes creatively: Hardscapes, the landscaper’s term for paving and built features in a garden (think patios and walkways) reduce garden work and extend your home’s living space. Using permeable surfaces also allows water to percolate into the ground, rather than

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Louv's Love of Nature Took Root in a Garden, Grew to International Influence

Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. It has been ever since my mother first introduced me to our small local library in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, where I grew up. Since that time, there has rarely been a time in my life when I haven’t been reading one or more books, a week.

Lately, I’ve been immersed in Richard Louv’s new book, The Nature Principle. In case you have never heard of Richard Louv, I urge you to go to your local bookstore, library, or to his website to get to know him. Start with his bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods, which sparked a national debate and an international movement to reconnect kids with nature. He coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder, influenced national policy, and helped inspire campaigns in over eighty cities, states and provinces throughout North America.

I am completely enthralled with his new book, The Nature Principle. Yes, his books contain all sorts of data, quotes, and studies to help encourage people to get outside and get back in touch with nature. (Including almost a whole chapter about Doug Tallamy's book, Bringing Nature Home). However, it is Louv’s writing style that keeps me mesmerized and has earned him the spot as one of my favorite non-fiction writers.

Here is an excerpt from the book, The Nature Principle. To me, this passage helps show the strong influence that gardening can have on all of us. I hope it will inspire you to read more of Louv’s work. And I hope it will inspire you to spend more time in your garden.

Chapter 3, The Garden 

Memories are seeds. When I was a boy, the good times in my family were, more often than not, associated with nature—with fishing trips, discovered snakes and captured frogs, with dark water touched by stars. 

We lived at the edge of the suburbs in Raytown, Missouri. At the end of our backyard, cornfields began, and then came the woods and then more farms that seemed to go on forever. Every summer I ran through the fields with my collie, elbowing the forest of whipping stalks and leaves, to dig my underground forts and climb into the arms of an oak that had outlived Jesse James. When the corn harvest was over, my father and I would walk through the stubble and search for the ground nests and speckled eggs of killdeer. Together, we watched with admiration as the parents attempted, with tragic cries and faked broken wings, to lead us away from their nests. 

I recall my father’s dark tanned neck, creased with lines of dust, as he tilled our garden. I ran ahead of him, pulling rocks and bones and toys from his path. My father, mother, little brother, and I planted strawberry starts and buried seeds for butternut squash and our own sweet corn. One year, my father read about the productivity of Swiss chard and, as was his way, became fully committed. That summer, we bagged Swiss chard for weeks. Our kitchen and part of our basement overflowed with it. My mother canned it. I carried brown shopping bags full of chard to the neighbors. My mother loved to tell the story about the summer the Swiss Chard Ate the Neighborhood. 

Controlled by no community association, our yard was humbled by locusts and heat and other natural covenants. With all my senses, I recall a late afternoon when my father and mother and my brother and I raced the weather to complete the construction of a retaining wall for sod and garden. We placed limestone slabs into a line to hold back erosion. We felt the wind quicken and the air change, and stood up together near the end; we wiped sweat from our foreheads and stared at the quilted pea-green sky, felt a queasy stillness and sudden burst of wind, and then we saw the hail advancing yard to yard like an invading army. We rushed to the basement door.

Such moments became part of the family lore, because our time in the garden and on the water and in the woods held our family together...

…Perhaps these childhood experiences are why, as an adult, I am compelled to believe in the restorative power of nature, in a human/nature reunion. And that because of this reunion, life will be better.

Ahhhh, see what I mean? I admit that I usually don’t buy books. I visit the local library several times a week and see my contributions in over-due book fees as money well spent. But I need this book in my own personal library. It is the perfect reminder of the deep connection between gardening, nature and protecting our planet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Composting workshop - July 30th

What: Let's Compost – Standard and Worm Composting 101

When: Saturday, July 30th, 10:30am – 12:30 pm

Where:  Common Good City Farm

Saturday, July 30: 
Let's Compost!  10:30am-12:30pm.  Standard and Worm Composting 101. Learn to use your garden, yard and kitchen waste to create rich soil. We will focus on methods easy and suitable for small yards and apartments and include bin composting and vermiculture methods.  Teacher: Niko Welch has a background in microbiology and experience with various types of compost systems and brings his knowledge to Common Good City Farm. We are grateful to have him on staff.  

Register Now!

Freaks of nature and what causes them

Some freaks of nature are fun and interesting. Take 4-leaf clovers, for example. It is estimated that there are 10,000 3-leaf clovers to every 4-leaf clover, making the 4-leafers a bit of a stand-our freak in the clover field. Clovers can also have 5, 6 and even more leaves. The record, in fact, appears to be 21 leaves on one clover (I recently found a 6-leaf clover while visiting Michigan and have added it to my collection of 4 and 5 leaf specimens.) It is debated whether extra leaflets on clovers are  caused genetically or environmentally. Their relative rarity suggests a possible recessive gene, a somatic mutation or a developmental error of environmental causes.

Variegated plants are another form of nature freak. In layman’s terms, variegations in plants are created when chlorophyll (the substance that makes leaves green) is absent in part of the leaf. The variations in color are caused by whatever pigments are present in the leaf where chlorophyll is absent. White areas in foliage means no chlorophyll and nothing to replace it. Yellow patches means no chlorophyll but the presence of xanthophyll. Other colors are created by the presence of a substance called anthocyanins in combination with either chlorophyll or xanthophyll.

Of course, scientists, horticulturists and others out to make a buck have learned to imitate these natural mutations so that four-leaf clovers and variegated cultivars of almost every plant species are readily available.

But did you know that the chemicals you use in your garden could also be creating freaks of nature? But they aren’t the kind of freaks that add fun or beauty to the world. Scientific studies have shown that landscape chemicals which find their way into local waterways may be causing deformities in fish, frogs and other animal species.

One way that these deformities show up is by creating intersex fish. Intersex is a condition in which fish may exhibit characteristics of both sexes, such as male fish producing eggs. Intersex specimens of smallmouth bass and other fish have been found inmany states, including  both Virginia and Maryland.

Frogs and other amphibians also seem to be suffering the effects of pollutants. Frogs with deformed limbs have been found in almost every state and many amphibian populations are suffering. The problem is so extensive that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared 2008 the Year of the Frog to help emphasize what everyday citizens can do to help correct the problem.

Here are some steps you can take, excerpted from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Document Homeowner’s Guide to Protecting Frogs: Lawn and Garden Care

You may not think that you can make a difference, but caring for your lawn in an environmentally sensible way can have a bigger impact than you might think.  

You can help keep the environment clean and the frogs healthy by following these simple tips. If everyone does their part to protect the environment, all types of fish and wildlife, including frogs, will enjoy a cleaner, healthier environment. 

Choose non-chemical weed controls whenever possible: 

Mulching, spading, hoeing and pulling up weeds are good ways to avoid weed growth rather than applying weed killer.  

Minimize fertilizer use: 

Overfertilization is a common problem. Fertilizing more than the recommended rate does not help plants grow better and often harms them. In addition, excess fertilizer will likely wash into streams and rivers and may lead to amphibian deformities and deaths. Researchers at Oregon State University recently discovered that even low levels of nitrates (a compound found in fertilizers) are enough to kill some species of amphibians. Help prevent pollution from fertilizer by taking these actions: 

* Leave the grass clippings from mowing to decompose on your lawn (feeding your lawn this way is equal to fertilizing it once or twice a year).

* Use compost in your garden to develop healthy soils and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. 

* Have your soil tested to find out exactly what nutrients it needs in order to avoid applying unnecessary fertilizers. Your County Agricultural Extension Service will test your soil for a reasonable fee.

* Use organic fertilizers rather than synthetic ones. Organic fertilizers release more slowly into the environment and create healthier soils.

* Apply fertilizer when the soil is moist and then lightly water. This will help the fertilizer move into the root zone instead of blowing or washing away. However, be sure to check the weather forecast in order to avoid applying fertilizers immediately before a heavy rain which may wash the fertilizers into the nearby streams.

* Calibrate your applicator to make sure you apply the correct amount of fertilizer.  

* Minimize the attraction of pests such as rats, therefore reducing the need for pesticides, by moving wood piles away from the house and clearing away litter and garbage.

* Plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees. Native plants are often hardier than non-native plants and less susceptible to pests and disease.

* Put an assortment of plants in your yard to increase biological diversity and encourage a variety of beneficial organisms that provide natural pest control.

* Rotate the plants in your annual garden. Changing the type of plants you grow each year makes it harder for pests dependent on a certain type of plant to become established, and therefore, eliminates the need for pesticides.

* Grow plants that are natural insect repellents, such as lemon balm, among your flowers and vegetables to help keep unwanted insects away.  

Other Suggestions: 

* Keep litter, pet wastes, leaves, and debris out of street gutters and storm drains. These outlets drain directly into lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands. Pet wastes contain bacteria and viruses that can threaten fish, wildlife, and people.

* Never dump oil, antifreeze, or other household chemicals into storm drains or sewers, down the drain of your sink, or into the toilet. Contact your local Solid Waste Management Office to find out how to dispose of these materials properly.

One thing that was not mentioned in the article is the benefit of using rain barrels, permeable surfaces, rain gardens and other methods to help cut down on stormwater runoff which is what washes all of these chemicals into the waterways in the first place.

Taking any of these steps will help you do your part to keep the planet a little less freaky!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monster Plant Could be Moving this Way

An article I read online in the Pocono Record this morning had this headline:

'Monster Plant' Could be Moving this Way

Excerpts from the article, which talks about a plant that is "so nasty, it will make your skin boil --- literally", note that this plant has already become established in Maryland and Virginia.

Look, but don't touch 

"Giant hogweed exudes a clear, watery sap that causes the skin to become photosensitive to ultraviolet radiation," said Don R. Robbins, weed control administrator for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. "Contact with the sap can result in severe burns, blisters and dermatitis, possibly leading to future complications, namely skin cancer."

The Michigan Department of Agriculture states: "This tall, majestic plant is a public health hazard because of its potential to cause severe skin irritation in susceptible people. Plant sap produces painful, burning blisters within 24 to 48 hours after contact. Plant juices also can produce painless red blotches that later develop into purplish or brownish scars that may persist for several years. For an adverse reaction to occur, the skin, contaminated with plant juices, must be moist (perspiration) and then exposed to sunlight. Some other plants are capable of causing this reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis."

Giant hogweed grows in a variety of habitats such as river bottomlands, roadsides, disturbed areas, lawns and gardens.

There are two large native plants that look like hogweed — purple angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) and cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum); and one introduced species, poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). All these grow in the same habitats as giant hogweed.

Although this plant isn't new to the area (it was listed as the Invasive Species of the Month in Maryland back in 2003 and an Exotic Invasive of the Quarter in Virginia in the Winter 2011 issue of the Virginia Forest Landowner), the article is a good reminder that we should all become familiar with the problem plants and critters that live in our area.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What's wrong with this picture? Using paintball guns to kill weeds

I first saw this post a few days ago on the weather channel. ( It is about a new idea to use paintball guns to "shoot" herbicides with "sub-meter accuracy". Take a look (and listen) at this short video and see if your reaction is the same as mine.

Do you see and hear the wind, catching and carrying all of those dangerous herbicides into the air?

I tried to do a little online search to see if I could find out more information about this topic and strangley enough, the only discussions I found about it were on Paintball Forums, where at least one user (on was astute enough to provide this comment:

Hopefully the herbicide in the ball isn't harmful to humans. Or am I the only one that sees a problem with being able to shoot poison from a paintball gun? It's bound to fall into some kid's hands at some point if it's released.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Permaculture Skills Workshops

Permaculture is all about learning to work WITH Mother Nature, not against her. This, of course, is the basis of all “green” gardening.

The Heathcote Community website defines permaculture as:

the conscious design of sustainable human habitats. The design process of permaculture offers practical ways to increase the abundance of natural systems and improve the efficiency of human activities. Rooted in the careful observation of the natural patterns characteristic of a particular site, permaculture applies techniques and principles from ecology, cooperative economics, appropriate technology, and sustainable agriculture with the wisdom of indigenous people to heal the earth and our selves. Permaculture is a powerful tool for redesigning our lives as well as our landscapes!

Permaculture is a system of designing ecologically inspired landscapes that integrate food production, water management, renewable energy and shelter which can help people live more sustainably and protect the Chesapeake Bay!

Heathcote Community offers workshops on many topics related to sustainability, cooperative living, and social justice. Several courses on permaculture are available on their summer schedule:

Sunday, July 31, 9 am – 12 pm

Soil and Water Management:  A Permaculture Perspective

This workshop will include a summary of the basics of soils–composition, texture, structure, and a few soil science basics–but will focus primarily on the practical aspects of soil management with a view to establishing and maintaining healthy, living soils as the basis for all life in our environment and as the medium for healthy plant growth and healthy human beings. This will connect directly with a discussion of proper water management for efficient, sustainable water use and enjoyment. The format will include brief lecture, a tour and discussion of relevant aspects of the gardens and other parts of the property, and a considerable hands-on component. This is about dirt, so come prepared to get dirty!

 Saturday, Aug 6, 9 am – 12 pm

Sustainable Plant Health Maintenance:  A Permaculture Perspective
This workshop will focus on strategies for enhancing and maintaining healthy crops of all kinds, including a review of relevant aspects of soil and water management, crop rotation, companion planting (including "guilds"), species and variety selection, foliar feeding, botanical and mineral sprays, sanitation, pruning, and more. Healthy plants for a healthy you!

 Saturday, Aug 13, 9 am – 12 pm

The Fall and Winter Garden:  A Permaculture Perspective
We will discuss and demonstrate selection of crops and various modes of crop protection for fall and winter gardening. We will discuss and where possible demonstrate the types of task and projects that can best be carried out during the cold seasons. We will show how preparation for next year's main growing season begins in late summer the previous year, followed directly by a discussion of multi-year crop planning. You should be able to get those delicious, healthy greens all through the year, and watch how your health improves!

Hosted by Heathcote Community and School of Living
21300 Heathcote Rd, Freeland, MD  21053

Tuition:  Sliding scale $20-$50 for each individual class. Or take all 3 classes for $50-$120!!

Registration is required. Register online by the Wednesday before each class by clicking this link:

Heathcote will be having  more extensive, 72 hour permaculture training, beginning on September 10th.

Extreme heat makes garden chemicals more dangerous

Hot enough for you?

I always get a kick out of it when I go to a doctor and she asks me if I get hot flashes. Hello!! It's over 100 degrees outside. Who in the heck could tell if they were having a hot flash in this temperature!!

Anyway, it shouldn't be news to anyone that it's unbearbly hot outside. And yet, the heat is BIG news. Newspapers and news site around the globe (not just the U.S.) are talking about the heat in D.C.

This article on Forbes blog entitled Mr. Heat Comes to Washington seems to sum it up the best. No matter how hot it is across the rest of the country,  "Any weather anomaly in our nation’s capital acquires cosmic significance."

It's a good article with all sorts of interesting facts about heat records in the country, including tidbits about a scorcher in the 1930's that caused things like : "30 rattlesnakes ravaged a farm in Michigan, attacking turkeys for their blood."

I did learn a few things from these various articles, though, about how heat affects us, our gardens and the planet.

First, I read a post the other day about how 76-year-old Loretta Lynn had to be taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion because she was gardening in 100 degree heat. Loretta's quote was: "There ain't a tomato worth it." It reminded me of my mom, who used to garden well into her 80's. And it also reminded me of the importance of NOT overdoing it outside in this heat.

I also learned something new from an article called The Heat Dome Continues on NBC Washington. The article states that the heat combined with the air quality in the area, is making the air unhealthy to breathe, which can be made worse by applying lawn chemicals or lawn mowing. Although I can't imagine ANYONE trying to mow their lawn in this heat, there may be some people who might think applying lawn chemicals is a fairly non-strenuous garden activity.

Along with the heat and humidity, the region also has to deal with poor air quality. The breeze helped out Thursday, but it will not hang around for Friday, meteorologist Chuck Bell reported. A Code Red air quality alert will be in effect Friday. Everyone should limit strenuous outdoor activity because the air is unhealthy to breathe. Turn off as many lights and appliances as possible, don't drive if you don't have to, do not apply chemicals to your lawn or garden, and avoid mowing. 

The heat can affect lawn chemicals in other ways, too. A document on the Virginia Cooperative Extension website says that: "Temperature extremes can cause physical or chemical changes to pesticide products. Such changes may make the product ineffective and/or cause plant injury. Heat makes chemicals more volatile and unstable."

Just more good reasons to ditch the lawn chemicals and go green in your garden.

The only other new thing I learned from my heat-reading this morning was that potted plants and raised beds get hotter than plants in the ground. I found that info on the Virginia Cooperative Extension site. That sounds like something I should have already known but just in case you didn't know it either, I'll pass it on. Maybe the heat is affecting your brain the same way it is affecting mine!

More info: How to properly dispose of lawn chemicals.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Drop It While It’s Hot

During the summer, you might use four times the amount of water we use during other months. Your water bill likely reflects the demand for the extra water you need for your lawn and garden. There’s an inexpensive way to capture the free rainwater for when you need it most -- during periods of drought -- to water your lawn and garden.

You can cut your water bill by installing a rain barrel in your yard. It’s a consistent supply of clean and free water for outdoor use. Rain barrels can be purchased at your local hardware or garden supply store.

Better yet, many local government programs offer them at reduced prices.

For more information read, The Rain Barrel Response.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I’m sorry Steve, but you just can’t have a sheep

I’m starting to think that my friend Steve REALLY likes sheep. Every now and then he sends me an idea for something to write about on my blog and it seems like a lot of the topics lately have pertained to sheep. Hmmmmm.

Mostly the articles talk about using sheep to maintain your lawn. Not only will these fluffy critters keep your lawn chewed down to a well-trimmed height, but they also provide instant fertilizer in the process.

The latest article he sent called Mow Your Lawn With Mother Nature’s Hungry Critters goes on to talk about the benefits of also using geese, cows and goats to keep things sheep shape…I mean ship shape…in the landscape.

A few weeks ago, he sent me an article about a school in Carlisle Pennsylvania that is using leased sheep to help keep the grass around their solar panels trimmed down. They are estimating that the sheep will save the school $15,000 a year in mowing costs, as well as cut down on air pollution.

Dan Ludwig a “grazing specialist” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service based in Lebanon County, said that leasing animals for grazing on swaths of government and private land is a growing business.

“It’s gaining popularity, especially in orchards,” Ludwig said.

An old 2009 article in USA Today mentions that sheep have been used in many states (including Maryland) to help keep grass at manageable levels along roadways:

Carroll County, Md. This summer the Maryland State Highway Administration is renting a herd of goats and sheep to control invasive weeds in a wetland area. Spokesman Charlie Gischlar says using a 7,500-pound lawn mower in the area would embed ruts that could destroy the area’s hydrology and endanger the habitat of the Bog Turtle, a four-inch turtle that is listed as a threatened species.

So how does one go about renting a sheep? Or a goat? Or a chicken or goose or cow?

The articles Steve sent me listed several companies that rent sheep and goats. None of them listed any ruminants for hire in the DC, Virginia or Maryland areas. I even emailed the department of agriculture for both states asking if they knew where I could rent a sheep. I never received a reply from either department.

But Steve seemed to have his heart set on a sheep, so I kept looking.

My search led me to the Maryland Small Ruminant Page. They just happened to have a link to a page about Targeted Grazing which DOES list a company in Maryland where you can’t rent a sheep, but you can rent a goat, for targeted grazing.

From The Eco-Goats website:

It is easy to see that our roadsides, open fields, woodlands and backyards are becoming overrun with invasive species and other unwanted vegetation. Machines often can't get to problem areas, humans hands are very labor intensive, and herbicides are dangerous to our waterways, soil, and desired vegetation, not to mention animals and humans. 

Enter Eco-Goats! This sustainable alternative is fast, easy, effective, environmentally sound and just plan fun.

"This use of goats for targeted grazing serves as a role model for other parks and sends a strong conservation message to the community. Goats provide a unique opportunity to move toward economical, sustainable and ecological weed control and away from methods relying on the use of heavy equipment or herbicides... In this tight budget time, it is always helpful to find creative solutions and leverage partnerships. The goats are a welcome sight to help us out and also give area children a chance to come enjoy them along with the park." 

-- John R. Leopold, Anne Arundel County Executive 

If left alone, invasive plants take over our woodlands, strangling valuable trees and threatening important diversity. Open grasslands and neighborhood backyards become overrun, creating a loss in farming productivity, habitat for birds and other wildlife, and enjoyment of outdoor space. 

Enter Eco-Goats! 

When it comes to clearing unwanted vegetation, goats can provide an ideal alternative to machines and herbicides. They graze in places that mowers can't reach and humans don't want to go (yes, they love Poison Ivy). In fact, goats eat a wide range of unwanted vegetation, which on the East Cost include Kudzu, Oriental Bittersweet, Ailanthus, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Honeysuckle, Mile-A-Minute and more.?

Wow! They eat invasive plant species (eliminating the need for chemical weed control) , provide their own fertilizer (eliminating the need for chemical fertilizer) and mow lawns without the fumes and other problems created by lawn mowers. NOW I see why Steve likes sheep. And goats, too. What eco-friendly gardener wouldn't!

Wildlife Gardening in Small Spaces - July 23rd

What: Wildlife Gardening in Small Spaces Workshop
When: Saturday, July 23rd, 1:00 pm
Where: Columbia Heights Recreation Center

This weekend the District Department of the Environment and Audubon MD/DC are hosting their last backyard wildlife habitat workshop of the summer.  The workshop will be at the Columbia Heights Recreation Center, and will include presentations on gardening with native plants, site selection, garden design and plant selection.  We will also be planting a wildlife garden with native flowers and shrubs.

Participants will receive:
  • Live plants,
  • A birdhouse kit,
  • Bringing Nature Home, a book about wildlife gardening by Douglas Tallamy,
  • “Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat, Chesapeake Bay Region”, a booklet from the US Fish & Wildlife Service,
  • “Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas”, a booklet from the National Park Service,
  • The Green DC Map,
  • And various brochures on local wildlife from DDOE.
The workshop will begin at 1:00 pm on Saturday July 23 at Columbia Heights Recreation Center (1480 Girard Street NW).  This workshop is free.  Please register at (click on backyard habitat education).  You will also find our schedule of autumn workshops on that website.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Organic Pest Control Methods - Explained

I recently had a post about Organic Pest Control which summed up the results of a survey conducted by Mother Earth Magazine asking gardeners across the country which methods of organic pest control they found the most effective.

Although I had heard of most of the methods of control mentioned in the article, I have to admit that I didn’t fully understand what some of them were. So today I am going to go into a little more detail describing the various types of organic pest control which were mentioned in the article, as well as a few others.

First, it is important to make sure that the insects you are trying to kill are actually bad bugs, and not good ones. If you aren’t sure of the identification of an insect, there are many sources listed in this post which can help you with your ID.

For more details about many of these methods, there is a great page on the Montgomery County Maryland website called Pesticide Alternatives.

Manual methods – things you can do:

1) Handpicking– This method of pest control means just what it says. You walk through your garden and remove the insects by hand. This method works well for large insects such as beetles and hornworms. Of course, you have to do something with the bug once you pluck it. If you don’t have chickens or ducks to feed them to (see number 9, below) then you can carry a small container of water and soap or isopropyl alcohol to drop the pests into.  The deceased insects can then be returned to the earth to provide garden nutrients.

2) Hose ‘em off – Similar to handpicking is spraying them off with a strong stream of water. This method should be used when you are watering, anyway, so you don’t waste water, and works, to some limited extent, for soft bodied insects such as aphids and spidermites. Be sure and spray the bottoms of the leaves, too.

3) Right Plant, Right Place– Plants will generally have more pest resistance, and be healthier in general, if they are grown in the right spot. Get to know your site conditions and choose plants accordingly.

4) Growing resistant varieties– Plant breeders are creating cultivars that are more resistant to pests and diseases all the time. Ask for these varieties when making your plant selections at local nurseries or through mail order catalogs. Keep in mind that, in general, native plants are often more resistant to native pest species.

5) Timed planting– You can avoid certain garden pests by planting when they aren’t around. Some pests lay eggs only at a certain times in the spring. Planting to avoid these times can help avoid the pest.

6) Companion planting – Companion plants in your flower and vegetable garden will attract beneficial and predatory insects to your plants—while repelling unwanted garden thugs. For example, marigolds repel nematodes; mints (potted to prevent overgrowth)  repel cabbage pests and aphids; rue deters Japanese beetles; sweet basil controls tomato hornworm, repels aphids, mosquitoes, mites and acts as a natural fungicide and slows the growth of milkweed bugs (and don't forget pesto!); tansy used as a green mulch can repel cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, ants, squash bugs. Chrysanthemums, chives, onions and garlic repel many pests, so plant them near your vegetable crops.

7) Crop rotation – From season to season, plant different crop species in the same location. This will help you discourage pests which were attracted to the first crop and keep pest populations from building up.

Chemical controls – things you apply

8) Insecticidal soap– Insecticidal soaps work by penetrating  the insect’s outer layer (cuticle) and dehydrating them and is useful for soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mealybugs and whiteflies. Although insecticidal soaps are more eco-friendly than harsher chemicals (they are non-toxic to humans and test animals and they biodegrade rapidly in the soil) there are some things to keep in mind. First, all soaps have phytotoxic properties, so you should test them on a few leaves before spraying an entire plant.  They will also kill many beneficial insects so make sure you know which insects you are spraying. Insecticidal soaps can be purchased at many garden supply stores now or you can make your own.

9) Horticultural oil – Horticultural oils work by smothering pests and their eggs, and may also have some repellent properties. Superior oil products control a wide variety of insects while going easy on beneficial insects. You can purchase horticultural oil or make your own.

10) Bt (Bacillus thuringiens),is a microbial biological control method which works on various larval insect pests. Bt is applied to the plant, where it is ingested by the caterpillar, which is  poisoned, paralyzed and eventually dies. Bt will not harm the majority of beneficial insects in your garden. However, it will kill butterfly larvae, which of course, are caterpillars. Bt can be purchased under many brand names.

11) Neem– (also known as azadirachtin) is an insecticide extracted from  seeds of the neem tree. Neem works as a broad-spectrum repellent, growth regulator,and insect poison. It discourages feeding  by making plants unpalatable to insects. If they eat the treated plant anyway, it inhibits their ability to lay eggs. Neem works on a wide range of insects, however, caution should be used. It is described as being ALMOST non-toxic to mammals and beneficial insects, but should not be used on food plants.

12) Garlic-oil spray-  Garlic oil kills insects, but not selectively, so it will kill the good bugs as well as the bad bugs. It works well on aphids, squash bugs, whiteflies and other insects.

13) Diatomaceous earth– Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a nonselective, abrasive dust commonly used to kill pests in the home and garden. It works by physical rather than chemical action. DE is the fossilized silica shells of algae called diatoms, which are covered with sharp needlelike projections that penetrate an insects cuticle, causing the insect to die of dehydration. You can dust plants and soil with DE to control crawling pests like slugs and snails, aphids, caterpillars and other insects. DE is considered nontoxic to mammals, but can irritate mucous membranes, so a dust mask should be worn while applying it. .

14) Milky spore disease – This product kills grubs of Japanese beetles and other related beetles but is harmless to other organisms.

Call out the critters – Beneficial animals and insects

15) Beneficial insects – Beneficial insects are good bugs that eat bad bugs, and include ladybugs, green lacewings, parasitic wasps and others. You can garden to attract beneficial insects  or you can purchase them from garden supply stores. For more information, see:  Lady Bugs

16) Beneficial birds – Many birds (including hummingbirds) also eat garden pests. Gardening to attract birds will bring you a beautiful natural form of pest control that will sing for its supper. Read: 10 Tips for a Wildlife Friendly Garden and Gardening for Hummingbirds

17) Poultry predation– Apparently, chickens and ducks love things like grubs, hornworms and other meaty garden pests. If you have the time and space to raise poultry, this sounds like a fun,  eco-friendly solution.

18) Beneficial nematodes, Beneficial nematodes are underground pest hunters that control over 250 different species of insects that spend some part of their lives underground. They are a very efficient organic insect control method and kill most insects before they become adults. This includes lots of common lawn and garden pests such as grubs, fleas, mole crickets, Japanese beetles and weevils.

Using barriers

19) Floating row covers – Floating row covers are lengths of fabric  which are lightly draped on plant foliage, creating barriers from pests. They let in more than 80% of the sunlight, as well as the rain and other irrigation. Covers must be draped loosely to allow for plant growth, but secured at the bottom to prevent intruders.

20) Rigid collars – For the plants, not the insects. Collars can be made of cardboard, plastic or metal cans, open at both ends and placed around the plants. These work for some cutworms, but not climbing cutworms.

Many of these products can be purchased online or at your favorite nursery or hardware store.

**The source for much of this material came from two  books from our home bookshelf:  Rodale's Chemical-Free Yard & Garden and The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control.

Here are some other great resources for the Metro DC Area:

Pesticide Alternatives – Montgomery County Maryland website
Try Pesticide Alternatives (pdf file) – Maryland Department of Agriculture
Minimum Chemical Gardening – Virginia Cooperative Extension

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Urban Water Quality: Community-Based Solutions Seminar - July 21st

What: Urban Water Quality – Community-Based Solutions Seminar
When: July 21st, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon (Lunch afterwards)
Where: George Mason University Fairfax Campus – Meese Conference Room, Mason Hall

Urban stormwater pollution harms our rivers, lakes, and streams, but local efforts can make a difference. Take the opportunity to participate in a dialogue about water quality in our community. Discussions will focus on stormwater management techniques, urban landscape management practices, homeowner education and engagement, and the connection of these practices to water quality.

Join us to collaborate on education and outreach solutions to improve and protect our valuable community water resources.

RSVP: Online registration including full agenda or phone 804-644-0283

Friday, July 15, 2011

Organic Pest Control - What Works, What Doesn't? Mother Earth asks her Gardeners

As green gardeners, we always try to find an eco-friendly, non-polluting way to handle the pests that show up in our gardens. We know that any chemicals we apply may find their way into the groundwater and eventually our waterways. And certainly when it comes to growing food we are going to eat, we don't want to apply anything that could add any poisons.

So I was excited to see an article in a recent issue of Mother Earth News Magazine called Organic Pest Control: What Works, What Doesn't.

Last year, Mother Earth News launded an Organic Pest Control Survey, asking readers what works and what doesn't in the eco-friendly battle against the vile villians that infiltrate our vegetable gardens. About 1,300 gardeners from across North America responded, providing new, region-specific insight into organic pest control.

Here are some of the methods that were provided for dealing with garden pests, details of which can be read in the full article:
  1. Aphid:Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil
  2. Armyworm:Bt (Bacillus thuringiens), handpicking, row covers
  3. Asparagus beetle:Poultry predation, neem, handpicking
  4. Blister beetle:Poultry predation, neem, handpicking
  5. Cabbage root maggot:Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth
  6. Cabbageworm:Bt, handpicking, row covers
  7. Carrot rust fly:Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth
  8. Colorado potato beetle:Poultry predation, neem, handpicking
  9. Corn earworm:Bt, horticultural oil, beneficial nematodes
  10. Cucumber beetle:Poultry predation, neem, handpicking
  11. Cutworm:Rigid collars, Bt, diatomaceous earth
  12. Flea beetle: Insecticidal soap, garlic-pepper spray, row covers
  13. Harlequin bug:Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem
  14. Japanese beetle: Handpicking, row covers, milky spore disease
  15. Mexican bean beetle:Poultry predation, neem, handpicking
  16. Onion root maggot:Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth
  17. Slugs:Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth
  18. Snails:Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth
  19. Squash bug:Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem
  20. Squash vine borer: Growing resistant varieties, crop rotation, beneficial nematodes
  21. Stink bug:Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem
  22. Tarnished plant bug:Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem
  23. Tomato hornworm: Bt, handpicking, row covers
  24. Whitefly:Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil
There were many additional comments added by the respondees, including things like: "Plant more than you can use", garden to attract beneficial insects, and garden to attract birds (which eat a lot of insects). Those are some of the tactics that my hubby and I use in our garden, too.

What about you? Have you found any good eco-friendly methods of controlling insects in your garden that you would like to share?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Attracting Beneficial Insects for all Natural Pest Control

I’ve decided to devote my next few posts to chemical free pest control. I could give you a lot of reasons why it isn’t a good idea to use chemicals in a landscape. A HUGE one is that everything you put into your yard has the potential of finding its way into our local waterways, which is the leading cause of non-point source pollution.

But I think the main reason that I am in such a “buggy” mood is because I just bought a new camera and, when in macro mode, it can take photos as close as ½” away. Its really hard for me to kill something after I look that close at its tiny little face.

So for my first post this week, instead of telling you how to get rid of bugs, I am going to tell you how to get MORE bugs to your garden…the beneficial insects that will do some of the dirty work for you in your fight against garden pests.

Many of the insects that visit our gardens provide a benefit. Some of them improve the soil. Others pollinate our plants. But the term “beneficial insect” is probably most often used to describe good  insects that control the bad insects that cause problems in the garden. This definition of ‘beneficial insect’ describes the watchdogs of the gardens – the tiny sentinels that keep those pesky garden intruders such as aphids, mealybugs, scale and whiteflies in check without the use of harmful chemicals. Some of the most popular beneficial insects are ladybugs, green lacewings, parasitic wasps and dragonflies.

The question, of course, is how do we get the beneficial insects to our gardens? And even more important, once they are there, how do we get them to stay?

Before we go any farther, there is one thing that you need to remember: Beneficial insects are just another form of wildlife. So instead of thinking ‘bug’, think of something larger:  Birds, perhaps.

With that in mind, think of the two primary ways that you can get beneficial insects into your garden. You can purchase many varieties from local nurseries and online specialty stores. Or you can try to lure them into your garden.

Bats, hawks and many other forms of wild birds are all excellent at keeping the pest populations down on your property. But what do you think would happen if you could go to a store and buy a large quantity of predatory birds and release them on your property?

First of all, most of them would immediately fly away. And the ones that did manage to stay around may not be well adapted to your area and may become sick or cause problems to the native wildlife.

Now think of the second option. Imagine that you create an environment that the predators find so inviting that they fly in on their own and setup housekeeping. You will attract NATIVE predators that want to dine on the NATIVE insects.

So if luring beneficial insects makes so much more sense, how does one go about doing it?

As with any form of wildlife, if you want to entice beneficial insects to hang around, you must provide for their basic needs: food, water, safe shelter and places to raise their young. If you release any wild creature in your yard without providing these elements, its immediate reaction is going to be to get out of your yard! The same is true of live insects.

Water: Ponds, birdbaths and rain gardens all provide enough drinking water for insects. If you do not have any of these sources on your property, a shallow dish or pan of water filled with pebbles so the insects won’t drown will suffice. Change the water every few days to discourage mosquitoes from breeding.

 Shelter: Leaf litter, mulch and other yard debris provide sources of shelter for beneficial insects. So do stone, driftwood, shells and other natural garden decorations. But in addition to shelter, you must provide for the health and safety of beneficial insects. This means eliminating harmful chemicals and bug zappers from your garden. Both of these items kill as many beneficial insects as they do pests.

Food: This is the most important item that must be present in a garden to encourage beneficial insects to stay. There are two ways in which beneficial insects control other insects. Predators, such as dragonflies and ladybugs, feed directly on their prey. Other beneficial insects are parasites and kill their hosts by laying eggs on or in them. The growing young, in turn, kill the host insect by using it as food. So in theory, if you have pest insects in your yard, you will have food for beneficial insects. However, garden pests are usually not enough to entice beneficial insects to stay. Beneficial insects also require key components found in pollen and nectar plants. Without these plants, beneficial insects cannot survive. If you provide plants that beneficial insects enjoy, you will have a much better chance of attracting and retaining beneficial insects in your garden.

As a general rule, beneficial insects like tiny flowers that offer both pollen and nectar. A variety of plants should be selected that bloom at different times of the year and for best results, intersperse these plants amid your other plants.  Beneficial insects love the tiny, fragrant flowers of many types of herbs and vegetables. If you grow this type of plant, allow some of them to fully bolt and produce flowers.

Although you can buy beneficial insects online and at some local nurseries, I suggest that you try to attract them to your yard, first. As with most things in nature, it is always better to conserve or supplement the beneficial insects already at work in your garden then to try to bring in imports. Also keep in mind that If you introduce purchased beneficials into your yard to control a pest problem, you may find a negative impact on native butterflies, moths, pollinators and other friendly garden residents.

Plants that attract beneficial insects: Alyssum, Angelica, anise, baby’s breath, bee balm, calendula, candytuft, carroway, carrot family, cilantro, clover, coreopsis, coriander, cosmos, daisy, Dill, evening primrose, fennel, feverfew, goldenrod, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, marigold, mint, mustard family, parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace, rue, spearmint, sunflowers, tansy, thyme, yarrow, zinnias and any wildflowers native to your region.

More resources: The Best Plants to Attract Beneficial Insects, Mother Earth News Magazine
Ladybugs: Natures Beautiful Little Killing Machines
How to Attract Beneficial Insects and Animals, Mother Nature Network

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Home Scale Permaculture Course - Starts September 10th

Permaculture, a term originated by Australian ecologists, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, means permanent culture.  Using both ancient and modern knowledge, this methodology mimics universal patterns found in nature to create healthy human habitats.  Guided by ethical behavior, Permaculture is a system of designing ecologically inspired landscapes that integrate home food production, energy, shelter and water.

Permaculture allows you to enjoy the bounty & beauty of an edible landscape… Reduce your dependency on fossil fuels… Replenish the water table…Tap your own natural resources: sun, wind, water, soil, flora & fauna…  

Beginning September 10th, 2o11, the School of Living and Heathcote Community will host a 72 hour course on permaculture.

During the course, which is spread over 6 weekends, participants will learn:
  • A step-by-step design process that taps your creative genius
  • Observation and site analysis to identify resource opportunities
  • Bioregional ecosystems, diversity and natural patterns
  • How to protect local watersheds and restore wildlife habitat
  • Water harvesting and management in the landscape; detoxification with rain gardens 
  • Nutrient recycling with grey water and composting toilets
  • Identification of microclimates and zone planning for efficiency
  • Renewable energy systems and small-scale appropriate technology
  • Natural building and passive-solar home retrofitting
  • Fruit growing with forest gardens and plant guild design
  • Intensive no-till food gardening, soil regeneration and composting
  • How to cultivate forests, grains and cash crops
  • Integration of domestic animals and aquaculture
  • Social/economic strategies for urban/community scale food, energy and water security
Instructor: As a Permaculture designer, architect, and life-long organic gardener, Patty Ceglia is passionate about finding the ecological balance for productive potential of every site.  She teaches at Wilson College, where her students practice hands-on strategies at the 160 acre Center for Sustainable Living.

For more information: 

Visit:  Homescale Permaculture Design Course

Call: 410-357-9523 


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mowing high helps save the Bay - and you can help prove it

The University of Maryland needs your help in their Mow Right – Mowing Height Field Study.

The purpose of this study is to measure the adoption of a single lawn care practice: correct mowing height (3 inches or highest setting).  This is the single most critical practice that homeowners need to do correctly to have a healthy lawn. All lawn best management practices hinge on proper mowing.  Many university studies have shown that mowing at 3 inches prevents weed problems, puts less stress on the grass, contributes to a healthy root system and drought resistance. Since it also provides  better resistance to insects and diseases, and helps prevent run-off  of soil, fertilizers, chemicals, and pollutants, maintaining proper mowing height also helps protect the Chesapeake Bay from pollution from runoff.

This study is a regional effort among participants from University of Maryland Extension, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Penn State Extension, Audubon International and its members, and large and small lawn care companies. It is our goal to achieve widespread adoption of the 3 inch mowing height across the region.

Why mow at 3 inches?
  • It has been widely documented that three inches is the ideal mowing height for residential turf across the country. 
  • Low and infrequent mowing may be the major cause of lawn deterioration.
  • It is best to remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow.
  • Mowing to the proper height can reduce weed problems by as much as 50 to 80%.
  • Sharpen or replace mower blades at least once a year or more frequently if needed.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn. It is a way to recycle nutrients.
For more information, visit the Growing Green Lawns website.

Drip...drip - Drip Irrigation for the Patio & Small Garden - Saturday, July 16th

Saturday, July 16: Drip…drip – Drip Irrigation for the Patio & Small Garden.  8:00am-10:00am. 

A hands on workshop for your own drip irrigation system guaranteed to stop your "water worries" on those long weekends or vacation in August.
  • Participants will learn how to assemble a low cost drip system.
  • Participants will evaluate a variety of dripper and mini-sprinklers suitable for patios and small gardens.  
  • Participants should be able to go home, order, and install a small custom system for less than $125.
  • Participants will tour Common Good City Farm's drip system which was installed by the instructor.
  • Principles learned will be adaptable to larger gardens and orchards.
Teacher: Murray Schmechel is a retired life long gardener who has been "dripping" for the last 15 years. He has helped numerous neighbors become "drip" enthusiasts.  He is part of the Common Good City Farm staff.  Register Now!

Become a Master Watershed Steward

As eco-friendly gardeners, we've learned many things that we can do from our own homes and yards to help protect the local watersheds. For those who would like to learn more, you may want to consider becoming a Master Watershed Steward.
Deadline for Applications is July 22nd 
The fall course of the cutting edge National Capital Region-Watershed Stewards Academy will begin in September. A 15-class course spanning 5 months, the Academy will be held primarily at the University of the District of Columbia at the Van Ness campus in DC right near Metro. 
Through the course, we will help empower community activists and leaders help their neighbors change how they handle stormwater.  Participants become Master Watershed Stewards by completing the course and taking on a Capstone Project that will begin to reduce pollution and runoff at its source, neighborhood by neighborhood. 

Course charge is $225, but scholarships are available. The Academy is being run by a coalition of local and regional watershed nonprofit organizations.

 If you want to expand your activism and deepen your knowledge base and resources about the environment as it pertains to watersheds and stormwater management and the quality of life of your community, we invite you to apply to the Watershed Stewards Academy

 Please visit for questions and to apply.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Prince George's County Butterfly Count

In a previous post, I talked about the fun and importance of the annual North American Butterfly Association annual butterfly count. If you haven't had the opportunity yet to participate in one of these counts, there is another one coming up on July 16th.

NABA Count – "Prince George's County Butterfly Count"
Saturday, July 16, 2011 (Rain Date: July 23) 9am – 5pm
NABA Count Fee: $3 per person

Clearwater Nature Center
11000 Thrift Rd
Clinton, MD 20735

Count Coordinator: Glenda Jordan

This butterfly count has been held annually since 1992. All participants must be physically prepared to handle the summer heat/humidity and hiking. Participants are responsible for bringing their own water, hats, field guides, cameras, etc. This program is better suited to teens and adults. Previous butterfly count experience is preferred, but not necessarily required.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tour of Local Rain Gardens & Stormwater Management Projects

Wednesday July 20th, 6:30pm-8pm
Hosted by the Takoma Horticultural Club
See how the fabulous Hancock Avenue Rain Garden is progressing, a year after its installation. Check out the sedum blooms and how they have spread on the Green Roof at the Takoma Park City Building.  Gaze wistfully at Cleveland Avenue's well-established rain garden and their use of pervious pavers.  Finish off at a member's house to view her above-ground cistern, rain garden, conservation landscaping, and those of her neighbors.  Guides and residents will answer questions about design, construction, native plants used,  and rationale for these methodologies.  Open to the public. FREE.
Meet at the Takoma City Building Maple Avenue at Philadelphia Avenue at 6:30. Walk or carpool from there. Walk to Hancock, carpool to Cleveland Avenue and then on to finish with a snack at Kit Gage's. Full directions at the meeting place.
More details on the Takoma Horticultural Club at
Information provided by Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Edible Urban Garden Tour - July 15th

GET YOUR GROW ON with DC's first Edible Urban Garden Tour hosted by, Friday, July 15th, from 5-8PM.

Explore city spaces and residential gardens that will open their doors and gates for the public to see what growing good food in our own backyards, front yards, rooftops, and empty lots is all about.  It’s a chance to ask questions, learn from and hear what inspires some of DC’s best gardeners.

The tour will start at the beautiful, plant-filled garden shop named Old City Green and stretch through the revitalized neighborhoods of Shaw, Bloomingdale and Ledroit Park.  Plus, see for yourself and learn more about Common Good City Farm the community garden that Prince Charles recently toured as part of his inspiring Future of Food visit to DC.  A map of tour locations will be distributed on the day of the event at Old City Green. The tour is self-guided and will cover several miles. Bring out your bikes (or use Capital Bikeshare’s two-wheelers), strap on your walking shoes (if you’re feeling up to it), or consider carpooling with a group.

Organizers of the tour hope to  support the "grow your own" movement and create a community event designed to be a resource for the many local residents interested in finding ways to grow their own food.  For questions, please send an email to

To Purchase Tickets for this Event, Click Here. Tickets are $10 each, with a portion of the proceeds to support Eat Local First DC.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Raise a glass for Washington Youth Garden

Need a good excuse to stop for a drink on the way home from work? Well, emPower magazine wants to  give you one.

Every month, emPower hosts a Happy Hour to support a different non-profit in the Washington DC Metro area. For July, emPower magazine, in partnership with Washington Gardener Magazine is hosting an emPower HAPPY HOUR at Tabaq Bistro*.

The July Non-Profit emPower HAPPY HOUR Recipient:

Washington Youth Garden

WYG's Mission: Using the garden cycle as a tool, the mission of the Washington Youth Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum (WYG) is to inspire children and families to engage in self-discovery, explore relationships with food and the natural world, and contribute to the health and well-being of their communities. The primary goals of our programs are to: a) educate youth and families about the relationship between food, its origins, nutrition, and health; b) connect children (and adults) to the natural world as a place of wonder, exploration and resource for their personal growth; c) develop interpersonal skills, awareness of civic responsibility, and land stewardship; and d) expand interest and public awareness of urban gardening and gardening with children.

Attendees can give in two ways:
• By drinking (10 percent of the beverage proceeds will go to the non-profit)
• By bringing non-monetary donations (depending on the needs of the organization)

Non-monetary Donations:

Cookbooks (gently used)
Garden Gloves
Spices (sealed)
Olive Oil (sealed)
Honey (sealed)
Vinegar (sealed)

Date: THURSDAY July 7, 2011, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

*TABAQ is located at 1336 U St NW, Washington, DC  — a few blocks from the U St-Cardoza metro stop.

Admission is Free

Please RSVP at either:

Facebook: July emPower Happy Hour


Eventbrite: July emPower Happy Hour

Information provide by Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher
Washington Gardener Magazine

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