Friday, July 23, 2010

CANCELED: Seed Bomb-aranza

Oh my intrepid gardeners, it is with great regret (but also a little relief) that I announce first-ever cancellation of our first butcertainlynotthelast Seed Bomb-aranza.

If you haven't heard, tomorrow is going to be hella hot here in the District, and the last time the DCGG had an event on a hella hot day, only three people showed up. (Two of those people being me and Le Boyfriend, and the third being the person that suggested the event in the first place.)

Also, at that hella hot event in which only three people showed up, 1/3 of the volunteers nearly died from heat stroke. (That would be me.)

In addition to the hot-hot-hotness, there are several large, well-known gardening events happening at the exact same time as ours which will likely steal - steal? yes, steal - our DCGG members. And then also I'm sort of having a family emergency so I'm not sure what tomorrow is going to be like.

So? So. We are canceling the Seed Bomb-aranza.

But do not be sad, my little ones. I will for certain make it up to you by presenting you with a super fun option: The First Butcertainlynotthelast Seed Bomb Do-It-Yourself Bomb-aroo Kit! Woo!

If you're wretchedly bummed about not being able to make seed bombs with yours truly, let me know and I will send you your very own DIY seed bomb kit. Just add water! Email me your name and address and I'll send you a kit posthaste.

Sorry 'bout the cancelation, kiddies. But chin up! We'll soon be coming into the Fall and that means "Coat D.C. in Crocus" and "Douse D.C. in Daffodils." Oh yes! Fall plantings for Spring takeovers.

Stay cool, my gardening gang.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coming Soon: The Virginia Avenue Community Garden

This past weekend, I had the honor of meeting the great folks of the Virginia Avenue Community Garden in SE D.C. I am in the process of writing something a bit more substantial about them, their gorgeous garden, and their campaign to save it from development, but for now you get pictures.

I wish these were scratch-n-sniff photos - and that your monitor was a scratch-n-sniff monitor - because HOT DAMN the garden smelled good. It was like walking into a giant lasagna, only without the pasta and marinara. Basil, thyme, rosemary, dill. I wanted to roll in the dirt like a labrador retriever.

The only thing the garden needs is an ice cream plant. A chocolate one. Or Rocky Road! Yeah, a Rocky Road ice cream plant. But until such a thing as an ice cream plant is invented, I'll settle for some tomatoes. And plums. And raspberries. And apples. And cantalope. And pumpkins. And corn.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Seed Bomb-aranza!

Howdy-ho! 'Tis time to announce the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners' very first butcertainlynotthelast SEED BOMB-ARANZA!

When: Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where: National Mall, near the Smithsonian Metro stop on the Blue/Orange lines

Time: 11am to 12:30pm

What is a Seed Bomb-aranza? Seed Bomb-aranza (see-duh bahm-bah-rahn-zah) n. An event in which the DCGG and friends make seed bombs on the National Mall: I want to make D.C. a greener place, so let's have a Seed Bomb-aranza and seed bomb some empty lots!

What is a seed bomb? Think of a Dunkin' Donuts donut hole, but instead of being made of cakey goodness, it's made of clay and dirt. And instead of having dough inside, it has flower seeds. And instead of getting powdered sugar on your hands when you hold it, you get mud. And instead of digesting it, you throw it in an empty lot. Fun, right?!

What happens after the Bomb-aranza? We send you, our loveable gardening minions, off into the concrete jungle to seed bomb the naked areas of our fair District. A tossin' good time for one and all!

I love the idea, now tell me more! We're mixing it up and will be bombin' it picnic-style! Meaning al fresco and on blankets. And also with food and drinks! But it's strictly BYOF and BYOBSLATBAABYCHAOTNM - which translates to Bring Your Own Beverages So Long As Those Beverages Aren't Alcoholic Because You Can't Have Alcohol On The National Mall - because I once brought Oreos to a guerilla gardening event and no one ate them. Scarred me for life, the non-Oreo eating. For reals. So if you want to make seed bombs and eat, then bring yourself some food. (But no one will complain if you bring me some Oreos. I'm just sayin'.)

What to bring: Besides Oreos? Something to sit on, some food and beverages if you want to snack and sip, the willingness to get your hands dirty, and most importantly, some seeds! Bring a packet (or two... or fifty) of seeds to add to the muddy mix. Native flowers are great! If you want to win major points on my "I Love You More Than Oreos" scale, you can bring some clay. Email me if you're up for clayin' it.

So there you have it, you sneaky gardeners, you. The Seed Bomb-aranza. Be there, or (a vacant lot will) be bare.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Agaves Do It Once In Their Lifetime

Gardening folk, the National Zoo's agave plant has bloomed! Which means two things: 1) It has reached maturation; and 2) Now it's going to die.

Is that not just the saddest thing ever? There you go, livin' your life being all agave-like and then BAM! You bloom! And everyone goes "Ooh!" and "Aah!" and you even get your own write-up on the zoo's website. People come and take pictures of you. They comment on your beauty. Everyone is duly impressed and you feel sort of spectacular. You're a superstar. A celebrity. You're waving at your adoring public and enjoying being an agave, and then?


That agave got dealt a crap hand, if you ask me.

But look! Pretty!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gettin' To Know You: Globe Thistle

Once upon a time I saw what looked like a giant pom pon on a stick, a-juttin' out of the ground near the African American Civil War Memorial. "Oh!" I exclaimed. "It's a giant pom pon on a stick, a-juttin' out of the ground!" In love with the odd plant, I took a picture of it.

Weeks later, Le Boyfriend and I were walking to RedRocks for some pizza when an overgrown patch of Earth caught our attention. Ever adventurous, we snuck down the alley and into the backyards of some Columbia Heights residents. (We also ate some of their totally unripe grapes, which I found to be bitterly delicious, but the boyfriend found to be just plain bitter.)

Beyond that alley, you know what we discovered? AMAZINGNESS, my gardening friends. An overgrown oasis in the middle of the city. A big heap of potential wrapped up in weeds and trash. Washington Parks & People has plans for the lot, and we applaud their efforts. In fact, we wish we were a part of it. (Yo! Parks & People! We'd like to help out! Give us a holler, yo.)

As we investigated the lot further, I found amongst the debris A GIANT POM PON ON A STICK! Except it was a dead pom pon. Or maybe it was just sleeping. Hibernating. It was all sticky and dry and not-at-all-purple and flowery. Desite its seemingly dead-ness, it was still absolutely fantastic. I did the "Get me that! Get me that!" dance, so the boyfriend jumped the barrier and pulled the plant out of the ground.

(In Le Boyfriend's defense, he didn't mean to pull the whole thing out. He was going for one of the seeds but the stalk was hollow and light and the plant just POPPED out of the ground. I call that Providence, people.)

Not knowing what it was, I did some research and discovered the following about this beloved plant:

Name: Globe Thistle, Echinops ritro

Globe thistles are stalwart perennials that produce metallic-blue blossoms with perfectly round flower heads atop ribbed stems. Plants grow two to five feet tall and almost as wide. The spiny-edged leaves are white and woolly underneath.

Other details: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping. Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season. Not fussy about soil. This plant is resistant to deer. Protect from aphids, and stake them if necessary.

Uses: The larger species are impressive when used in background plantings or when grown as specimen plants. The smaller types are attractive in a bed, border, or wild garden.

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee)
Genus: Echinops (EK-in-ops)
Species: ritro (RIH-tro)
Category: Perennials
Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
Spacing: 15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Bloom Color: Medium Blue
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Foliage: Grown for foliage; Herbaceous; Silver/Gray; Blue-Green
Soil pH Requirements: 5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic); 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
Propagation: By division in the spring or by seed.

Related species: Echinops sphaerocephalus is a species that is much taller, sometimes reaching seven feet, and is best used where a strong statement is needed.

Related varieties: Taplow Blue has intense blue color in the flowers and, at only two to three feet tall, is well behaved in borders.

All that said, I have seeds for these monster lollipop-like plants. If you want to grow 'em,
let me know! But be warned: several people reported that Globe Thistles were incredibly invasive and self-propagated all over the gosh darned place. Others said that self-propagation was poppycock and that theirs didn't spread at all. So if you plant one, keep an eye on it so that it doesn't TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If You Can't Take The Heat, Stay Out of The Outside

My boyfriend and I have been watching our hot peppers with a wary eye. For something that has "hot" in its name, it's ironic that they can't stand the heat. We dump our pets' leftover water on them and rejoice when their wilty leaves perk up, but a few measly hours later they're hanging over their pots and crying.

I do not blame them.

It's HOT outside, y'all.

So hot that I myself am hanging over my proverbial pot and crying.

But regardless, shouldn't HOT peppers be used to the HEAT? It's not like I planted Arctic Peppers in this hideous D.C. hotness.

Anyone else discovering the heat's interesting effects on our plant life?