Saturday In The Garden – July 16th

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Nancy Berlin, Natural Resource Specialist, presented topics on “Getting Your Landscape Ready for Fall” starting with a simple exercise…scouting around your garden first thing in the morning while you walk your pets and enjoy a cup of coffee. This summer, start planning what you will do for fertilizing in the fall. Above, left, Nancy is explaining how to prune out a tree limb.

Thomas Bolles, Environmental Education and BEST Lawn Coordinator, brought up to date tips on “Getting Your Turf Ready For Fall” and “Getting Your Vegetable Garden Ready for Fall”.

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DSC_0479  The ideal pH for turf is 6.5. What to do now? Mow high @ 3 1/2″ – 4″, scout around looking for issues before you treat in August; irrigate now if it is appropriate for your type of turf; get your soil tested now. Sign up now for BEST Lawns Program by calling the Extension Office at 703-792-7747. What to do in the fall? You can core aerate, apply compost and fertilize in Sept. – early Nov.

DSC_0482 DSC_0495 DSC_0496 A few ideas for your vegetable garden are to compost when you plant, choose a diversity of vegetables, consider cover crops (i.e., buckwheat) to enrich garden areas not being planted so you cut down on weeds, harvest when crops are at their prime, scout for and remove insects, remove infected parts and place in garbage and work at minimizing soil disturbance. In the photos above, Thomas and members of the Cooks’ Garden demonstrated how potatoes are harvested. Straw was placed over the potato area to create a favorable environment for spiders to live. Spiders like to eat potato bugs!

DSC_0476  VCE College Intern, Janet Spain presented timely  hints on Japanese Beetle and tick control. Janet advised that it is best to hand pick Japanese Beetles from your garden; traps are not effective because they have the same scent as female beetles that are trying to attract male beetles to reproduce. VCE does not encourage the use of chemical controls due to the risks that many pose for bees and other unintended negative effects that they might have.

DSC_0475  Kristina Clarin, VCE College Intern, gave great advice on mosquito control. When scouting your garden, overturn anything that can collect even as little as a teaspoon of water such as a flower pot saucer. Overturn tires. Place mesh (>16 mesh insect screen) over your rainwater barrels to prevent mosquitos from landing.

DSC_0503 The prize goes to Thomas Bolles and Harriet Carter today for finding this cool “cat” in the Cooks’ Garden which he identified as a Eumorpha megaeacus Gaudy sphinx moth or a Eumorpha pandorus Pandorus sphinx moth. He was nearly 4 inches long and moved very quickly up the vine after stopping to have his photo taken.

DSC_0506  Today’s bounty!

DSC_0507 DSC_0509 Spaghetti Squash

DSC_0510  Squash flower.

DSC_0513 A praying mantis.

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Take a walk on the wild side …

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Below, a blackberry bush and its fruit, developing from red to black.

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Next Saturday in the Garden is August 20th. Topics will be: Cover Crops, Succession Planting and Rotation in the Vegetable Garden.

Boxwood Primer class will be Saturday, September 10th, 1:00 – 3:00pm at the Benedictine Monastery. Free, but please register at 703-792-7747 or

Happy gardening!


Lions and Tigers and ….. bugs?? Oh my!

Now that the garden is blooming wildly, many flying insects are making their homes here. But watch out, not everyone is as friendly as you may think.

DSC_0391  Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

This large skimmer is easily recognized by the three large black spots spread across each wing, from base to tip. Naiads (larval stage) live in the debris on the bottom of lakes, ponds, and marshes.

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Milkweed Tussock Moth or Milkweed Tiger Moth caterpillers.

Janelle Bryant caught these dramatic photos of larva, caterpillar. Orange and black warns predators not to mess with these caterpillars. Judged by looks alone, these fuzzy caterpillars seem harmless, but touch them with a bare finger and you’ll feel you’ve been pricked by fiberglass. Generally considered pests — birds probably consider them food. The forlorn-looking bags, tents really, are of the wheel-bug. A whole community found at the base of butterfly weed plants, hiding in the shade.

DSC_0417 Milkweed Leaf Beetle appear similar to a giant ladybug; adults and larvae of this insect eat leaves of milkweeds. Beetles first appear in mid-summer and remove large slices of the leaves of milkweed. After dining for a few days, females lay eggs that hatch into rather handsome larvae that continue to dine on the same plants until late summer before dropping to the earth to form pupae in the soil.

These photos below, taken by MG Amye Foelsch in the Cook’s Garden, are of the Tomato Hornworm and its recognizable “frass”.

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hummingbirdmoth They pupate into Hummingbird Moths and then you will see their damage…

DSC_0451 This was a healthy, producing eggplant, but 3 days later it was heavily damaged by tomato hornworms.

oakworm_eggs oakworm_larva oakworm_cat oakworm_moth Top left photo is of the eggs of the Oakworm that will defoliate the tree if we don’t find and remove them before they mature. Top left are the eggs, top right: larva, bottom left: caterpillar and bottom right the moth. This blogger picked up oak leaves just 24 hours ago that looked like lace; they were completely eaten and laying on the turf. So sad.

Well-behaved turtles and deer observed in the Deer Resistant Garden.

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The Cook’s Garden team were thrilled with this week’s bounty of onions, cucumbers, basil and patty pan squash!

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The Cook’s Garden team were happily digging up delicious potatoes!

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DSC_0436  What a delight to find an okra bloom.

DSC_0443  Look closely for the Black Swallowtail.

IMG_0493  Assassin Bug … a good predator!

Visitors always welcome at the Teaching Garden are our Master Gardener Interns.

DSC_0449  Lynn Eklund is picking up tips for her home’s shade garden.

DSC_0452 Kyleen Dodrill loves being outdoors and envisions moving back to her family’s farm someday.

Saturday in the Garden –Teaching Garden. July 16 9 am – 12 noon. Getting Your Lawn, Landscape and Vegetable Garden Ready for Fall.  Fall is the right time for fertilizing and preparing for winter.  Be ready for tasks this fall by learning from Master Gardener Volunteers and staff the best practices for your garden, lawn, and landscape. Also enjoy timely tips from the Cook’s Garden Team. Please register if you want to attend 703-792-7747 or

Stay cool, drink plenty of water and happy gardening!



MG Volunteers and Interns roll up their sleeves.

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Daily meeting with the group is conducted by Leslie and Thomas when activities for the day and new information is discussed.

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The Compost Team get right to work, trying to beat the heat and finish all the planned chores.

DSC_0338  Can’t miss the new signs installed in the Compost area!

DSC_0340 Introducing Heather Galbreath, MG Intern. Heather’s interests is to learn more about gardening to better support a community garden she is also volunteering at.

DSC_0359 DSC_0339  On the left you’ll see bountiful squash plants hugging impatiens and, on the right, tomatillos ripening with cilantro perfuming the air. Click on the photos to enlarge your view.

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DSC_0350  Walking along the path, many lovely combinations jump out at you. Last photo is crocosmia surrounding the butterfly house.

DSC_0354  Here you see amsonia highlighting a hypertufa planter planted with green and yellow.

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Liatris gets pruned so it will bush out rather than grow taller. Did you know that if you deadhead lamb’s ear, it will re-bloom?

DSC_0370  A beneficial predator, seen on the bloom mid-right of the picture, is perhaps a wheel bug nymph. Watch that you don’t touch them; they’ll sting!

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DSC_0363  Take a stroll along the pathways . . .

Happy gardening!