Cook’s Garden Update 3/27/18. by Amye Foelsch, MG

Happenings in the Cook’s Garden…

It was our first day back at the garden, and we hit the ground running! We had some excellent additions to our team, including the three little cuties you see in the pictures below. Duane Mohr came to help, and if I heard correctly he started his Master Gardener adventures in the 90’s! We met Duane during a class this winter and apparently the cook’s team did a good job of convincing him to come back to the Teaching Garden. We are excited to tap into his expertise.

Ellen ensured we had our potato seeds available for planting and with the help of Stephanie’s kids, we got all 40 seeds planted! The brassica bed was prepped, and the frame for the row cover was installed.  The legume bed was also prepped, and Charlene used her creative talents to install netting for our peas to grow, stretch and climb. It’s important to note that our beds were prepped with some amazing compost courtesy of our compost team; check out the earth worms in the picture below!

Next Tuesday we gather again to focus on getting our brassicas, sugar snap, and snow peas planted. We will also look at the raised bed area and perhaps think about starting to build the enclosure around our new beds.

Thank you all for a great day out at the garden. It was so good to see everyone!


Extra help courtesy of Stephanie Johnson  



Saving the Earth, One K-Cup at a Time, by Charlene Toloso, MG

Charlene Toloso has been a MG since 2014.  This year she will be working in the Cooks’ Gardens and will have a small  space vegetable garden. Last year, Charlene was the co-leader to the Drought Tolerant Bed.  She enjoys working at the Manassas Farmers Market and you can find her there every year. Charlene is also a mentor to the Manassas Park Community Center Garden Club, and the MP middle school garden which she has been involved with for 5 years.  You can also find Charlene teaching gardening to MP elementary school during their intercession on topics such as  spiders and planting seeds and at the Sustainable Vegetable Gardening Series offered by Master Gardener volunteers for PWC. We especially love Charlene’s delicious recipes using vegetables from the gardens and her many chocolate creations! 


Charlene with her delicious Lentil Balls



I save a lot of the plastic containers that my food comes in, hoping to find a use for them. So far I use them for gifting chocolate, bad bug pools, storage of small items, paint mixing cups, and starting seeds. My kids think I am a hoarder, but I just like to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here is an idea I got after getting a K-cup coffee maker; I use them to start plants. Here are the steps: Take used K-cups and cut the foils off of the top with a paring knife. Scrape the coffee grounds out of the cup with the knife. The filter is pretty strong, but still be a little gentle. Make sure you collect those grounds and either put them in your compost or your garden! Everyone and everything loves caffeine! Prepare your seed starting mix and fill the cups. Plant your seeds and then water with a gentle sprayer. Place your cups inside a clear plastic vegetable container (pictured, take the label off the top so plants get abundant light), and close the lid. Place it under your grow light. Water as needed.  When seeds start to sprout, take the top off so the plants can grow tall.  I find with these it is better to water from the top. The filter keeps it off the bottom of the cup, so watering from the bottom doesn’t work too well. If you try this, let us know how it turns out!

-Charlene Toloso MG



When removing your plant to repot, use a paring knife and carefully cut the filter from the side of the cup and replant filter, soil, and plant.  Do not try to pull the plant through the filter, you may rip out the root.



If you see in this picture, the roots started growing through the filter, so you don’t want to disturb them any more than necessary.





Opening Day at the Teaching Garden 3/27/18

Despite the frigid temperatures, hardy veteran and intern Master Gardeners joined their fearless leader, Leslie Paulson to open the new season at the Teaching Garden today!

We’ve had a lot of wind this winter, so one task was to pick up all the sticks and dead branches and bundle them in Leslie’s truck. Most of the beds had plenty of leaves to be bagged and later shredded for mulching the Woodlands. The Cooks’ Gardens MG’s worked together to pull up all the Henbit, chickweed, hairy vetch and cover crops to prepare all Shed Beds for planting. In Shed Bed #4, Norland Red, Kennebec and Green Mountain potatoes were planted. Shed Bed #1 was prepped and the row covers were installed. This is where the Brassicas and Crucifers will be planted. Shed Bed 2 was prepped and the trellis was put up, getting ready for sugar snap and snow peas. The weeds were used for the green layers in the hot composting bins.

Other bed leaders and intern helpers worked on edging, weeding, trimming back last year’s dead stalks and pruning.  There was a bit of deer damage, but besides digging in the beds and some feeding on some plants, damage was minimal. Overall, everything looked great and it was nice to be back and work with everyone!

Some important dates to remember!

Plant Sales: 5/5 and 9/8

Saturdays in the Garden:  4/14 Plant Propagation,  5/5 BMP’s for Your Landscape,  6/9 Container Gardening, 7/14 Spectacular Salvias and Cut Flowers,  8/11 Growing Herbs,  9/8 Native Shrubs,  10/13 Fall Weeds

Tuesday Workdays:  9am-12pm

Thursday Evening Workdays: 6:30-dusk

Saturday workdays: 9am-12noon



The Forest Park Legacy Garden

by Stephanie Johnson and Robin Finehout

The Forest Park Legacy Garden is one of our school garden projects, designed and tended by Master Gardener Karen O’Leary with help from Forest Park science teacher Teresa Ballou and her Ecology students of years past. Christine Tabbert, and her son Ethan (both MG’s) helped mulch the bed, and Jannell Bryant and Jeanne Lamczyk helped plant 200 monarch friendly milkweed plants. The Eagle Scouts built the benches where students and teachers alike can sit and relax.  Funding for this school garden was provided by PWC Master Gardeners, PWC Solid Waste Division, and Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries (thanks to Leslie Paulson), and rocks were donated by Vulcan Quarry. The newest part of the garden was installed last year and is all native plants. The gardens are pollinator friendly, and the milkweed provides food for monarch butterflies.  Teresa Ballou and her students chose the name Legacy because they wanted to leave a beautiful place for future generations of students and teachers.



The Forest Park Legacy Garden, by Stephanie Johnson. Pictures by Kim Adkins Zell at JustKim Photography

Quietly tucked in on the far side of Forest Park High School, is a not so quiet native garden, which appears to be a very busy natural highway for the bees and butterflies.  The bright orange and black wings of Monarch butterflies beat briskly from flower to flower. The laughter and movement of teens admiring the purple, orange, yellow, and pink flowers didn’t disturb the hardworking pollinators one bit. Everyone seems delighted with the addition of the native garden. While taking notes a photography class arrived with all smiles, partially due to the break they were receiving from the classroom on such a beautiful and sunny day.  Most didn’t have cameras at home so this was a prime opportunity for the students to capture a piece of nature as a subject matter.


Textbooks come alive in the garden where the sensory is welcomed at all ages and students begin to enhance their planning abilities by considering how they can directly have an effect upon the habitat. It’s hard to imagine that we could need something as small as a bee. Despite our complex problem solving skills, tool making, and philosophical thinking, we too are just mammals living within a community which greatly relies upon each of its members. Students begin to connect themselves to their communities and notice their own positions within this environment. As the native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators begin to disappear, we start to see the same disappearing act throughout the food chain. From the smallest organisms in the water to the largest winged birds soaring and stalking prey, we can greatly impact the health of everything living in our communities. By adding native habitat gardens to schools, Prince William County students are being taught to identify local plant life and how to incorporate these plants within a landscape, while developing a sense of responsibility when caring for the garden and interacting in nature.


This is just one of the four school locations which participated in this native habitat project. Master Gardener volunteers of Prince William County came to each location and planted native flowers and grasses to encourage a healthy natural habitat for the local wildlife. Woodbridge High School, Garfield High School, and the Juvenile Detention Center have all participated in this wonderful mission to educate the students of the benefits associated with native plants and the major role they play for our local wildlife ecosystem. The students were able to select some of the plants, and enjoy watching the constant activity within the garden. The Master Gardeners weren’t the only community members who helped to support this project. In addition to local sponsors, The Boys Scouts came and built benches for students to sit peacefully around the garden.


As we continue to grow as a county, we must be diligent about incorporating the plants which the local wildlife relies upon. The Master Gardeners of Prince William County are a great resource for native plant suggestions and answering horticultural and environmental related questions. By working with the students we are ensuring a more conscious, clean, and prosperous Prince William County of the future.






Thank you for the beautiful pictures, Kim Adkins Zell at   JustKim Photography