Arlington County Fair August 2015

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MGs hard at work as judges and experts!

Posted in MG in the Garden

Five Things You Didn’t Know About…..Kirsten Conrad

HS_ANR_Agent
Our occasional series on “five things you don’t know about…” covers all things gardening and DC area. This month, we highlight Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent, Kirsten Conrad.

 

 

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About…..Fairlington Community Center

Our occasional series on “five things you don’t know about…” covers all things gardening and DC area related. This month, we explore Fairlington Community Center. Continue reading

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Can You Identify These Pollinators? Part 3: Hummingbirds

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener
Moth white-lined sphinx

Sometimes moth species, like the white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) above, are mistaken for hummingbirds. Unlike most moths, it often feeds during the day. At first glance, its bulk, rapid wing movement, swift flight, and habit of hovering as it feeds resemble that of a hummingbird. No wonder these insects also are referred to as hummingbird moths. Continue reading

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Can You Identify These Pollinators? Part 2: Butterflies

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

One of the joys of summer is to watch butterflies flaunt their shapes and colors by flitting, floating and fluttering from flower to flower. Attracted to clustered or composite blooms that are bright, red, purple, blue, and yellow, they pick up and transport pollen on their legs and wings. Continue reading

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Can You Identify These Pollinators? Part 1: Bees, Wasps, Flies

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Garden

Bees

As bees feed on the nectar of flowers (particularly those that are bright white, yellow or blue or with contrasting ultraviolet patterns), their electrostatically charged and branched body hairs attract and trap pollen grains. They carry the grains from flower to flower, which makes them very effective pollinators. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “bees pollinate approximately 75 percent of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in this country.” [Unfortunately, bee populations have suffered dramatic declines over the past 50 years. Read How to Celebrate National Pollinator Week: Go Native! to find out how you can help.] Continue reading

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How to Celebrate National Pollinator Week – 15-21 June: Go Native!

Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Did you know that some researchers estimate that over 87 percent of all flowering plants depend on animal pollinators to reproduce (Ollerton, 2011)? National Pollinator Week, 15-21 June, reminds us of the critical role pollinators play in our daily lives.

1 pw15logoFINALb

Unfortunately, many pollinator species are in decline. The loss or fragmentation of wildlife habitat (i.e., fewer floral resources and nesting sites) due to human incursion, invasive or nonnative species, changes in climate, lower genetic diversity, disease, parasitism, pesticides, and predation pose challenges to the survival of many species.

Is there anything that we can do as individuals to try to reverse these disturbing trends? Absolutely! A study published in a March 2015 issue of Science says:

“Although the causes of pollinator decline may be complex and subject to disagreement, solutions need not be; taking steps to reduce or remove any of these stresses is likely to benefit pollinator health. Several techniques are available that have been demonstrated to effectively increase floral availability in farmland. Similarly, encouraging gardeners to grow appropriate bee-friendly flowers…can also reduce dietary stress.”

Planning Your Garden - Think like a pollinator

Text: Susan Reel; Design and Illustrations: Nancy Seiler

You can aid pollinators by creating natural habitats on your property. A U.S. Forest Service publication, Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants, guides you in creating gardens that attract a wide variety of pollinators with a focus on bees, which pollinate more flowers—including those of about 75 percent of U.S. fruit, nut, and vegetable crops—than any other animals. It encourages you to think like a pollinator in planning your gardens, e.g., “Bee Bountiful,” “Bee Showy,” etc.

A Virginia Cooperative Extension publication, For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats, examines the habitat requirements specific to birds and butterflies. Even though it focuses mostly on species native to Virginia, this iBook has been a top ranking, free gardening resource in 20 countries from the Americas to Europe to Australasia.

3 Creating Inviting Habitats CoverNative species may differ from region to region, but birds and butterflies worldwide require the same three elements: food, water and shelter. Like people, they prefer that their food and water be close to where they live. And like people, they favor certain types of homes and certain types of food. When planning a natural habitat on your property be aware of the different plant characteristics during each season and the needs of the birds and butterflies (and other pollinators) that you want to attract. The more diverse the vegetation in terms of species, shape, size (with horizontal and vertical layers) and seasonal interest, the more diverse the wildlife it will entice.

Early June Sunny Garden (on a cloudy day) including yellow native perennials Achillea (left), Oenothera fruticosa (behind), Baptisia tinctoria (center right), and Coreopsis verticillata (far right) along with orange Asclepias tuberosa (behind). © Mary Free

Early June Sunny Garden (on a cloudy day) including yellow native perennials Achillea (left), Oenothera fruticosa (behind), Baptisia tinctoria (center right), and Coreopsis verticillata (far right) along with orange Asclepias tuberosa (behind). © Mary Free

July Sunny Garden with native perennials including Rudbeckia and Liatris (front) and Eupatorium spp. (Joe-Pye Weed) and white Phlox paniculata (behind). © Mary Free

July Sunny Garden with native perennials including Rudbeckia and Liatris (front) and Eupatorium spp. (Joe-Pye Weed) and white Phlox paniculata (behind). © Mary Free

First and foremost, though, the key to creating any inviting wildlife habitat is to “Go Native!” Native pollinators prefer native plants that are suited to local conditions. Native plants usually need less watering and maintenance and are naturally more pest and disease resistant, meaning that they require little to no use of pesticides that can harm water quality and wildlife. By using native plants, you can have a positive impact on the environment and help support pollinators and other wildlife.

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September Sunny Garden with native perennials including Eupatorium spp. (Joe-Pye Weed (left) and Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort (center-front)), Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks‘ (behind), and Verbena hastata (right). © Mary Free

So celebrate National Pollinator Week by removing an invasive species, a non-native ornamental plant or a section of lawn from your property and substituting a native plant or two or three. Design a landscape that appeals to you and to the pollinators on which we so depend.

For suggestions on native plants suited to the Mid-Atlantic Region and the types of wildlife they attract, refer to MGNV’s Best Bets to Attract Pollinators and Tried and True Plants. [Also, see Can You Identify These Pollinators? on the MGNV.org home page and on Facebook, June 1521.]

Happy Pollinator Week! Happy (Native) Gardening!

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Asparagus-and-Potato Flatbread

By Kari Hickman, virtualgoodyplate.blogspot.com

Garden to Kitchen Recipes

MGNV Veggies-jane longanAs the days become longer and warmer, we crave lighter foods, and especially fresh, seasonal produce. This quick-and-easy way to use asparagus will impress and delight anyone you serve it to, even if it’s just yourself. Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter both sell one-pound bags of pizza dough, or of course you can make your own. Also, if your asparagus is too thin to shave (or you’re too short on time), just slice it into diagonal 1/2-inch pieces.  If it is very thick, shave it into ribbons  — they are so pretty, and cook quickly. You can also adjust the amount of cheese, or vary it with other kinds.

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Openings Available for Master Gardener Volunteer Training

Applications are being accepted at the Virginia Cooperative Extension.  Click on the links below for both application forms!


VIRGINIA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION

ARLINGTON COUNTY OFFICE

Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206

Telephone 703-228-6400

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 1, 2015

Contact:  Kirsten Conrad Buhls VCE –ANR  Extension Agent, kbuhls@vt.edu

Openings Available for Master Gardener Volunteer Training

The Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program offered by the VCE Arlington County Office, in partnership with the City of Alexandria and Arlington County, has openings available for the 2015 session. Continue reading

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Five Things You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know About Growing Tomatoes!

MGNV Veggies-jane longan

MGNV. Photo: Jane Longan

Written by the MGNV Organic Vegetable Demonstration Garden Master Gardeners, with special thanks to Debbie Siegel and Tom Laughlin.

Five Things About Growing Tomatoes

Are you growing tomatoes this year? Here are five things you should know about getting the best tomato crop this year.

1) Don’t plant tomatoes too early! This year’s changeable spring weather seems to be finally settling into a warming trend, but at the Master Gardeners’ Organic Vegetable demonstration garden, tomato seedlings won’t go into the ground until at least the second week of May.

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