at Potomac Overlook Regional Park
by Nancy Dowling, Certified Master Gardener
Photos © 2017 Nancy Dowling unless otherwise noted
Abundance! That’s the word that describes a vegetable garden in August. It’s a time for smiling ear to ear while you grab a 15-inch Tromboncino squash that curves like a saxophone off the vine, where you look under big leaves and find a Kabocha squash, a Japanese squash sweet as sugar when baked in the oven. I’ve been co-teaching an Edible Landscaping class* for Virginia Cooperative Extension/Master Gardeners, with Alyssa Ford Morel at Arlington Central Library for a few years, trying to relay the joy of growing edibles, and how the rules of design, planning, spacing, and symmetry that apply to edibles also apply to annual ornamental plantings. I have to say that the real difference for me is the picking, cooking, and eating of edibles that really provides the most enjoyment for me. Of course I love tulips, irises, peonies, sages, etc., and all of these have space in my own garden, but they all fade away without nourishing me beyond my eyes and spirit. Edibles do more–they nourish. And August is the treasure at the end of the gardening rainbow.
The abundance and enjoyment in the OVG in August are heightened by the wide assortment of each vegetable we grow there. For example, we are growing narrow Fairy Tale light purple eggplants, as well as chubby Listada de Gandia white and purple stripers. We also grow dark purple ones and white ones (Clara). And the amazing thing is they are all delicious and gorgeous in a bowl on the table as a centerpiece!
So far, this year has been wonderful for tomatoes and cucumbers. We are growing our tried and true Black Russian, Sungold, Juliet, and Cherokee Purple tomatoes in the OVG. Maybe it’s the showers we’ve experienced, or maybe it’s just the law of averages, but our harvest has been earlier and more prolific. The abundance goes to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), which also adds to the enjoyment I and many of my fellow Master Gardener volunteers get from working at the OVG. Giving back to our community is a big part of what gardening means to many of us in VCE/Master Gardeners. So, if you happen to be driving down Military Road in north Arlington, take Marcey Road to Potomac Overlook Regional Park and enjoy a walk through the woods to our demonstration garden. Stroll the beds and notice how we plant, support, and protect our plants. But please…..don’t pick the veggies!! Thanks.
*Thank you to Kirsten Ann Conrad, our Horticulture Agent in Arlington/Alexandria for pushing me to get involved with teaching Edible Landscaping.