Organic Vegetable Garden at Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Begun in 2000, the MGNV demonstration Organic Vegetable Garden (OVG) enjoys a successful collaboration with the Potomac Overlook Regional Park. The Park’s many environmental and cultural activities draw people to the garden, as do school field trips and summer nature camps.

Here Master Gardeners (MGs) focus on organic, urban vegetable gardening and gain experience in propagating plants from seeds, crop rotation techniques, composting, routine garden and soil maintenance, seasonal organic vegetable gardening techniques, use of an on-site water system (including a rain barrel), development of community educational materials, and hosting of public garden events.

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on zinnia.
Photo © Anne Reed

Ongoing challenges to successful gardening include the OVG’s location in a natural wooded setting and improving the soil. (Learn about Best Bets To Enrich Soil with cover crops: Page 1 and Page 2.) The 20-foot high “wildlife exclusion” fence surrounding the garden successfully keeps out deer, but smaller mammals and insects find their way in. This requires creative techniques like crop cages and coverings to keep them at bay as well as flowers strategically placed not only to attract pollinators and pest predators but to repel certain undesirable insects. Perhaps the most daunting problem, though, is one that cannot be controlled–weather. Read one of OVG’s periodic postings on this website: Ready, Set, Adapt! Climate Change: 2018 Notes from the Field to learn how weather extremes have affected OVG crops. MGs have begun tracking changes in the garden due to climate change and how different crops fare each season.

Harvest August 2017. Photo © Judy Salveson

Most of the produce (including kale, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, and okra) harvested in the garden is donated to those in need. To meet demand, more space in the garden has been devoted to hot and sweet pepper varieties as well as an assortment of client favorite beans. In 2019, 700 pounds of food were delivered to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). In 2020, 427.5 pounds of fresh produce were donated directly to the Victory Garden effort in Arlington, which supplemented the work of AFAC in collecting and distributing food to those in need.

The Organic Vegetable Garden is located at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 N. Marcey Road, Arlington, VA. Park in the lot and walk past the Nature Center to the garden.

Organic Vegetable Garden throughout the Seasons

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