A natural complement to the U.S. Botanic Garden, the National Garden highlights the amazing diversity of American plants, drawing inspiration from the environments of the Mid-Atlantic region.

A natural complement to the U.S. Botanic Garden, the National Garden highlights the amazing diversity of American plants, drawing inspiration from the environments of the Mid-Atlantic region.

For many gardeners, spring planting is well under way and summer vegetables will soon follow. Recent years have proven hard on local greenery, with prolonged heat waves and damaging storms. But there are steps you can take to ensure a healthy garden, from choosing local plants to well-timed watering. Whether you’re tending a backyard vegetable patch, a community garden plot, or just a few potted flowers, we’ve got tips for getting the most from the land.


  • Holly Shimizu Executive Director, U.S. Botanic Garden
  • Jim Ford Chief Operating Officer, American Plant Food Company
  • Pat Lynch Community Garden Coordinator for Montgomery County; Montgomery County Master Gardener

Related Links

Sharing Backyards links people with yards, lawns and backyards to spare with people who are interested in gardening, but don’t have enough space or sun to grow their own garden. Search for a shared backyard in your neighborhood.

Montgomery Parks Community Gardens Program offers Montgomery County, Md., residents the opportunity to use public space and water to garden individual plots at a low cost.

Part of the University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener program, Grow It Eat It helps Marylanders improve health and save money by growing their own food using sustainable practices. The program offers free expert gardening advice weekdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In Maryland, call 800-342-2507. Outside the state, call 410-531-1757.

U.S. Botanic Garden is a living plant museum. From roses to orchids, the rainforest to rare plants, you can learn about the latest in gardening.


  • 13:24:54

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIPerhaps you're working a backyard vegetable garden, a community garden plot or just a few balcony flower pots. Whatever your patch of green, the exceptionally cool weather this spring has made planting tricky. And many gardeners have put off planting their more delicate summer vegetables and flowers. And the risks aren't over once the summer actually begins. Heat waves and severe storms like last summer's derecho are likely to take their toll.

  • 13:25:20

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut there are steps you can take to ensure a healthy garden. And joining us to tell us what they are is Holly Shimizu, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. Holly, good to see you again.

  • 13:25:31

    MS. HOLLY SHIMIZUGood to see you.

  • 13:25:32

    NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is Jim Ford. He is the chief operating officer of American Plant Company. Jim Ford, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:25:39

    MR. JIM FORDHi, Kojo.

  • 13:25:40

    NNAMDIAnd Pat Lynch is a community garden coordinator for Montgomery County. She's also a Montgomery County Master Gardener. Pat Lynch, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:25:48

    MS. PAT LYNCHGreat to be here.

  • 13:25:49

    NNAMDIHolly, as we've said, we've had an -- oh, by the way, if you'd like to join the conversation, you know the drill, 800-433-8850. If you're a gardener you do know this drill. You can also send email to kojo@wamu.org or send us a Tweet at kojoshow. Holly, as we've said, we've had an unusually cool spring. What has that meant for planting this year?

  • 13:26:10

    SHIMIZUWhat it's meant for me and for the Botanic Garden is we've had to wait for some of the plants like tomatoes and basils, things that don't like the cold weather because they don't want to go out there when the soil is cold and wet. So I have not planted any of these and it's May 15 so planning to go this weekend and get all of those tender things.

  • 13:26:31

    NNAMDIGood luck to you. Jim Ford, there should be no danger to warm-weather plants at this point. What are you planting now?

  • 13:26:38

    FORDI'm planting a little bit of everything. I'm like Holly. I got a late start on my tomatoes and stuff so that's what I'm working on. And then I'll move into my summer annuals.

  • 13:26:47

    NNAMDIPat, in a city and even in the suburbs, not everyone has a yard or space for a garden, but many people are looking to grow food or plants. You coordinate ten community gardens for Montgomery County, soon to be eleven. What kind of interests have you been seeing in the plots that you oversee?

  • 13:27:04

    LYNCHWell, this year's been great. We have actually rented out all of the plots. That's the first year that we know that this has happened. And I have waiting lists at many of my gardens. People are very anxious to be doing vegetable gardening especially. And the program has just grown. We started in '09 and just have been going strong.

  • 13:27:24

    NNAMDICan you give us a brief overview? How do Montgomery County's community gardens work?

  • 13:27:29

    LYNCHWell, our gardens are sponsored by Montgomery Parks, so that -- I don't run all of the community gardens in Montgomery County, although some days I think I do. So they are located in the parks. People -- we have smaller and larger plots. People pay a rental fee at the beginning of the year. The fees range from a low of $25 for our smallest plots all the way up $75. People get deer fencing, groundhog protection, water on site, woodchips and me to enforce the rules.

  • 13:28:04

    NNAMDIInterest still is growing, it seems, in community gardens. How do you find new sites for a community garden?

  • 13:28:10

    LYNCHWell, that's really tough. We...

  • 13:28:12

    NNAMDIThat's the challenge.

  • 13:28:13

    LYNCHThat's the challenge, yes. People say to me, why don't we have more and it's like, I'm looking. We look at sites for a number of things. They're evaluated by whether they are available. What's easiest for us are sites that exist already in Montgomery Parks. We look for flat areas without a lot of trees that are quite sunny and that have access to a water supply. Our primary way of doing water is we rent water meters from WSSC and our gardeners fill up our 1200 gallon tanks to have a water supply onsite.

  • 13:28:49

    LYNCHSo it's a lot that you have to have in place in order to be able to stretch my very small budget in order to start new gardens. But we are always on the lookout for new sites. And I get leads from people and we go out and check them out. And this year we're doing the new garden at the Long Branch Community Rec Center in Silver Spring. Last year we did one at Gaynor Road next to a large apartment complex in Rockville. So it's a challenge but we keep at it.

  • 13:29:20

    NNAMDIWherever you can find room to do it. 800-433-8850. Are you a gardener? What are you planting this year? Holly, we mentioned cold spells but how about extremes? We've had some extremes in our weather. It's quite cold in the winter, very hot and humid in the summer. And as we've seen this spring, not very predictable. How does that complicate gardening?

  • 13:29:41

    SHIMIZUWell, the things that that brings to mind for me, one is how to plan for the rains when we get these heavy, heavy rains. They can do a lot of damage if you haven't really thought about where you want the water to do. You do want to keep the water onsite but you've got to do the grading of the site so that it's not going to destroy your garden beds. Because that drainage and that water movement, you want to understand it and lessen the damage from it.

  • 13:30:15

    SHIMIZUThe other point that I think is really great is that if you garden with native plants, they are going to tend to be able to handle these extremes much better than a lot of plants that you bring in from elsewhere, because they've adapted to it. So that would be things like Echinaceas and Rudbeckias, you know, beautiful natives that do well. And they just are adapted.

  • 13:30:39

    NNAMDIYou know, I'm glad you mentioned heavy rains because, Jim, we've tended to have very heavy downpours in the summer in recent years. But heavy rain does not necessarily mean your garden is getting enough water. Why is that?

  • 13:30:51

    FORDThat is absolutely true because a lot of the rain when it rains that heavily runs off. One of the best ways to counteract that is to mulch and also working a lot of organic material into your soil so your soil has enough organic material to help absorb that rain so it doesn't run off. The mulch also slows the water process down and lets it seep in.

  • 13:31:15

    FORDThere's a lot of things going on with rain gardens and stuff like that I know through the county, through the district and everything that really can help, like Holly said, keep that water onsite. Help it get down into the ground that produces the reservoir for the trees during the summertime. So that's really one of the best things out there. Really work up that soil, mulch it so you slow that process down.

  • 13:31:41

    NNAMDIWhat are the basics of watering?

  • 13:31:43

    FORDThe basics of watering?

  • 13:31:45

    NNAMDIWhen do you -- when's the best time to do it, how much, that kind of thing?

  • 13:31:48

    FORDOkay. That differs. Everybody has their own opinion. I like to do my watering always in the morning. The latest, maybe 12:00, 1:00, if you go out and you see something flagging and it really is dry, it's not just flagging because of the heat, then I water in the morning. That way you keep all the excess water off your plants at night and that cuts down on a lot of bacterial problems, leaf spot and things like that.

  • 13:32:13

    NNAMDISo, Holly, how can you tell if you've watered enough?

  • 13:32:16

    SHIMIZUWell, I'm not afraid to go into the soil and actually see, is that water going down? I can just use my finger. I know you can get probes and so forth, but I am a hands-on gardener. So I'll just put my hand in and get a sense of, is that water going in or not. But I'm also a big fan of aeration in the soil. So I want to make sure -- like I have a roof garden with containers. And the containers that have good drainage do much better than the containers with poor drainage because there just is not enough air in there. So when we have those heavy downpours, that water saturates that soil and the air -- the roots do not like that.

  • 13:32:55

    NNAMDIHow do you get that drainage?

  • 13:32:56

    SHIMIZUI'm actually going to put -- drill holes in the sides of these containers. But the real truth is you should do it before you plant it. But these are old recycled plastic containers so I can just, you know, drill in there and get some drainage.

  • 13:33:11

    NNAMDIPat, you're running community gardens and we talked earlier about storms and extreme weather. What do you recommend to protect a garden from severe storms?

  • 13:33:19

    LYNCHWell, in the community garden it's sometimes a little harder because you have so many people doing different things.

  • 13:33:27

    NNAMDIThat's what I was thinking.

  • 13:33:28

    LYNCHBut, you know, what we tell people from the get go is pay attention to the soil. And I would just emphasize what Holly and Jim have said. You prepare your beds. You make sure that -- most people don't think of soil -- a large percentage of your soil needs to be air. So you want organic matter in there and you want it to be really soft and fluffy. But the other thing that we -- you know, the difficulty is different people do different things.

  • 13:34:02

    LYNCHWe have people who like to do a trench kind of style and they'll plant in the mounds so the water runs off nicely. And they've done burlap or newspaper in the pads which slows down the water. It will drain away. It will stay in place. And it's a question of teaching people over and over again. Because I have brand new gardeners, people who have never grown anything in their lives. They start in a community garden. So we count on the experienced gardeners and also our Montgomery master gardeners who come to visit the gardens and help people figure out what's the best way to handle both the heat and the water.

  • 13:34:43

    NNAMDIPat Lynch is a community garden coordinator for Montgomery County. She's also a Montgomery County master gardener. She joins us in studio along with Holly Shimizu, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden and Jim Ford, chief operating officer of American Plant Company. We're taking calls at 800-433-8850. How did your garden fare during last summer's extreme heat and severe storms?

  • 13:35:09

    NNAMDIBefore I get to the phones, Jim, if one wants to get serious about watering you recommend using a rain gauge. How does that work?

  • 13:35:17

    FORDRain gauges, I love those. Basically it's any tube and you can measure up on the tube how many inches you got. Usually it's broken down into eighths of an inch. So an eighth, quarter, half, something like that. And they're very easy to use. You just stick them somewhere where there's not a tree overhead or a fence that's blocking the rain, anything out in the open. I have mine on my fence post at home. My neighbors all think I'm crazy because I go out there and I look at it.

  • 13:35:50

    FORDSo I can tell if I got a inch of rain in an hour or I got a inch of rain all day. So I know exactly -- or it gives me a better idea what my beds and all are doing, what the soil's taking up, how soon my basements going to flood, all those kind of interesting things.

  • 13:36:03

    NNAMDIWe're talking to Jim's neighbors. He's not crazy. It's a rain gauge, okay? Here's Haley in Oxford, Md. Haley, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:36:14

    HALEYYes, hi. Thank you so much for this program. Can you hear me, because I can't...

  • 13:36:20

    NNAMDIWe're hearing you very clearly.

  • 13:36:22

    HALEYOkay, great. I got too excited and I bought some basil plants and a couple tomato plants. And I've had them outside and they aren't dying or anything but they don't look happy. And I'm just wondering, should I just cut my losses and get rid of them and get some fresh ones? Or is there something I can do to help them recover from what I've just put them through?

  • 13:36:51


  • 13:36:52

    SHIMIZUWell, in my opinion, I would give them another chance and hopefully they will recover. They -- it could be just a setback and they may recover. If you find they don't after I would say like two to three weeks, they're just not picking up -- we're having warm weather today -- I would say take them out and start over. But I've had this happen and my plants will often recover.

  • 13:37:15

    HALEYSo I haven't -- that was my biggest concern is that, you know, I'm going to put all this energy into them and I've already done some damage...

  • 13:37:23

    SHIMIZUWell, you know, I always also recommend people harden off your plants. So when you get them, especially if they've just come out of a greenhouse, you need to give them a few days in an interim condition where they're not fully outdoors in the sun and the wind. They're part -- they're outdoors but they're a little protected. So you have a gradual moving to the harsh outdoors.

  • 13:37:47

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Haley. We move on to Dale in Rockville, Md. Dale, your turn.

  • 13:37:55

    DALEHi. I'm from a community garden and I've been running it for the last five years in Rockville. And we have a wonderful half plot that's available for Rockville residents. It's in King Farm and it's a great organic garden started by our friend and environmentalist Carl Hen (sp?) with us. And we have this half plot and we have all kinds of -- it's all organic. We have all kinds of organic vegetables to go in it that this person could have. Whoever wants this plot can get in touch with me.

  • 13:38:35

    DALEThe organic vegetables have been hardened off. We've got potatoes...

  • 13:38:37

    NNAMDIHow do they get in touch with you, Dale?

  • 13:38:39

    DALEDHMcCarthy M-C-C-A-R-T-H-Y @comcast.net.

  • 13:38:47

    NNAMDIAnd you will not be surprised to know that Pat is extremely enthusiastic about what you're doing.

  • 13:38:53

    LYNCHIt's great. It's great.

  • 13:38:54

    DALEWell, but, you know, I really believe in this. We have a children's garden that's part of it. The children plant organic vegetables. I work with them. We plant, we harvest. It's just incredibly exciting. It's a wonderful space and we have a wonderful community. We just have one spot that's open now and I thought I'd put it out there for the first Rockville resident who wants to really come and garden with us.

  • 13:39:19

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. Pat, a lot of people have lost trees, flowers and shrubs during heat waves in recent years. What's your advice for spotting when your plants are in trouble? You know, my favorite piece of advice from Holly is just, take them out. Things die in all gardens.

  • 13:39:37

    LYNCHThat's right. They do indeed. And actually what I worry about in the heat is the gardeners before I worry about the plants. So I say to people, when you're out there, go early in the day, go late in the day. Make sure that you're wearing your sunscreen and your hat and drink plenty of water. Your plants can be replaced, you can't. So you can tell my public health education background coming through. That's the first thing I worry about when we start to talk about heat and drought.

  • 13:40:07

    NNAMDIYou've worked for the NIH as I understand.

  • 13:40:09

    LYNCHI have indeed. I have indeed. And especially that's -- all of those things are especially true for older people, which is the part of the NIH that I worked for, the Institute on Aging. But, you know, most of the plants have a will to live. And I think that, you know, they get droopy. You need to be paying attention to them. The general guidance that the University of Maryland Extension gives is for vegetable gardens, gardens actually need 1" of water a week.

  • 13:40:37

    LYNCHWe have more trouble with people overwatering their plants than plants even dying in the heat. And I guess I'd check with Holly and Jim, but my feeling is gardeners are by nature optimistic souls. And we believe it will get better and next year will work better.

  • 13:40:54

    NNAMDISpeaking of overwatering, Jim, can you tell us about the cucumbers in your vegetable garden?

  • 13:40:59

    FORDI had the opportunity to drown a couple cucumbers experimenting with a process called sheet mulching. And actually because of the way I had them sheet mulched and stuff, they weren't -- the ground wasn't drying up. And it wasn't drying up nearly like I thought it was. So when they would show a little wilt from the afternoon sun I'd water them. And in the end I watered them to death. So it does happen and drainage is really important. And when you try something new, like I was trying, I needed to stick my finger down in the dirt instead of just going on what the plant was showing me. I would've been better off.

  • 13:41:42

    NNAMDIBut, Holly, you point out that watering also is a signal to plants to grow. What's the issue with that in the summer?

  • 13:41:49

    SHIMIZURight. So for me a lot of times I also have suffered from overwatering. I tend to over care for things. And knowing that, especially for example I've had extensive beds of hot peppers. And when you have the heat at midday, they can't grow. It's just too hot. So they rest. They just kind of stop growing and they wilt. Now they are not wilting from lack of water. They are just wilting because it's so hot. So -- but I initially would go out there and water them and water them and water them to death.

  • 13:42:23

    SHIMIZUSo I do not recommend heavy watering unless the soil is dry. And it's a lesson learned for me because, you know, when I see a wilting plant my first thought is, water. Not always correct.

  • 13:42:37

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back we will continue our gardening conversation and introduce the issue of chemical dependency. Thought it was only humans. Ah-hah. It could be plants too. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:44:44

    NNAMDIWe're talking with Jim Ford. He is the chief operating officer of the American Plant Company. Pat Lynch is community garden coordinator for Montgomery County and a Montgomery County master gardener. And Holly Shimizu is executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. But if the phone lines are busy you can send email to kojo@wamu.org or just send us a Tweet on kojoshow.

  • 13:45:12

    NNAMDIPat, earlier on, Holly recommended some of the native plants that grow well in this region. On the other hand, growing nonnative plants can be very successful. You've got gardeners from all over the world with plots in your community gardens. Tell us about that.

  • 13:45:27

    LYNCHOh, it's great fun. I go around and do regular garden inspections and there isn't a gardener alive who does not want to talk about his or her plants.

  • 13:45:35

    NNAMDIOf course.

  • 13:45:36

    LYNCHAnd I have met people who are growing seeds that grandma had back in the old country. I've actually been given some. I see plants I've never seen before. And of course being a gardener and a foodie it's like, woo, first what is that? Second, how do you cook it? And luckily every once in a while I get people to give me a sample who tell me how to cook it when I get home. So lots of different gardening techniques.

  • 13:46:05

    LYNCHMany people growing -- you know, our gardener from Uganda, our gardeners from Southeast Asia, our gardeners from Korea. They're all growing all sorts of interesting things in addition to the tomatoes and the peppers and the eggplant that we all see.

  • 13:46:19

    NNAMDIHolly, if someone is interested in native plants, you recommend people come by the Botanic Garden to see the native plant garden there.

  • 13:46:25

    SHIMIZURight. We have a fabulous regional garden which features net plants native to the Mid Atlantic. And it's really like a great plant library. You can see how they do. You can see the way they like to grow, what they look like. And I think it's really inspiring to see them and certainly to include some in your garden.

  • 13:46:45

    NNAMDIOnto the phones again. Here's Brian in Baltimore, Md. Brian, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:46:50

    BRIANHi everyone. Hi, Kojo. I have a question. I finished reading a book not too long ago, I think it was called "The Square Foot Gardening Method," it's author Mel somebody. And he really touted this soil composition mix that he claims he came up with where it's equal parts, I believe, peat moss, vermiculite and compost for the perfect growing medium for plants. And I was wondering what all the guests there think about that specific type of mix for raised beds and gardening. And if you think that there are any different types of mixes that might do better in the Washington, D.C. area given the climate.

  • 13:47:32


  • 13:47:34

    FORDI'm not a fan of peat moss. I'd much rather see you use a good compost. Vermiculite does add a lot of air space to the soil and all but it also holds water. So if you want to use something, we usually recommend using the perlite or working in some real fine pine. I'm also a big believer in working in some of the native soil into these raised beds because the native soil does help hold nutrients and stuff because of the way the particles are charged. So that would be my recommendation.

  • 13:48:12


  • 13:48:13

    SHIMIZUI agree with what Jim said and I would -- I like to get the drainage in the soil by using something like a sharp granite. There's something called chicken grit. I love to add that into the soil because I like it to break it up. And we don't -- I don't like to use peat moss. I prefer to use compost. And again, I want to fluff up that soil.

  • 13:48:35

    NNAMDIOn now to Christiana in Rockville, Md. Christiana, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:48:41

    CHRISTIANAYeah, thank you, Kojo. Great show. I want to give a big thank you and shout out to Pat Lynch. She's our community garden coordinator. Great work, Pat. It's really exciting. I'm here at the Rocking Horse community garden. This is our third season that we're in existence. And even just hearing the overwatering tips from Jim and Holly were great. Now I know how to not kill my cucumbers.

  • 13:49:05

    CHRISTIANAThe most important thing for me personally, in addition to growing, is really the community aspect. I really love just to learn from my neighbors and to see families come in and little two-year-olds stumping along with a carrot in their hand and not being afraid of bugs, and actually eating beans right off the vine. That is so thrilling and it's just so different from what we always hear about kids not eating vegetables. There can be so much excitement. And that is really, for me, a great joy in the gardening.

  • 13:49:38

    NNAMDIYou know, our managing producer Brendon Sweeney is having the same experience in his community garden, except that he is also managing to pick up a lot of ideas for segments and guests on the show in his community garden. So they obviously serve a whole lot of purposes. Holly, we now get to -- the fact that you have issues with chemical dependency -- well, not you, we're not talking about you and we're not talking about drugs. We're talking about roses?

  • 13:50:02

    SHIMIZUYes. Well, that's very true. And I do not like people to select plants that aren't going to grow well here. And roses are a good example because oftentimes you buy a rose, you take it home, it looks gorgeous, you plant it and it just goes downhill. In this region you get black spot, you get powdery mildew. They're the worst two diseases that roses get. But people need to know that there're great roses out there.

  • 13:50:29

    SHIMIZUYou know, the -- I love the people that go in the wild. There's one called highway 290. That's where they found it. And then at the cemeteries and here and there. So you can find great roses. I like roses with fragrance and roses with rich, beautiful foliage as well as flowers. So no need for these chemically-dependent plants.

  • 13:50:53

    NNAMDIJim, you've got a warning for those people who love impatiens, a very popular little flower that decorates a lot of gardens in our region. What's going on with impatiens this year?

  • 13:51:02

    FORDWell, this year -- it started last year really in the area, the downy mildew. And the impatiens basically get wiped out by it. And you can plant the new guinea impatiens or try begonias or a lot of coleus, ferns. There's a lot of perennials that do well in the shade that you can use. So the impatiens, really nobody knows how long this is going to stay around. It could be two years, it could be eight years, it could be ten years.

  • 13:51:34

    NNAMDIOn to -- but, Holly, before I go back to the phones, you've got suggestions for substitutes for impatiens. What would you recommend?

  • 13:51:39

    SHIMIZUWell, I love caladiums too. I think they're very beautiful. And I do love ferns and epimediums and native pachysandra.

  • 13:51:48


  • 13:51:49

    SHIMIZUBegonias, some of the very cool begonias. I don't like those waxy looking things but the beautiful, beautiful begonias. There are so many. We actually have a begonia show right now at the Botanic Garden.

  • 13:52:00

    NNAMDIYou also have some solutions to weed problems. What do you use at the Botanic Garden?

  • 13:52:05

    SHIMIZUWell, we use a citrus spray and that is working. You have to stay on it. You have to pay attention to it. I really prefer hand-weeding if you can stay ahead of it, but that doesn't always -- it's not always the case. So if you need to go and spray you need to use something that isn't going to be toxic to the soil. So a citrus spray has been working for us.

  • 13:52:27

    NNAMDIJim, what do you recommend for weed control?

  • 13:52:29

    FORDI'm with Holly on that. We sell a product called Burnout that is citric acid. It's a vinegar. You do need to read the instructions. You do need to be mindful of what you're doing. It works best when it's a clear hot sunny day and the plants are out in the sun. That's what works the best. It does not always kill the roots, so you need to use it multiple times. As it comes back up you'll eventually exhaust the root and it will disappear.

  • 13:52:58

    NNAMDIPat, are there rules in the community garden about what kinds of chemicals or pest control people use?

  • 13:53:03

    LYNCHYes, there are. In our gardens you may only use organic products. Those are either things that are OMRI labeled, O-M-R-I, which is the Organic Materials Research Institute. They certify things as organic or an organic label. We actually recommend and try to stick with some of the barrier methods. Holly mentioned hand-weeding. What I recommend to gardeners is the use of newspaper covered with compost in your garden or newspaper or cardboard covered with woodchips in the path. They don't entirely prevent the weeds, but if you can get a start on it early in the season, you can cut down on the amount of weeding you have to do.

  • 13:53:46

    LYNCHAnd as Jim said, the citric acid, the vinegar products are acidic. And so I really encourage people to very, very carefully read the instructions and follow them because they are not -- just because it says organic doesn't mean it is entirely without risk.

  • 13:54:05

    NNAMDIHere is Teri in Berwyn, Md. Teri, your turn.

  • 13:54:09

    TERIYes. Hello, Kojo. I'm a big fan of your show.

  • 13:54:12


  • 13:54:13

    TERIYour welcome. And to your guests I would be interested in hearing their recommendations for a 5 X 7-ish plot in the front yard. Because that's the only place where we have enough sun at our house. And we're -- we would like to make the neighbors happy, not only with the vegetables, etcetera but with the way it looks. So an arrangement and combination of plants would be very helpful.

  • 13:54:41

    NNAMDIWhat do you suggest, Holly Shimizu?

  • 13:54:42

    SHIMIZUWell, I would suggest you get inspired by the concept of a potager, which is a French vegetable garden concept where they're beautiful. And the vegetables are combined with herbs and flowers, edible flowers, things like nasturtiums, beautiful vegetables. Many vegetables are And then some fabulous herbs. I think herbs really belong in the front garden. They're fragrant. You can harvest them. So that's my suggestion but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  • 13:55:12

    TERIWhat about the deer?

  • 13:55:13

    NNAMDIOh, maybe less of a problem in the front garden.

  • 13:55:17

    TERINo, okay.

  • 13:55:18

    NNAMDISame problem, front garden, rear garden. It doesn't make a difference. Jim.

  • 13:55:21

    FORDYou could work in a couple -- maybe a couple berry bushes to add some interesting color year around. It'd also give you a little bit of foundation. But yeah, I was really experimenting in my vegetable garden with different lettuces and all, planting the different colored lettuces around. It's interesting the designs and stuff you can get. Like a lot of the Swiss chard and all right now that you can plant. It's already been planted for the spring but again in the fall you can plant the Swiss chard and spinach and all. You can make some really interesting designs. It's very attractive.

  • 13:55:52

    NNAMDIHere is Gamila in Silver Spring, Md. Gamila, your turn.

  • 13:55:57

    GAMILAHi. Thank you, Kojo and I want to say hi to Pat. We worked together a few years ago. I'm calling you because...

  • 13:56:03

    NNAMDIGlad we could bring you back together. Go ahead, Gamila.

  • 13:56:06

    GAMILAI couldn't believe my ears. It's awesome. Hi, Pat.

  • 13:56:08


  • 13:56:09

    GAMILAHi. I am calling to see if you could settle a marital dispute. We have a huge garden with about ten or eight very big oak trees. And they have a lot of shade but I want to plant a vegetable garden. And my husband says absolutely not. It will not grow because we don't have a lot of direct sunlight. So is that true?

  • 13:56:28

    NNAMDIWell, I have to tell you in advance that Holly Shimizu likes native oaks because they support birds, so I'll put the question to her.

  • 13:56:35

    SHIMIZUWell, as much as I love native oaks, you can't grow vegetables in the shade under them. So I'm sorry to tell you, your husband wins. And so I recommend you find another place. You could do what I've done, which is I go to my roof garden, because that's where I actually have the sun.

  • 13:56:53

    NNAMDIAnd feel free if you need any more marriage counseling, Gamila, to call in on the show any time. Pat.

  • 13:56:58

    LYNCHAnd I would say if the roof isn't an option, the other thing is to look around for a little shady corner. You can do tomatoes, peppers, eggplants in containers. Get yourself a nice big 16" container and you can do an amazing amount of vegetable growing just tucked into a corner with sun. But under the oaks -- and please, please, keep your beautiful mature trees. We need them.

  • 13:57:21

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Gamila. We're running out of time very quickly. But, Pat, I guess I should mention that Montgomery County composts the leaves and grass that it collects from homes, and you can buy it. Tell us about that in 20 seconds or less.

  • 13:57:33

    LYNCHTwenty seconds or less it's called LeafGrow. It's done by Maryland Environmental Services. And it is a wonderful product. You can get it at most retail stores. It is reusing what we have put out on the corner, those of us who don't have the wherewithal to compost. And it is a great improvement, definitely wonderful product.

  • 13:57:55

    NNAMDIPat Lynch is community garden coordinator for Montgomery County. She's also a Montgomery County master gardener. Jim Ford is the chief operating officer of the American Plant Company and Holly Shimizu is executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. Thank you all for joining us. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, Elizabeth Weinstein and Stephannie Stokes, with help from Camellia Assefi. Our engineer, Tobey the-one-and-only Schreiner. Natalie Yuravlivker is on the phones. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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