83°Mostly Cloudy

“New to Gardening”

by Prince Of Petworth March 3, 2016 at 2:00 pm 23 Comments


New to Gardening

“I’m a new but enthusiastic gardener and am interested in seeking the advice of some master gardeners (official or otherwise) out there. I’m fortunate enough to have yard space to grow a garden but it has fun challenges with it being north facing, having 3 resident dogs, and various other shading issues. I’d be interesting in soliciting advice regarding garden planning for the next year (placement and which plants to choose). I had some success with a garden last year but am looking to improve and be more strategic this next year. Any suggestions of where I can find help? Thanks!”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here. If you are having trouble uploading your question please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail Please Note this is NOT an events calendar.

  • AnonV2

    Common Good City Farm in LeDroit Park! In return for volunteer hours they will teach you pretty much all you need to know as an urban gardener. It’s more of a commitment than a one-day workshop, but you’ll probably learn a lot more.

    • textdoc

      Is that an on-site garden in LeDroit Park? Or a group that teaches gardening? Or both?

      • AnonV2

        It’s a full scale urban garden in LeDroit Park right off of 4th St NW. They have a farm stand and CSA and everything. Really a hidden gem of a resource in the city, and they do a ton of outreach for local kids and schools and basically anybody who is interested in the whole local/sustainable thing. wwwDOTcommongoodcityfarmDOTorg

        • purplepalace

          In addition to higher-commitment volunteer opportunities, Common Good also offers classes as part of the Seed to Table Workshop Program. You just pay for the class and show up. More info here: http://commongoodcityfarm.org/programs/seedtotable.

  • gardener

    There are a few gardening consulting places out there (not kidding) and the folks at Johnson’s are really helpful. You could also ask a friend who has more experience.
    A couple things on your specific concerns: gardens in DC get plenty of sunlight unless it’s under a tree or something. North facing should not me a problem. If anything too much sun is a problem for many.
    Depending on how trainable your dogs are, either train them to stay away or build a fence using chicken wire.
    If you’ve had slow growth in the past, soil is the most likely culprit. You should (probably) not be using any original soil. There are plenty of online resources for figuring out an appropriate mix of products, or you can just buy premixed organic gardening soil from a variety of local sources.

  • transplanted

    The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a really neat garden planning tool that automatically spaces plants for you and shows you how much shade trees and shrubs will throw off. It’s free for 7 days which is plenty of time to plan and tweak your garden. In my experience almost everything will grow in DC, but remember to give them some room.

  • Herewegoagain

    Grow up. Seriously. Trellis everything you can.

    • Anon

      Heh, it took me a moment to understand this comment.

  • textdoc

    Come to the next meeting of Gin & Gardening, a unofficial offshoot of PoPville for folks interested in gardening (organized by the VERY knowledgeable MPinDC).
    Info (as posted in RRRR toda): “The first Gin & Gardening gathering of 2016 will be on March 20th at 6:00 pm, venue still tbd but somewhere in Columbia Heights (Acre 121? The Heights? somewhere else?).”

    • textdoc

      And you don’t have to like gin to be part of the group — it wathere s to make the name catchy. ;)
      Nor do you have to be proficient in gardening; there are people at all levels.
      And it’s not just about gardening with edible things. (I don’t grow any edibles, but I have shrubs, flowers, and a tree.)

      • textdoc

        Er, “was there.” Not “wathere s”

    • LedroitTigah

      That sounds awesome! Id love to join as well.

    • awindc

      How do you join the G&G group?

  • takoma res

    I love going to American Plant, an awesome nursery up on River Road just off the beltway. They have a beautiful selection of plants and flowers that I’m sure can fit your garden. I will be there again as soon as the snow stops falling!

  • Urban gardener

    You just missed Rooting DC — a workshop for urban gardeners! http://rootingdc.org/ However, look up some of the partners that were there and you might be able to find someone who can help you out! Good luck!

    My garden is north facing and surrounded by privacy fences on either side. During the summer it gets plenty of sunlight! Also we have tons of alley cats, but they seem to not be very interseted in the garden.

  • jcm

    DC DPR has lots of free gardening classes. You can find more info here: http://dpr.dc.gov/service/urban-garden-workshop-series

  • MPinDC

    Come to the Gin & Gardening gathering on the 20th (thanks textdoc for the PSA!).
    Also take a look at the rootingdc.org /forum / handouts. Many of the presenters uploaded their ppts, take a look at Small Space Garden Design and Quick and Dirty Tips for the Vegetable Gardener

    • MPinDC

      Not a formal group, just show up on the 20th (or the next one in April)!

      • Amza

        Show up where?

  • Axp182

    Amend your soil with something like Bumper crop, and add fertilizer. If you don’t get a lot of sun, there are some really interesting beautiful plants that do well in full to partial shade. Example: coleus, begonias, hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts, and caladiums. Good luck!

  • JoDa

    Just a few off-handed comments given what you said…
    Do raised boxes. DC soil can be a bit tricky, and you might not know what is lurking. Plus, it’ll reduce the dog’s impact on them. No need to go crazy, some edging boxes (go as high or low end as you want), fill in, and plant. I’m sure many more people have better ideas about this than me since I container garden (condo dweller), but have friends and family that use raised beds and love them, in DC and beyond.
    There are many veggies that will do well in a north-facing/shaded area. Greens will thrive. Whatever suits your fancy, from lettuce to kale. You’ll get a slightly extended season on these since they won’t get scorched in the sun. If you get morning to midday light in the area in the summer, cucumbers will love that. Cucumbers scorch easily and full sun on my patio is the biggest challenge I’ve had with them. You can buy bush varieties to keep them a little more contained, or train them up a trellis if that’s an option for you. Tomatoes are known as a sun-loving plant, but they’re actually a quite adaptable plant that will do well in a variety of conditions (seriously, I once spilled some seeds in a dark, slightly mossy entry stairwell and ended up with three “volunteer” plants that had sprouted up in the light moss cover over bricks). There are hybrids available that grow well in shade if you have a *particularly* shady spot in mind for them, but most standard varieties will do fine in half sun…you just have to plant them a smidge later in the season so they get some good heat. If you’re willing to pole and line, most varieties of beans do well in shady areas. And, of course, most herbs will grow well in partial to full shade.
    Good luck and have fun with your garden!

  • Ally

    I’ll be doing my normal garden this year but will also trying something a little weird but that’s supposed to be fun and easy: You get one of those cloth shoe organizers, hang it from your fence/gate/whatever, fill the pockets with potting soil, and grow herbs or anything else compact, without having to worry about pest control or soil quality. Good luck with your garden! Oh, and you can’t go wrong with radishes. Instant gratification in 30 days or less.

  • 20011

    It’s out in Maryland but this place is great: http://behnkes.com


Subscribe to our mailing list