In our continued efforts to provide educational outreach, the Baltimore County Master Gardeners (BCMG), volunteers who are part of the University of Maryland Extension, offer this newest installment in our monthly newsletters designed to provide timely, informative articles to assist you in your gardening activities.
Learn about container gardening and raspberries! Earth Day at the Park. Learn horticulture at CCBC.
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Container Gardening: Similar Rewards, Less Work An article by Elizabeth Heubeck, Baltimore County Master Gardener
Gardening needn’t mean countless hours spent stooping amid multiple beds to fight weeds and other pests with the hope of reaping a modest yield of produce, a haven for pollinators, or a pleasant plant-filled oasis. There’s a viable alternative to this time-consuming hobby: container gardening.
The what and whys of container gardening
Just as it sounds, container gardening is the act of growing plants in containers. This increasingly popular form of gardening offers similar rewards to traditional gardening, and it’s particularly appealing to those with limited time, space, or attention span.
You need only a balcony, porch, or small patio for planting containers. And, while the traditional notion of container gardens generally conjures up flowering plants, they can actually be quite versatile. Annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, and even small trees can be successfully planted in containers when they’re grown under the right conditions.
Growing plants in containers allow gardeners to avoid some common pitfalls associated with traditional gardening. Weeds are less of a concern, as they’re far less likely to make their way into containers than they are to spread through soil. Another benefit to growing in containers is the ability to control the spread of plants considered invasive, as there’s less chance of them spreading beyond their pots (although I have seen some aggressive plants grown in containers proliferating on the ground just below or beside their original planting spot).
How to grow plants successfully in containers While there are some benefits to container gardens, you can’t simply tuck plants into containers and forget about them. Here are some special care guidelines to consider when container gardening:
Water needs: Plants in containers generally require more frequent watering than in-ground plants–unless you’re planting a succulent container garden. Hints: Adding a layer of mulch atop the potted plants can help hold in moisture. Also, avoiding black and other dark-colored containers prevents them from getting too hot and drying out.
Drainage: Drainage can be a concern for potted plants. Most container plants prefer moist, not soggy, soil. So, it’s important to make sure there’s one or more drainage holes in the bottom of a container. Using potting mix is always preferred over dirt, as it’s more porous and less dense, therefore offering better drainage. And some plants (succulents, orchids, roses, cacti) fare better with specific blends of potting mix.
Fertilizer: Because plants in containers don’t have the benefit of absorbing nutrients from the ground, experts recommend adding fertilizer to containers on a fairly regular basis for best growth outcomes. It’s also important not to over-fertilize, a potential risk because of the finite space in which plants are grown in containers. Experts suggest using soluble fertilizer when nutrients are needed immediately, for instance, when the leaves of a plant are yellowish or otherwise appear to be in distress. Otherwise, slow-release fertilizers are beneficial as they provide potted plants smaller doses of nutrients over time.
Plant zone: Since they’re elevated off the ground, plants in containers tend to be more sensitive to freezing temperatures than those planted in the ground. Experts suggest treating container plants as if they’re in a climate, two plant zones lower than if they were in the ground (for example, Baltimore is Zone 7 for plants grown traditionally, but we’re closer to Zone 5 for plants in containers).
Routine care: Just like all plants, those grown in containers need routine care. Deadheading or pruning as needed helps maintain good growth habits. Monitoring to ensure plants get the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients also optimizes growth. Adhering to these and other basic tenets of gardening should reward the container gardener with a bounty that’s beautiful, beneficial to the environment, or maybe even both.
No Redder Berry on the Thorn An article by Norman Cohen, Baltimore County Master Gardener
One summer day, when I was puttering around in the garden, my daughter stopped her jog and walked over to me. Hey dad," Can you come with me. A few blocks away are this huge patch of wild raspberries, and I want to know if they are edible?" We walked a few blocks down the road, and I saw the largest patch of wineberry. "Well dad there they are, are they OKAY to eat?" Yes, with a wry smile, you can!! My daughter remarked, "What a great treat to stop, eat a few for quick energy and be on your way." Unfortunately, so do the birds.
The invasive wineberry or wine raspberry, Rubus phoenicolasius, phoenicolasius means purple haired which are the hairs which stem from the berry. The plant was introduced into the United States in 1895 from Asia as breeding stock for new Rubus cultivars and is still used today as breeding stock. The cultivated raspberry, R. idaeus, idaeus derived from Ida, a mountain in Asia Minor, hence its common name European Raspberry which grows from Asia to Northern Europe. A closely related plant in North America, sometimes regarded as the variety R. idaeus var. strigosus, is more commonly treated as a distinct species, R. strigosus the American Red Raspberry. Red-fruited cultivated raspberries, even in North America, are generally R. idaeus or horticultural derivatives of hybrids of R. idaeus and R. strigosus. A side note, in botanical terminology, the raspberry is not a true berry at all but an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core.
A closely related species to R. idaeus and R. strigosus is R. occidentalis, a species of Rubus native to eastern North America and common name is black or wild black raspberry. The black fruit makes them look like blackberries, though this is only superficial, with the taste being unique and not like either the red raspberry or the blackberry. Blackberries are distinguished from its raspberry relatives is whether the torus (receptacle) picks with the fruit, a blackberry remains on the plant when picked leaving a hole in the fruit, and a raspberry does not. The black raspberry, due to occasional mutations in the genes controlling color production, yellow-fruited variants ("yellow raspberries") sometimes occur and have been occasionally propagated, especially in home/farm gardens in the Midwestern United States. The yellow-fruited variants of the black raspberry retain that species' distinctive flavor, different from the similar-appearing pale-fruited variants of cultivated red raspberries.
A few years back, the Grow It Eat Group started a raspberry patch. The two selected raspberry species were the University of Maryland Extension recommended R. idaeus var. strigosus 'Heritage' and 'Caroline'. 'Caroline' and 'Heritage' are primocane (first-year cane of a biennial) bearing-late summer through fall harvest. 'Caroline' has excellent flavor and is harvested a few weeks earlier than 'Heritage'.' Heritage' is vigorous, medium size fruit, harvested from late August to frost. I will attest to their excellent taste; I ate enough of them while working in the garden. Raspberries require a soil pH from 5.8 to 6.8, soil well amended with organic and staked. Unfortunately, the patch succumbed to fungal disease and gall. Two years ago in the Demo garden, a new patch was started along the fence near the fruit orchard. The production and taste were quite impressive and a visit to the patch is well in order. The biggest complaint with raspberries is birds and yellow jackets. A possible solution is the use of floating row covers as soon as the appearance of fruit set.
Photos courtesy of: Pixabury.com
MASTER GARDENERS IN ACTION
HEREFORD LIBRARY Integrated Pest Management
Leader- Norman Cohen
Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 2:00 PM
FREE IN THE GARDEN SUMMER SEMINARS
These are 1-hour seminars held in our Demonstration Garden at the Ag. Center (1114 Shawn Road, Cockeysville). Each 1-hour session is led by Baltimore County Master Gardeners beginning at 10:00 am. Each session has a distinct plan if rain is in the forecast for that day; please see the description for the specific session.
June 4, Bay Wise Garden: "Gardening for Beauty and a Healthy Environment”
Learn about gardening in harmony with nature by using native plants, controlling stormwater runoff, reducing lawns, and using fertilizers and water sparingly.
Rain plan: Cancel if hard rain. If light rain, we will proceed in the garden, bring umbrellas! REGISTER HERE June 11, Deer Resistant Garden: “Oh Deer!!! Don’t Eat That!!!”
Deer are present in much of Baltimore County, so in this session learn about how to plan your garden through plant choices, barriers, and design strategies with deer in mind.
Rain plan: light rain, we will proceed in the garden bring umbrellas, harder rain we will meet outside the Ag Center Main building classroom on the West side of the building. REGISTER HERE June 25, Orchard Garden: “Growing Fruit in Your Backyard”
A conversation in the Orchard based on the premise that no garden is too small to have fruit! Subjects covered will range from site selection to propagation.
Rain plan: We will have a rain date of July 9 if the forecast calls for heavy rain. REGISTER HERE
CHILDREN IN THE GARDEN SUMMER SERIES
We will have 3 sessions in the Children’s Garden, especially for kids ages 7-10. Each session will begin at 10:00 and will last an hour. The theme this summer is: Inviting Creatures into the Garden. Each session will focus on beneficial garden creatures. We will demonstrate how each creature helps enhance the vitality of the garden, and we will build creature houses for each participant to take home to their own garden. Rain Plan: Any rain, these sessions will move under cover of the Ag. Center Main Building. There is a $5 fee for each participant, to cover the costs of supplies,
Sign up on Eventbrite is REQUIRED-
June 18 Session 1, “Bring on the Birds” Children will learn how birds help manage bugs in our yards, and how they can promote the growth of plants that keep our environment healthy. We will be making birdhouses using house paint. Please dress for potential splatter!!!
July 16 Session 2, “Thanks to Toads” We will explore the differences and similarities of frogs and toads, then discuss how they help keep the bug population under control in our yards. We will be building toad houses. Please dress for paint splatter!!
August 13 Session 3, “Benefits of Bees” We will learn the difference between bees and wasps, how bees help as pollinators in the garden, and their importance for our food supply. We will build bee houses and paint. Please dress for splatter!!!
AMG Tables at Farmers Markets
Catonsville Farmers Market - Every other Wednesday morning from May 18th through September 7th Cromwell Valley Park – Every other Saturday from May 28th through September 3rd Hereford Farm Market - Saturday mornings from June 4th through September 3rd Kenilworth Farmers Market Every other Tuesday afternoon, from June 7th through August 30th Oregon Ridge Nature Center - Saturday mornings from the end of May until September Towson Farmers Market - Thursday mornings from June into September
The American Landscape Institute
Is Accepting New Students