Readers’ 2020 Gardening Highlights Vol. 2

At the end of 2020, we asked readers to share any notable stories, projects, or accomplishments from their past year in gardening activities. We received some great submissions. We will feature a portion of the submissions in this post and more in the future.

View more 2020 Highlights

Pollinators love Mexican sunflower

Anne Henochowicz in Montgomery County wanted to share her success with this pollinator attracting plant.

Pumped about pumpkins

Kelly Domesle and daughter Helena had great success with pumpkins down in Washington D.C.

“During the shutdown this Spring, we spent an afternoon exploring the physics of “Pumpkin smashing” from our deck. My daughter, Helena, salvaged a few pumpkin seeds and planted them in our front yard. I was skeptical, but she tended to the plants all summer and had an amazing harvest this Fall! People stopped and talked to us about our pumpkin patch all year and we loved watching the bees buzzing in and out of the flowers. We gave the pumpkins away to neighbors and cooked some, too.”

  • Pumpkin harvest
  • Big pumpkin patch
  • Pumpkin vine

Brittany’s bountiful Baltimore garden

Brittany Croteau, a Master Gardener in Baltimore City shared her amazing turf reduction/garden expansion, native flowers, and fruit and vegetable haul this year:

“Over 2020 I anticipated having a really sad garden year… I was newly pregnant, and had just accepted a promotion which had me traveling to Cecil County daily, which left me with little time to think about my garden. Then COVID hit and I found myself at home 24/7, with a LOT of free time on my hands. My husband and I decided to rededicate that time to our garden, removing more turf, planting more natives, and meeting (socially distanced) with neighbors to swap produce and flowers. This year was the most fruitful garden we had, both with native plants, native birds, and veggie production. I was so grateful to spend time outside and create a space I was happy to welcome my daughter into in August 2020. A year I thought my garden was going to be neglected ended up being our best garden year yet. “

Readers’ 2020 Gardening Highlights

Last week, we asked readers to share any notable stories, projects, or accomplishments from their past year in gardening activities. We received some great submissions. We will feature a portion of the submissions in this post and more in the future.

It’s hard to contain our excitement about this container garden

Reader “FDelventhal” from PG County writes:

What a different year it was in the container garden on our deck. Lockdown created the obstacle and scramble to find potting mix. That began a journey of new ways to do things differently than we had every other year for the past 20 years. A few of the things we have learned this year that kept our garden productive:

  • Coconut Coir helped us expand the small amount of potting mix we had. 
  • We found a great 5 tier, 2-sided planter online that ended up being too good in that we had more herbs and flowers than we could use or give away. 
  • How beautiful sages are and how attractive they are to bees and hummingbirds. 
  • There are lettuces that can be grown in the heat of our summers, such as Ice Queen, Jericho,  and Crisp Mint. 
  • We discovered Joyce Browning’s videos on the UMDHGIC YouTube channel and we check daily for new videos. 
  • One Papalo plant is plenty. Love it, but one can only use so much of it. 

Home and Garden Information Center comments:

Great uses of alternative growing media (coconut coir) and growing the cilantro alternative, papalo. All of the pollinator activity in your garden is great for the environment!

Time’s up for turf

Betsy Kingery from Montgomery County writes:

This is section one of a 4-section, 2-year plan to transform about 1/3 of my front yard into a woodland garden. The area is heavily shaded by existing oak trees and has been planted with redbuds and helesias, a katsura, and two Cedar deodors.  We started in the spring of 2020 by placing cardboard and newspaper over existing turf and covering with 2″ of mulch with a goal to begin planting in the fall. In October, the mulch and cardboard were degraded such that we could dig it in along with the degraded turf and supplemented the soil with Leafgro. 

The planting was heavily weighted to native plants with some exceptions. We repurposed plants from other parts of the yard that were under renovation.  The plants listed on the plans are not the final choices. After planting section 1 in the fall, we papered and mulched section 2 to get ready for Spring 2021.

  • Garden planning drawing
  • Removing turf
  • Photo of planting after turf removal

Home and Garden Information Center comments:

Wow! We love efforts to reduce lawn, as they cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, support pollinators, and reduce runoff.

Susan touts the trombocino

Susan Levi-Goerlich writes:

The highlight of my 2020 garden season was my tromboncino squash. It’s an Italian heirloom that does double duty: its fruit can be used like summer squash (it’s firmer and tastier than zucchini) or, if allowed to fully mature, winter squash. The only challenges I face with this plant were (1) providing strong enough support for this vigorous grower, (2) reining in its enthusiastic sprawl to avoid overtaking my neighbor’s plot in the community garden, and (3) finding refrigerator space for the prodigious amount of squash it produced.

  • The arch the tromboncino were growing on collapsed and needed to be reinforced.
  • Tromboncino is a vigorous grower
  • It is also a prolific producer
  • Medusa’s refrigerator

Home and Garden Information Center comments:

Wow! What a haul! Kudos to your effort here; it looks like you employed some structural engineering to go along with your horticulture activities. (Search “tromboncino” in the search box for more articles on this cool squash!)