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Welcome to Reston Dirt!

Reston Dirt will highlight the particular joys, challenges and people growing things in and around Reston.

One of the things I love most about living in Reston is also one of the things that make it the most challenging.

I love to garden. I love to grow vegetables. I have probably lost more sleep over what variety of bean and variety of lettuce I should plant than would be considered normal for any sane suburbanite.  I confess I am a frustrated would-be farmer.

So when I moved to Reston, with its lush, verdant rolling hills and thick tree canopy, it became very clear, very quickly – there was going to be a problem.  Vegetables need a lot of sunlight to grow. My new home is a West-facing condo surrounded by the forest of My beloved vegetable garden would need to be located somewhere other than at home.

Fortunately for me, and for the rest of you shade-locked Restonians, the Reston Association has a thriving program of rentable community garden spaces in four different community gardens: Golf Course Island- on North Shore Drive, Lake Anne- on Wiehle near the Unitarian Church, Hunters Woods I- next to the veterinary clinic on Reston Parkway and Hunters Woods II- next to the Hunters Woods pool also on Reston Parkway. 

Not long after applying for one last Spring, we received permission to begin working our wee plot at the Golf Course Island (GCI) garden. It’s what I would call a “starter” size: only 10 by 12 feet. I’ve had closets bigger than this piece of dirt, but, it gets great, GREAT light since the plots are situated on the tree-free land above the gas pipeline running through Reston.

In 2011, our first year at GCI, we got a late start in May, so stuck with the trusted warm-weather stand-bys: tomatoes, peppers and herbs.  Very quickly we were over-run with bounty.  When we went out of the country on vacation for three weeks, we came back to find the plot looked like a gazpacho fight had broken out – the tomatoes had gone insane.

2012 will be my second year of organic gardening in Reston and I am excited to bring what I know from my previous gardens to bear in this new plot of ground. At the same time, I am looking to find new friends and resources in the community and share them with you here on the Reston Patch.

In the upcoming installments, I will be searching out opportunities to spotlight other avid gardeners, jewel box gardens, and news of new (or old) varieties of flowers and vegetables that thrive in our particular microcosm of Northern Virginia.  Have a copse of gorgeous hosta? A bed of iris that is the pride of the neighborhood? A container veggie garden on a patio that feeds your family? I’d love to hear about it.

Let’s see if we can’t make our community a little closer, here in our own little green patch of heaven.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lucinda Shannon May 12, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Hi Karen, sometimes way back in the back of my head a tinny little voice tells me that I'm that crazy cat lady we read about in the newspapers, only with plants. I'm not proud. Or super accomplished, but after a long day at work coming home to check in on my plants puts my mood right. Living in a townhouse, with a deck for a yard and not much sun, I've taken to container gardening and rogue planting on common property (again, not proud), and we just got our community garden plot at Hunters Woods (!). After 3 years on the waiting list we found out this winter and I grew seedlings all over the house. I've been stopping strangers at the community garden pushing tomatillo plants on them. I got the seeds in the free pile at the community garden season start off meeting. Thank you whoever donated them. I'm also excited to meet new friends and participate in gardening activities. Lucinda Shannon lucindashannon@gmail.com
Karen Berry May 13, 2012 at 11:48 AM
This is fantastic Lucinda - and I agree completely about the theraputic value of green things! I'm growing ground cherries for the first time this year - I believe they are very closely related to tomatillos. I have a plan to make jelly out of them to go with the peanut butter I will make from the peanuts I'll be growing too. Paired with some home-made bread, I'll have my own self-actualized PB&J sandwiches sometime this fall! Hey - you need some peanuts? Don't know if you have your garden plan already, but I absolutely love the online tool available on www.growveg.com to show how to space and time your crops! It's free to try for 30 days. Mother Earth News also has an online garden planning tool too! They are both super fun and easy to use!
Molly O'Boyle May 14, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Karen, glad to see your blog and glad to see you have a plot. Same with you, Lucinda ~ I am your coordinator and you will be receiving emails from me shortly!! Can't wait to hear about what other people are doing because that what communities SHOULD be doing ~ sharing and enjoying the nature experience, no matter what that is to the individual!
Lucinda Shannon May 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Thanks for the offer of peanuts but I think I'll pass. All my space is full and I still have more I want to grow. Maybe I'll see you this Friday at the community garden movie at the Nature House on Glade Dr.?
Lucinda Shannon May 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Hi Molly, thanks for being our garden coordinator and I’m looking forward to your emails and blog posts. I’ve been wanting to connect more with the other gardeners in our plot and wondering if we had a group listserv? We’ve met before, I’m Carson’s aunt. You probably have my husband Adam’s email but I don’t know if you have mine, lucindashannon@gmail.com. Please add my email to your garden list. Thanks! Lucinda P.S. If you are looking for ideas to write about I have a few. Like how to grow artichokes in Reston? …
Karen Berry May 14, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I second the request for growing artichokes, Molly! I bought some seedlings at a plant sale in mid-April, but they whithered away before I could get them in the ground. Would love to know if you've had success in this.
Molly O'Boyle May 15, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I don't know that much about artichokes, but I will put the word out to the other gardeners to see if anyone has had any luck in the past. Thanks ladies! And Karen, don't buy plants too early next year!!!

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