Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners Conduct Bay-Wise Landscape Consultations

The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners’ Bay-Wise team has been busy conducting fall Bay-Wise landscape consultations in Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties. On October 4th, a team of Bay-Wise trained Master Gardeners conducted a consultation of the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC) in Grasonville. CBEC is a 510 acre wildlife preserve that showcases pristine wildlife habitat and is a true model of environmental sustainability on our beautiful Eastern Shore. Its programming and stewardship ethics reach a diverse audience through their restoration-based environmental educational outreach programs.

On October 23rd, another team of Bay-Wise trained Master Gardeners conducted a consultation of Wilmer Park in Chestertown along with Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator with the Town of Chestertown. Wilmer Park encompasses nearly seven acres of Municipal Park along the Chester River. It was dedicated in the 1970’s and includes: a living shoreline and water trail, a wetland restoration area, numerous native trees, two rain gardens, the Lelia Hynson Pavilion, a gazebo, and the recently dedicated Broad Reach sculpture and playscape.

The month capped off with a final team of Bay-Wise trained Master Gardeners conducting a consultation of Galilee Community Garden at Harbor View in Chester on October 24th. A year ago, Galilee Community Garden started as an empty field. Today, the community garden has 15 raised beds and four specialty beds, including an herb garden and a pollinator garden to encourage bees and butterflies. Master Gardener and dedicated Galilee Community Garden volunteer, Nancy O’Conner, spearheaded the community garden in 2016 putting the dream into reality in 2017.

Bay-Wise Certification at Deerfield Farm, Jenny Rhodes pictured.

Additionally, Bay-Wise consultations and certifications have taken place at numerous private properties throughout Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties this fall, including our first farm certification. Deerfield Farm located in Centreville is a 12 acre farm that has thoughtfully incorporated a wide variety of native plants with all of their foundation and buffer plantings. Deerfield Farm was the first poultry farm in Maryland to receive a Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program Certification through the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts. This program was established to acknowledge those farmers who are good stewards of their natural resources and to encourage and reward farmers to put more conservation best management practices (BMPs) on the land.

To schedule a Bay-Wise consultation call or email the University of Maryland Extension Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Coordinator, Rachel Rhodes, at 410-758-0166 or rjrhodes@umd.edu . Master Gardeners, are volunteers who are trained by the University of Maryland Extension and will come to your home or business to evaluate your property. They can answer landscape and gardening questions and offer advice on sound environmental practices. This is a free service sponsored through the University of Maryland’s Extension office. A consultation usually takes about one to two hours, depending on the size and complexity of your yard. Consultations focus on practices of healthy lawn maintenance, storm water management, insect and disease control, composting waste, and selecting native plants and trees that enhance your property with minimum upkeep.  You are welcome to request advice about flower, fruit, and vegetable beds that beautify your yard and provide friendly habitat for wildlife like songbirds, butterflies, bees, and humming birds.  Complimentary Bay-Wise signs are given to homeowners and businesses that demonstrate sound Bay-Wise practices. For further information on the Bay-Wise Program and other environmentally sound practices, please visit www.extension.umd.edu/baywise or see us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/QueenAnnesCountyMasterGardeners

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Become a Master Gardener

master gardenerRegistration is now open for the 2017 Kent and Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener training. For anyone who would like to learn more about the environment, about gardening (both ornamental and vegetable) and who is interested in being involved in their community, this is the class to take.

The 9-week course will be held on Thursday evenings (5:30-8:30pm) and Saturday mornings (9am until noon) at Chesapeake College. Classes start on February 16th and end on April 15th.

The training covers topics such as ecology, botany, soils, propagation, pest and disease management, pruning, composting, growing fruits and vegetables, ornamental plants, weeds, alternatives to turf grass, invasive species, wetlands, wildlife, landscape design for the health of the Chesapeake Bay and much more. All classes are taught by professionals or professors from the University of Maryland. The cost of the program is $200 which includes handouts and the Maryland Master Gardener Handbook.

Upon completion of the course, trainees are asked to fulfil 40 hours of volunteer work in order to become a Master Gardener. “This may seem like a bit of a daunting task,” says Master Gardener Sabine Harvey. “However, we have so many projects lined up, that it is usually pretty easy to gather those 40 hours.” As an example, trainees can help at plant clinics, special event such the annual seed swap or tomato tasting event, they can help maintain demonstration gardens, work with schools or get involved in the Bay-wise program. In addition, current Master Gardeners will happily serve as mentors for the newly minted trainees.

For more information about the Maryland Master Gardener Program in general, please visit: http://extension.umd.edu/mastergardener/about-maryland-master-gardener-program

To register for the upcoming training please visit: http://extension.umd.edu/kent-county/horticulturegardening/become-master-gardener or contact Sabine Harvey, Horticulture Program Assistant, sharvey1@umd.edu, 410-778-1661

The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Equal Access Programs.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor: Herbs, Trees, and Flowers

“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is based on questions received and answered by the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), an educational outreach program of the University of Maryland Extension. Please visit our website for gardening, pest management information or to send us a question by clicking ‘Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts’. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Question #1: Which of the following herbs are hardy enough to survive being planted outdoors in Maryland winters: parsley, garlic, chives, lovage, oregano, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme?

Answer #1: Under most normal winters, all of the herbs mentioned will survive. But our winters are very variable so in some years winter protection would be advisable. A layer of mulch placed around plants after the ground is frozen helps to protect the roots from the freezing and thawing of soil. After the danger of frost has past rake the mulch away from the crown of the plants. Plant your herbs in a protected location to shield them from drying winter winds. Rosemary can be winterkilled and could benefit from a temporary burlap windbreak. A screen can be easily constructed by wrapping burlap around garden stakes. Garlic is planted in the fall. The bulbs are harvested in early July so replanting each season is necessary.

Question #2: We just planted a young holly tree in November. What should we do for it this winter? Should we water it? We are afraid that if we do water it now the soil will freeze and the roots will die.

Answer #2: You do not need to do anything for your tree now but hopefully you watered it well after you planted it. Water evaporates from soil very slowly in the winter, so it stays moist for a long time. We have had plenty of rain this winter. Moist (not soggy) soil is crucial for the success of new plantings. Keep an eye on the weather for droughty periods, which typically occur in summer going into the fall. Water the tree deeply when we do not get regular rain for at least the first two years. A 2-3 inch layer of mulch (not touching the trunk) will also help to keep the soil moist.

Question #3: In October I planted some tulips, daffodils and hyacinth in my front garden bed. I noticed that the leaves of the daffodils are already sprouting. Isn’t this too early? Will the bulbs be damaged and is there something I should be doing to protect them?

Answer #3: Bulb growth will stop with colder temperatures. The foliage may sustain winter damage but that will not affect the spring bloom. Covering them is not absolutely necessary. But if you choose to do so, lightly cover (do not bury them) with mulch, shredded leaves, evergreen branches or pine needles. Uncover in early spring.

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Liming, Powdery Mildew, and Dogwoods

“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is compiled from phone and email questions asked of the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), part of University of Maryland Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland.

Question #1: What time of the year should I be putting lime down on my lawn? Also what kind of lime do you recommend? Thanks

Answer #1: Before applying lime you should do a soil test. Soil testing will determine if you even need to apply lime and if the pH is low the results will indicate how much lime to apply. Lime can be applied just about any time of the year but fall is an excellent time for lawn tasks. Look for agriculture lime (calcitic limestone). Dolomitic lime contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate and is recommended for raising the pH on low magnesium soils. Pelletized lime is similar to agriculture lime, but is easier and neater for homeowners to apply than powdered lime. Look on the homepage of our website given below for information on soil testing.

Question #2: I came home from vacation to find the leaves of my very-productive cucumber plants looking mottled and appearing to have a white coating on them. What can this be and is there something I can do to salvage the plants?

Answer #2: Sounds like your cucumbers are infected with powdery mildew, a common fungal disease that affects cucurbits. This disease is favored by warm weather and can be destructive in dry as well as wet seasons. Once plants are infected they cannot be cured. Spraying with a copper fungicide or horticultural oil labeled for powdery mildew may slow down the infection. While plants usually do not die, they are weakened by the infection which reduces yields. Prevent the disease next year by doing a thorough clean-up of your garden in the fall, plant powdery mildew resistant varieties in an area with good air circulation, provide ample spacing between plants and avoid overhead watering.

Question #3: My father-in-law wants to dig up and give me two dogwood seedlings that have grown in his yard. I do have plenty of room to plant them but I was wondering what the best time of the year is to do this. He is thinking the fall but I wanted to check.

Answer #3: Correct timing does play a role for the successful transplanting of dogwood seedlings. Fall is a good time to plant but transplanting certain tree species like dogwood, red maple, cherry, hawthorn and zelkova should be done in spring. Typically this is in March when the ground is workable. Keep the seedlings watered, especially during dry periods, for the first two years after transplanting.

To ask a home gardening or pest control question or for other help, go to http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Or phone HGIC at 1-800-342-2507, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Petunias, Japanese Beetles, & Invasives

“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is compiled from phone and email questions asked the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), part of University of Maryland Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland.

Question #1: I have 3 hanging baskets that are filled with purple petunias. The leaves are starting to turn slightly yellow and they aren’t blooming as well. They are in full sun and I water them every 2-3 days. Can you help?

Answer #1: It is not unusual for hanging baskets to take a break from blooming mid-summer. Petunias can even tend to get leggy. The yellow leaves suggest that perhaps this is a good time to apply a balanced liquid fertilizer labeled for flowers or houseplants. This would also be a good time to prune them back. Prune the stems back to about half their length. You can cut back to within a few inches of the base if needed, but do not remove all their leaves. Then water well to prompt new growth and flowers. This mid-summer overhaul should keep them blooming until the fall.

Question #2: This summer I had to put up a Japanese beetle trap near our Linden tree. The beetles were all over it. Their activity has slowed down so is it safe for me to take the trap down?

Answer #2: We do not recommend the use of Japanese beetle traps. Placing a trap near a plant that the beetles are attacking can actually draw more to the area and cause more damage. The pheromone used to attract the beetles to the trap is very efficient and can draw Japanese beetles from a large area. If you still insist on using them place them on your property as far away as possible from the plants you are trying to protect but also be respectful of your neighbor’s plants. Japanese beetles fly for about 4-6 weeks and plants do tend to recover from their damage.

Question #3: I have a grass-like weed that is rapidly spreading through my lawn. It first appeared about 3 years ago. It dies out every winter but comes back more intensely each spring. It started on the sunny edge of the woods. Please help me to identify it and any suggestions you may have for eradicating it will be greatly appreciated.

Answer #3: The weed sounds like Microstegium vimineum or Japanese stiltgrass. It is native of Asia, first appearing in the U.S. in 1919 and is now spreading rapidly throughout the eastern U.S. This is a very difficult plant to control and is highly invasive. It is an annual grass and has a lifecycle similar to crabgrass. Japanese stiltgrass has a fibrous root system, stems which are erect or reclining and roots at stem nodes. You can help prevent the spread of stiltgrass by mowing before it goes to seed in late summer. Small areas can be handpulled, although you need to be careful about disturbing the soil. Disturbed soil is an open invitation for additional weed seeds to germinate. In wooded areas use a non-selective systemic herbicide for control. In lawn areas apply a pre-emergent herbicide used for crabgrass control in early spring.

To ask a home gardening or pest control question or for other help, go to http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Or phone HGIC at 1-800-342-2507, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Impatiens, Composters, & Leyland Cypress

“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is compiled from phone and email questions asked the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), part of University of Maryland Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland.

Question #1: What’s the latest on impatiens downy mildew disease? Are you advising against planting impatiens again this year? Is there some way I can treat my soil so that I don’t have to worry about the disease next year?

Answer#1: There have not been any recent updates about impatiens downy mildew. But, we still are recommending that impatiens not be planted this season. Nursery growers have been producing fewer impatiens and they are not as available for purchase because of this disease. On our website we have information on impatiens downy mildew and a list of replacement plants. On our homepage click on ‘invasives’ then ‘invasive diseases’. It is not feasible to treat the soil to prevent the disease. There are no labeled fungicides for homeowners for this purpose and windborne spores can blow into your yard to infect your plants.

Question #2: I was wondering if you had recommendations for the best kind of backyard composter for kitchen scraps.

Answer #2: There are quite an array of enclosed bins and tumblers designed for kitchen scrap composting. We have not evaluated them but you can find this information online. It is even possible to make compost by simply burying the scraps with other organic materials like leaves or straw in an open compost bin. Check with your county Public Works Department/Recycling Division; some will provide homeowners with a free bin. Or if you wish to build one, you could purchase a 10′ length of 3′ high fencing material (having a grid system of 2″) and wire the ends together creating a cylinder. You could also use three or four shipping pallets wired together to form an open cube. The minimum size for good results is 3’x3’x3’. Another option for composting kitchen scraps is vermicomposting (worm composting) indoors. Look for publications HG35 Backyard Composting and HG40 Indoor Redworm Composting on the Home and Garden Information Center website, for additional information.

Question #3: Can you please tell me why most of the Leyland cypress trees in our area appear to be dying? Is there some kind of disease going around or were they injured by the cold winter? But, they seemed to have made it through the winter okay so I do not think that is the reason. Is there something that can be done to save these trees?

Answer #3: Many Leyland cypress trees in the Maryland area were killed or suffered winterburn from the severe winter. They can get diseases but the dieback we are seeing on a wide-spread basis this spring is because of the winter. Although Leylands are supposed to be hardy to Zone 6, some cultivars are not that hardy and are not labeled as such. Also, trees that might have been stressed or not growing vigorously, but didn’t show any obvious symptoms in the fall, may have been extra-susceptible to the low temperatures. Unfortunately winter damage is not reversible. If they are not putting out new growth and the dieback is continuing the trees probably cannot be saved. If they need to be replaced, plant Arborvitae ‘Green Giant’ instead.

To ask a home gardening or pest control question or for other help, go to http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Or phone HGIC at 1-800-342-2507, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.