A Pear Tree and Pansies by Bobbie Brittingham


I know that you all have had this question asked before as I have and I have tried to think of a different answer to it but for some reason I always end up back at the same time in my childhood with the answer. What and when is your first memory of gardening?

I have lived in this area of the Eastern Shore almost my entire life. A few exceptions, going away to boarding school and college, and two years in Elizabeth City, North Carolina when I was first married. Then I returned back to the Shore after those two years. So I have seen many changes and have many memories of my life in the garden. And I do say life sincerely.

I was very fortunate to have had a mother who loved gardening and was a rabid propagator. She could start anything from seed, bulbs or by cuttings. Even collecting camellia seeds to cool in the refrigerator for a year or two and then germinating them, raising them with constant care until they were large enough to go into her shade garden that she had created out of an empty corn field. Now in someone else’s care, they are 20 to 30 feet, producing a spring display that could rival any North Carolina garden. Unfortunately, she is not here to see them.

photo (1)I was close to maybe seven or eight years old when I would go with her in the early spring to a couple of home-built cold frames under a huge twisted, eerie old pear tree. She would slide the heavy glass paneled tops over the back side of the frames to reveal hundreds of bright, cheerful, happy faced pansies.

Now these were the real pansies, each with a distinctive face and personality. Not like the meager, sullen ones on today’s market benches. We would situate ourselves so that I was to her left and she was in front of the frames. With her precious trowel worn down to a sharp blade, she would carefully dig each blooming pansy out cradled in a square block of dirt. Then she would hand it carefully to me to wrap in newspaper, in a special way so that the ends could be tucked into secure each plant. I would be so diligent and conscientious about my job. I wanted it to be exactly right because Mother would check them all over to be sure I did it right, and I had an arterial motive…..

In Easton many years ago, there was a small grocery store on Harrison Street across from the Tidewater Inn. It was Johnny’s Grocery Store. At least that is the name I recall. It was a real old fashion store that you left your list with clerk, and they would fill the order for pick up later. Well, Johnny would pay me 10 cents for every pansy plant I brought in.

Now I did not get rich with this project but since my mother had done all the work of preparing the cold frames, seeding the pansies, weeding, watering keeping them cozy and all I had to do was sit and wrap them in newspaper, I thought this was a fair price.

My piggy bank never really overflowed but I enjoyed that special one on one time that my mother as we sat under that old pear tree wrapping pansies and just talking about anything and everything a young mind might come up with. To this day every time I smell that delightfully fresh pansy perfume I remember the pear tree and my mother’s worn trowel handing me a precious pansy.

Food Friday: Eat Your Vegetables!

FF_Eat Your Vegetables

Roasting and Grilling Farmers’ Market Vegetable Mélanges

Have you felt the weather starting to change? It’s just a little cooler in the evenings. I take Luke out back to toss the ball just before dinner, and we have been stopping to linger for a few minutes – the furnace of summer is cooling down. I sit in the Adirondack chair with a glass of wine and a section of the paper, he lolls in the grass, happily smelling all he surveys. The osprey pair has been doing a lot of fishing, and commentating raucously throughout the day. The geese are beginning to move through. And wasn’t that Harvest Moon a sight to behold?

There are still lots of veggies available at the various farmers’ markets around us. And while I think we have flipped the last burger of summer, there are some flavorful grilled and roasted vegetable meals ahead of us. I like the comic strip Mutts and its advocacy of meatless Mondays (although I slip up sometimes and do a spaghetti carbonara with bacon some weeks…) and any of these flavorful vegetable dishes would qualify. This weekend we’ll grill the veggies, and on Monday I will roast some more in the oven.

For grilling the vegetables outdoors there are some easy peasy rules to follow:

1. Grease them up: vegetables will dry out when they are heated without a little oil. Before grilling, toss them lightly with smackeral of oil.
2. Know your vegetables: some cook in the wink of an eye and others will take longer. Dense vegetables such as potatoes require the longest cooking times. To prevent burning, sear vegetables first over a high heat, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or parboil them first and just give them a few minutes on the grill to get some color and those yummy grill marks on the outside
3. Use a skewer or a basket: cherry tomatoes are great grilled, but they’re a little unruly. It is best to skewer roly poly tomatoes or tiny little red potatoes, or use a basket: fewer vegetables falling onto the coals, or off the grill into Luke’s eagerly awaiting maw.
4. Yes, size does matter. If you want the vegetables to cook quickly, chop and slice accordingly. Thin rounds of onion, with more surface area, will cook more quickly than fat wedges.
5. Try cooking in foil: if you don’t feel like babysitting your vegetables cook them in foil packets instead. This method works great for the dense vegetables and ears of corn. Unfurl a large piece of aluminum foil, lightly spray the surface with cooking oil and arrange sliced vegetables a single layer, slightly overlapping. Fold up into a nice neat little foil envelope and then place on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 12 to 15 minutes, for potatoes). This way you can toss the ball for Luke for a few minutes and he will be forever grateful.

That was outside grilling – now for roasting inside: one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is roasting. I hate vegetables that have been boiled into oblivion. Roasting at a high heat converts a plain vegetable into a delicious caramelized treat.

You can roast any type of vegetable you want with this basic recipe. Adjust the amount of oil you use accordingly. We’ve roasted asparagus, garlic, squash, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, carrots, zucchini, you name it.

Roasted Veggie Mélange

1.Preheat oven to 450° F.
2.Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3.Divide the vegetables among two cookie sheets – mine have sides, for less spillage. Put fast cooking vegetables together, and group the slow cookers likewise. Few headaches!
4.Roast vegetables for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

The vegetables cook quickly — some vegetables may take only 15 to 20 minutes — but they still have a chance to brown nicely on the outside by the time they become tender inside. So keep an eye on them. Carmelized onions are one thing, blackened and incinerated are another.

It’s very important that you cut the vegetables in pieces of about the same size. Unevenly sized pieces won’t roast and brown in the same amount of time, and you’ll end up with both over roasted and under roasted vegetables. And if you have any fussy eaters, you won’t be able to persuade them to enjoy the rich roasted flavors of fall.

And here is some more inspiration for you – this week Mark Bittman of the New York Times wrote about some new restaurants in London where he has had some exquisite meals: “If you can get past all the glitter, you will find vegetables treated as respectfully as animals. Planks of sweetly caramelized roasted celeriac are served with walnuts, onions and greens, and though one would hardly argue that these are as killer as the wood-grilled rib-eye (served with chimichurri, which is the new pesto, I guess), they are plenty satisfying. Chargrilled Ibérico pork with collards and roasted garlic is difficult to write about without my mouth watering. A starter of roasted cauliflower in mayonnaise is sadly no longer on the menu. Grilled octopus with eggplant is, however, and I would grab that.” Now I am starving! How about you?


“An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.”
Will Rogers

Announcing Talbot County Weekly Foodie Tours

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Hungry for a taste of the Eastern Shore’s finest dining establishments but don’t know where to start? Looking to entertain guests while they visit the Shore? Now you can join a walking food tour and experience Easton and St. Michael’s one taste and sip at a time.

EatingEaston and EatingSt. Michaels was created by local businessman and entrepreneur, Bill Bernard, who fell in love with the idea of blending culture, food, history, and adventure as a way to experience the wonders of the unique towns and communities of the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland.

“My wife, Kathy, and I discovered food tours while visiting San Diego a few years ago. Not only is it interesting to learn about history and folklore from locals, it’s a great way to sample some terrific cuisine while having a one-on-one with the various chefs. Our towns and communities are perfect venues for food tours drawing tourists and locals alike.”

Each three hour tour is led by experienced tour guides who are history and food buffs. A minimum of four restaurants along the way will welcome the group and provide a taste and a sip of their signature dishes and drinks. A local culinary specialty store will offer tastings as well.
Lace up your walking shoes and prepare to sample some of the the Eastern Shore’s “Best food on foot.”

For more information visit www.eatingeaston.com or call 410-635-4130

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Cherry Laurels, Toadstools, & Harlequin Bugs

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“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: I have established cherry laurels in a landscape bed in the front of my house. They have always been very healthy until this summer when I began to notice some branches that have brown leaves. Upon closer examination I noticed this white-fungus looking stuff on these stems. I am concerned that this will spread and cause further damage. What is this and what can I do to stop it?

Answer#1: We have been hearing from many homeowners with similar concerns about their cherry laurels. What you are noticing is not a fungus but a type of scale insect called white prunicola scale. This is an insect that sucks sap from twigs and branches. This can cause dieback, which is usually preceded by leaf yellowing, browning and premature leaf drop. The white substance you describe is the covering that is cast off by the male scales. If you look closely you may see round, orange objects which are the egg-bearing females. To control this pest prune out any dead or heavily infested branches. Then use a soft brush dipped in water to scrape off the remaining scale, as best you can. Spray with a horticultural oil, according to label directions, in the dormant season (November – March) or after the eggs hatch and the crawlers are present (this is when the insect is the most vulnerable to sprays). The timing for this is June, July or September.

Question #2: Why do I have toadstools or white mushrooms in my lawn? I first noticed them when it began to warm up in the spring, but I still see them. What can I do to get rid of these mushrooms?

Answer #2: A mushroom is the spore-bearing or fruiting structure of a fungus. The fungus feeds on decaying wood buried in the soil. The source of organic matter can be dead tree roots, buried logs, stumps or even buried wood or lumber. When conditions are right these fruiting bodies form. The mushrooms are an important part of the natural world. They are not harming your lawn. There really is not a practical or permanent way to prevent them. If needed you can rake them up and dispose of them.

Question #3: I garden every year but the last several years our organic vegetable garden has been infested with harlequin bugs. I even stopped growing most of the greens these bugs love. Word around the community garden is that gardeners have not been having problems with them this summer. I’d like to plant cabbage and kale again soon do you think it is safe to do so?

Answer #3: Insect populations ebb and flow and can be difficult to predict. In general we are getting fewer questions about garden pests this season. However, you should still be prepared just in case you see them. You can find detailed information about preventing and controlling harlequin bugs on the “Grow It Eat It” section of our website. Also look for the photo of the egg cases. If you should find any on your plants you should crush them to prevent large populations from building up.

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.

Food Friday: After School Snackums


Is everyone getting into the swing of back-to-school? Are you the very model of efficiency and good nutrition, whipping up tasty lunches with oodles of hidden kale? Are you using your leftovers wisely? Did you get cute little Bento lunch boxes for everyone? More importantly, are you an after school superhero?

Yes, you should prep and cube up some watermelon (which is really sweet and delish right now), and have it in the fridge next to the yogurt and the carrot sticks and hummus dip. But if you really want to make an impression on those malleable little minds, every once in a while throw caution to the autumn winds, and bake some homemade Ding Dongs.

We called them Ring Dings in Connecticut, where I grew up, but apparently the rest of the world knows them as Ding Dongs. I don’t know which is sillier…

I grew up in a house where, embarrassingly, my mother insisted on giving out tiny little boxes of raisins at Halloween. I had no street cred in a kid world where full size candy bars, distributed with the UNICEF pennies, were the norm. After a couple of years of raisin dispersal, our house was given wide berth at Halloween. There were probably invisible plague markings over our front door: Avoid this house, there be raisins here, and not the chocolate covered ones, either! (We also received new toothbrushes in our Easter baskets. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were in cahoots with my mother.)

Luckily, my brother and I grew up without too many other psychic scars. We went on to college, jobs and marriage. While in college I discovered that one of my friends had the best sort of mother – one who appreciated the value of a good treat. Whenever we descended on her house, whatever the season or time of night, we could be assured of finding a pristine, still-wrapped-in-cellophane box of Ring Dings in their refrigerator, and being good and thoughtful house guests, we would devour them all with tall, cold glasses of whole milk. Remember whole milk? The Ring Dings had developed a crisp chocolate carapace from being chilled in the refrigerator, which yielded to the soft cake interior, and the creamy goodness at the center. (Twinkies, we later discovered, also benefitted from being refrigerated…)

You can tell that this eating experience made a lasting impression upon me. I vowed with all the fervor of Scarlett O’Hara that I would take a page from this family’s book, and in the future I would make Ring Dings freely available whenever we had were young house guests. And sometimes even for an ordinary after school snack. Yumsters!

But this is even better: baking your own. Forget the falafel. Overlook the granola. Dismiss the dried apricots. Consider the sweet chocolate coating, the crumbly cake, and the delicious cream filling, which will be oh so tasty when you make it yourself. Sweet memories are made of this.


And here is a vegan approach, though you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb: http://thetolerantvegan.com/2011/04/homemade-ding-dongs/

You will of course be doing your baking with this oven – not my middle-of-the-line Kenmore electric range: “THE “ULTIMATE” // La Cornue Château Series: These ranges would be equally at home at Downton Abbey and the world’s greatest restaurants. Grand Palais 180 in stainless steel with polished copper trim, $54,700, Purcell Murray, 800-457-1356”. As seen in Wall Street Journal.


(Here is a very handy dandy column from the New York Times in case you can’t be as devil-may-care about lunches as some of us are: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/dining/no-pbj-allowed-put-dips-into-lunchboxes.html?ref=dining&_r=0 )

“Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.”
― Dave Barry

Food Friday: End-of-the-Summer Grilling


It’s the end of summer, and sadly, we are not jetting to the Hamptons or the Vineyard, (though no one else is either because of the President!) but are having a little three day stay-cation at home. It is still plenty hot, so we will not be waxing nostalgic about the summer weather, but we will be standing around the grill, wearing white, twirling kebabs, and hoping that the high temps cool down sometime soon.

I just love this quotation from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal: “Protein prices are just so visible to people because they build their meals around it,” says Stacie Rabinowitz, a senior analyst with research firm Consumer Edge Research. “All incomes feel it.”


Prices are soaring, so we need to analyze the best way to deliver protein to our families. Yikes. Beef prices are up, but so is everything else. We were planning on grilling chicken this weekend, eating economically and eating “more better”, to quote Dan Pashman from The Sporkful podcast.

We didn’t feel as if we were scrimping when we whipped up these kababs last weekend: skewered chicken, Vidalia onions and red, green and yellow peppers, served with grilled ears of corn, a nice green salad and the usual accompaniment of cheap white wine. Beer was available for the non-bon vivants.

Best Beloved’s favorite chicken strategy is to allow the chicken to marinate in one of his concoctions for about an hour. First he chunked the boneless chicken breasts (bought on sale) and let the large cubes steep in a bowl of white Worchestershire sauce, with a handful of capers, some good quality olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. And then he threads the ingredients onto metal skewers. Then he wrapped shucked corn in aluminum foil, with a big pat of butter. He tossed skewers and the ears of corn onto the grill, drank a beer, threw the ball for the dog and then walked inside to sit down to eat. In the interim, I managed to boil up a pot of rice, wash a bowl of salad, lighted some candles and poured the wine. Phew! It is had work being a weekend sous chef!

Now, if you want to get fancy, like our friends at the Wall Street Journal did, then you could add a couple of hundred people, vats of potato salad, fancy drinks, and a band, and then wonder why hamburger prices have gone through the roof. We aimed for a more modest production. We listened to jazz on Pandora, lighted the candles and ate dinner. Enough is as good as a feast, as Laura Ingalls Wilder often wrote.

We also returned to childhood and had a Famous Wafer refrigerator cake. The recipe and the informative photo are right on the side of the box, in case you have forgotten how to whip cream and stack layers of cookies. Food52 gussied it up a little bit, as is their wont, although they did say, “The best summer dessert is also the easiest.” How right they are! https://food52.com/blog/7061-how-to-make-any-icebox-cake-in-5-steps

This “Chicken Under a Brick” recipe from Bon Appétit sounds first rate: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chicken-under-a-brick

But if you want to stick to skewers, this is far more exotic than ours: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sambal-chicken-skewers

Martha weighs in with her fancier-than-thou chicken skewers: http://www.marthastewart.com/341224/cajun-kebabs-with-chicken-and-andouille#Grilled%20Chicken%20Recipes|/275423/grilled-chicken-recipes/@center/276943/grilling-recipes|341224

Here is another podcast I enjoy: The Sporkful. (http://www.sporkful.com/) Dan Pashman gets to the root of many a food conundrum: Is a hot dog a sandwich? What is that gizmo in the Guinness can? What is the best weather-themed dessert? So many concerns you had never before reflected upon! It is a highly amusing and informative podcast, which often brings a smile to my face. Give it a try!

Enjoy the end of summer. It’s hard to believe it is really here, though the children are back at school already, and it is still stinking hot out there. But have you noticed the light is changing? Most nights Luke-the-wonder-dog and I walk out to the end of the street to get a good view of the sunset, and last night we dawdled a minute or two sniffing some most fascinating leaves of a bush, so we were too late for that golden moment. The pinks were fading to grays and the cardinals had started singing their nighttime songs. Revel in your long weekend!

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

Environmental Concern Prepares for 12th Annual Fall Native Plant Sale

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Impressed by the vivid white blooms of the Sweetbay Magnolia? Choose the perfect magnolia for your landscape at Environmental Concern’s (EC) annual Fall Native Plant Sale on Friday, September 5th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, September 6th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sale will take place at EC’s Campus located at the head of San Domingo Creek on Boundary Lane in historic St. Michaels, Maryland.

A hardy selection of trees and shrubs will be offered for purchase this fall. The Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is one of the local favorites. Our featured plant for the Fall Native Plant Sale, the Sweetbay magnolia, has 2″-3″ lemon-rose scented creamy white flowers, visible in late spring and early summer. It has a very pleasing shape when used as a specimen tree. Bright scarlet-red seeded fruit ripens in late summer, attracting many birds.

The Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) will also be available in several sizes. The vibrant red flowers create an eye-catching display. Add this plant to the garden for late summer/early fall color. It grows best in moist to wet soil in full or partial sun and will thrive along the margin of a garden pool. Once established, it usually will re-seed itself – assuring future nectar for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. For gardeners in the Mid-Atlantic Region, fall is an ideal time to plant native plants. After the last heat wave of summer passes, the cooler months allow plants to establish good root systems before the next dry summer season.

Select your plants from the largest collection of locally grown native herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs in the Region. EC specializes in native plants grown from seed and propagated on-site. Visit our website at http://www.wetland.org/whoweare_history.htm to read about the nursery’s founding in 1972.

The sale hours are Friday, September 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 6th from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Contact Penny at (410) 745-9620 or e-mail at nursery-sales@wetland.org. Members will receive a 10% discount. A special membership packet will be offered to new members on Saturday, September 6th.

All proceeds from the plant sale will help fund EC’s mission to improve water quality and enhance native habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
EC is a 501(c)3 public not-for-profit organization. For more information, visit www.wetland.org or call (410) 745-9620.

Adkins to Host Native Plant Nursery Open House

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Adkins Arboretum’s Native Plant Nursery will open its doors Sept. 13 and 14 for a Fall Open House. No longer simply a native plant sale, the event offers visitors the opportunity to tour the Nursery and its operations, learn about rain barrels and plant propagation, and visit the Nursery’s native gardens, all in addition to purchasing plants for the fall garden.

The Nursery will be awash with color from ferns and grasses, fall-flowering asters and goldenrods, and a large selection of native trees and shrubs. Planting for pollinators supports populations of birds, bees and butterflies, and a special selection of perennial plants for pollinators will be for sale, including mountain mint, gayfeather, beebalm and butterfly weed. Shrubs like viburnum, bush honeysuckle, and sweet pepper bush support native bees and butterflies from early spring through fall.

Fall is the best season for planting. Trees and shrubs planted in fall have a chance to set roots before the heat and stress of summer. The Arboretum participates in the Marylanders Plant Trees program, an initiative by the State of Maryland to encourage residents to plant native trees. The program offers a $25 coupon toward purchase of native trees that retail for $50 or more.

Fall is the best season for planting. Adkins Arboretum’s Fall Open House weekend, Sept. 13 and 14, offers the region’s largest selection of native plants for the Chesapeake gardener.

Fall is the best season for planting. Adkins Arboretum’s Fall Open House weekend, Sept. 13 and 14, offers the region’s largest selection of native plants for the Chesapeake gardener.

Fri., Sept. 12 is an Open House day for members from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. New members are welcome. All members, including those who join during the Open House, will receive a significant discount on plant purchases. Old-time music trio Driven Women will perform during the day, and Blessings Blends will offer potting soil and compost products for sale. Landscape architect Chris Pax, lead designer for the Arboretum’s Native Landscape Design Center, will present Great Natives, a program about the beauty that native plants contribute to the landscape, no matter the season. The free program begins at 1 p.m. in the Arboretum Visitor’s Center. Pax will also be available during the Open House weekend to discuss the Native Landscape Design Center’s services.

Public Open House days are Sat., Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. All are welcome.

Proceeds from plants sold at the Fall Open House benefit the Arboretum’s education programs. For more information, call 410-634-2847, extension 0 or visit www.adkinsarboretum.org.

Food Friday: Let’s Do Lunch!


It is time to Go Back to School! Hooray!

This is a list to keep on the fridge door – so you don’t lose heart at night when making lunches to send off to school, or to take to the office, or just to get a jump on the week. Start with Column A, move through the alphabet, and embellish at will.

I work from home, consequently I have no excuse to have sad little meals of peanut butter on Saltines. I should have a well-stocked fridge, packed to the gills with tasty amuse bouche and nutritious luncheon ingredients. And here, at the beginning of the school year, so should you.

Get out the tiny little Tupperwear containers, find all the maddeningly elusive lids, and start chopping. Make yourself little Bento boxes of luncheon-y delights for every day. Shake up your routine, and experiment. Try chopped cornichons. Swipe on some chutney. Dust a sandwich with a handful of sprouts. Give up the Pepperidge Farm white bread and try Naan bread. And don’t forget leftovers! The Tall One made some interesting combinations with leftovers from Thanksgiving, theorizing that everything tastes delicious on a crescent roll, especially when daubed judiciously with cranberry sauce…

Here is your list of school supplies:

Column A
Let’s start with bread:
Ciabatta bread
Rye bread
Whole grain breads
Hard rolls
Portuguese rolls
French baguette
Italian bread
Flour tortillas
Challah bread
Naan bread
Focaccia bread
Pita bread

If storing overnight, top bread with lettuce first, then the spreads, to keep sandwich from getting soggy.

Column B
Next, the spread:
Sriracha sauce
Dijon mustard
Honey mustard
Italian dressing
Russian dressing
Cranberry sauce
Pesto sauce
Sour cream
Mango chutney
Hot sauce

Column C
Swiss cheese
American cheese
Blue cheese
Cream cheese
Havarti cheese
Ricotta cheese
Cheddar cheese
Provolone cheese
Brie cheese
Cottage cheese
Goat cheese

Column D
The main ingredient:
Corned beef
Crumbled hard boiled eggs
Scrambled eggs
Corned beef
Italian sausage
Roast beef
Egg salad
Tuna salad
Ham salad
Crab salad
Chicken salad
Turkey salad
Lobster salad

Column E
The decorative (and tasty) elements:
Shredded carrots
Cole slaw
Sliced apples
Sliced red peppers
Sliced pears
Artichoke hearts

Column F
Finger foods:
Green Beans
Rice cakes
Melon balls

Nobody will ever complain about lunch again if you can remember to jazz it up a little. My son, who lived for at least an entire year on (requested) white bread, bologna and yellow mustard sandwiches, is now a strapping 6 feet 4 inches tall. Imagine how far into the clouds he would stretch if we had thought to make him fig, goat cheese and carmelized onion sandwiches…





“I always tell my kids to cut a sandwich in half right when you get it, and the first thought you should have is somebody else. You only ever need half a burger.”
― Louis C.K.

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

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“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.