Md. Farmers Team Up with Food Bank to Feed 80,000 Families

Twenty-three Eastern Shore farmers donated 423,000 pounds of produce to the Maryland Food Bank’s newly launched Farm to Food Bank program between mid-June and mid-September. That amount equates to 325,385 meals — or 81,346 meals for a family of four, according to the Maryland Food Bank.

“Our farmers continue to show that agriculture is not just an industry, but a way of life – one in which there is a strong concern for their neighbors, their land and the future of our state and its citizens,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “With a strong agricultural industry, we not only keep land open and productive and people employed, we provide a local food supply for our most vulnerable citizens.”

In a process called gleaning, farmers open their fields after harvest and allow others to take what is left for charitable purposes. Produce gleaned from the Eastern Shore so far includes watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, squash, sweet corn, peaches, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, and green peppers. Inmates from the Maryland Division of Correction (DOC) have contributed to the effort for several weeks this summer by doing the gleaning for six Eastern Shore farms through an initiative called Public Safety Works.

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Listeria-Linked Deaths Reach 16; 72 Affected

Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday — including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas — surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.

The CDC said Tuesday that they have confirmed two deaths in Texas and one death each in in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Last week the CDC reported two deaths in Colorado, four deaths in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Maryland.

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Ed. According to the news on channel 13 Baltimore this morning:

listeria has an incubation of up to 4 weeks.

Listeria is most dangerous for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.

1 out of 6 Americans is affected with food-born illness each year, and we know that partly because tracking is getting better all the time.

The link below is to the Center for Disease Control with listeria facts.


Classic Cars, Classic Food and Specialty Cocktails at CBMM This Sunday

Visitors inspect rare classic cars

Join other classic car aficionados this Sunday, September 25 at Concours d’Elegance at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Rare grand classic American and European automobiles from 1900-1942 take the field at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for a day of casual elegance, fashion, style and most of all, enjoyment. Featuring cars from as far away as the West Coast and other never-before-shown classics, this is truly a memorable experience for all Concours enthusiasts.

To pair with these elegant cars that evoke an era most of us know only from Masterpiece Theater and movies like Casablanca, David Hayes, executive chef of St Michaels Harbour Lights is doing food and specialty cocktails.

“Oysters will have a big presence,”  says Rachel Feldman, banquet manager for St Michaels Harbor Inn.  “On the half-shell, shooters and David Hayes’s oyster stew, which won at the Maritime Museum’s Oyster Fest last year. He’ll also offer to-go containers of the stew.”

For those not into oysters, there will be pulled-pork sandwiches, crab salad sandwiches, grilled sausage with peppers and onions, and cookies and cupcakes. There will also be a full bar as well as iced tea and lemonade.

Chef David Hayes puts the finishing touches on a dish


Resistance Training For Your ‘Willpower’ Muscles

Look at that cupcake. Doesn’t it look delicious? Don’t you want to eat it? Well, don’t.

The power to resist temptation — to pass up dessert, to endure an unpleasant experience, to defer satisfaction — is our “greatest human strength,” argue psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and science writer John Tierney in their new book, Willpower. The book delves into the science of our age-old struggle with self-control.

“The Victorians talked about this vague idea of it being some form of mental energy,” Tierney tells NPR’s Audie Cornish. “In the last 15 years we’ve discovered that it really is a form of energy in the brain. It’s like a muscle that can be strengthened with use, but it also gets fatigued with use.”

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Brains of Obese May Crave High-Calorie Foods More: Study

A new study links low blood sugar in obese people to a greater desire within the brain for high-calorie foods, a finding that offers insight into why people who become overweight tend to stay that way.

“Their brains may be driving them to eat more and desire these foods more, and that may promote overeating,” explained study author Kathleen A. Page. “We don’t know if that’s a consequence of obesity or contributes to the obese state. Are their brains wired differently from the start? Or does that happen after they become obese?”

Whatever the case, the research points to the importance of keeping blood sugar levels stable, said Page, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.

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Grasses: The Hair of the Earth

Miscanthus sinensus 'Morning Light'

Even though the tomato plants have toppled their supports and the cuke and melon vines are yellowing and sprawled like frat boys following an all-night bash, I love this time of year in the garden.  Because while everything else is collapsing, the Fountain Grass (Miscanthus sinensis condensatus) is coming into its own. It stands near the entry like a bulky sentinel, whispering in every breeze.  Soon, it will send up magnificent inflorescences (plumy seed heads) that glow bronze and gold in the setting sun.  In December when the trees are bare, the glorious 8-foot tall plumes wave exuberantly despite the desiccation around them.

“They add to the design of any garden for winter interest,” says David Arnold, horticulturist at Garden Treasures in Easton. But it isn’t just color they add to a landscape.  “They also have a nice rustling sound, which adds to the whole effect.”

“Grasses are wonderful because they bloom late in the season and remain very attractive in winter,” says landscape architect, Wolfgang Oehme, partner in Oehme, Van Sweden and Associates in Baltimore and DC. Oehme has landscaped highways, public buildings and private estates, including Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago-area home. “In fact, some people like the wintertime look better than summer because they stand out more.”

“They’re also nice for hiding things,” says Larry Hemming, an owner of Eastern Shore Nurseries in Easton. “They’re nice for shoreline control and for weed control since they spread and choke out weeds. And they provide habitat for animals.”

Ornamental grasses include over 10,000 named species of true grass, sedges (carex and bamboo) and rushes like cattails.  The distinction between categories has to do in part with moisture requirements. Grasses need little moisture.  Sedges, which have triangular stems, (‘sedges have edges’ is the helpful mantra) need more, while rushes are usually happiest with slightly wet feet. It’s a matter of right plant, right place.

Salt Meadow Hay (Spartina patens)

“Salt Meadow Hay (Spartina patens) is good just above the high tide line,” says Leslie Hunter-Cario, nursery manager at Environmental Concern in St Michaels.  “It’s salt tolerant,  has a really nice network of roots, and spreads by rhizomes, so it’s good for stabilizing shoreline. And it has a really pretty texture.”

It’s also relatively short — between one and three feet tall — so it won’t obscure a view. Slightly farther up the shoreline, where the roots and feet get washed occasionally, Switchgrass (Panicum) is a good choice.

“Switch grass has some salt tolerance,” says Hunter-Cario.  “Panicum amarum is really nice because it’s a blue-green in the fall. Most switchgrass gets a reddish cast.”

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is good above the high-water mark as well as in virtually any garden soil, and it grows only 2-3 feet tall, again preserving the view.

“It’s a nice texture and is a pretty blue-green-purple in fall,” says Hunter-Cario.

For fresh-water creek edges or ponds, she likes Soft Rush (Juncus effuses), which forms big clumps or hummocks of bright green stems with a red sheath at the base of the stem.

“They can take saturated ground,” says Hunter-Cario,  “and they have abundant delicate-textured flowers.”

Ornamental grasses were a favorite of German nurseryman, plant breeder, and writer, Karl Foerster, who introduced them to Europe in the 1930’s. He called grasses ‘the hair of the earth,’ a description that conjures images of Beethoven-wild clumps of bronzy leather grass, and vast rumpled stretches of streaked spartina.  One particular standout is Feather Reed Grass ‘Karl Foerster’ (Calamagrostis x. acutiflora ‘Karl Foertser’).  Three feet tall with bright green leaves, it sends up pale pink inflorescences in June that turn gold in autumn and light up the landscape all winter.  Its tight growth habit makes it ideal for pots and small gardens as well as for larger vistas, which makes it a growing favorite for green-leaning fast food places here. While it was Foertser who discovered this grass (which he called Calamagrostis epigejos ‘Hortorum’ from the Greek words for ‘reed’ and ’grass’), it was Wolfgang Oehme who brought it to the US.

“I first saw it in 1963 in Hamburg,” Oehme remembers.  Oehme brought a plant back to Kurt Bluemel, who propagated it in his Baltimore nursery.  ‘All the pieces in the country today come from this one plant,” Oehme insists.

Demand exploded after Oehme used it to landscape the Federal Reserve Building in Washington DC in 1977.

“Bluemel’s nursery couldn’t keep up with the demand,” remembers Oehme.   “So I went around to private gardens I had planted it in and begged pieces to help propagate to fill orders.”

Like tresses, grasses are wonderfully versatile and can be used to make a variety of statements from bold or funky, to iconoclastic, demure and elegant.  Short, tufty blue fescues reminiscent of Dr. Seuss characters can add long-lived color to a border or poke out of pots. Towering Pampas Grass (Cortaderias) or their dwarf cousins with their gorgeous fall plumes can punctuate a corner or create a screen that shushes in every breeze, while a thatch of zebra grass ( Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) can beautifully shield a chain-link fence.



Ornamental grasses generally prefer full sun, though some like Oriental Fountain Grass (Pennisetum orientale) and Carex trifida tolerate shade.

“They’re very easy,” says Arnold.  “Most are very drought-tolerant.”

When planting, consider the plant’s mature size or you’ll end up with an overgrown thatch that takes over. One rule of thumb is to space plants a distance apart equal to their mature height. For example, if the plant’s leaves reach 4-foot tall, they need to be 4 feet from their neighbors.

Unlike hair, grasses are almost maintenance free. Many benefit from being cut to within six inches of the ground in early spring before green growth starts.

“Miscanthus need to be cut down each year since dead stalks can choke out new growth,” explains Paulette Roan of Limerock Ornamental Grasses, which grows 180 grass varieties.  “But some of the carex you can leave.”

Large, mature grasses may need periodic spring division (which is also how they are best propagated), especially if the center of the plant is dead.  A sharp ax or spade helps slice through the dense root system though even with good tools it can be a backbreaking job.  Dig up the whole plant, slice it into two or more clumps then replant. Except in sandy soil and extreme drought, established ornamental grasses rarely need fertilization or irrigation. Unless otherwise specified, most will thrive as perennials here in Maryland, but be sure to ask if hardiness zone isn’t specified.


Environmental Concern, Inc.

201 Boundary Lane

St Michaels, MD



Garden Treasures

29350 Matthewstown Rd.

Easton, MD 21601

(410) 822-1604


Eastern Shore Nurseries, Inc

30104 Dover Rd.

Easton, MD 21601




Homegrown Lunch Week in Talbot County

EASTON – Mid-Shore public school students sampled some of the Eastern Shore’s best locally grown produce last week as part of Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week.

The program began a week ago and is part of the national and state Farms to Schools program where schools serve fresh produce with lunches from local farms.

Caroline County Public Schools Food Services Coordinator Beth Brewster said the program benefits students through nutrition and education.

“The week highlights the local agriculture and how students can eat healthier while helping local farms,” Brewster said. “We are a county of agriculture. We get a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Preston and Ridgely areas. The children seem to enjoy the variety because they have choices each day.”

Delicate and Gorgeous Fall-Blooming Toad Lily

Tricyrtis hirta Miyazaki

In fall, a gardener bows to the end of blooming season.  Well, some of us bow. The rest of us scurry around like mad trying to start the whole process all over again in a last glorious gasp before winter.  For years, we’ve had chrysanthemum, aster and sedum to provide big blowsy blotches of autumn color like a brass band finale.  But autumn, a season of winding down and drawing in, calls for something subtler than brass bands, something a little more contemplative.  That’s where Tricyrtis aka Toad Lily comes in.

“They’re not something that catches your eye from a distance,” says Cindy King, horticulturist at Kingstown Farm Home and Garden.  “But if you find them, they’re gorgeous.”

Named for the blossom, which has spatter-painted spots on cream petals, a color scheme that echoes the skin of a speckled toad, Tricyrtis is an autumn gift to gardeners.  It not only flowers in late August through September, but is happiest, unlike most end-of-summer perennials, in partial shade.

“Getting color in the shade in the fall is a hard thing to do,” says garden designer Marcy Brown, proprietor of Outside Insights in Worton.  “Typically shade bloomers open in the spring before the leaves come out.  But Toad Lily blooms in shade in the fall with a wonderful orchid-like flower.”

Originally from Japan where their flowers are grown for the florist trade, Tricyrtis also have lovely cascading foliage that rises from the ground like a small fountain.  But because they are relatively short in height (18- 24 inches) and like most woodland flowers, delicate, they can easily be eclipsed when planted in a broad-swathe border of mounded perennials. Instead, they work best where they will stand out. So it’s better to plant them in pots, along walkways, or on the edge of a woodland garden with something like low-growing Asarum, [wild ginger] around their feet.

Ken Druse, author of a number of garden books and host of RealDirt, suggests planting them in woodland gardens coupled with dwarf Hostas.  The Hosta’s foliage will look spectacular with the arched Tricyrtis blooms but will hide the Tricyrtis foliage, which by fall will just be beginning to dry.

Tricyrtis formosana 'Blushing Toad'

“Unfortunately, the Tricyrtis’s foliage often is starting to go when the blooms arrive,” he says.

Druse has several varieties in one woodland garden at his New Jersey home, and he grows Tricyrtis ‘Macropoda’ in a hanging planter so the blooms are easily visible.

“The flowers are very fleshy, and are so heavy that the plant lays down,” he says. “I grow it on a wall so I can look up to the flowers.”

Location, Brown agrees, is critical to appreciation of Tricyrtis. Since her own gardens are designed to be walked into, she plants Tricyrtis hirta beside strategically positioned chairs so guests can sit down and examine it very closely.

“That way, you can really appreciate the form and colors,” she explains.


There is a surprising variety of forms and colors available.  Tricyrtis hirta ‘Variegata’ has wine-colored splotched blooms that shoot out of furred, yellow-bordered leaves. (‘Hirta’ means‘hairy.’).  Tricyrtis hirta ‘Miyazaki’ has pale purple flowers with dark purple spots,

‘Samurai’ is purple with dark purple spots and a yellow throat and ‘Sinonome’ has white flowers w ruby speckling. T. formosana ‘Blue Wonder’ is powder blue with blue-purple speckles and T. formosana ‘Gilt Edge’ is dark rose with soft white spots and has yellow-edged leaves.

“It’s the only variegated one I’m aware of,” says King.

Although most Tricyrtis varieties have the telltale toad spots, White Flower Farm’s newest toad lily, tricyrtis ‘Shirohotogishu,’ (an English approximation of the Japanese pictograms used to designate this variety) – is pure white. Stunning.

“They make great cut flowers, too,” says King, which is another way to highlight them.

Tricyrtis 'Samurai'


They look exotic, but toad lilies are surprisingly low-maintenance perennials. Give them partial shade and slightly acidic, moist (but not soggy) soil and they’ll grow well. They’re rated for hardiness zones 4-8.

“I find mine to be very permanent,” says King,  “It’s not one that I’ve lost with recent droughts or heat. The leaves will burn in the heat but it doesn’t seem to hurt the bloom.”

They are rhizomatous, which means they have tuberous roots like the fresh ginger you see in the grocer and like iris rhizomes. They have wide but not deep feeder roots, which can jeopardize them in drought, especially in the first few years of growth.

“Every year I put a 4-6-inch layer of shredded oak leaves, which are slightly acidic, on them,” says Druse.   “Once they become established they can stand a little dryness – since the trees under which they are planted sometimes rob the soil of moisture, but they need water especially in early days so they need to be mulched.”

And the sometimes offer and unexpected bonus: hummingbirds.

“This time of year, they will attract some hummingbirds if they’re in a mass,” says King.



There are two left at Garden Treasures in Easton.

Garden Treasures

29350 Matthewstown Rd.

Easton, MD 21601



There are some potted Tricyrtis in pots at Kingstown Farm Home and Garden.

Kingstown Farm Home and Garden

Rte. 213 Chestertown

410-778- 1551


Van Bourgondien

P.O. Box 2000

Virginia Beach VA  23450-2000


Customer Service:1-800-622-9959

Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.

9241 Saul’s Rd.

Raleigh, NC 27603


Fax: 919-662-0370


Munchkin Nursery

323 Woodside Dr. NW

Depauw, IN 47115-9039



Eidelweiss Perennials

Email is preferred; they will respond within a few days. Phone 503-263-4680. We are often out of the office; please leave a message and when you can be reached. Please note that it may take longer to get back to you in the spring, especially in February, when we are at the NW Flower Show.







Ban on E. Coli in Ground Beef Is to Extend to 6 More

The federal government will ban the sale of ground beef tainted with six toxic strains of E. coli bacteria that are increasingly showing up as the cause of severe illness from food. Officials have been under pressure from food safety advocates and some elected officials to do more to keep the potentially deadly bacteria out of meat, but the beef industry said the move was not needed and could force the price of ground beef to rise.

To help the ground beef industry prepare, the rule will begin next March.

“We’re going this to prevent illness and to save lives,” said Dr. Elizabeth Hagen.

The new rule, which officials said would be announced on Tuesday, means that six relatively rare forms of E. coli will be treated the same as their notorious and more common cousin, a strain called E. coli O157:H7. That strain has caused deaths and illnesses and prompted the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef and other products. It was banned from ground beef in 1994 after an outbreak killed four children and sickened hundreds of people.

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Free Admission to Adkins Sept. 24

Adkins Arboretum entry walkway

Adkins Arboretum will waive admission fees on Sat., Sept. 24 in recognition of Smithsonian magazine’s seventh-annual Museum Day. A celebration of culture, learning and the dissemination of knowledge, Museum Day reflects the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums in Washington, D.C. Doors of museums and cultural institutions nationwide will be open free of charge.

The public is invited on Museum Day to explore the Arboretum’s 400 acres of native woodlands, wetlands, gardens and meadows along five miles of maintained paths. Visitors may also enjoyWater, Water and Water, an exhibit of Chinese ink and watercolor on rice paper by Kit-Keung Kan, and an audio tour that provides lessons about the Arboretum’s plant communities and ecology. A variety of ornamental native perennials, trees, shrubs and grasses will be for sale for fall planting. Arboretum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors can gain free admission by mentioning Museum Day or by printing tickets at


Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through itsCampaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.