Farm & Garden

Murphy's Law of Summer Gardens

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Almost every Spring I succumb to the allure of Earth, warmth and bounty. I buy endless seeds and plants, I dig beds, fertilize, and plan. I'm always so proud when the sprouts poke through the earth, announcing the plentiful abundance of things to come.

From there things go downhill for me. Some years, I don't transplant quickly enough, and the sprouts crumple like ice cream on a hot sidewalk. Other times I manage to transplant - but weather or birds quickly destroy my fledgling sprouts. Sometimes they just flatly refuse to grow (other times I forget they need regular watering - SHHH!).

This year I knew the deer and rabbits would attack my garden like hungry children after a birthday cake. I delayed my planting until we had installed a protective fence around the majority of my garden. I replanted my seedlings, added more fertilizer and watered every morning. Finally - I was going to have a bumper crop!!! I'd planted enough tomatoes and peppers to ensure we'd have salsa all year thru! (I lost a few plants to the construction workers, who dumped a load of dirt on them!)

And then I recalled that my husband ALWAYS refers to my spring planting frenzy as "the annual immediately to the gardening gods".  First, my lovely tomatoes are all ROTTEN on the bottom. (I'm told I watered a bit TOO frequently). No problem - I'll stop watering everyday - and the REST of the tomatoes will be wonderful!

Educators can receive free booklets to teach about the soy bean!

Maryland Soybean Board promotes Soybean Booklet at National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference

Just the beginning-The life of a young sprout, a 12-page educational and activity booklet published by the Maryland Soybean Board and created and designed by Laser Letters, Inc. of Easton recently debuted at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Baltimore, MD. The booklet’s purpose is to teach Maryland’s fourth through sixth grade students a few things about the important role soybeans play in our lives.

The booklet includes information about the history of the soybean, how and where it grows, how it’s utilized and what foods and products include soybeans. Readers keep engaged with activities that include a crossword puzzle, word search, coloring page and a “Shake-It-Up” soy ice cream recipe.

The engaging and informational booklet is published with funds provided by the national soybean checkoff program. Agri-Media Services and Laser Letters, Inc., both of Easton, Maryland, collaborated on the project.  Booklets are available free of charge to Maryland educators working with fourth through sixth grade students to promote agriculture and natural resource education.

For more information, contact Amy Steward at 410-829-0436 or email asteward@goeaston.net.

The Business of Alpaca – Outstanding Dreams’ Farm

Like many of us,  Phil and Vicki Liske wanted a way to make money while enjoying life!  Their dream was to find an enterprise they both enjoyed (and could enjoy together) that was both profitable and low risk.   Phil’s an avid animal lover with a long history of unusual pets  - including goats, snakes and skunks! Vicki enjoys a variety of crafts and sharing her skills with others.  After quite a bit of research they decided an Alpaca Farm would meet all their criteria.

“Our primary goal,” explains Phil, “was that the business be PROFITABLE!  We did NOT want a “Hobby Farm”. We were both excited to learn that Alpacas are highly profitable, with several income sources! “  After researching and learning all they could – Outstanding Dreams’ Farm in Preston, MD was born! Now they’re helping others start their own alpaca business!

Profitability of Alpacas

Every winter your Alpaca will grow a sought after luxurious fleece, just waiting to be shorn, used and sold! Annual fiber yields vary from about five pounds from a single female to a about thirteen pounds from a larger male!

  • Breed and sell your quality alpacas! Although gestation period is just under a year, these cria are worth waiting for! Not only adorable, they often sell for as much - or more - than was paid for the parent!


Adkins Arboretum’s native plant nursery opening weekend sale will be Sat. and Sun., May 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center in Ridgely, Md. Come early for the best selection of plants. The sale benefits the Arboretum’s education programs and affords the public an opportunity to learn about the Delmarva’s native flora. Following the sale weekend, the Arboretum nursery will be open to the public during the growing season, weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Plants for sale will include a broad selection of flowering trees and shrubs, perennials, ferns, vines and grasses for spring planting. Native flowers and trees provide food and habitat for wildlife and make colorful additions to home landscapes, whether in a perennial border, a woodland garden or a restoration project. Tall spikes of purplish flowers grace blue wild indigo, while native honeysuckle entices hummingbirds. Cardinal flower, ferns and Joe-pye attract frogs, butterflies and dragonflies, and native azaleas present a veritable rainbow of bloom colors.

The Arboretum is participating in Maryland DNR’s special native tree discount program. For any native tree valued at $50 or more, shoppers will receive a $25 discount.

Downtown Dentons Farmers Market

                            Wednesdays  April 14th - October 13th

                             3:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Courthouse Green, 100 Block of Market Street

Find farm-fresh local produce at Downtown Denton’s Farmers’ Market every Wednesday!  There will be live music every 3rd Wednesday.  FREE!  Contact: (410) 479-4315

Cecil County Farmers Market at Elkton

Corner Howard and Bow Streets at the Pavilion
Friday: 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. April 3 - October 30
Contact: Joanne Young 410-996-8469
WIC and Senior FMNP Checks Accepted

Growing Your Own

By Elizabeth Beggins

Last year, as people grew frightened of their peanut butter, and recession gripped the nation, thousands of Americans made the decision to get back to basics by growing their own food.  Seed companies were inundated with orders from enthusiasts ready to get their hands dirty in their new, or newly expanded, backyard gardens.  Perhaps you were among them?  Or maybe you only got as far as your good intentions.  Those new to vegetable gardening are often daunted by the perceived magnitude of what lies before them when, in fact, vegetable gardening is actually quite simple.  That is, if you remember a few important truths. 

First:  Most vegetable plants need at least six hours of full sun a day.  If you don't have a single location which offers that, consider several smaller sites. Interspersing your landscaped areas with edible plants can create suitable growing spaces, as can planting in containers.  Different kinds of plants prefer varying levels of light.  Summer crops, like tomatoes and squash, prefer more sunlight, but others, such as leafy greens and certain beans, are more shade tolerant.

Farmers' Market in Grasonville Seeks Vendors

Domnic's Farm in Grasonville would like to do a farmer's market every Saturday and Wednesday and we are currently looking for venders that can provide; fruit, jellies, jams, bread, meat, egs, baked goods, flowers, herbs, soaps, lotions dairy, eggs, crafts, honey, plants, open to suggestions.
The farm is in a good central location and the more vendors and variety the more we can provide an essential service to our county. 
Please have anyone you know call or email Kathy.  301-674-3616 or rriverranch@yahoo.com

Help Project FeederWatch Track Backyard Birds

Bird watchers needed to help scientists discover changes in bird populations

There was a massive southern movement of Pine Siskins during the 2008-09 season. Read more.


Ithaca, NY—What happens in the backyard should not stay in the backyard—at least when it comes to bird feeders. By sharing information about which birds visit their feeders between November and April, backyard bird watchers can help scientists track changes in bird numbers and movements from year to year, through Project FeederWatch, a citizen-science program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

Project FeederWatch begins on November 14 and runs through early April. Taking part is easy. Anyone can count the numbers and kinds of birds at their feeders and enter their information on the FeederWatch website. Participants submitted nearly 117,000 checklists last season. Since 1987, more than 40,000 people from the United States and Canada have taken part in the project.

“To get the most complete picture of bird movements, we always need new sets of eyes to tell us what species are showing up at backyard feeders,” says David Bonter, leader of Project FeederWatch. “Participants always tell us how much fun it is and how good it feels to contribute to our understanding of birds by submitting their sightings.”

Project FeederWatch is for people of all ages and skill levels. To learn more and to sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 982-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, a calendar, complete instructions, and Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings.

Participant Nancy Corr of Harrisburg, Oregon, sums up her Project FeederWatch experience: “Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to share our love of birding and to participate in something meaningful!”

From Beast to Beauty: Adventures in Dog Training

black labGood Dogs aren't born - they're Trained!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

with special thanks to Dan Salb of Dan's Elite Dog Training

In April we adopted a young black lab that had been rescued from a kill shelter in Georgia. Instantly our somewhat chaotic household was immersed in constant insanity - the dogs fought, the cats hissed, the children screamed, and the young male dog was a force in motion - constantly chewing, jumping, biting, destroying, etc. Even our animal-crazed children begged us to get rid of him. He was, quite frankly, the canine spawn from hell.

In desperation I emailed several dog training groups around the Mid Shore. I've trained dogs before, but had never encountered a Beast such as this. I was concerned about joining a "rewards only" dog training class. Even with smaller, calmer dogs I've always had the best results from a combination of rewards and a properly used choke chain collar. But nothing in my past prepared me for this unmanageable, wild beast. We had just about admitted defeat and were prepared to return him when I spoke with Dan Salb from Dan's Elite Dog Training in Easton.  Dan was confident that our Beast could be trained - and guaranteed that, if we followed his program, our dog would be OFF-LEASH reliable at the end of the 10 week training program.  He sounded so confident that I instantly felt better - the feelings of hopelessness and defeat were GONE.  We had a plan!

I was very encouraged following our first class - I could already see a difference with his behavior outside, on leash. Unfortunately that didn't address his MULTITUDE of problems indoors. I was told to keep him crated unless I could devote my time to him, and to return him to the crate if he became unmanageable.  He spent a LOT of time in that crate. (and yes, I felt guilty about that!)

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