Maryland Grows

Controlling Mexican Bean Beetles – Featured Video

Jon shows us how to deal with Mexican Bean beetle pests on a mature crop of beans.  Learn more about this pest on the HGIC website.

From Moth to Monster: Hornworms Return

A few weeks ago you were sitting back admiring your freshly planted garden. Neat little rows of tomato, pepper, squash, and cucumber plants accompanied by flowers and herbs were all planted in view from your back deck. As you sat there basking in the evening sun, relishing in your hard work, a little moth fluttered from flower to flower sipping nectar.

hornworm moth

A hawkmoth, the Carolina Sphinx, is the adult form of a tobacco hornworm. Photo: Mike Raupp, University of Maryland, Department of Entomology

With her hummingbird like flutters, a Carolina Sphinx Moth floated through your garden, unassumingly laying her eggs on your newly planted tomato and pepper plants. Within a few days, from her little green eggs emerged a tiny but very hungry green caterpillar.


Hornworm caterpillars. Photo: Rachel Rhodes, University of Maryland Extension

Since that day, the ravenous little green hornworm caterpillar has spent his days munching away, perfectly hidden by the copious green foliage of your tomato plants, growing bigger and bigger. You begin to notice stems of complete defoliation. Maybe you think it’s a bunny or deer having a nighttime nibble as the little green caterpillar stays camouflaged, until the moment you notice the red-tipped horn and the very large green body of a caterpillar measuring almost 4” in length hanging on your prize winning tomato plant. Read More

Touring a Trial Garden (And Starting Your Own)


The old seed-sorting house at Fordhook Farm

I recently went to the International Master Gardener Conference in the Philadelphia suburbs. A fun part of these conferences is the tours and learning sessions in various public gardens, and that part of Pennsylvania certainly doesn’t lack gardens! (Many generous wealthy people donating estates = lots of places to play with plants.) On my last day there, I went on a tour of Fordhook Farm in Doylestown, the home of the Burpee company. We were welcomed by George Ball himself (looking dapper in a white suit) and given a lecture about the history of the company. Then we were set loose to tour the trial gardens. Of course I headed straight for the vegetables. Read More

Yard and Garden Tips and Tasks for July

Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted lanternfly adults may be found feeding on many hosts, especially tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissma). Report any finds to the Maryland Department of Agriculture immediately, collect a sample or take digital photos of what you have found.


BagwormBagworm caterpillars are now very active. Look for little bags crawling around on evergreen trees and shrubs and be prepared to spray infested trees with the microbial insecticide, Bt by mid-July. Mature bagworms are not well controlled with Bt They are best collected by hand and destroyed or sprayed with insecticides containing spinosad.


Proper lawn mowing is critical to help it survive the summer. “Mow ‘em high and let ‘em lie” should be your mowing strategy. Cut your cool-season turf (fescues and bluegrass) to a height of 3-4 inches and leave the clippings on the lawn where they will naturally decompose.


BroccoliSow seed for fall transplants of broccoli, kale, turnip, and cauliflower in flats or containers by the 3rd to 4th week in July. Late crops of squash, beans, and cucumbers can be direct sown into your garden through the end of July.


More Tips and Tasks for July

Three Maryland Master Gardener Programs Honored for Excellence

University of Maryland Extension’s (UME) Master Gardener (MG) program is honored to share that three of our local county programs were selected as winners in the Search for Excellence by the International Master Gardener Conference. The awards were announced in 2018 and awarded this month during the 2019 International Master Gardener Conference in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

The Search for Excellence recognizes exceptional work of Extension Master Gardener volunteers not only throughout the United States but also in Canada and South Korea. Criteria for winning a Search for Excellence award requires that projects must be practical and simple to replicate, original and creative, and compatible with Extension and Extension Master Gardener missions. Applicants also must demonstrate that significant learning occurred both for Master Gardener volunteers and the audiences they serve.

Master Gardeners

Left to right: Alexa Smarr (Baltimore County Master Gardener Coordinator), Diane Nolan (awards chair), David Gibby (Extension agent and founder of the Master Gardener program), Susan Joyce (Baltimore County Master Gardener), and Rose Marie Fury (Baltimore County Master Gardener)

The UME MG program in Baltimore County won third place in the award category for special needs audiences with their Gribbin Center Therapeutic Horticulture Garden Club. MG volunteers meet with a group at the Gribbin Center in Perry Hall, MD at least twice a month to lead them in therapeutic horticulture activities. During each session, participants engage in a short lesson followed by a hands-on activity. Participants build social skills and increase motor skills through the maintenance of a garden space where they invite visitors on an annual tour. Learn more about the Baltimore County Master Gardeners.
Read More

Pollinators and Food Gardens

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. estimates that at least 75% of the world’s food crops depend, at least in part, on pollinators. Honey bees and a host of native bees, beetles, and butterflies are essential for pollinating vegetable and fruit crops on farms and in gardens across Maryland. For example, we would have no cucumbers, squashes, muskmelons, or pumpkins without bees.

Squash bees pollinate all cucumber family crops. Photo credit: Jim Jasinski, Ohio State University Extension;

Squash bees pollinate all cucumber family crops.
Photo credit: Jim Jasinski, Ohio State University Extension;

It takes 8-12 bee visits to fertilize enough ovules (baby seeds) to produce full-size fruits. Gardeners get smaller, fewer, and misshapen fruits when bees are unavailable to pollinate some other crops like eggplant, okra, pepper, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry.

Bumblebee drinking nectar from a basil flower. Photo credit: Jon Traunfeld

Bumblebee drinking nectar from a basil flower.
Photo credit: Jon Traunfeld

What can I do?

  • Plant lots of flowering plants (annuals and perennials, especially native species) in borders around, or in, your food garden. Choose plants with a variety of flower color, shape, and size with different flowering times, to provide nectar and pollen through the growing season. Include herbs in your vegetable garden (earlier blog post on anise hyssop and tulsi basil)
  • There are many vegetable, fruit, and herb plants that don’t require bee pollination to produce the edible part(s) that humans are most interested in. But the nectar and pollen in the flowers of these plants (e.g., arugula, broccoli, radish, cilantro, and basil) may be valuable for pollinators.
  • Place a shallow saucer or container of water in your garden with gravel or pebbles for insects to rest on while drinking (change the water twice per week).
  • Avoid using pesticides (including organic pesticides, like pyrethrins, known to be toxic to pollinators). If spraying is necessary, make the application when pollinators are least active (early morning or early evening), don’t spray when flowers are open, use short-residual insecticides that are least harmful to bees


Honey bee getting water from a blueberry flower.  A variety of native bees assist also assist in pollination. Photo credit: Jason Gibbs, Michigan State University

Honey bee getting water from a blueberry flower.
A variety of native bees assist also assist in pollination.
Photo credit: Jason Gibbs, Michigan State University



Pollinators vital to our food supply under threat- FAO news release:

Attractiveness of Agricultural Crops to pollinating Bees for the Collection of Nectar and/or Pollen- USDA:

How to Attract and Conserve Pollinators and Natural Enemies in Your Garden- HGIC:


By Jon Traunfeld, Extension Specialist


Featured Videos – Pollinators Playlist

In honor of National Pollinator Week, take a look at this playlist of quick pollinator videos by HGIC.

More videos by HGIC on YouTube.