Maryland Grows

Climate change starting to affect Maryland farms (Viewpoint)

Editor’s note – this article was originally posted on Delmarva Farmer and was re-published here with permission.  While the content focuses on farms, it is also relevant to anyone growing in Maryland, including homeowners.

The day I drove to Easton, Md. to discuss climate change with the staff of The Delmarva Farmer, it was raining so hard I couldn’t see the car ahead of me on the Bay Bridge.
It’s easy to write off a torrential rain like that as just another case of bad weather.
However, long-term records of rainfall in the Third National Climate Assessment in 2014 show that much more of our rain now falls in downpours rather than in the gentle soaking rains I remember as a kid.

“Bad weather” is becoming more common.


Photo credit – Sara Via

The increasing frequency of downpours in our region is just part of what scientists call “the new normal” under climate change. In Maryland, data released earlier this year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the frequency of rains greater than 4 inches has increased since 1950, as have the number of days warmer than 100 degrees F and the number of nights over 70 degrees F.

Seasonal patterns of precipitation have also changed, with more rain typically falling in spring and fall and less rainfall in the summer. Winters are warmer and shorter and spring comes earlier.

These new weather patterns are products of four big climatic changes that began in the mid-1800s: The air is warmer, the ocean is warmer, there is more water vapor in the air, and sea levels are rising.

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How to Avoid 5 Landscaping Blunders: Tips for new and experienced gardeners

Leyland cypress planted too close to structure

Leyland cypress can grow up to 70’ in height and 15’ in width. They should be planted at least 15’ away from each other and 8’ away from any structure. This was taken in June 2013.

Creating a beautiful landscape takes time and resources. Invest in careful planning and research before you begin to establish or renovate a landscape. It will pay off in the long run!

Here are a few common blunders that occur in landscaping and, more importantly, how to avoid them. Read More

It’s Plum Season! But Beware, This is Not a Plum

Inquiring Marylanders want to know: Are these fruits that fell from an oak tree?

We received a couple questions this season from curious residents of Montgomery County who found “fruits” that look like small plums. These objects had dropped from oak trees.

While these fruit-like items do look similar to plums, they are not edible at all! These are acorn plum galls, which are caused by a type of wasp in the family Cynipidae.

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I Dig Sweet Potatoes!

It’s easy to forget about sweet potato plants. Once established and mulched they don’t require much from a gardener. They quickly carpet their allotted space, have few leaf and stem problems (see small holes from tortoise beetle feeding in photo below), and are drought tolerant. As the days shorten I start to think about fall dishes and desserts, and the sweet potato plants in my garden.

Websites and books tell you that sweet potatoes are ready to harvest 90-120 days after planting. But the only way to know for sure is to gently loosen the soil and take a peek. I did this on Labor Day and unearthed a few skinny roots. I returned with garden fork on September 16th and was happy to see that it was harvest time.

Step 1:

I located the main stem for each plant and cut all of the vines growing from the base of the main stem (crown). I like to insert a sturdy twig or stick of some sort next to each slip that I plant in the spring. It makes finding the main stem much easier!

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Featured Video: How to Plant Garlic

Garlic is a cool-season crop. Now through November is a great time to plant your cloves of garlic. Take a look and see how easy it is to start a crop of garlic. Purchase certified, disease-free garlic bulbs from a reputable seed source. Never plant garlic from a grocery store. It may be a symptomless disease carrier.

Meadow Making at Wiles Branch Park


Volunteers line up next to one of two large brush piles they generated at
Middletown’s Wiles Branch Park on Saturday, August 26. Photo by Dr. Sara Tangren.

Under the direction of University of Maryland Extension’s Dr. Sara Tangren, local residents, Master Gardeners, and Master Naturalists cleared invasive plants from a 600 square foot section in Middletown’s Wiles Branch Park. The meadow section runs from Wiles’ Branch Park’s furthermost loop trail down to Catoctin Creek between two footpaths. The volunteers are making space for the abundant native plants in the area to flourish. The designated wildlife and pollinator meadow plans grew from a collaboration between The Monarch Alliance, the Town of Middletown, and the University of Maryland Extension.
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Monarch Tag and Release Workshops in Baltimore County

monarch butterfly imageThe University of Maryland Extension (UME) Master Gardener Program of Baltimore County is providing free workshops for the public to learn about monarch butterflies and take part in ongoing research to help this species survive and thrive. Attend an upcoming workshop this fall and learn how to raise monarch larvae, tag and release monarch butterflies, and collect butterfly migration data.

Workshop Details 

  • When: Wednesday mornings at 10:00 AM, September 20, 27 and October 4, 11, 18, 25
  • Where: Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, 1114 Shawan Road, Cockeysville, MD
  • How: No registration is required. The workshops are free.  Come to the Farm Park Demonstration Garden on any of the days listed above. Note: The majority of monarchs do not fly in colder temperatures or in rainy conditions; please check the hourly weather forecast when making your travel plans to these events.

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