Maryland Grows

My Accidental Taro Adventure

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I grew taro this year pretty much by accident.

Here’s how it happened. This spring I gave a talk on root vegetables to a lovely group of seniors. For this talk, I like to buy a bunch of widely assorted root vegetables to hand around as props (my audience was especially impressed by the scary long burdock roots). And then I cook them at home afterwards. But this time I got a little carried away at various supermarkets and bought more than I could prepare before they went bad. I decided to try to sprout the couple of taro corms. It was too early to plant them outdoors, so I put them in pots and kept them watered. Weeks later, no growth – oh well, into the compost they go.

You guessed it. When the weather warmed and I was stirring up my compost pile, there were two little taro plants growing out of what I’d tried to throw away.

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Holiday Poinsettias: History & Care Tips

poinsettia

Poinsettias were introduced to the United States in the 1820’s from Mexico

Poinsettias are the quintessential holiday plant. They are considered by many to be an essential part of holiday decorating. With proper care, poinsettias can continue to thrive long after the holidays are past. Getting them to re-flower can be a tricky endeavor and requires commitment. There are two ways of thinking about this. There are those that consider the plants disposable after the holidays and those that are willing to nurture them for the long-term in hopes they will bloom again the following year.

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Climate Change??  Show Me The Evidence

If you’re not sure whether climate change is real, you’re not alone. Although recent surveys reveal that 75% of Marylanders think climate change is occurring, many people say they just don’t know enough to be certain about whether it is a problem.

It’s not surprising that people are confused. Climate change isn’t always taught in schools and it wasn’t taught at all when today’s adults were schoolkids. We can’t rely on personal experience for evidence because variability in weather makes it hard to detect climate trends in real time.  Our friends and neighbors might not know any more than we do.  And the recent injection of political opinion into the climate discussion has only added to the confusion by distracting people from reliable scientific evidence.

So, what does the evidence say about some common climate change questions from farmers? 

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Make More Plants From Cuttings: 5 Plants That Root Easily in Water

coleus plants rooted in water

Coleus plants rooting in water. Photo: C. Carignan

Q. Our association would like to have a plant sale in the spring. What are some houseplants we could propagate easily and quickly from cuttings in water?

A. Several common houseplants can be propagated from stem cuttings placed in clean, plain tap water. Some good choices are:

  • Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  • Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)
  • Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
  • Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum)

Cut a 3-to-5 inch stem from an existing healthy plant, leaving at least one node (the point at which a leaf emerges from the stem) and some leaves at the tip. Place the cutting in a clean container with fresh tap water, making sure there are no leaves submerged under the water. Set the container in a location where it will receive bright light but not direct sunlight. Keep cuttings away from cold drafts. Room temperature of about 70ᵒF is ideal.

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North Georgia Candy Roaster: A Winter Squash to Remember

I enjoy the variety and versatility of winter squashes but don’t consider myself a big enthusiast for these dependable garden staples. However, one cultivar that I’ve come across over the years in seed catalogs and the heirloom gardening world has always intrigued me: ‘North Georgia Candy Roaster.’ I’ll refer to it as Candy Roaster. There was something about the name, look, and description that stayed with me. I decided that 2017 would be the year to give it a try.

candy roaster squash

Candy Roaster squash can cover ground in a hurry. Watch out lawn!

Candy Roaster is a member of Cucurbita maxima, which includes turban, hubbard, banana, and buttercup winter squash plus several pumpkin varieties (including ‘Atlantic Giant’ grown by giant pumpkin growers). Vines are long, leaves are large, and fruit stems are round and get corky at maturity. Candy Roaster fruits are 18–24 inches in length, are shaped like a fat banana, and weigh 10-12 lbs. Fruit start off light yellow and mature to an orangey-beige color with interesting blue-green streaks at the flower end.

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Featured Video: Orchid Care

Dave Clement details how to effectively care for your orchid houseplants.

Dr. Dave Clement, Principal Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Home & Garden Information Center

The Buzz About Bee-Bee Tree: A New Invader in Maryland

bee-bee tree flowers

Bee-bee tree (male flowers) in Washington Co., Maryland. Photo: K. Kyde Maryland DNR

The sound of buzzing insects is so loud that it stops you in your tracks during a walk in the woods. Looking around, you find a tree laden with large, 10-12” clusters of small creamy white flowers with every bee, wasp, and fly in the neighborhood buzzing around. Then you notice that there are more trees and more bees, wasps, and flies. The noise is deafening. What is this tree that is so popular with pollinators?

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