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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Brighton Dam Azaleas 2013

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Definitely late blooming compared to last year. Lots of buds, just a few early bloomers.

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I did quite a few errands today, but took a break and walked the gardens which opened last week. Many buds and a lovely blue sky with a few plants here and there bursting with color.

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These early pink blossoms were scattered around the property but when you walked the trails it was mostly just greening up. Beautiful sunny day. Many people out. Give them a week and they will start popping.

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It is still a serene setting for a walk.

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The gardens on Brighton Dam Road are open daily until mid summer. No pets. No picnics.

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Sharps at Waterford Farm

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Continuing my series about local farms. Today is opening day at Sharps greenhouses, for flower, herb and veggie gardeners who want a great selection of plants. Plugs, pots and flats.

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I first discovered this farm about seven or so years ago when we were volunteering at Dayton Days. We went there to pick up 150 miniature pumpkins for children to decorate. Driving down the heavily rutted gravel road, we entered that magical rural atmosphere. No other homes to see, just the farmstead and the Sharps’ new home on the hill. I have been back many times since, to buy fall flowers and produce, to bird watch with the Howard County Bird Club, to hear Denise speak to the Legacy Leadership Institute, and now twice to buy my heirloom tomato plugs. The history of the Sharps and the farm is here.

Denise is amazing. I swear she is the queen of multi-tasking. She built up this huge wholesale business supplying plants to master gardeners, scout troops, nurseries, farm stores, and more. This is the place to go for starting your garden. With their high tunnels, greenhouses and cold frames, there are large amounts of seedlings for sale. She is open Tuesday through Saturday until June for plant purchases.

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When I arrived today, the sheep were grazing in the rolling hillside above the farm buildings. As you can see above, there also was a visit from Montgomery County schools, first graders. They were coming through the greenhouses in small groups to see the plants, smell the basil and learn about growing vegetables. The road is not for low slung vehicles, or for anyone with a need for speed.

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Once down the road, you can see the old farmstead on the facing hillside.

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When I left, the school children were off on a tractor pulled wagon to see all the sites on the property. Sharps Farm is easily accessible off of Rte. 97, just north of the Montgomery County line. Take Jennings Chapel Road west for about a mile to the sign and the turn.

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As you can see, I got a good start on my heirloom tomato growing. Plus a few hybrids. My new varieties this year are Box Car Willie and Paul Robeson.

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And, I greatly expanded the supply of Amish paste. My workhorse from last summer. I went from four plants to a dozen. Making tomato sauce to can and freeze will be a priority this summer. Here are some of the tomatoes from the seedlings I bought last year. The Amish paste are on the left.

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Take a trip out to the farm to look for your plants this season. Or, put it on your to-do list to visit on an open house day, or come back in the fall for the corn maze, pumpkins and other events.

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It’s Twenty Minute Clean Up Day

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Now that the sun has come out there is no excuse to miss the opportunity to pick up a little trash. Today is Twenty Minute Clean Up Day in Howard County.

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I collected close to fifteen pounds of trash in the roadway along our property line on both sides of the street. Mostly cans, plastic bottles, at least 50-60 cigarette butts, but also quite a bit of cardboard, coffee cups, aluminum foil, and lots of blown recycling material. Plus, waterlogged newspapers (you know, those “free” annoying ones). And, the remains of our neighbor’s mailbox.

Mailboxes here have a half life of about a year. We are on our third in eight years. Our neighbor, at least five or six. His is first in the line and gets whacked the most, with debris strewn all over the hillside.

No one takes care of the roads in Adopt a Road out here, as it is dangerous to work with no shoulders, and in two or three days after any clean up it is back to being a mess.

This year again I used my handy pick up tool, that my husband bought me last year after my surgery. Works really well to grab even small pieces of trash.

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After I finished on the property line, I did a perimeter sweep of our mulched beds and picked up whatever blew into them from the road. We get lots of debris on recycling days.

If you get a chance this afternoon, grab a bag and pick up some trash. Email Green Central Station and let them know what you did. Last year over 2300 people participated. If you can’t do anything today, how about coming out for Earth Day at one of the sites and help clean up or plant trees.

I will be at the Conservancy Saturday. There are other events at County Parks too.

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Early Bird CSA Week Seven

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Lots of greenhouse and high tunnel goodies this week. Things we crave, and now due to the proliferation of high tunnels and greenhouses, are ready to harvest early in the season. Breezy Willow delivers the freshest goodies, as always.

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We got:

3 grapefruit
3 pounds red potatoes
1/2 pound salad mix
1 pound spinach
2 pounds zucchini
1 pound green beans
1 bunch beets with greens
1/2 pound mushrooms

We had a note this week about the citrus. It seems oranges were adversely affected by the cold weather this winter in Florida, so our citrus was limited to grapefruit.

I also picked a big parmesan sourdough bread from Great Harvest, and we got the dozen eggs. These are from Nature’s Yoke. I do miss the pretty colored eggs from Breezy Willow, but with the size of the CSA, they have to use eggs from more than one farm.

They still taste wonderful, and have those lovely deep yellow yolks.

I already put some of the spinach in tonight’s dinner.

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Spinach, along with the rest of the bean sprouts from last week, some onion, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, sesame oil and soy sauce. Served with sweet spicy spare ribs from Boarman’s.

I am loving these beets.

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I dry roasted last weeks, and they went into salads. This week, I will probably do the same, as beets with spinach and cheese, and vinaigrette made using my frozen fruit. Yum! Doesn’t get much better.

The green beans and red potatoes will become a lunch salad.

As for the bread, this parmesan sourdough is dense and chewy and really tastes wonderful. If it does cool down this weekend, I am making a stew and sourdough dipped in gravy is heaven!

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I already ate the crusty end with dinner tonight. Love fresh bread with butter.

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Connections @hcconservancy

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Connections. All sorts. This time I am talking about art. At the Conservancy tomorrow night the 18th of April.

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Starting at 6 pm, there will be a reception, silent auction and words about the juried art show, by artists and the judges. The art is amazing, and has been on display in the large hall on the Conservancy grounds. Tickets are $12 at the door. I find this a wonderful place to get art from local artists, already matted and framed.

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If you love art with a nature theme, and want to support local artists and the Conservancy, please join us there. I will be volunteering at the event, and having a lovely evening “connecting” with friends, both new ones and long time friends.

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In Search of Seedlings

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The primary objective this week. Get my seedlings and veggie plugs to be ready to plant the garden in about three weeks. I will be going to two farms, and hitting Earth Day at the Conservancy to achieve this.

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last year’s tomatoes

I will add these two farms to my farms series after I get there, Sharp’s at Waterford on Friday and TLV Tree Farm on Saturday.

I will be getting heirloom tomatoes and also cucumbers at Sharp’s. Love their extensive selection of heirlooms. I will get all my herbs from TLV, except for that African blue basil, which will come from Greenway at the farmer’s market in May.

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As for Earth Day, the Master Gardeners bring veggie and flower seedlings to the Conservancy to sell. I got some awesome heirlooms last year from them.

Add to all these seedlings, the ones in my window at home.

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Kale. arugula and mesclun.

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Thelma Sanders squash, including two that took weeks to germinate (slow metabolism maybe?). There are nine seedlings now. I am giving a few to friends to grow, as nine squash plants would take over my garden.

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The organic garlic is going gangbusters.

Oh, and this was just for fun.

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Starting ruby chard in an egg carton. These will get transplanted all sorts of places, to see where they do the best. Chard is so beautiful, you can use it as an accent plant, and then have it for dinner.

Getting that green thumb itch, and waiting until after the last chance of frost to move it all outside.

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Out of Touch

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That’s how we were today. Off to PA to pick up some radio equipment, with “CHILL”, on satellite radio the entire day. No commercials, but also no news.

Stopping at a market on the way home. Not having a clue what was happening anywhere.

We tend to get that way sometimes, then all of a sudden catch the end of the news, or see a blog post, and that’s where we find out what is going on.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragedy in Boston. My husband took many trips there for work and has a number of friends in the city. Tonight we think only of those we know who live there, and those other acquaintances who went there to run. Hoping all is OK in their world, and trying to make sense of it all.

My previously scheduled topics can wait until tomorrow. Our calendar is full this week, but we will be thinking about Boston. Thinking about them and remembering how unsettled we were after 9/11. Then we worked in DC and watched the smoke pour from the Pentagon, and drove home after release from lock down on streets eerily empty and skies with no planes.

I hated that sense of unease, and hope they find out who and what was behind this tragedy, in order to bring closure to our friends to our north.

Rediscovering #mdwine

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After that amazing twitter taste off from the Drink Local Wine conference yesterday, where comments and pictures kept popping up on twitterific, I thought I need to pay more attention to what is happening in our own backyard here in Maryland. We had pretty much abandoned Maryland until Black Ankle came along and reignited our interest.

Today we went off on the first of many day trips to see what has popped up around the area. I love Chambourcin done right, and all comments told us to try Port of Leonardtown.

To make this a multi-leveled event, this week for my eat local challenge we had a theme “WAY OUT THERE”. So, why not a drink local post instead of eating locally. We paired local cheese from Brandywine MD with local chambourcin to have lunch outside the winery.

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We now need another road trip to check out the farmstead where this cheese originated. It was excellent as were the dry chambourcin rose and the chambourcin. We brought home some of these lovely wines to enjoy this spring and summer.

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And, yes, there will be a taste off between this late harvest vidal and one of our bottles from Linden VA. MD vs VA. Let the rivalry keep all our winemakers on their game to continue to produce beautiful wines.

Glad that the Drink Local Wine conference in Maryland showed us that MD is up and coming as a wine region. Being a locapour and a locavore is not a bad thing. Besides, Wine in the Woods and Wine in the Garden should keep us busy next month.

Been to any good local wineries lately? If not, you should!

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Checking Out Greenfest

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Another of those spring rituals. Going to the Greenfrest at Howard Community College. Looking for plants, and picking up a few items of interest from the displays. As usual, there was a large enthusiastic crowd there this morning, and lots of greenery for sale.

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The fest takes over the quad, the parking area, and two floors inside the Burrell Galleria. Lots for families to do, outside and inside. The Howard Astronomical League was outside with scopes, there were family activities outside, and food for sale.

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I only had an hour there today as we had a conflict with a dinner engagement and I needed to get food ready to take to it. Still time to pick up another reusable bag (like I need more shopping bags!). A few brochures, and then out to the Master Gardeners area.

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They were doing a brisk business in native plants, but I was looking for heirloom veggies. I will have to wait until Earth Day at the Conservancy to get those. Great to find out from them that our master gardeners have so many places for us to find really good starter plants.

I then headed off to see TLV where I wanted some greens and some short ribs. A request from my husband for me to do short ribs over the collard greens from this week’s CSA. TLV did not disappoint. I came home with short ribs.

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They were doing a very good business, already sold out of all the basil plants they brought. Many more herbs available. I will be heading out to the farm in two weeks to get mine. Just in time to plant.

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Many of their customers were commenting on how good it was to see them, and how we all can’t wait for the Howard County Farmers Markets to start in just 3 1/2 weeks. Keep checking their website and facebook pages to see the lists of vendors when they get posted.

Notice all those lovely containers of greens. Quite a few of those were sold as I was there talking to them. This is a great way to have fresh microgreens on the table. I use window boxes outside my kitchen, but these tubs would do great on a porch, or a deck, keeping leafy goodness out of the reach of bunnies and deer.

On my way out, I saw that a number of bikes were being loaded onto the trailers for the bike collection.

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It was a beautiful breezy spring day, and it looked like another successful event in this, its sixth year. Driving home through Columbia and across Folly Quarter, I couldn’t miss all the flowering trees and shrubs. At home, the cherry tree is in full bloom. I need to pop out tomorrow and see how the azaleas are coming at Brighton Dam. It should be a sunny but cool day, perfect for a ride.

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Spring Sprung!!!!

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When we weren’t looking. Everything started to pop open.

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Out of nowhere my weeping cherry went nuts. So did the tulips.

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Bulbs opening left and right. Hyacinth, hellesbores, daffodils, tulips. All the spring flowers beginning to bloom as the temperatures rise. I love spring. I plant things. Nurture them. Take pleasure in how fast they grow. I am really happy about my garlic in the garden, though. At least a baker’s dozen of garlic bulbs, which will be preceded by those lovely garlic scapes perfect for pesto.

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The ones in the pots didn’t do as well, so no pics of them. I should at least get spring garlic out of those. But, my chives came back very strong. Love them snipped off and added to dinner at the last moment.

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The lavender is coming back, too. I will clean out these boxes and add a few microgreen mixes. If you want to do something easy, plant a few herbs and microgreens in window boxes.

Working on a post about my “Out there” local meal, involving Breezy Willow eggs and local meats. It is spring in the midatlantic, and we are loving it.

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