Category: Debra R. Messick

A backyard to sink your teeth into

He holds a degree in landscape design and grew up on a farm. But Justin Glessner’s personal terrain management plan isn’t your garden variety growing scheme. This summer marks his second season transitioning the yard surrounding the 1930s era home in Vienna, Md., where he and his wife moved a year and a half ago into an “edible” landscape — a smorgasbord of greenery as appetizing as it is decorative — garnished with an abundant supply of salvaged and repurposed natural materials. Where once there was neatly manicured lawn, a bountiful crop of nitrogen producing white flowering clover was sown to best prep the groundwork for a future harvest of blackberries and blueberries. Tucked tastefully behind a corner border of tulips taken from his grandmother’s bountiful flower garden lies a tempting trove of onions, tomato and pepper plus herb plants which will create the couple’s beloved spaghetti sauce. Savory mint varietals including chocolate, strawberry, and spearmint will flavor their favorite teas. Nearby, nestled beneath a Sugar Maple tree’s shade branches, lettuce heads will emerge to provide verdant eye candy before becoming salad. The soil, meanwhile, serves up an ecofriendly habitat for worms, helping enrich the growing medium and increase the catch on future fishing trips. Festooned alongside the house exterior is a border composed of climbing spinach plants, while raised beds buttressing his screened porch house additional herbs and...

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Celebrating 40 years of flowers, flavors, fellowship

For some the rites of spring begin with the iconic call to “Play Ball!” on a field of dreams. For others the season is unofficially announced by returning robins singing in the yard. In Cambridge, Md., warmer weather’s arrival has been distinctly heralded by the start of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church’s annual Flower Fair, held the first week of May for the past 40 years. School teacher Roseanna Twilley and several ladies assisting in the church kitchen initially proposed holding a flower fair to help pay for the congregation’s Fellowship Hall building. The idea took root and flourished, becoming much more than a church event and blossoming into a community fixture. For a time, the fair featured a princess being crowned and ceremonially marching down the center aisle; initially the festivities took place in the open air. In recent years, tents became a familiar and welcome feature. Whether cool, hot or rainy, people always come out, said long time St. Paul’s congregant and Cambridge City Council President Robby Hanson, who stepped up to help chair the enterprise a few years back after the passing of longtime leader Howard Chow. This year, as soon as calendars pronounced May’s arrival, church youngsters under congregant Larry Ziegler’s direction set up the tables and tents outside St. Paul’s Maryland Avenue location, tweaking anticipation for the sights and smells of what has become...

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Checking out at the seed library

For the second growing season in a row, Mid-Shore residents once again can bask in the best of both worlds, courtesy of the Free Seed Library at Talbot County Public Library’s main branch, 100 W. Dover Street in Easton. Sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension Office, the Free Seed Library is aptly housed in an iconic wooden card catalog near the circulation desk, next to the copy machine, and just across the aisle from DVDs, with CDs, magazines, personal computers, and, of course, books, all within easy reach. Nostalgic ambience aside, the catalog’s drawers are perfectly sized for...

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Start your garden off ‘Brew-tifully’

Tea lovers swear by a well steeped cup (or two) in the morning to smoothly jump-start their days, especially during the long winter months. While caffeine supplies the kick, healthy nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, ions and flavonoids are added advantages. As spring approaches it’s nice to know that those same teabags providing cold-weather comfort contain yet another perky benefit, especially for gardeners. Having been boiled, they provide a compact seed-starting medium which is pest free from the get-go. They’re naturally embedded with nutrients the seed can feed on. There’s no need to uproot the tender young plant from its incubating nursery, so into the ground it safely goes, bag and all. That’s one small step for your newly sprouting garden, and one less addition to the landfill. “Teabag gardening” has been touted by, no surprise, the Bigelow Tea Company, but also the Kiwi Conservation Club of New Zealand and Dr. Ken Thompson, a British plant biologist and gardening writer. The process requires just a few basic household items, including 1) tea bags — either freshly brewed or dried and remoistened — 2) unbleached paper towels, 3) plate or tray, 4) watering device, and 5) seeds. Begin by lining the tray with folded paper towels, then place moist tea bags atop in rows (KCC recommends “packing them together like pillows” in three rows while the Bigelow blog writer instructs...

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