By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun | October 25, 2013
Do I have to cut up fallen leaves with a mower before I use them as mulch? I don't have a mulching mower. No, you don't. In fact, many beneficial insects overwinter in leaf litter. You'll notice that no one chops up the fallen leaves in a woods, yet the layer of leaves decomposes before the next autumn. You can also chop with a regular lawn mower. How late can I put down fertilizer? The latest is Nov. 15, according to the new Maryland law. Generally, fertilizer is applied twice in the fall, 0.9 poundsb of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each time in September and October.
By Leonard Pitts Jr | September 29, 2013
It was the suddenness that shocked me. This is one night 22 years ago. I had just moved to Miami and was visiting Coconut Grove for the first time. I remember being charmed. The side streets were lined with cozy bungalows. On the main streets there was light and music and an air of bohemia going upscale that made you want to linger and people-watch as women who looked as if they just stepped from the pages of Vogue were squired to and from nightclubs, restaurants and boutiques by handsome men in guayaberas.
By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun | June 27, 2013
My bean, squash, cucumber and pepper plants are stunted and yellow in color. We cut down a huge maple tree and tilled all the wood chips from the cuttings into the garden to improve the soil this spring. The garden has produced well in previous years. The wood chips are the culprit. Fresh wood chips are very high in carbon and low in nitrogen. Micro-organisms use nitrogen to break down the wood chips, robbing your plants of nitrogen. This only creates problems in the early stages of decomposition.
By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun | June 7, 2013
Last year my potted impatiens had that terrible new disease, impatiens downy mildew, and all died. Can I use my old infected potting soil in non-flower beds this year? Send it to the landfill? Impatiens downy mildew spores overwinter in infected plant debris, not soil per se. Remove all obvious plant debris and a couple of the top inches of soil that may have minute bits of debris in it. Send that to the landfill. You can use the rest of the potting soil elsewhere in your landscape, but do be careful to wash and disinfect your pots before reusing them.
The Maryland State Soil Conservation Committee is accepting nominations for appointment to the Harford Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors. The appointment will be to fill the unexpired term of Michael S. Birch on Oct. 17, 2016. Nominations should be sent to: State Soil Conservation Committee, Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Room 306, Annapolis, MD 21401. Any interested individual or organization may submit a recommendation. Nomination forms are available at the Harford County Extension Office, P.O. Box 663, 2335 Rock Spring Road, Forest Hill, MD 21050.
By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun | April 26, 2013
Stiltgrass has taken over a 20-by-10-foot area of my woods and now it's getting into my lawn. I will use crabgrass pre-emergent for it on the lawn, but should I rake away the leaves and apply it in the woods? Invasive stiltgrass spreads like lightning by tiny seeds. The seeds stay alive in soil for many years able to germinate. Kill it before it makes seeds, which it does in August. In spring and summer, it is easy to pull stiltgrass - it has very little root. (Once it has formed seeds, pulled stiltgrass must be sealed in a plastic bag.)
By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun | April 4, 2013
I'd like to grow carrots, but I hear it's tricky. Any tips? Because carrots are roots that need to push through soil, having light loose soil is a big determiner of success. For carrots, a depth of 12 inches is ideal. Add compost to your soil structure. It is the Year of the Root Crop on Grow It Eat It, our all-vegetables. all-the-time site. Find us at our new url: Our online newsletter starts off the year with a great article providing many tips for growing root crops in Maryland.
By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun | February 21, 2013
The soil test on my garden says the pH is 6.7. I need to find out what plants grow in that pH. Congratulations. Your soil pH is in the ideal range that most plants like — slightly acid. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 as neutral. Numbers above 7 are alkaline, and numbers below 7 are acid. Each number increases exponentially to the 10th power. Thus, a 6 pH is 10 times more acidic than 7 pH; and 5 pH is 100 times more acidic than 7 pH. Soil pH determines the availability of nutrients to plant roots.
EXPLORE | December 27, 2012
In wine, there is always a story. It's a product of the earth and therefore subject to both the vagaries of Mother Nature and the winds of fate. In many instances, the grapevine thrives on barren soil in combat conditions. Yet somehow, it manages to distill a magical elixir out of pure rock and stone. And in that struggle, it crafts a liquid that possesses both heart and soul. Many years ago, when I worked in the wine wholesale industry, I had the privilege of selling both the Banfi portfolio, and the Seagram Chateau and Estates portfolio.
EDITORIAL FROM THE AEGIS | December 27, 2012
As more people occupy the same amount of land, things change. A generation or two ago, it was perfectly OK in Harford County to burn garbage and maintain a residential dumping pit on a rural property. It isn't all that long ago that the sewage system and stormwater system in Havre de Grace were one in the same, both emptying into the Susquehanna River largely untreated. Indeed, the city continues to deal with issues of separating the storm drains from sewerage lines under the roadways.
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