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Out of the Hill of Giant Sweet Potatoes

The best thing about giant sweet potatoes is digging them up with seven-year-old grandson Aiden in the kitchen garden behind our house in northern Calvert County. Aiden and I picked out one of the largest hills. Mt. Kilimanjaro, we called it. When dug out, that hill yielded 55 pounds of potatoes, with one 20 inches long and big around as the calf of your leg. Another weighed 11 pounds.
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With trial and error, we’ve found what trees thrive — and which die — in Chesapeake Country’s dense soil

My husband and I have planted more than our share of trees in the soil of Chesapeake Country. We are not arborists by any means, but we have always wanted to plant trees. A cottage in Shady Side gave us opportunity, inspiration and a flat former cornfield, altitude eight feet, just a few hundred feet from the West River.
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Storm-displaced pelicans make themselves at home in Port Republic

Beyond tree branches and driving rain, Hurricane Sandy delivered flying surprises that prompted avid birders to describe her severe weather and blustery gusts as a productive storm.
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To elephants, pies and shoots

Thousands of pumpkins are carried away to homes all across the country to be part of harvest festivals, decorations and Halloween Jack-o-lanterns.
    What happens to the pumpkins that never find a home?
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The fall flocks arrive this month

Bird enthusiasts and hunters wait for them every fall. Flocking to the Chesapeake from the prairie pothole region of north-central United States, south-central to northern Canada and Alaska, the ducks arrive. They dabble in our coves and lend their voices to the symphony of winter, harmonizing with the sonorous hooting of tundra swans and geese.
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We’re closer to unity on birth control for pets than on who should be president

Anne Arundel County agrees more on spaying and neutering than who the next president should be according the Anne Arundel Community College Center for the Study of Local Issues survey.
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In Sandy’s wake of wrath, our backyard birds need help.
    After days of sudden exposure to wet and cold, birds need to refuel with seed and suet to maintain body temperature and energy.
    “First and foremost, people need to get their feeders back up and fill them with fresh seed,” says Julie Curd, owner of Wild Bird Center of Annapolis.
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If your wellhead was submerged, you’ll need a hose, bleach and bottled water

If you draw your water from a well, Hurricane Sandy may have brought you another chore.
    Drilled wells are subject to saltwater and surface water contamination if the wellhead is submerged. If water puddle around your wellhead or saltwater drowned it, you’ll have to purge your well before your water is good to drink.
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New menu rates members of ­Congress on food issue votes

Marylanders we send to Congress are accustomed to getting sliced, diced and rated by the likes of the National Rifle Association and an array of business and labor groups.
    But who is watching how members vote on vital food policy issues, such as hunger, access to nutrition, farm subsidies and, perhaps, the wisdom of wide-scale conversion to genetically modified crops occuring silently in our midst?
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Former Governor Parris Glendening discusses Smart Growth, long hair and tweeners in stretch limousines

How is life different after politics?
    I used to get a haircut every two weeks because I was so often on camera, which exaggerated the slightest curl. Now I get one every five or six weeks. One of the percs of not being in office.

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