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Plant scientist Bert Drake warns that in Earth’s changing climate, plants are odds-on winners. It doesn’t look so good for us.

Canine Companions for Independence are half dog, half angel

Alana Johnson: In her own words

A higher price than we’ll like paying

The big fish are here, with anglers on their tails

Otherwise, you’re planting trouble

From Zeus’ paramour to Arthur’s kingdom

The waxing moon reaches first-quarter on the 14th, appearing due south as the sun sets, well before 6:30 this week, and setting around midnight. Each night the moon appears 15 degrees farther east at sunset, and each evening it sets almost an hour later. The night of the 19th, the gibbous moon passes six degrees north of brilliant Jupiter.  Jupiter, brighter than any star, beckons low in the east-southeast as darkness settles. Look for him high in the south around midnight and edging...

2010 was a very good year for Maryland grapes

It’s been a wild weather year — record winter snowfall followed by record summer heat followed by record daily rainfall.  Weather that’s been inconvenient for most us has been terrible for Maryland farmers who grow conventional crops like corn and soybeans.  But for Maryland grape growers in all corners of the state, 2010 has been a very good year.  “A good year is an understatement,” Rob Deford, president of Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, Maryland, told...

Don’t miss this burnished Dignity Players’ production

Many of us studied The Crucible in high school. Arthur Miller used the Salem Witch Trials of America’s 17th century to tell a pointed cautionary tale about Red Scare fears and McCarthy Hearings of his own America in the 1940s and 1950s. The Crucible proves itself resilient for our times as well. In our world, Internet gossip leads to suicides, lies trade as fact in politics and false accusations lead to job dismissals (remember Shirley Sherrod?). We seem not to have progressed very far...

If you’re on the water, the fish may come to you

The sun was getting low in an overcast sky, night was rapidly falling — and still there were no fish. Conditions were perfect off the shallow-water point, the tide was up, there was good current, a chilly wind was lying down nicely — and only one other boat was present. But no fish.  Fish Are Biting Better weather and cooler water temperatures have jumped the fall bite into the red zone. Nice rockfish are schooling at the mouths of all of the major tributaries and are...

For the honorable knights of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, every charge is aimed for the win — knocking the other rider off his horse

“A piece of armor may fly into the crowd. If this happens, please do not be harmed,” says Sir Barchan of Dinglebury, who comes armed with a sense of humor and over 90 pounds of 14-gauge stainless steel to introduce his fellow jousters. As champion of the Maryland Renaissance Festival’s home field, Rebel Grove, the 60-year-old knight loves this contact sport.  The self-taught champion leads the Ren Fest knights into battle against the new era. With no high-tech gadgets,...

When not getting his hands dirty in the soil, the Bay Gardener keeps busy restoring old boats and making new ones

Wife Clara claims that my desire to build and restore boats can be traced to Viking genes in my blood. I remind her I am of French Canadian descent with Algonquin heritage. Her rebuttal is that Vikings invaded northern Europe where my French ancestors lived.   In the 20 years we’ve lived on Rockhold Creek in Deale, I have built two boats, with a third under way, and restored two more — plus a 1949 John Deere B tractor and, now, a 1939 Allis Chalmers B tractor. Clara is still...

Avoiding water-logged bulbs

Anyone who has launched a boat via a trailer soon realizes that the lights on the trailer function correctly right up to the first submersion. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. The left turn signal will function, but not the left brake light; only the brake lights work, but not the signals; signals work at random and the running lights have disappeared.   Each spring brings a trip to the auto store to buy new trailer lights. The hermetically sealed package clearly states that...

From here to Venezuela

Where have our osprey gone after abandoning Chesapeake Country over the last six weeks? In general, we know that Chesapeake osprey fly from between 2,000 and 4,000 miles. Their journey takes 15 to 50 days, depending on the individual’s flight plans. Transmitter-tagged birds can tell us much more. So we turn to 40-plus-year osprey researcher Rob Bierregaard of the University of North Carolina. He’s been banding birds since 2000 on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York, Rhode Island...

Test and treat your plants before bringing them in

A friend told me the leaves of her Ficus benjamina are covered with black soot. I suspected that the plant had been infected with a soft-scale insect that exudes a honeydew substance that breeds sooty mold. However, upon examining the plant, I saw it was severely infested with spider mites. If you moved your houseplants outside for summer, there is a good possibility that they are infested with spider mites. Spider mites are tiny insects about the size of dust particles. On houseplants, look...

Maryland’s horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and burros are being counted in their very own census.

  The Maryland Horse Industry Board has enlisted the United States Department of Agriculture to count Maryland’s equine population. More than 21,000 census forms were mailed in April to equine owners and stable operators across the state. This is only the second count of Maryland’s horses. The first census was taken in 2002. “The first equine census gave us an important baseline for measuring the size of our equine industry,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary...