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Organic matter adds ­hidden benefits to soil

Addition of organic matter does great things for soil. It works as a slow-release fertilizer and source of essential nutrients. It reduces the density of heavy silt and clay loam soils. It improves soil’s nutrient retention and increases water retention. All of these benefits redound to plant growth. Retention of nutrients     Adding organic matter to soils increases the retention of nutrients and makes them available to the roots of plants. This process is known as...

This tempest is a summer storm you won’t want to miss.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale of an eerie desert isle where a band of royal castaways is marooned in style. No, it’s not a new sitcom or reality show. It’s William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a supernatural classic of haunting beauty playing for the next two weekends at the Bowie Playhouse. It’s also the Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s last production in that space before moving to new space on Chinquapin Round Road in the fall.   ...

How many losers does it take to save the universe?

The night Peter Quill’s mother died, he was abducted by aliens. Twenty years later, Peter (Chris Pratt: The LEGO Movie) remembers Earth by a troll doll and his mother’s Walkman. He travels the galaxy scavenging rare treasures from abandoned planets, listening to a mix tape of his mother’s favorite tunes.     On a treasure run, he steals an orb from an abandoned building. Suddenly, he’s the target of a galaxy-wide manhunt. Turns out the orb will help the...

Still time to escape in a good book

     With half of summer stretching before you, there’s still time to get lost in a good book.     Armchair travelers stretch our confined worlds with books that take us places we’ll probably never see on our own. Certainly not with the open-eye and open-heart clarity of the ­writers we love best.     Tell us about a book that’s transported you to a world outside your time and space. That was my request to a couple dozen...

Here’s to one more summer of reading

     Call me anything but late to the table — unless I’m reading a good book. So I’ve often carried book to table.     “I’ve spent my life looking over the breakfast table at a book,” my grandmother Florence Martin lamented. “Your grandfather. Your father and his brother. And now you.”     Or as Florence’s daughter-in-law my mother Elsa would say, “Take your nose out of that book!...

Mine makes 15,001

     Five years ago in Wisconsin, Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher. He installed it on a post in his front yard and filled it with books to give away. It was such a hit with his neighbors that he built and gave away several more, each with a sign that read free books.     The idea caught on, and Little Free Libraries spread to all 50 states and 40 other countries. The website —...

Sweet fish swim in sweetwater

     Rockfish, bluefish, perch, spot and croaker dominate the summertime fishing news when it comes to recreational species in Maryland. But almost half of all the fishing licenses sold by Maryland Department of Natural Resources are purchased by sweet-water anglers.     We have at least as many largemouth bass anglers as any other group of devotees. They have a considerable number of bass-specific waters to choose from. The lakes, ponds and impoundments...

The everyday banalities of saving the world

     Günter Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman: Catching Fire) isn’t a man who stands out in a crowd. His shoulders hunch, pulling awkwardly at his ill-fitting jacket. His softening middle hangs over his pants, the product of poor diet and long days at a desk. His weary, weathered face reveals bright blue eyes often peering over the rim of a whiskey glass.     Bachmann looks like hundreds of dissatisfied office workers who flood the bars of Hamburg. But...

Lesson 3: Jumpstart your garden with compost tea

     Your organic garden will need a jumpstart. Organic gardening relies entirely on the release of nutrients from the decomposition of organic matter and the bodies of the microorganisms that digest the organic matter in the soil. In cold soils, nutrients are not readily available.     Room temperature — a consistent 72 degrees — is the starting point for analyzing the situation. With 72-degree soil temperature, the rate of the mineralization of...

Cool high-summer recipes from Maryland’s 2014 Buy Local Cookbook

    Heaven & earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation; were it fully manured and inhabited by industrious people.     Captain John Smith barely exaggerated. So good are the fish and flesh, fruit and vegetables of Chesapeake Country that they need no adornment. Or very little. Salt and pepper, oil and vinegar are complements enough. Add some fire, and you’ve got all you need.     On the other hand, a good...