All (All)

If only the storyteller were as durable as the story

As a Bay Weekly reader, you may feel like you know us Bay Weekly writers pretty well.
    One way and another, our writers reveal a lot about themselves.
    Sandra Lee Anderson — Sandy — sure did in the eight years she helped fill our pages. On hearing the news of Sandy’s death on Saturday, March 4 at age 73 from an aneurism, I gathered up her stories for Bay Weekly. Twenty thousand words-worth between 2007 and 2015, when she turned her writing energies to her own book. All together, they record the life of a rare and wonderful woman, utterly different from each of us — and not so very different.
    Sandra Lee Comstock grew up in the west, but this daughter of a water reclamation engineer and fisherman couldn’t avoid the pull of Chesapeake Country.
    Her first experience was a waterfront place that had been the residence of a vegetarian society:

    Signs claiming Salt is Poison hung on musty walls. Locals maintain it was a nudist colony. We slept beneath rafters where a long wall divided the dorms for men and women. I fell asleep to the rhythmic waves through the screened window. On that beach I found my first great white shark tooth, two and a half inches long.
    I married another fisherman. Charlie bought a boat and moored it at Flag Harbor, down the beach from the vegetarian beach house. Charlie and I built two houses away, near enough to visit our friend, glimpse the water and easily comb the beach for sharks’ teeth.

    Her adopted home fell short in one way only: winter.

    I love winter, Sandy wrote four years ago this week. My growing up was Colorado, and cold-side Oregon, and cold and snow are in my blood.
    But not in Maryland. Real winter has been missing so long that I fear global warming has turned it into a memory.

        So, interviewing longer-time Calvert countians, the retired D.C. schools administrator chronicled the Great Blizzards of Yore, writing appreciatively of times when school closed for two weeks.
        In Chesapeake Country, she and Charlie became oyster gardeners. Many of her stories chronicled efforts small and large to restore our beloved bivalve.

    This story started when I met the ranchers, the westerner wrote on October 2, 2008. They wear chaps for protection, and they work on ranches, but they’re not wrangling cattle. They’re raising oysters.
    Richard Pelz, the trailblazer, brought oyster ranching to Maryland at Circle C Oyster Ranch. …

    She wrote of building homes for bluebirds, another species restoration effort shared with Charlie, who in turn took photos for her stories:

    Charlie’s anticipated carefree hobby placed us squarely against the travails of nature. We overcame territorial wrens, bad locations and opportunistic chickadees to welcome bluebirds to our home. In the process, we found some of that elusive happiness.

    The couple’s land garden also supported Chesapeake Country wildlife.

    Something has been nibbling on husband Charlie’s cantaloupe, she wrote in September, 2012:
    I suspected the squirrels, and Charlie blamed mice or voles. Friend Fritz Riedel happened to snap another candidate: an eastern box turtle. It’s circumstantial evidence, but very convincing. Charlie’s conclusion is a new twist on the fable of the turtle and the hare: Turtles are faster than humans at getting to a ripe cantaloupe.

    Calvert County history, especially school history, intrigued her, and she, in turn, educated us, introducing us to places like the Old Wallville School. And to the people who brought them to life, like the educational giants Ms. Regina Brown and her sister Ms. Harriet Elizabeth Brown, who hired the young Thurgood Marshall to win equal pay for Calvert’s black teachers.

    The second-grade students of Calvert Elementary art teacher Shari Adams, Sandy wrote in December, 2009, saw nothing they could recognize in the bits and pieces of the Old Wallville School, which opened last month, reconstructed for students of history.
    “What is it? Is it a shed?” today’s schoolchildren wondered from the windows of their modern, low-slung fortress of education.

    Best of all were her stories of people who without paying much attention were making modern history. We need love stories for Valentine’s Day, I’d tell Sandy, or mothering and fathering stories for Mother’s and Father’s Day features, or jobs people do for Labor Day stories. Never fail, she’d find a couple of deeply human stories, like Guffrie M. Smith Jr.’s Father’s Day recollection of Guffrie M. Smith, Sr.:

    Because of his humble beginnings, you were in awe of what my father accomplished. His mother died when he was five, and he was raised by his uncle, who worked him from sunup to sundown and hired him out to a dairy farmer. He always said, “Work never killed anyone.” If work killed anyone, it would have been him.

    Sometimes, we learned more about Sandy from one of those assignments, as in a story on our first jobs:

    I was a carhop in Phoenix at a Dog n Suds Root Beer drive-in. People parked beside a speaker and placed their orders. We carried hotdogs and root beer in mugs to the car on a tray that fit into the window slot. Diners ate in their cars. It didn’t pay much, but I loved working nights under the desert sky.

    Among the love stories Sandy told was How I Met Your Father.

    Our match was made, not born, she confessed of a pursuit and retreat that spanned the continent, from the campaign headquarters in Northern Virginia where they met to California.
    “I want to get married,” I told him a couple of years in.
    “What if I don’t?”
    “Then I’ll go away.”
    I accepted an invitation to work on a political campaign in California.
        “Don’t come for me without a piece of paper in your hand,” I told him.
        I packed my car and headed west.
    Eventually, he followed.
    I got a message that Charlie was in the air and would arrive at 5pm. I didn’t know that Charlie broke a Saturday night date and got drunk on champagne with his roommate, toasting his future married life.

    That was 45 years ago last month.
    Charlie recalled a bit of that story when he called to tell me that Sandy had died and he wondered what kind of a life he’d have without her.
    How I wish the storyteller were as durable as the story.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher

Wolverine finally finds his purpose in this excellent action drama

In the year 2029, mutants are dying out. None have been born in decades, and survivors hide from the world. They live on in comic books that fictionalize their powers and exploits.
    Logan (Hugh Jackman: Eddie the Eagle) used to be a comic hero. He was called Wolverine when he worked with the X-Men, before he abandoned the fight for truth and justice. Logan now works menial jobs, saving money to buy a boat and escape to sea with his mentor, powerful psychic Professor X, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart: Blunt Talk). This is not a pleasure cruise. Xavier has seizures that radiate a mile of painful deaths.
    Desperate for money, Logan is hired by a terrified woman who begs him to take her daughter Laura (Dafne Keen: The Refugees) to a safe haven. Laura, she claims, is a mutant hunted by the government. Logan is skeptical until he sees Laura’s frightening powers.
    Xavier persuades him to help, and soon, Logan’s taking a kid he doesn’t want to a place he doesn’t believe in, lugging along a sick and dangerous old man.
    A bloody drama masquerading as an X-Men movie, Logan is by far the best offering of the mutant film series. Dark, pensive and violent, it explains why Logan is angry and withdrawn. Director James Mangold (The Wolverine) has slowly been building the Logan character into the grizzled anti-hero so beloved in comic books. Now Mangold abandons the family-friendly Marvel veneer for a character piece that offers surprising depth and excellent performances. You’ll see just how bloody those cool Marvel battles would be if set in a realistic environment. The story has substance as well, weaving in commentary about migrant populations, unregulated corporations and a militarized government.
    Over nine films, Jackman has perfected Logan’s gruff look and nature. It is shocking, however, to see what that actor can do with a fully realized character to play. Instead of spouting catch phrases and chomping on a cigar, Jackman puts in real emotional work, showing just how badly the world has beaten him.
    As his nearly silent sidekick, Keen is a real find. With an expressive face, impressive combat skills and impeccable comic timing, she holds her own in scenes with Jackman and Stewart. Keen’s Laura is more than a precocious kid. Near feral, she is a danger to herself and others.
    Logan is not word-accurate to the Wolverine comics, but it is what every comic-book movie should aspire to be: A relatable human story writ large. This film proves it’s possible to make a good drama out of a superhero film.

Great Action • R • 137 mins.

You’ll wish you could leave the kids home and go to camp yourself

It’s going to be a long hot summer.    
    Hot is a bet. When February runs to the 60s and 70s, what can we expect in June, July and August? In this era of wacky weather, we might have snow for Labor Day. But I’m betting on a hot and humid summer with plenty of storms.
    Long is a fact. By executive order of Gov. Larry Hogan — acting on the revenue-rich idea of Comptroller Peter Franchot — summer vacation now runs through Labor Day.
    School summer — which is the standard for most families — begins June 14 in Anne Arundel County and June 15 in Calvert County, or maybe as early as June 7 if snow days go unused.
    So summer lasts 12 weeks, a quarter of the year.
    Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it: three months of release for nine months of regimentation. Many a kid is gleeful at the prospect, and not a few adults envious.
    I’d sure like to have that spread of lazy days on my hands. I imagine lounge chairs and cool drinks, beach, Bay, boats and books — plus more than a little time at the pool. I’d lose my cell phone and discharge my computer.
    Parents may not look so rosily at 2017’s endless summer. For when school is out, they’re mostly not. Working or not, they’ve got to figure out what to do with the kids. For the stay-at-home parent, that means entertainment — for who can bear the nagging repetition of Mom, I’m bored? For the conscientious parent, it also means education, lest bored and fallow young minds forget much of what they’ve just crammed in.
    That’s why we send the kids to camp.
    Reading Bay Weekly’s Early Bird Camp Guide this week is like reading travel invitations to exotic places.
    The camps partnering with Bay Weekly offer very attractive ways to keep minds and bodies active when school is out.
    If outdoor living is what you and your kids want — or what you want for your kids — you’ll find plenty that we all remember, and way more. Zip-lines and white-water rafting add extremes of fun at Camp Hidden Meadows, in the Allegheny Mountains, while Girl Scouts at Camp Conowingo get to choose to live in yurts, cabins or tents.
    Closer to home and more affordable are Recreation and Parks day camps in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and Calvert County that not only take kids outside but also develop special interests. Yoga, fencing, colonial adventures, rock climbing, Broadway & Bop — those are only the tip of the iceberg of summer fun.
    You can infuse summer fun with religious values at camps operated by Annapolis Area Christian School, Grace Brethren Church Summer Adventures, Mount Zion UMC Camp, Saint Margaret’s Day School Camp and Saint Martin’s Summer Fun-in-the-Field.
    Read on, and you’ll fine that special interests are the specialty of our many camp partners. Archaeology, art exploration, ballet and dance, drama, glass blowing, eco-adventures, horseback riding, ice skating, Native American heritage, math, rock music, sailing and STEM skills are all here. Kids with those enthusiasms can become young masters in a week or two. Camps are so diverse that one, Naptown Sings, meets in Metropolitan Lounge, an Annapolis music venue.
    With choices like those and much more, you’ll wish you could leave the kids home and go yourself.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher

An actor playing Willy Loman descends into madness as he fixates on revenge

Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti: Shahrzad) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini: Shahrzad) wake in the middle of the night as their house crumbles. In the midst of producing Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman, they must make time to find a new home.
    A costar seemingly solves their problem by offering an apartment in a building he manages.
    There the last tenant, and her profession, come back to haunt Rana and Emad. A former client looking for the prostitute finds Rana alone and assaults her in the shower.
    She refuses to talk about the assault or call the police, but Emad can’t let the violation go. By night he plays Willy Loman; by day he searches for the rapist. In his obsession, Emad fails to notice Rana’s deterioration.
    Is he doomed to the misery of the character he portrays on stage?
    This gripping drama about how people deal with trauma is beautifully shot and acted. Director Asghar Farhadi (The Past) is a master at mining seemingly mundane situations and stories for emotional drama. With a more dramatic catalyst than in his usual subject matter, he dissects Emad’s reaction to the assault and chronicles his slow descent into madness as he fixates on revenge.
    Hosseini gives a powerful performance. His Emad is a progressive who’d never identify himself as a domineering husband. But the assault changes him. From self-effacing and sweet, he becomes brutish and loud, demanding his wife agree that finding the rapist will fix their problems.
    As Rana, Alidoosti makes the most of a secondary role. Devastated but attempting to move on, she becomes brittle, seconds from a breakdown, with a husband who cannot see her pain.
    Farhadi offers no easy solutions. He’s interested in how people react and how situations unfold. This can be frustrating, but it gives you plenty to talk about on the way home.

Great Drama • PG-13 • 125 mins.

Attack overgrown plants before this year’s growth starts

If you have overgrown plants that are smothering the house or taking over the landscape, now is the time to strike. Hollies, yews, viburnums, forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons and many more take well to hard pruning. Butterfly bush should be pruned very hard, to within inches of the ground, every year.
    The only plants you can’t prune severely are conifers such as junipers, cedar, pine, spruce and fir. These species do not form adventitious buds, nor do they have latent buds capable of sprouting after all other buds have been removed.
    Brutal pruning to lower the height and spread of plants is best timed when the plants are dormant, meaning several weeks before the soil begins to warm. Well-established vigorous plants have extensive root systems in the ground with an abundance of reserved energy. Early pruning directs that reserved energy to the most viable vegetative buds in the stems. Thus the earlier plants are pruned hard before growth starts, the more new growth they will generate.
    If you are cutting azalea stems the size of your index finger, as soon as temperatures rise you will see hundreds of green buds emerging from under the bark up and down that stem. Each of those buds is capable of producing branches. While the buds are still soft and green, wipe away at least half of them with your fingers. If you allow all of those buds to produce branches, the stems will look like a bottlebrush.
    When pruning forsythia and weigela, always remove branches that have gray bark near the base of the plant. Prune as close to the ground as possible to promote new vigorous stems to emerge from buds at the soil line. Remove all stems smaller than a pencil in diameter. These weak, flimsy shoots will generally not flower and will only droop with the ends of the stems touching the ground and rooting in.
    When pruning lilacs, inspect the larger stems for borer holes. Lilac borers generally attack stems one-and-a-half to two inches in diameter. Cut infected stems near the ground, and either burn or send them away with the trash. Allowing those infested stems to remain will only result in younger stems becoming infested before they approach maturity. You don’t want that because lilac flowers are produced on second-year wood.
    Do not try to rejuvenate any plant whose stump is larger than two inches in diameter by cutting it back to the ground. Stumps are capable of sprouting, but the sprouts will topple when the center of the old stump, which is mostly dead tissue, begins to rot, two to three years after it has been cut.
    To maintain generally well-behaved plants, prune after flowering when the petals are dropping to the ground.

Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at Please include your name and address.

Check out Calvert Marine Museum’s new otter and otter cam

They are otterly adorable. The two North American river otters, 14-year-old Chumley (aka Squeak) and year-old Chessie-Grace (aka Bubbles), love to romp and play throughout their habitat at the Calvert Marine Museum. Now you can see what’s going on behind the scenes in their indoor habitat when you can’t see these furry mammals in-person.
    A newly installed otter cam lets you experience remotely what’s up with these museum favorites seven days a week. Log in to get a peak:
    “Visiting in-person is always best, as the new lodging area includes a feeding panel that allows guests to get face-to-face with the otters while they dine,” says Dave Moyer, curator of Estuarine Biology. “When you need to get your otter fix, remember a great time to view the cam is during feeding times.”
    The indoor holding area where the otters reside has been updated with new nesting dens, play yards, an infinity pool and LED lighting.
    Plus a newly rescued otter from Louisiana has joined the exhibit.
    “He was extricated from an aquaculture pond,” Moyer explains. “On a fish farm, it is bad for business to have otters eating all your profits.”
    After acclimating and getting a clean bill of health from the museum veterinarian, What’s His Name may join Chumley and Chessie-Grace.
    “It will depend on the animals as to whether he stays separated,” Moyer says. “Personalities and social dynamics play huge roles.”
    Chumley, also rescued as a pup, came to the museum via Clearwater Aquarium in Florida. Chessie-Grace was hand-raised and bottle-fed after her mother failed to care for her pups.
    Guess the newcomer’s name and win a one-hour behind-the-scenes tour with the otters and animal care staff.
    Otter Name Game clues appear each Wednesday at noon on the Otter Cam website and the museum’s Facebook page.

Yellow perch are the first panfish of the emerging spring season

My rod tip was arced over so hard that the tip entered the water off to the side of the skiff. The drag on the tiny spin reel was groaning as it released a few yards of four-pound-test mono into the current and an unseen fish made its best effort at an escape. I pushed my slender stick up high to avoid fouling the line on the brush tips poking out of the water where the fish was heading.
    The water boiled as the fish neared the surface at the far shore. A glint of gold flashed against the morning rays of the sun. Bingo, just what I was hoping for. A yellow perch was on my line. Then another broach and a pair of flashes. Bonus: Two yellow perch were on my rig.
    Yellow perch are closer to gold or brass than yellow. They are also known as ring perch, neds or yellow neds. No one I have ever spoken to has an explanation for the ned part of the name. The ring aspect is due to six to eight, vertical, bright-olive stripes along the flanks of the delicious fish that give it the appearance of being ringed. In other parts of the country it is known as the raccoon perch, the lake perch, the American perch and the ringtail.
    Whatever you call it, the fish is the first panfish of the emerging spring season. It was once significantly more numerous than today and far more popular with anglers. But the Bay population has suffered over the years from commercial overfishing and the silt and lawn chemicals released from residential and commercial developments around the headwaters where they spawn. Of late, their numbers have been recovering due to Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ efforts at restricting commercial harvest so that our 300,000 recreational anglers could be apportioned half shares with the three-dozen or so netters that continue to harvest them.
    In February, yellow perch begin ascending the Bay tributaries, seeking to spawn in the freshwater sources where they were born. They feed on worms, insects, larvae, grass shrimp, minnows and other small fish and live in the more brackish waters of the Chesapeake during most of their life.
    This fish has a unique spawning characteristic. It releases its eggs encased in a long accordion-like membrane designed to hang up on rocks, brush or any stream structure that ensures the roe do not settle to the bottom. If the egg sacks do not remain suspended, they are far more likely to become covered with the silt and chemical residue that washes into the streams in the spring rains and much less likely to hatch out.
    The traditional angling method for ring perch is a light spin rod armed with a shad dart or two suspended under a casting bobber and tipped with grass shrimp, worms or small minnows. Four-pound test mono is just right for the task, but an angler can get away with up to eight-pound in a pinch.
    Fish the first of the flood around the shores of the headwaters or the last of the ebb at the deeper holes. Or fish whenever you can as the runs of perch during the spawning season are unpredictable.
    There is a nine-inch minimum size limit with a possession limit of 10. The citation size is 14 inches, and the state record is two pounds three ounces for tidal areas and three pounds five ounces for non-tidal.
    Scaling, eviscerating and beheading the fish will result in the tastiest preparation, but filleting the fish makes the end result boneless. Baking, broiling or breading and frying all result in a great meal. The traditional approach is a crispy coating and hot peanut-oil frying.
    The results are all the same: a delicious treat made all the more tasty because it’s the first fish dinner of the coming spring season.

Now show us where Bay Weekly takes you

We haven’t had such fun with squirrels since the days of the great Bill Burton. The dean of Maryland outdoor writers, Burton chronicled his battles of wits with bushy tails, as he called them. He patterned his story-telling on the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies formula. Despite the contraption he installed to deter them, he’d usually come out the loser while his squirrels got fatter, smarter and happier.
    The game has changed. Since Dennis Doyle’s Sporting Life column of January 12, much of Chesapeake Country has been playing Where’s the Black Squirrel. Everywhere seems to be the answer.
    You’ve recorded sightings in Pasadena, Gambrills, Arnold, downtown Annapolis, West Annapolis, Eastport, Edgewater, Mayo, Galesville, Tracys Landing, Dunkirk, Lusby and St. Mary’s County. Plus D.C., Landover Hills, Cheverly, Kensington, Montgomery County and beyond.
    It’s getting so a person can’t go anywhere without seeing a black squirrel.
    Not to be outdone, the white squirrel has also joined the game. We’ve had reports from near and far, including Washington, D.C., Olney, IL, Brevard, NC, Marionville, MO, and Kenton, TN.
    White squirrels, at the risk of turning Queenstown into a tourist haunt, abound through the town, writes correspondent William Hopkins from Annapolis. There is even one on the town Crest of Arms seen in the town hall at the traffic circle.
    I have seen five to six at a time, mixed broods (both white and brown females with mixed-color babies, but never a pied in brown or black and white.
    I’ve enjoyed Where’s the Squirrel as much as you have for I love seeing Chesapeake Country — and the wider world — through your eyes.
    Now I’m hoping you’ll expand your range.
    Besides squirrel hunting, would you show me where else Bay Weekly takes you? As we’ve seen, smart phones make it so easy.
    I’d like to see you picking up Bay Weekly — and shopping in the stores where you get your Bay Weekly. Our hundreds of distribution partners give Bay Weekly free space. In return, you’d help us show them that Bay Weekly readers are their customers, too.
    I’d like to see you enjoying events you learned about in Bay Weekly. Hold up your paper and snap a shot while you’re visiting Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater to hear Bert Drake talk about climate change. Catching the Ruth Starr Rose art exhibits at Mitchell Gallery or Banneker Douglass Museum in Annapolis. Joining the crowd in Bay History Museum in North Beach to hear Chesapeake Country writer Mick Blackistone talk about his book Just Passing Through.
    I’d especially like to see you, Bay Weekly in hand, doing business with the advertisers whose support keeps us publishing week after week. Show me your picture enjoying the music at Pirates Cove in Galesville, The Old Stein in Edgewater or Anthony’s in Dunkirk. Carrying out your lunch at Bowen’s Grocery in Huntingtown. Shopping for historic treasures at Second Wind Consignments or Vintage Stew in Deale and Then and Again Antiques in Annapolis. For whimsical reuses at The Shops at Ogden’s Common in Port Republic. Browsing Turn Around Consignments, also in Deale. Buying new tires at Granados Automotive Center.
    You get the idea.
    I’d love it, and so would our advertisers.
    Send me your pictures. On Facebook and in our pages, we’ll show the world how Bay Weekly brings us together in Chesapeake Country.
    I’m waiting to see you.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher

Wick’s one-man killing spree goes international in this fantastic action flick

Former mob enforcer John Wick (Keanu Reeves: The Neon Demon) declared war on the New York branch of the Russian mob after a mobster’s punk son killed his dog and stole his car. After wiping out a large percentage of the population of New York, John Wick returned home to retire from the blood and guts business for good.
    That didn’t work out.
    He’s no sooner home than another shadowy underworld figure comes calling. Santino ­D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio: Dalida) holds Wick’s marker, a blood promise to perform a task. If Wick refuses, a price will be put on his head. If he accepts and kills the head of the Italian mob, a price will be put on his head.
    Stuck in an impossible situation, Wick does what he does best: kill every person he comes across. His blood-soaked journey takes him from the catacombs of Rome to the subways of New York.
    This sequel has as much action-packed swagger as the original and twice as many headshots. It’s pure chest-heaving, popcorn-eating adrenaline. Second-time Wick director Chad Stahelski is a former stuntman who understands how to stage and shoot gonzo sequences. The film opens on a brutal fight involving guns, cars and knives. Pacing is frenetic, but the fight is shot in a way that builds tension while showing what’s going on. Often, action movies throw explosions and clashing metal together in a murky blend of sound and fury. When you watch Wick, you’ll know precisely where every punch lands and probably be as breathless as Wick when the fight is over.
    In his second outing, Stahelski stretches a bit as a storyteller with some tremendous results. Cinematography is a little more artistic. Dramatic sequences between fights are a little smoother, and the shadowy underworld that revolves around Wick is expanded. The crime world and rules that govern its mayhem are fascinating. Stahelski leaves plenty of room and interesting stories for a sequel.
    The film also offers Keanu Reeves his best outlet yet for his talents. Wick’s wry aloofness covers Reeves’ occasionally wooden delivery. He seems to have found his niche snarling at baddies before kicking them in the gut and shooting them in the head.
    John Wick: Chapter 2 isn’t layered; it’s a cacophony of bullets and blows made for buckets of popcorn, cheering audiences and a big screen. If you’re a fan of great action with a clever but uncomplicated premise, John Wick: Chapter 2 is the bull’s eye.

Great Action • R • 122 mins.

Now’s the time to get it right

Step 1 to a productive garden is getting the location right. Plants perform best in full sun and well-drained soil. You can improve other aspects of a garden, but there is no substitute for full sun and a soil that drains properly.
    Next, prepare a soil test. Your soil may do fine for grass and weeds, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for gardening. The pH, nutrient concentration and organic matter in soils are important and can be improved.
    Follow the instructions at A&L Eastern Laboratories of Virginia: Expect results by mail within five working days. Replies by email take even less time. Add my email to the form — — for personal recommendations from the Bay Gardener based on the results.
    Plan for proper irrigation. I am a big supporter of trickle irrigation because it irrigates the plants with 80 percent less water than overhead methods. Since the water is placed just within the root zone of the plants, it is not irrigating the weeds between the rows. Plant foliage also remains dry, reducing the spread of diseases that can occur when plants are irrigated from overhead.
    Vegetable gardens should receive one inch of water per week. Allow a trickle system to run for four to five hours with four to five pounds of pressure in the irrigation line. When irrigating with sprinklers, place a tuna fish can on the soil in the middle of the irrigation area. When the can is full, you have applied one acre-inch of water.

Plant Spacing

Tomatoes: 21⁄2-3 feet

Peppers: 2+ feet

Okra: 18 inches

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower: 12 to 18 inches

Corn 6-8 inches

Lettuce: 6 inches

Bush beans and peas: 2 inches

Root crops such as carrots, beets and parsnips: 1⁄2 inch
-1 inch, thinned to 2-21⁄2 when seedlings reach 2 inches

    Buy a hoe and keep it sharp to stop weeds in their tracks. Cultivation should be shallow so as not to damage roots of crops or to expose dormant weed seeds. Garden soils are loaded with weed seeds accumulated from previous years. Most weed seeds can survive for years; exposure to even a few seconds of sunlight stimulates them to germinate. Thus the less you disturb the soil, the better.
    Simply scraping the hoe on the soil surface to separate the top of the weeds from their roots is all it takes, unless you have waited until the weeds are knee-high.
    Plan for adequate spacing. Annual plants grow rapidly. If they are crowded, the plants will spend most of their energy competing for light, water and nutrients and less energy in producing a crop.
    Plan your planting by the sun’s course. If your garden rows run east to west, plant lower-growing crops on the south side of taller-growing species. In other words, plant the green beans on the south side of the corn or tomatoes and the lettuce on the south side of the green beans. If the crop rows run north to south, it does not matter how you arrange the crops because the sun travels from east to west, resulting in uniform lighting of all plants.

Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at Please include your name and address.