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Acid-loving plants need iron but rusting metal won’t help

A Bay Weekly reader told me he throws a handful of nails in the bottom of each planting hole whenever he plants trees or shrubs. The tradition has been handed down from grandpa to grandson. The purpose, he says, is “to provide an adequate supply of iron to the roots, of course.”
    He could not tell me if nail size, such as ten-penny, finish nails or shoe tacks, made any difference. He had no preference for rusty nails or new nails.


You remember those days, the excitement — or terror — a new school year brings, mixed with the sorrow of letting go of summer.
    It’s a story each of us shares and each generation repeats. Yet each person’s story enriches the theme with delicious detail.
    As the 2013 school year begins, we’ve asked 12 kids (and one surprise returnee) — kindergarten through 12th grade — for their views.

Help make sure every kid goes back to school with the supplies for success

You loved shopping for school supplies. You’re out of school, maybe your kids are, too, but you still find yourself walking down the school supply aisle, drawn to untouched spirals, sharpened No. 2s, creative folders and a backpack to carry all.
    Regain that pleasure this August by buying and donating to local back-to-school programs that make sure every kid returns to class with supplies for success.

Our neighbor, warts and all

The American toad may be the most-seen amphibian in Chesapeake Country. I’ve seen several in my yard this summer, and you probably have, too.
    Odds for spotting an American toad are best near their preferred habitat: garden, forest or meadow. They are active mostly at night, which is when I always find them hopping around my yard or sitting on my patio.

Local community colleges boast new buildings so smart they’ve earned top honors

New buildings at both Anne Arundel Community College and the College of Southern Maryland are working just like good students do to achieve perfection.
    Anne Arundel’s renovated Andrew G. Truxal Library has already graduated LEED (short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) with top honors. It’s only the eighth building in Anne Arundel County to achieve those honors.

How to grow a garden to suit many tastes

Quite a few plants love acid soils. Andromeda, azaleas, blueberries, leucothoe, mountain laurel and rhododendrons, bald and pond cypress, deciduous hollies, false heather, heather, Japanese hollies, mountain silverbell, oaks, partridge berry and sour gum love acid soils.
    Such plants demand soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5.


That’s a job for the Green Team

The World Biggest Crab Feast didn’t make the world’s biggest mess this year.
    Some 4,500 pounds of food scraps — about one-quarter of the food waste produced by the massive feast — will turn into compost instead of hogging precious landfill space.

Dee of St. Mary’s is your one chance on the Western Shore

Shanghaied into labor, two able-bodied passengers grapple a stout line hand over hand to hoist the 2,000-square-foot Dacron mainsail of the skipjack Dee of St. Mary’s up her 72-foot tree-trunk mast. Then First Mate John Fulchiron crawls out on the 19-foot bowsprit to raise the smaller jib. And off Dee goes.

Democratic women wanted to run for office

Blame it on the boys.    
    In Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, more men than women are making political decisions.
    Four men to one woman govern on Calvert County’s Board of Commissioners. Anne Arundel got a woman, Laura Neuman, by appointment, but in the last election, not a single woman won a voice in local government.

Perhaps the most exciting and demanding of the angler’s art

It was minutes short of sundown. The shadows were getting long, blending into a solid blackness along the nearby shoreline that hinted of the night about to fall. My casts were tempting the fates as they landed just off the edge of the riprap where I hoped a striper was lurking. Another foot or so and I would foul the top-water plug among the rocks. In water this skinny, I would have to break it off.