Big Tomato Contest Aug. 9 -- 8-4-14


(This week's flower is Queen Anne's Lace, also known as daucus karota. To enlarge, click on the photo.)


The delivery of this blog has been delayed recently, but not because of laziness on our part. In the past two weeks, we installed a new computer system. And unless you're Bill Gates, with a horde of computer experts at your disposal, these things never happen without some problems. We'll spare you the details, because they would only demonstrate (again) how less-than-tech-savvy we are.

The new system will let us use PhotoShop, a program that will improve the look of photos and enable us to add graphics. The site's appearance should be upgraded, including close-up photography of wildflowers and other growing things.

July marks our first anniversary in operation. Our hope when we started was that each week we would be able to showcase a wildflower from the Tri-State area and share some knowledge about maintaining a nice lawn and a productive vegetable garden. To celebrate our anniversary, on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., we will hold our second annual Big Tomato Contest at Hagerstown's City Market.


The rules are simple:

  1. The winners will be the three tomatoes that weigh the most, as determined by a digital scale.

  2. The winning specimens must be in edible condition, as determined by the judges.

  3. Prizes are $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third place.

There will also be a drawing for a $50 Sheetz gas card. It doesn't cost anything to enter. Just give us your name and e-mail address and you're entered. We'll use the e-mail to send you a link to this blog and if you don't like our site, e-mail us and we'll take you off our list.


We began this effort for several reasons. As a retired journalist, I still like to write, talk to people and share information readers can use. My oldest son, a former photographer for Hagerstown Magazine, is continuing to hone his skills to show readers super close-up views of plants from along the area's roads and woodlands. My youngest son, a computer graphics graduate from Kaplan College, contributes graphics and my wife, Sandy, is the chief editor.

Would we like to make some money from all of this? Sure, but family illnesses and other life experiences over the last year and a half have kept us from promoting as aggressively as we would have liked. We hope to do more marketing in 2014, but because none of us depends in this for our only income, we won't have to push so hard that it ceases to be fun.

We also do this because family is important. We work together to make something we're proud to call our own and that process brings us closer together. We invite you to join our effort by offering suggestions and/or constructive criticism by e-mailing As always, you may use a pseudonym or a “pen name.”




Tips for gardeners this week:

  1. The Japanese beetles are finishing up their summer meal now, or if they aren't, they've run out of their favorites in my yard. The preferred dish, after they finished with the rose bush, has been a woody stemmed vine called Virginia creeper that grows alongside poison ivy, but is much easier to pull up. The beetles are gobbling it up, sometimes feeding in tandem, one atop the other. Perhaps the bug on top is there to do the insect version of the Heimlich maneuver if the other begins to choke. Knock them off into a bucket of soapy water to drown them. I could recommend pesticides, but I'm afraid that I might kill beneficial insects, too.

  2. “Monthly Tips for Gardeners,” The University of Maryland Extension Service's Home and Garden Center's Bulletin GE 003 advises that it's time to plant the so-called “cole crops.” These vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower and kale, do best in cooler weather. In other years, they might fry in the August heat, but so far, Mother Nature's summer fryer has been turned way down. Mulch your seedlings and keep them moist, especially if the heat goes up.

    1. Keep an eye out for squash borers. As we said recently, if you see a borer hole, open the stem, dig out the little rascal and cover the cut stem with dirt so it can heal.

    2. Bag worms are making a meal out of evergreens such as arborvitae now, so you should pick them off and burn them, because anything short of that might not kill them. And if they're not killed, they will come back.

    3. Poison ivy has developed seeds now, and if not dealt with, the birds will have a good time distributing them around your yard. If it's just one of two small plants, pull them out with rubber gloves. If there's more, check with your garden center or nursery for a general purpose weed killer. This is the only plant I spray, because it's the only one that makes me miserable when I touch it.

    4. Keep up with your record-keeping. If you know when the squash borers arrived, you vcan be ready for them next year.


(Did you enjoy this column? If so, send suggestions and constructive criticism to




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