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'Taste of the Garden' weathers the drought for this year's event

August 08, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION and JULIE GREENE
  • Susan Stoy and her two daughters, Krystle, left, and Katelyn listen to master gardener Linda Burns Sunday at the Washington County Agricultural and Education Center. Tours of the center's gardens were given.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

This year's hot, dry summer is challenging even master gardeners.

At the Washington County Agricultural Education Center along Sharpsburg Pike, the Washington County Master Gardeners show the public how the county's settlers raised crops.

The process is illustrated through a German four-square garden, a planting area divided into smaller square plots that was popular among German and Swiss immigrants.

This summer, with its relentless record-breaking heat, has baked the ground and provided little rain.

Beans and pumpkins have withered and died in the sun, and raspberries are struggling, said Karen Greeley, who heads up the master gardeners group.

And a groundhog raided the four-square garden for the first time this year, requiring the gardeners to erect a more-fortified gate to keep it out, Greeley said.

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"We said (with) our luck we would have rain today since we've had no rain," Greeley said at Sunday's "Taste of the Garden" event, where the public was invited out to taste crops from the garden.

"There's not a lot you can do," Greeley said of the challenges posed by this year's weather.

To keep the garden growing, master gardeners carried water to the site. They were able to harvest tomatoes, Jenny Lind melons, cucumbers and other produce.

Some of the harvest was laid out on tables during the three-hour tasting event.

The four-square garden is among a group of log buildings and historic structures that have been moved to the grounds of the agricultural center to create a village that gives visitors a feel for how the county looked in its early days.

The master gardeners offer educational events at the site through a program called Second Sundays, in which the public can learn skills like how to grow berries, Greeley said.

New plants like horseradish and leeks have been added to the garden this year, and there are plans to have a medicinal garden at the building that used to serve as the office of Peter Fahrney, a Boonsboro physician who lived from 1767 to 1837.

A foundation for another building has appeared in the village area, and it will be used for a cobbler shop and a broommaker's shop, Greeley said.

"We've got a lot of cool things going on here," she said.

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