Farmer prepares for weekend planting

CROCUS IS IN bloom. Daffodils are on the move. Buds on trees are swelling. Robins are working the ground. Cold nights and predictions of snow notwithstanding, the signs are clear.

Bill Morris, a farmer in South County, confirms it. He is so sure of spring's imminent emergence that he's going to plant onions, spinach, beets and peas Saturday.


Morris makes a modest living - "very modest" - on his Deep Cove Farm, 10 acres "on the Shady Side of Churchton," he said. He has lived on the farm since 1947.

The winter, measured by the heating bill, has been a rough one for most of us. For Morris, it's been just right.


"It's been a good cold, good for apples, good for all your fruits," he said. "They need their hours of cold to keep them in dormancy. When it does warm up they'll be ready to go. Two more weeks of what we've had- into the 40s in the day - we'll really be ready to go."

Morris is sensitive on the matter of fruit. The excessive rain last year played havoc with his apples and peaches. "We normally harvest 140 bushels," he said. "Last year, I think we got two."

The weather forced his fruit to flower out of sequence. "I had never seen that happen here," he said. "What it meant was that there was little, or no, opportunity for cross-pollination."

Gardening, as some know, is not for the faint of heart.

Morris sells his produce at the Anne Arundel Farmer's Market off Riva Road in season. He specializes in what he calls "niche vegetables, specialty crops."

"Raspberries always are popular; blackberries are good," he said. "We did eight different kinds of hot peppers last year. You have a lot of people making their own salsas, and you have a sizable Hispanic community in Annapolis, too."

Spring planting plans also include asparagus and more raspberries.

Morris warned gardeners about working with wet soil. "You'll turn it into hard clumps that will stay that way for the rest of the year," he said.


He recommended raised gardens, mixing soil, sand and lots of compost. "I have friends who drive down here with bags of leaves for my compost pile," he said.

Compost piles can also include grass clippings, manure and kitchen slops (excluding meat products).

On the flower side of the garden, Morris enjoys success with pansies, zinnias, dahlias and gladiolus. "Watch for mildew in the fall with the zinnias," he said. "The dahlias will take a little work."

Work is something gardeners are keen to embrace, the sooner the better.

Mitchell exhibition

An exhibit, "Worldviews: Maya Ceramics from the Palmer Collection," opens Wednesday at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College in Annapolis and continues through April 20.


The exhibit features 56 pieces of ceramic, jade and stone from the Maya Classic Period, A.D. 250 to 900, including vases, figurines, funerary urns, pendants and bowls.

An opening reception will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Art educator Lucinda Edinberg of Annapolis will conduct a tour of the show and hold a workshop for children. Edinberg also will lead a tour at 12:15 p.m. April 4.

Poet Jean Nordhaus of Bethesda is holding a two-part writing workshop on themes related to the exhibit at 10 a.m. March 17 and 3 p.m. April 1. Registration is required. Call: 410-626- 2556.

Annapolis potters Rick Malmgren and his mother, Ebby Malmgren, will give a talk on "Two Potters' Views: The Language of Mayan Ceramics" at 4 p.m. March 20.

No admission is charged for the exhibit, which was organized by the Hudson Museum of the University of Maine. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays, and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays.