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Articles by Dr. Francis Gouin

It takes two species for fruit trees to blossom

A Bay Weekly reader complains that her apple trees have not produced any fruit during the five years that she has had them in her garden. All five, she told me, are of the same variety: golden delicious trees. She was told that for the trees to produce fruit, she needed to plant more than one tree. Since her preference was for Golden Delicious, that is what she purchased and planted.

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Your plants can’t tell you what they need; a soil test can

I recently received photographs of dead and dying plants along with soil test results sent by a Bay Weekly reader. The reader had sent numerous plant samples to a university for analysis only to be told that the injury was due to a fungus. As I studied the photographs, I could not identify a fungus that would cause such symptoms, so I requested a complete soil analysis.
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Rather than gimicks, test your soil for a ­productive garden

On a Saturday morning garden show, a caller was advised to plant long-stemmed tomato plants deep. Supposedly, burying the stems deep in the garden soil forces the plant to produce new roots along the stem, resulting in a stronger plant. I strongly disagree.
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For a stronger lawn, keep the height at 3 or 4 inches

For years I have recommended cutting fescue and bluegrass lawns to a height no less than three inches, even better four inches, for a stronger, weed-free lawn. Many people object to this height and cannot understand why I insist. The answer is simple.
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Or hire goats to do the job

A Bay Weekly reader recently asked me how he could clear away the underbrush in woods surrounding his home without using weed killers. It can be done with persistence and perseverance.
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How to transplant bedding plants

Are you one of those gardeners who is much too careful about disturbing roots of bedding plants when transplanting them into the garden?
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Woody ornamentals need ­periodic rejuvenation to stay healthy and productive

It’s never too late to whack that buddleia down to the ground, even though it is flushing new growth. One of my butterfly shrubs was getting so large that in early March I cut the stump close to the ground with a chainsaw. Already the new growth is 18 to 24 inches tall with an abundance of young shoots coming from the roots.
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Never use horse manure without composting it first

The proliferation of horse farms in southern Maryland has resulted in owners convincing their friends and neighbors that horse manure is great for the garden. After one experience with using horse manure in the garden, you’ll discover that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.
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When moving trees and shrubs, if you interfere with one, leave the other alone

When you’re transplanting a tree or shrub, leave the branches alone. Once upon a time, gardening wisdom advised pruning back the branches to compensate for the roots lost when the plant was dug. I have been convinced for some time that this practice had been laid to rest, until I recently heard a garden expert on the radio recommend it to a listener who had called for advice.
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And cut out all stems infested by cane borers

Roses need to be pruned yearly to keep the plants strong and healthy. Now is the time to prune summer-flowering roses. Wait to prune spring-flowering roses until after they have flowered.
    Hybrid T and floribunda roses in the ground five years or less should be pruned to within 12 inches of the graft union.

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