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Articles by Dr. Francis Gouin

Irene and Lee enriched your piles

Have you noticed how quickly your compost pile has shrunk now that the rain has stopped? The umpteen inches of rain between Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee provided uniform watering to exposed compost piles. This surplus water promoted rapid decomposition by microorganisms and encouraged earthworms to invade the piles.
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Pick them and squish them. Carefully.

A visitor came to Upakrik Farm recently with an arborvitae branch containing at least 20 fully mature female bagworms. What can I spray them with? he asked. He appeared shocked when I told him nothing.
    He insisted that the bagworms had just appeared, for he had not seen them before. I told him that the bagworms had been feeding on his plant all summer long but that he had not noticed them.
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Without a soil test, you can’t know what your lawn needs

Fall is the season to renew your lawn. Earlier this month, I advised you that lime is the best treatment you can give to your lawn. Now, I’m cautioning you that fertilizing your lawn may well be counterproductive.
    If you have been applying conventional lawn fertilizers for years, most likely you are wasting your money and contributing to the pollution of the Bay.
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Don’t bother trying to put them back together

Irene left us many trees with split trunks. Splitting occurs mostly on shade trees with narrow crotches. Narrow crotches are weak and break easily when strong winds whip the branches back and forth.
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You can’t stick those root balls back in the ground

If Irene pushed over a tree in your landscape, chances are it will never recover, so it is best that you remove it and replace it. Over the years, I have seen many home gardeners and arborists try to rescue toppled trees by bracing them. However, I have never seen full recoveries, even after the trees have been braced for several years....

Lime is inexpensive and the best boost for your lawn

The lawn is the pride and joy of many homeowners. Treat it right and you can keep it that way.
    If you have not had the soil under your lawn tested in the past three years or more, most likely it is quite acid. If so, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by applying lime in place of fertilizer.
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They’re feasting in your garden and invading your home

A number of Farmers Market customers have complained to me about stinkbugs in their vegetable gardens, and many have brought me tomatoes and peppers marred by punctures from stinkbugs. Some of the tomatoes show the creased cat facing similar to what I have mentioned seeing on peaches. Other tomatoes exhibit a puncture mark with the surrounding tissues turning brown.
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What’s the deal?

At the Thursday Deale Farmers Market, a number of Bay Weekly readers have asked what is causing so many trees to turn brown. This year the browning of leaves started in late June and has progressed rapidly. The browning has nothing to do with drought, which some people blame.
    The black locust leaf miner is responsible.
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What’s a farm without dogs and cats?

The Gouins have had five dogs and four cats. Yoder, our first dog, was an Appalachian beagle, from near Grantville in the Appalachian mountains. His mother was a beagle and the father, a neighbor’s dog. He was given the name Yoder, which is Mennonite, because we purchased his first dog food at Yoder’s meat market and locker.
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I enjoy challenges in trying to solve plant problems, but I’ll need a full case history

A growing number of Bay Weekly readers are coming to the Thursday afternoon Deale Farmers Market with plants to be identified or with plant problems. I don’t mind interrupting sales of peaches to answer your questions. However, I find that I am not able to provide much assistance because many people bring only a leaf, a single flower or a photograph....