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Mulch now, and let the flowers form

     If you sheared your azaleas any time after August 15, expect very few flowers on those plants next spring. Flower bud initiation, which begins at the tips of the new growth, happens in late August into early September. Shearing the plants too near that time will not allow sufficient new growth for flower buds to develop. As daylight hours shorten, plants are shutting down to prepare for the cold winter months.
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Research is what you call it when you’re not catching

      Thumbing the spool, I cast my lure just off a placid riprapped Chesapeake Bay shoreline. The morning had been perfect for surface plugging to cruising rockfish: The tide was in flood stage, there was little wind and the water was 66 degrees. Yet there were no fish.
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Mulch, mowers and weed wackers can be murder on trees

     I was recently called to diagnose the cause of death of some large dogwood trees. While visiting the site I also noticed that several maple trees and an ash tree were exhibiting dieback of branches. Closer examination of the stems near the ground indicated the bark had been destroyed.
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Follow the birds to find the action

     We were at warp speed approaching Man O’ War Shoals, a large oyster reef that stretches for over two miles some distance southeast of Baltimore’s Key Bridge. Col. Dennis Robinson’s 20-foot Sea Hunt center console was barely touching the water as we covered the distance to the wheeling and diving gulls that had located feeding rockfish there.
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This year’s roots and leaves will improve next year’s soil

     Don’t pull those annuals! When cleaning up the garden, either mow them down or prune them out. Allow the roots to remain in the ground to rot and leave behind nutrient-rich organic matter for next year’s crop. After the roots rot, they will leave behind tunnels for the roots of next year’s crop to follow penetrating deeper into the soil where there will be more water and nutrients.
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We’re not the only ones that bite at that delicacy

     Flipping my bait over the side, I spooled out line, letting my bait disappear into the shaded depths and off the down-current side of the Bay Bridge pier. The tide had been moving for under an hour; the gentle current was just slow enough to allow my hook to sink to where I hoped the rockfish were holding.
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Understanding plants' nutritional needs is the key to good gardening

     This year’s fruit on my American hollies is very heavy. That gives me a job to do. Unless I give them additional nitrogen by mid-September, their foliage will be yellow-green instead of a rich dark green that will better show off the bright red berries.
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As daylight and temperatures drop, fish alter their feeding habits

     Fishing, especially for rockfish, is about to get better. Decreasing temperatures mean that baitfish of all types —peanut bunker, silversides, anchovies, spot, yearling white perch and baby croaker — are moving toward deeper water.
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Don’t give up on that missed strike

      I sent the Rat-L-Trap sailing out over the water in the longest cast I could manage. Pausing for a slow four-count to allow the lure to sink near the bottom, five feet down, I began the retrieve with long upward sweeps of my rod, followed by brief pauses to allow the lure to descend back toward the bottom.
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You’ll have to call in the big guns with poison ivy and English ivy
     Late summer is the best time to kill poison ivy and English ivy. As both of these species have extensive root systems capable of regenerating from pieces of roots, they are nearly impossible to eradicate by digging them out of the ground. The heavy wax covering the leaves makes them difficult to chemically eradicate as well. An exacerbating factor with poison ivy is that mature plants generate seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for years....