view counter

The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Here’s how I know which to trust

In winter’s grip, there is nothing like a good nursery and seed catalog, full of colorful pictures of thriving plants, to put you in the mood for digging in the soil. These books may even encourage you to build a small greenhouse or hot bed to get started early.     Which is why mailboxes fill up with seed and nursery catalogs this time of year.     I receive many more catalogs than I keep because I discard those with altered images or illustrations to describe what they have to offer.

Give them light, but go easy on water and fertilizer

In winter’s short daylight hours and cooler temperatures, houseplants require less watering and fertilizing. But they don’t want to be neglected. In winter and early spring, give plants as much light as possible. Even placing them near a lit lamp during evening hours will help considerably in keeping good health. Incandescent bulbs consume more energy, but because they emit red light waves that can be absorbed by the chlorophyll in the leaves, they are better for plants than LED or florescent bulbs.

What will happen come May?

Cherry trees starting to bloom, tulip and narcissus bulbs sprouting foliage and forsythia starting to show yellow. The record-high December temperatures are raising questions about many plants. Hardly a week passes without concerned neighbors or Bay Weekly readers questioning me. My answer thus far has been to leave things alone and wait to see what happens in the spring.

A healthy garden for a healthy life

Gardening is the most popular of all hobbies, and for good reason. Gardening gives you hours of relaxation and great satisfaction. It is good exercise. It forces you to go outside, bringing you closer to nature. It can be enjoyed by all ages. Getting children interested in gardening can have life-long consequences. On the other hand, you are never too old to start.     Dorothy Frances Gurney, a poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, says it all in God’s Garden:     The kiss of the sun for pardon;

Turns out the jolly old elf is a ­gardener himself

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the yard The branches were bare and the ground frozen hard. The roses were dormant and mulched all around; To protect them from damage if frost heaves the ground. The perennials were nestled all snug in their beds While visions of compost danced in their heads. The new-planted shrubs had been soaked by the hose To settle their roots for the long ­winter’s doze. And out on the lawn, the new fallen snow Protected the roots of the grasses below.

Control winter weeds now, as they’ll be bigger come spring

Winter annual weeds tend to sneak up on you.     Have you looked at your garden lately? When you do, don’t be surprised if you see a green carpet being woven by winter annual weeds. Annual bluegrass, chickweed, cranesbill and henbit are pretty small now. But if you don’t get out there and control them, they will be much larger next spring.

From boxwood to white pine, you have many evergreen choices

Here in Bay Country, we have an abundance of evergreen plants to choose from. Many — but not all — narrowleaf greens will hold their needles if you treat them right, while adding beauty and aroma to your home. For long-lasting holiday greens, gather arborvitae, Canaan fir, Douglas fir, junipers, Nordman red cedar, red pine, Scots pine and white pine.

Gardening tools you can count on

Shopping for a gardener? Don’t skimp on price; buy quality tools that last.     These are my long-time favorites:     A Japanese gardener’s knife is especially valuable for dividing perennials in the spring. The blade, about two inches wide, is cupped for digging. I also use my Japanese gardener’s knife in place of a trowel for planting. One edge of its blade is saw-toothed, while the other can be sharpened. I carry it in a sheath attached to my belt.

Here’s how to keep your tree fresh, green and safe

A freshly cut Christmas tree that is properly cared for is a fire-safe Christmas tree.     Every year, many house fires are caused by Christmas trees. Avoid such a tragedy by following a few simple rules.     The freshest cut Christmas tree is the one you cut yourself. Thus the advantage of tree farms where you can make selecting and cutting your Christmas tree a family affair.

Since plastic leaf bags aren’t biodegradable, their residue will remain in the soil for eternity

Use wet-strength paper bags in place of plastic bags for curbside yard debris collection: That’s the plea of the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works.