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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Thanks to my garden, we eat fresh and well all year long

This year’s fall vegetable garden has been a success.

Whatever you call them, plant them now for spring blooms

Jonquils, daffodils, narcissus: Which is what?     Narcissus and daffodils are one and the same, according to the Encyclopedia of Horticulture, the bible of the horticultural industry. Jonquils, however, are a sub-species of narcissus.

If you want big blooms that last more than one season, you’ll need to dig deep

This is bulb-planting time. But if you plant tulips following the package instructions, the plant will reach its full potential only in the first year. That’s because those instructions were written for growing tulips in cooler regions. Here in Southern Maryland, tulip bulbs should be planted at least two inches deeper than recommended by the distributors.

Cloned seedlings on sale now

Seedlings of the Wye Oak are once again offered for sale by Maryland Department of Natural Resources. I myself can guarantee that these are truly seedlings of the original Wye Oak, as I started cloning them in the late 1990s before the Wye Oak was destroyed by high winds 2002. It normally takes 28 to 32 years for oak seedlings to mature and start producing acorns. Clones are quicker. I produced 33 Wye Oak clones, which started producing acorns within eight to 10 years.

Damp-loving needle cast disease thriving this year

Most narrow-leaf evergreens will shed their old needles, some more often than others. In the fall each year, you can anticipate that white pine, Virginia pine, red pine etc. will develop yellowing needles that fall and accumulate on the ground beneath the branches. Evergreens such as arborvitae, chamaecyparis, Leyland cypress and white cedar trees will also shed their needles but at a much slower rate.

Marble chips and bluestone look good, but your plants won’t like them

I recently drove by a modest home that was well landscaped with a moderate collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and Japanese hollies in the foundation planting. The junipers in the planting were thriving, while the remaining plants appeared chlorotic with dying branches. The house was dark green, and the white marble-chip mulch highlighted the plants.

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.

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.

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.

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.     I have seen many people, including arborists, bolt these trees back together. It may seem that the operation was a success. But within eight to 10 years, the patient will have developed a good case of heart rot, and the tree will become a hazard.