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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Composting returns all those nutrients to the garden

The soil in my first garden at Upakrik Farm in 1991 was mostly hard clods of silt. Because I have added liberal amounts of compost over the past 19 years, my soil is now loose, friable and highly productive. I attribute the change entirely to the use of compost.

They’re Mother Nature’s mulch

In the fall, I hate to see black plastic bags full of leaves lining streets. Next spring, I’m likely to see empty bags of mulch, peat moss and fertilizer waiting to be collected by the solid waste municipal workers. Of all the 42 years that I have owned a home in Maryland, I have never discarded leaves. Nor have I ever purchased a bag of mulch.

The Bay Gardener’s favorite side dishes

Like the Native Americans and the Pilgrims who learned from them, the Gouin family is sustained by our garden throughout the winter. I’m happy to share with you some of the ways we enjoy winter vegetables on Thanksgiving — and all season long.   Fall Vegetable Dishes If you had planted seeds or transplanted Brussels sprout seedlings in mid- to late-July …

He’s the 2010 Francis R. Gouin Scholarship winner

Brian Murphy, winner of the 2010 Francis R. Gouin Scholarship Grant, is helping solve the problem of storing peaches. With advisor Dr. Chris Walsh, he is conducting research on improving the quality of peaches in storage.

Let the stalks yellow before cutting

A Bay Weekly reader called asking when to cut back asparagus tops. Not yet! To maximize next year’s crop and to get early production of sprouts, delay cutting back the tops of asparagus plants until after they have turned completely yellow. You want all the nitrogen in the stems and foliage to migrate back to the roots in the ground.

Test and treat your plants before bringing them in

A friend told me the leaves of her Ficus benjamina are covered with black soot. I suspected that the plant had been infected with a soft-scale insect that exudes a honeydew substance that breeds sooty mold. However, upon examining the plant, I saw it was severely infested with spider mites. If you moved your houseplants outside for summer, there is a good possibility that they are infested with spider mites.

Give each plant room, and you’ll eat bigger, better vegetables

 

You’ll love persimmons — once you learn the to eat them

Now that I have returned to the Deale Farmers’ Market Thursdays from 3 to 6pm with persimmons, I get lots of questions: What do you do with persimmons? What do they taste like? The persimmons I grow and sell are the Asian type, almost as large as tomatoes and with very few seeds, if any, depending on seasonal conditions. This year, persimmons have more seeds than usual.

Southern Maryland gardens want native yellow river birch

 

But thanks to sycamore anthracnose, they are suffering and won’t fill out until this summer