The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Nasty smells and fake snakes do the trick

Solutions to the perpetual problem of protecting your favorite plants from deer, rabbits, groundhogs and squirrels are on the shelves of your local garden center or farm supply. There are two materials on the market that I have tested and found effective, providing you follow directions carefully. They are Liquid Fence and Repels-All by Shot Gun. Both contain some of the same ingredients, with the exception that Repels-All adds dried blood.

Before Maryland had its Master Gardener program, there was the Bay Gardener

Back in the mid-1970s, I was the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s specialist in ornamental horticulture, providing technical assistance to nursery, greenhouse, Christmas tree and landscape contracting industries.

Cut it to the ground now, and be ready to spray it come fall

I’ve written here before about how to control bamboo, and kudzu, too. The column was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, and I received mail from all over the country from readers requesting more information. I also received several letters criticizing me for recommending the use of Roundup (glyphosate).

Clump is good; common is bad

Bamboo comes in two basic forms, clump and common. Unless you are prepared to build barriers to restrict the spread of common bamboo, use only clump bamboo for landscaping.

Fertilizers alone cannot do it

I was recently asked to prepare recommendations for the maintenance of a large property with lawns and gardens. While I was evaluating the property, I observed one of the maintenance men on a tractor pulling an aerator followed by a steel roller filled with water. I immediately advised the owner to get rid of that apparatus.

Don’t rototill or cultivate yet

Rototilling, cultivating or even walking on wet soil destroys its structure. Yes spring is here, but frequent rains are keeping our gardens wet. There is a tendency for many beginning gardeners to spade or till when soils are sometimes muddy. But when wet soils are disturbed, the soil’s structure is destroyed, and it then dries with large, hard lumps.     You will also destroy the soil’s structure if you work it when it is bone dry.

Monthly dunkings will keep them moist all the way through

A reader called to ask if she could visit me with a large houseplant she purchased last summer. It was dropping most of its leaves, and the margins of the remaining leaves were turning brown.

These trees flourish after heavy pruning

Hollies can be butchered to near death and come back like gangbusters. Last year I did a pruning demonstration for a group of nurserymen to show how severely hollies could be pruned without killing them. I pruned American holly, Japanese holly and Burford holly.

Now’s the time to prepare your fruit trees and berry bushes

Fruit quality and size are based not on the amount or kind of fertilizer you apply but on how well you prune the plants in the spring before they bloom. You should be pruning your apple, peach, nectarine, apricot, pear and cherry trees now, as well as your blueberry, raspberry and blackberry shrubs.

Help needed in avoiding white core at tomato-ordering time

Have you ever sliced open a tomato and found one or two white spots, from the size of a pea to the size of a dime, in the flesh near the stem end of the fruit?     Several Bay Weekly readers have brought the problem to my attention, and it seems it was quite common this past summer in many home gardens. One home gardener noticed that the white core problem was rampant even when the plants were irrigated and asked why I had not written about it.