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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Evergreens to welcome home — and those to avoid

As Christmas approaches, it’s time to bring fresh greens, with their piney aromas, into your home. Here in Bay Country, we have an abundance of evergreens to choose from. Many will last through the season, even without water. Others dry up too quickly to come inside.

Gardening tools you can grow with

Fellow gardeners often ask me which gardening tools are my favorites. In case you’re shopping for one of those gardeners, here’s my list. I don’t stint on price because I want quality tools that last.     The Weed Bandit hoe is my favorite because of its long rake handle and stainless steel head with a corrugated blade that stays sharp. I like the small Weed Bandit for hoeing onions and closely spaced plants, and the medium blade Weed Bandit for all other weeding work.

A fresh-cut Douglas fir is the safest tree you can buy

Believe me when I say that not all Christmas trees are created equal. I know because I was assigned to set fires under the five most popular Christmas species.

We’re eating well and will be into spring

This year’s fall garden has been better than ever.     The August plantings of Contender and Crocket green beans each provided at least three pickings of the most tender and flavorful green beans we have ever enjoyed.

From asparagus to strawberries to tools, you’ve got a few more tasks

The gardening season is almost over, but there are some loose ends that need your attention.

Here’s your recipe for making them into rich compost

Don’t bag those leaves for the county to collect. Use them in making your own compost. It takes about a bushel of leaves to make a gallon of quality compost, which contains more nutrients and fiber than peat moss and is less acetic.

Pay for quick removal, or do it yourself slowly

Cutting down trees always leaves stumps that must either be removed or endured. The most common method of ridding your lawn of stumps is to grind it well below grade so that several inches of topsoil can be used for growing a lawn or garden.     Grinding a stump leaves wood chips that you can use as mulch on pathways and around deeply rooted trees and shrubs.

The Bay — and your garden — will thank you

Never leave your garden barren. As soon as you have finished harvesting the vegetables or flowers, plant another crop to prevent the soil from eroding or losing nutrients through leaching.     Soil devoid of vegetation is easily washed away and may find its way into the Bay. Plant roots save the soil by binding particles so they will not be washed away. The tops of plants minimize the impact of water droplets that can destroy soil structure and encourage erosion.

Leave the bugs outside

If you moved your houseplants outdoors last spring, this is the week to bring them in before the first frost.     But first you had better inspect them for bugs. One of the major problems associated with moving houseplants outdoors in warm weather is that they become exposed to a greater variety of insects generally not found indoors.     Examine the stems, tops and underside of leaves and flowers closely for both insects and egg masses. The most common insects are spider mites, aphids, spittlebugs, mealy bugs and scales.

Three ways to eliminate it and one way to grow it

Wet springs and summers bring moss. Mosses like to grow in cool moist places and on soils and organic matter tending to acidic.