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Articles by Dr. Francis Gouin

Compost needs air and water

I heard a garden advisor on radio tell his listeners to compost their leaves in plastic bags rather than placing them on the curb for pick-up by the municipality. Put the leaves in the plastic bag and dump in a pitcher of warm water with two to three packages of bakers yeast dissolved in the liquid, he advised.
    I hope no one listened.
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Here’s how to plant them

Pansies give the garden fall, winter and early spring color. Breeders have provided us with a great array of colorful varieties to choose from. These hearty flowers are one of the few plant species with light- and dark-blue flowers. In addition to solid colors — yellow, brown, purple and reddish-brown — my favorite cultivar, the Pacific Giant, includes blooms with brown monkey faces in their center.
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Follow my advice, and you’ll get years of big flowers

In New Hampshire where I grew up, tulips were a perennial crop. A single planting would last many years, producing large, beautiful flowers year after year. Here in Southern Maryland, tulips are generally grown as an ­annual crop.
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Big flowers spring from well-developed roots

Don’t wait for the ground to cool before planting spring-flowering bulbs. The sooner you plant in the fall, the longer they will survive and the better they will bloom. Gardeners who wait to purchase their bulbs at end-of-the-year sales are likely to see smaller flowers and smaller plants next spring. If buying from open bins, you are also likely to be purchasing smaller bulbs because the larger ones have already been taken....

Plants of the Chesapeake Bay
 

In Plants of the Chesapeake Bay, John Hopkins University Press has just published what I consider the most comprehensive and well-illustrated field guide. Lytton John Musselman and David A. Knepper’s 217-page book has outstanding color pictures and descriptions of wildflowers, grasses, aquatic vegetation, trees, shrubs and other flora. It also organizes the plants in communities within the Bay region.
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Gita is my recommendation

A Bay Weekly reader complained to me that she has not been able to harvest string beans all summer long.
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Here’s how to help your plants avoid self-strangulation

When I visit friends’ homes, being asked to diagnose plant problems is not uncommon. I entered one friend’s front door only to be escorted outside to diagnose the cause of a groundcover juniper’s death. My friend had planted three junipers in 2009; one had died in June.
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Save your soil with a cover crop

If you are not planning a fall vegetable garden, it’s worth your while to consider a cover crop of rye or winter wheat. Your corn, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and pepper plants may not have used all of the nutrients in the soil....

Get a soil test, and I’ll write you a free prescription for what to do next

If your lawn is just so-so and you want to make it look like a professional lawn next year, now is the time to take action.
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They’ll taste great come winter

Are you being flooded with tomatoes? My neighbors are willing to take their share but they can take only so many. If you enjoy canning, make catsup, salsa, tomato juice, stewed tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. I have and still have tomatoes to spare.
    I fry green tomatoes by dredging them through a mixture of corn meal and Old Bay prior to frying in olive oil. Fried red tomatoes are also a favorite for some.
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