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Gardening

The underground story

Did you know that your bare garden soil is losing its nutrients to winter?     That’s just what’s happening in your vegetable garden unless you planted a cover crop last fall. And in your flower garden, unless it’s planted with perennials or woody plants.     Here’s the underground story.

Potted outdoor plants need cold-hardy roots to survive winter

Did you know that the roots of plants are not as cold-hardy as the stems and branches? What’s more, the roots of different plant species are killed at different temperatures. This is information you need to know when selecting plants for growing in above-ground containers that are to remain outdoors all year long.

Knowledge makes power

The horticultural green industries — nursery, landscaping and greenhouse crops — are the second largest agricultural industry, second to poultry in Maryland and third in the nation. With home gardening the number one hobby, it is no wonder that the demand for trained horticulturists is so high.       Gardening is therapeutic, and those who partake in it realize great satisfaction from watching plants grow as well as enjoying the flowers, fruits or vegetables they produce.

Put these tools — not useless ­garden gadgets — under the ­Christmas tree

I hope you had a laugh over my column on useless garden gadgets two weeks back. This week I’m turning serious, suggesting useful tools the gardeners on your holiday shopping list will want and use.

Decking your halls, from trees to poinsettias

Buy a Fresh, Safe Christmas Tree     For the freshest Christmas trees, buy locally from a Christmas tree grower’s lot or cut your own. Otherwise, you could be buying an imported tree cut in late October or early November.     Fresh-cut Douglas fir, Scots pine and blue spruce are the most fire-safe Christmas tree species, ranked by the State Fire Marshal based on research conducted by the Bay Gardener in cooperation with the Maryland Christmas Tree Growers.

Good for laughs but not much else

Here’s my short list of useless gadgetry to avoid as you shop for the gardeners on your holiday list.

At Thanksgiving, this year’s garden continues giving

This year’s garden was one of my most productive in recent years, despite its late start as I recovered from a fall last November. With help from family members, including grandchildren, the garden was planted in mid-May.     Even so, we harvested nearly a bushel of onions, which were braided and hung in the garage until recently. This year’s turkey stuffing will contain those garden-grown onions. The Crocket snap bean crop was outstanding, as was the harvest from the yard-long Gita pole bean plants.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem

Think again if you think shade trees pretty much care for themselves.     In the forest, where trees care for themselves, fewer than one percent of seedlings grow to become marketable trees.

Now’s the season, so do it right

Mistakes made when planting shade trees grow up to haunt you. Mistake 1: Choosing the wrong tree for the wrong place.     Research the nature and habits of the species you want to plant. Do those qualities match the place you want to plant it and the job you want it to do? Mistake 2: Planting too close to buildings, driveways, sidewalks or driveways.

Straw-Bale Gardening Works