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Gardening

They’re building strength for a fall assault

Bay Weekly readers are asking me where the stinkbugs are.     Stinkbugs may not have plagued you this summer, but I can assure you that they are building their population.     After my fall, I have not been able to spray my few remaining peach trees or my vegetable garden. Surveying the peach trees, I could not find one peach that had not been infested with stinkbug stings. Every remaining peach was cat-faced from stings, with several stinkbugs actively feeding on them.

Acid-loving plants need iron but rusting metal won’t help

A Bay Weekly reader told me he throws a handful of nails in the bottom of each planting hole whenever he plants trees or shrubs. The tradition has been handed down from grandpa to grandson. The purpose, he says, is “to provide an adequate supply of iron to the roots, of course.”     He could not tell me if nail size, such as ten-penny, finish nails or shoe tacks, made any difference. He had no preference for rusty nails or new nails.

How to grow a garden to suit many tastes

Quite a few plants love acid soils. Andromeda, azaleas, blueberries, leucothoe, mountain laurel and rhododendrons, bald and pond cypress, deciduous hollies, false heather, heather, Japanese hollies, mountain silverbell, oaks, partridge berry and sour gum love acid soils.     Such plants demand soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5.

Time to transplant azaleas and other acid-loving plants

Mid-August to early October is the time to transplant azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel, andromeda, leucothoe and blueberries.     What do blueberries have to do with azaleas and these other landscaping plants?     By Aug­ust, all have stopped producing top growth and are now making root growth. Transplanting them at this time of year enables the plants to become well established before the ground freezes.

Garden in the evening cool

Gardening in the heat of the day is unhealthy. It’s one of those stresses those of us with gray or white hair in particular are told repeatedly to avoid during these hot muggy days when orange alert air pollution levels are anticipated.     But did you know that gardening in the heat of the day also promotes the germination of weed seeds and the growth of weeds?

If you’ve ever wanted your own fresh eggs, Michele Allman can help you decide if keeping hens is for you

I am not alone in imagining chickens in my back yard. Backyard flocks are on the upswing in suburban and urban America, Chesapeake Country included. Why, the state’s capital allows city-dwellers to raise them.     I’d appreciate their weeding skills to keep the violets, dandelions, and chickweed in check and to work compost into the soil where I’d like to install new garden beds. Most of all, I’d like just-laid eggs, firm with bright orange yolks.

You need bees to get fruit, nuts and berries

At a recent garden club lecture, a member complained that she was not seeing apples on any of the five trees she planted three years ago. The trees were growing in full sun and had a full compliment of blooms this past spring. All were of the Golden Delicious variety.     Were any flowering crab apple trees in her area, I asked.     She was not aware of any.     That’s why her trees have no fruit.

Not too early for garlic

Gail Martinez of Fairhaven Cliffs reports with excitement harvesting the season’s first heads of garlic. Planted in fall and well composted, garlic puts its roots down before winter so it’s got a head start on the new year’s growing season.     The Bay Gardener suggests Martinez must have been out to harvest so soon. Prime harvest time for garlic nor onions is about usually in July, when the foliage dries out. Until then, the bulbs are swelling, he says. Upon full growth, each bulb forms a skin, called a tunic, that helps protect it in storage.

Gardening expert Rick Darke strives to create “liveable landscapes” using both natives and exotics

You won’t find the word invasive — at least in connection with plants — in gardener, award-winning author, photographer and consultant Rick Darke’s vocabulary. Meet him on March 2, when he makes the trek from his garden oasis in Pennsylvania to Annapolis, and you’ll hear about balancing natives and exotics in the garden. His talk and slide show come at just the right time for gardeners thinking about spring plantings.

Winter Cauliflower

I am at best a haphazard gardener. To my delight, I recently discovered these cauliflower, which I had given up for a loss, the leaves a lacy design after the insects had eaten their fill. I am amazed and feel the thrill of the winter gardener. I made cauliflower-cheese soup with this small head.     –Gail Martinez, Fairhaven