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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Plant seedlings now to eat well through September

Okra is the rare annual that performs best when the heat is on. I generally delay planting until late July, which allows the plants to grow at maximum speed and provides a full harvest into September.

It takes Mother Nature centuries to make fertile soil; with compost you can make it in days

Topsoil is a nebulous word. It means the top layer of soil. When ordering topsoil, you need to be more specific. If you need to import soil to change the grade of the landscape, the imported soil needs to be similar in texture to the existing soil. Never cover a sandy soil with a clay or silt soil or cover a clay or silt soil with a sandy one. Importing the wrong soil will cause drainage problems.

Light falls; growth happens

            Plant successions occur regularly in the forest. More vigorously growing plants shade out the slower-growing species. Shade-tolerant species occupy the forest floor. The lower limbs on trees in a mature forest do not exist because they have been shaded out, often early in the forest’s development. The result is tall trees with clean trunks. In the absence of branches, the trunks increase in diameter because new sapwood is formed where branches once protruded.

Your growing plants get hungry, too, as they start to produce

Tomatoes and peppers need your immediate attention if you hope to harvest a bumper crop.     By now your tomato, eggplant and pepper plants have clusters of fruit clinging at the lower branches with flowers initiating new younger fruit in the middle branches. Now is the time to provide them with additional nutrition and prevent blossom-end rot.

Plants have different feeding needs

Landscaping is an odd agricultural industry in that many different species of plants grow as near neighbors. To achieve desired effects, you might plant azaleas near junipers or yews and rhododendrons in close proximity to viburnums or tulips or lilies.

They're convenient, can be planted early and give higher yields

    If your soil does not drain well and gardening is in your blood, you should build raised beds. If your land is sloping severely, terraces  will help prevent erosion. Terraces are essentially raised beds using existing soil,  and are quite common in many Asian countries and in South America.

Some plants want one, some the other

Anybody can shear plants, but not everybody can prune plants properly. Black and Decker, Stihl, Echo and other manufacturers of hedge clippers have caused many landscapes to look alike. Foundation plantings are shaped into cones, balls, cylinders or squares. Sheared plants lose their identity and begin to look alike regardless of species.

Homage to a father who greatly influenced my life

At a 120 pounds wet out of the bathtub, my dad, Romeo Joseph Gouin, was made of skin, bone, muscle and tendons but no fat.

Homage to a father who greatly influenced my life

      At 120 pounds wet out of the bathtub, my dad, Romeo Joseph Gouin, was made of skin, bone, muscle and tendons, but no fat.

Mother Nature takes care of her own

      I am frequently asked what kind of fertilizers should I use for hollies? … yews? … roses? … azaleas and rhododendrons? Fertilizer manufacturers have brainwashed the public into believing each species of plant requires a special fertilizer.