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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

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. 

Cut it tall and let it fall to limit ­fertiziler and weed-killer needs

       Greenish brown water stained by algae flows into the Bay from a tributary surrounded by lush green lawns. Seeing that, as I did in a recent photo, tells me the algae bloom is the result of excess nitrogen running off or leaching into the water from the applications of lawn fertilizers.       Nitrogen is the most soluble nutrient in lawn fertilizers. What is not absorbed by grass roots leaches down into the ground and finds its way into the Bay.

There’s more to this field than just lawns and gardens

       Landscape architects do more than design outdoor space for homes and businesses. 

There’s a future in horticulture

       Horticulture is the second largest income-producing agricultural industry in the state of Maryland and the third in the nation. There’s way more to this field than digging holes or filling pots. Horticulture is an evolving science. The efficient production of fruits and vegetables, 60 percent of our daily diet, requires a thorough knowledge of plant and soil sciences as well as tons of experience.

Over-fertilizing with this element will cut your crop yield and worse

      Horticulture is a science. It is not based on intuition, feelings, grandpa or great grandma. When I started college and my career, horticulture professors often would say that 25 percent of what we know is based on science, 25 on hearsay and 50 percent on experience,         Today the saying goes: 50 percent of what we know is based on science, 25 percent on experience and 25 percent on hearsay. We have come a long way since 1956.

Aeration and compost beat fertilizer this time of year

       If you cut your grass with a riding lawnmower or your lawn is a frequently used playground, most likely the soil is compacted and the turf would benefit from a good aeration. The purpose of aeration is to loosen the soil to improve both drainage and air flow. Grass roots breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. This is entirely opposite of what leaves do.

That’s another job for compost

      Compost is well known as an amendment for formulating potting blends and improving the productivity of soils. Less well known is its efficiency as a filter.        As an air filter, mature compost is helpful in the break down of biosolids and other odoriferous materials. Large commercial composting facilities force air through the compost piles to hasten the process. To filter the air, the ends of the exhaust pipe are covered with compost.