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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Watering to keep your plants happy 

     More houseplants are killed by improper watering than by any other practice. Here are three faults to avoid in growing indoor plants year-round or over winter.   Fault 1: Too little water       If you add only enough water to wet the surface of the soil, the soil in the middle and at the bottom of the pot will be as dry as the Sahara dessert.

Hurry! Frost is expected Friday night

     Some houseplants have to be repotted every six months, while others can stay put for two or three years. Frequency of repotting also depends on container size, quality of care, productivity of the rooting medium and frequency of nutrient applications. 

Prevention is the surest cure

     Several Bay Weekly readers have contacted me lately concerning smelly fluid oozing from the trunks of older trees. One noticed it after seeing a large cluster of flies covering about a square foot of bark at the base of an oak tree.

Mulch now, and let the flowers form

     If you sheared your azaleas any time after August 15, expect very few flowers on those plants next spring. Flower bud initiation, which begins at the tips of the new growth, happens in late August into early September. Shearing the plants too near that time will not allow sufficient new growth for flower buds to develop. As daylight hours shorten, plants are shutting down to prepare for the cold winter months.

Mulch, mowers and weed wackers can be murder on trees

     I was recently called to diagnose the cause of death of some large dogwood trees. While visiting the site I also noticed that several maple trees and an ash tree were exhibiting dieback of branches. Closer examination of the stems near the ground indicated the bark had been destroyed.

This year’s roots and leaves will improve next year’s soil

     Don’t pull those annuals! When cleaning up the garden, either mow them down or prune them out. Allow the roots to remain in the ground to rot and leave behind nutrient-rich organic matter for next year’s crop. After the roots rot, they will leave behind tunnels for the roots of next year’s crop to follow penetrating deeper into the soil where there will be more water and nutrients.

Understanding plants' nutritional needs is the key to good gardening

     This year’s fruit on my American hollies is very heavy. That gives me a job to do. Unless I give them additional nitrogen by mid-September, their foliage will be yellow-green instead of a rich dark green that will better show off the bright red berries.
You’ll have to call in the big guns with poison ivy and English ivy
     Late summer is the best time to kill poison ivy and English ivy. As both of these species have extensive root systems capable of regenerating from pieces of roots, they are nearly impossible to eradicate by digging them out of the ground. The heavy wax covering the leaves makes them difficult to chemically eradicate as well. An exacerbating factor with poison ivy is that mature plants generate seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for years. Their potential germination adds to the frustration of complete eradication.
Try some of these gatekeepers
     Readers are complaining that rodents and deer are feasting in their gardens.       There is nothing like a good dog for keeping rabbits, groundhogs and deer out of the garden. Best is a dog that prefers staying out all night guarding the house and garden. Since we have had our dog Lusby, we have not had any four-legged pests feasting in the garden.      If you don’t have such a dog, I suggest a few remedies.

Our second season is at hand

     The vegetable gardening season is only half over. Now that you’ve harvested your beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and onions, it is time to plant beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce and peas.