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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

They’re feasting in your garden and invading your home

A number of Farmers Market customers have complained to me about stinkbugs in their vegetable gardens, and many have brought me tomatoes and peppers marred by punctures from stinkbugs. Some of the tomatoes show the creased cat facing similar to what I have mentioned seeing on peaches. Other tomatoes exhibit a puncture mark with the surrounding tissues turning brown.

What’s the deal?

At the Thursday Deale Farmers Market, a number of Bay Weekly readers have asked what is causing so many trees to turn brown. This year the browning of leaves started in late June and has progressed rapidly. The browning has nothing to do with drought, which some people blame.     The black locust leaf miner is responsible.

What’s a farm without dogs and cats?

The Gouins have had five dogs and four cats. Yoder, our first dog, was an Appalachian beagle, from near Grantville in the Appalachian mountains. His mother was a beagle and the father, a neighbor’s dog. He was given the name Yoder, which is Mennonite, because we purchased his first dog food at Yoder’s meat market and locker.

I enjoy challenges in trying to solve plant problems, but I’ll need a full case history

A growing number of Bay Weekly readers are coming to the Thursday afternoon Deale Farmers Market with plants to be identified or with plant problems. I don’t mind interrupting sales of peaches to answer your questions. However, I find that I am not able to provide much assistance because many people bring only a leaf, a single flower or a photograph. Others try to describe the symptoms.

Trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials move best now

Many home gardeners wait until spring to transplant in their landscapes. But if perennial plants such as trees and shrubs could talk, they would tell you that August and September are the best times for transplanting.

Healthier plants mean more oxygen and a healthier you

While relaxing in my hammock under the shade of our mature cherry bark oak trees, I realized that my heritage river birch tree, growing in front on my house, was expressing air pollution symptoms. The older leaves were turning yellow and beginning to fall. I noticed similar symptoms on the magnolia and crape myrtle.

Lots more good can come from your garden

For a feast-full fall garden, now is the time for planning and planting. On the other hand, if you want to take it easy after your spring and summer harvests, then simply plant a cover crop of winter rye in those areas where the crops have been harvested.

Not until we compost everything, including Uncle Charlie

I’ve been chastised by a Bay Weekly reader for not supporting commercial organic farming. So I’m explaining my position. I have conducted research in composting and in compost utilization for more than 30 years, so I am very familiar with the limitations of organic farming.

Starting now, you can harvest what you’ll eat

If you planted long-day onions this spring, you will notice that they are forming bulbs. If you accidentally planted short-day onions, you will be feasting on onion tails for the rest of summer. Right now, both long-day onions such as Copra and First Edition and day-neutral onions like Candy are producing nice large bulbs. You can start harvesting them now, but since they are not mature, they won’t store well. Harvest only what you can eat.

The buyer needs to beware — and to be aware

To get the topsoil you want, you’ll have to be precise in your order.          Ask a sand and gravel company to bring a load of topsoil without any more specific instruction, and you may get more, or less, than you bargained for.