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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

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.

For fall flowering, first divide, then prune

If you purchased hardy flowering chrysanthemums for your garden last fall, most likely they have survived the winter, and the clumps are producing multiple stems. What was one plant last fall is now a plant with five to 15 stems originating from the stump. Some varieties of chrysanthemums produce from the root system, while other varieties produce multiple stems from above ground.     Get down on your hands and knees to examine the base of the plant.
If you are watering your lawn and garden with an overhead sprinkler during daylight hours, you are wasting water. Especially from 11am and 4pm, between 10 and 20 percent of the water you apply by over-head sprinkler is lost to evaporation.