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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

Meet the newest winner of the Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Research Grant

Sarah Zastrow, the 2011 recipient of the Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Research Grant, is a senior at the University of Maryland Plant Science department. Sarah will be working on a very interesting project comparing the rejuvenation of a forest destroyed by a tornado to the rejuvenation of a similar forest harvested for lumber at approximately the same time.

Peaches don’t like them any better than we do

Perfect-looking peaches will be hard to find this summer. Stinkbugs are already spoiling the fruit.

But you’ve got to keep the weeds out

It is surprising how many gardeners have approached me with questions regarding controlling weeds in their asparagus beds. I am glad to see a growing number of gardeners growing asparagus because it is a crop that you have to plant only once for many years’ harvest. It is a delicious vegetable that can be grilled, steamed, marinated or smothered with Hollandaise sauce or cheese. This year I planted a new bed of an only-male purple variety.

It’s about time lawn fertilizers were regulated; they’re waging chemical warfare on the Bay

Most of Maryland’s soils are acid. Unless they are limed every three to five years, they are generally too acid for optimum growth, so that any fertilizer applied is wasted and finds its way into the Bay. During the many lectures I give, I always ask who in the audience have had their soil tested in the last five years. I’m lucky to find even a few. Horticulture is a science, not a game for guessing or intuition.

Nasty smells and fake snakes do the trick

Solutions to the perpetual problem of protecting your favorite plants from deer, rabbits, groundhogs and squirrels are on the shelves of your local garden center or farm supply. There are two materials on the market that I have tested and found effective, providing you follow directions carefully. They are Liquid Fence and Repels-All by Shot Gun. Both contain some of the same ingredients, with the exception that Repels-All adds dried blood.

Before Maryland had its Master Gardener program, there was the Bay Gardener

Back in the mid-1970s, I was the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s specialist in ornamental horticulture, providing technical assistance to nursery, greenhouse, Christmas tree and landscape contracting industries.

Cut it to the ground now, and be ready to spray it come fall

I’ve written here before about how to control bamboo, and kudzu, too. The column was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, and I received mail from all over the country from readers requesting more information. I also received several letters criticizing me for recommending the use of Roundup (glyphosate).

Clump is good; common is bad

Bamboo comes in two basic forms, clump and common. Unless you are prepared to build barriers to restrict the spread of common bamboo, use only clump bamboo for landscaping.

Fertilizers alone cannot do it

I was recently asked to prepare recommendations for the maintenance of a large property with lawns and gardens. While I was evaluating the property, I observed one of the maintenance men on a tractor pulling an aerator followed by a steel roller filled with water. I immediately advised the owner to get rid of that apparatus.

Don’t rototill or cultivate yet

Rototilling, cultivating or even walking on wet soil destroys its structure. Yes spring is here, but frequent rains are keeping our gardens wet. There is a tendency for many beginning gardeners to spade or till when soils are sometimes muddy. But when wet soils are disturbed, the soil’s structure is destroyed, and it then dries with large, hard lumps.     You will also destroy the soil’s structure if you work it when it is bone dry.