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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

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.

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.