view counter

The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

The Bay — and your garden — will thank you

Never leave your garden barren. As soon as you have finished harvesting the vegetables or flowers, plant another crop to prevent the soil from eroding or losing nutrients through leaching.     Soil devoid of vegetation is easily washed away and may find its way into the Bay. Plant roots save the soil by binding particles so they will not be washed away. The tops of plants minimize the impact of water droplets that can destroy soil structure and encourage erosion.

Leave the bugs outside

If you moved your houseplants outdoors last spring, this is the week to bring them in before the first frost.     But first you had better inspect them for bugs. One of the major problems associated with moving houseplants outdoors in warm weather is that they become exposed to a greater variety of insects generally not found indoors.     Examine the stems, tops and underside of leaves and flowers closely for both insects and egg masses. The most common insects are spider mites, aphids, spittlebugs, mealy bugs and scales.

Three ways to eliminate it and one way to grow it

Wet springs and summers bring moss. Mosses like to grow in cool moist places and on soils and organic matter tending to acidic.

The right way is easier, ­cheaper and Bay-friendly

A Bay Weekly reader e-mailed me a flier titled Fall Lawn Maintenance: How to Outdo the Joneses.     The first recommendation is to cut the lawn as short as possible to avoid problems with snow mold.     However, snow mold is not a problem in southern Maryland.     The same day I heard a so called-garden expert recommend scalping the lawn in the fall so that the grass will grow more roots.

Water now to prevent winter damage

The drought we’re experiencing can cause significant bark injury to young trees with smooth bark if you don’t take immediate action and water them thoroughly. This is the time of year that trees have started to go dormant in preparation for winter. It is also their last opportunity to absorb the water they need to carry them through the winter.

Now’s the time to get to work, says the Bay Gardener

Feeling less than pride and joy in your lawn?     September is a great month for establishing and repairing lawns. Here’s how to get started now on growing rich, green, weed-free grass in 2014. 1. Test Your Soil     How’s your lawn doing?     There’s no way to know without soil testing. Fertilize without testing, and you’re not only throwing your money away but also polluting the Bay.

Bulbs planted deep now will give you a big show come spring

Recommendations for planting bulbs using bulb augers or planters bother me. Most instructions advise planting large bulbs six inches deep and small bulbs and corms three inches deep.     If you want your bulbs, especially tulip bulbs, to flourish year after year, ignore those recommendations and take the shovel to the garden — as well as a bag or two of compost and some agricultural-grade limestone.

Procrastination will lead to failure

Garden centers are showing bulbs of tulips, narcissus, daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths and leucojum, as well as corms of crocuses. Home mailboxes have been filled with the fall catalogs of bulb companies.     You may not be in the mood for planting bulbs, but now is the time. The earlier you plant in the fall, the bigger the flowers will be come spring. This is especially true for tulips. The bigger the bulb, the bigger the flower. What’s more, tulips planted in early fall in well-prepared soil will flower for several years.

Plus you can share your hostas and lilies with friends

Late summer and early fall is a great time to divide and share your hosta and day lily plants with friends and neighbors while reducing over-crowding in the garden.     One of the big advantages of growing hosta and day lilies is that once they are established, they require little attention. Hostas perform at their best in light shade, but they will tolerate full sun, resulting in more flowers, while day lilies are at their best in full sun.

Act now or they’ll devour your narrow-leafed evergreens

Keep your eyes open and you’ll notice large sections of brown foliage in arborvitae, junipers, Leland cypress and pines. Look closely and you’ll see thousands of bagworms dangling from the branches.