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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Francis Gouin

We didn’t grow our own celery, olives or turkey

This year, our garden will be providing butternut squash, onions, garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and red and green peppers for the Thanksgiving table. We might include sauerkraut that was made and canned in 2010. If needed we could also include Siberian kale and collard greens, but I prefer roasted Brussels sprouts.

More Bugs: Soft-shell scale, mealy bugs, spittle bugs, spider mites and cyclamen mites

A number of insects feed unnoticed on houseplants until perplexing changes alert you. Yellowing leaves are often seen as an indication that the plant is hungry and needs a dose of fertilizer. Yellowing leaves can also mean soft-shell scale insects are feeding on your rubber tree, crotons, philodendrons or related foliage plants. In sufficient numbers, these insects can cause leaves to turn yellow and appear deficient in nutrients.     Look for scale insects on stems, veins in leaves and leaf tissues between the veins.

Bug 1: Wax Scale

One of the problems of moving houseplants outdoors during the summer months is that they often become infested with insects. You’ll want to control those bugs before bringing your plants back indoors.     A Bay Weekly reader sent me a sample of Christmas cactus that had been outdoors along with her other houseplants. She wrote that the plant had not been growing and, despite her care, continues to decline. On the five-inch-long piece of stem in the envelope, I counted 12 scale insects.

Add witches broom to your ­Halloween hunt

A Bay Weekly reader asked if I had seen an odd-looking pine tree growing on the west side of Rt. 4 about a quarter-mile south of the Patuxent River Bridge.     It’s a witches broom, and I have been admiring it for at least 10 years. The tree is some 20 feet tall and grows on the edge of the woods about 100 feet from the side of the road.

Just mulching won’t give them what they need to overwinter

The editor of Bay Weekly recently asked if she could simply add potting soil to raise the level of rooting medium in her houseplants or if she had to repot. I advised her to repot.

Compost needs air and water

I heard a garden advisor on radio tell his listeners to compost their leaves in plastic bags rather than placing them on the curb for pick-up by the municipality. Put the leaves in the plastic bag and dump in a pitcher of warm water with two to three packages of bakers yeast dissolved in the liquid, he advised.     I hope no one listened.     Composting is an aerobic process. The organisms involved are bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes. There are no yeasts in the composting process.

Here’s how to plant them

Pansies give the garden fall, winter and early spring color. Breeders have provided us with a great array of colorful varieties to choose from. These hearty flowers are one of the few plant species with light- and dark-blue flowers. In addition to solid colors — yellow, brown, purple and reddish-brown — my favorite cultivar, the Pacific Giant, includes blooms with brown monkey faces in their center.

Follow my advice, and you’ll get years of big flowers

In New Hampshire where I grew up, tulips were a perennial crop. A single planting would last many years, producing large, beautiful flowers year after year. Here in Southern Maryland, tulips are generally grown as an ­annual crop.

Big flowers spring from well-developed roots

Don’t wait for the ground to cool before planting spring-flowering bulbs. The sooner you plant in the fall, the longer they will survive and the better they will bloom. Gardeners who wait to purchase their bulbs at end-of-the-year sales are likely to see smaller flowers and smaller plants next spring. If buying from open bins, you are also likely to be purchasing smaller bulbs because the larger ones have already been taken. The larger the bulb, the bigger the flower.

Gita is my recommendation

A Bay Weekly reader complained to me that she has not been able to harvest string beans all summer long.     First, I reminded her that saying string beans is showing her age. When I helped my mother prepare green beans for canning, I had to snip the end followed by pulling a long green string from the inner curve of the bean. Strings have not been a problem with green beans for the past 45 years, and the name was changed to snap beans.