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  • May garden tips & tasks

    GARDEN EVENTS IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE

    May 20: Master Gardeners of Davidson County Urban Gardening Festival, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Ellington Agricultural Center Demonstration Garden. Free admission. www.mgofdc.org; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mgofdc.

    June 10: Middle Tennessee Daylily Society show and sale, Ellington Agricultural Center’s Ed Jones Auditorium, 440 Hogan Rd. in Nashville. Sale open at 10 a.m.; show opens to the public at 1 p.m. To learn more about the Middle Tennessee Daylily Society, visit www.middletndaylilysociety.org.

    It’s time to plant those tender herbs and vegetable transplants, such as basil, dill, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, eggplant.

    If tomato transplants are already too tall and leggy, you can plant them on their sides and cover the long stems with soil. The stem tips will turn upward, and the buried stems will sprout roots.

    Sow seeds of bush beans and pole beans, cucumbers, sweet corn, melons, okra, field peas, pumpkin, squash and zucchini. Follow the directions on the seed package for planting depth and spacing. Vegetables grow best in full sun.

    Cut the faded blossoms of peonies. Fertilize the plants lightly in late spring or early summer.

    Remember the basics of watering: morning is best, so plants’ leaves have time to dry before evening. Lawns, perennial borders and annuals like to have 1 – 1½ inches of water per week.

    Many indoor plants enjoy a summer vacation outdoors. Give them a cool, shady spot in the yard, and don’t forget to water them.

    Prune thyme frequently so it will stay full and green in the center.

    Weeding is easiest after a rain. If the ground is too dry and you need to weed, soak the bed first with a hose or sprinkler.

    Whether they’re growing in the ground or in pots on the porch, pinch the tips of geraniums from time to time to encourage them to branch out and to produce more flowers. Geraniums in pots benefit from regular feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer.

    Remember that mulch can be a gardener’s best friend. Pine straw or composted leaves are good alternatives to hardwood mulch.

    Harvest herbs as they reach their peak. Dry small leaves on a screen, hang small bunches of long-stemmed herbs in a warm, dry room out of the sunlight.

    Plants growing outdoors in containers dry out quickly when it’s hot. Check them daily, and water as needed.

    Don’t go near hydrangeas with the pruning shears unless all you’re cutting is dead branches. If the bigleaf hydrangeas look like they’re not going to bloom, it could be that the buds were nipped in a late cold snap, or the plant was pruned too late last year.

    As the flowers of Shasta daisies begin to open and then to fade, keep them clipped off. This prolongs the blooming season of daisies (and most other annuals and perennials), and keeps the plants looking better, as well.

    Watch for aphids on shrubs and perennials. A strong blast of water from a hose will remove many of them, or spray with insecticidal soap.

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Let’s talk about gardens

A peony in last year’s perennial bed.

Spring’s almost here, so let’s talk about gardens. But first, let’s talk about The Garden Bench.

Eight years ago, when I was an assistant features editor at The Tennessean, I had the chance to start a weekly column about my hobby, gardening. I called it The Garden Club, and wrote that it was “a place for readers who enjoy gardening to share questions and answers, tips and other items of interest.”

I’m a freelance writer now, still a gardener, and still writing The Garden Club, though it only runs once a month in The Tennessean as a garden calendar, and once a month answering questions from readers.

But gardeners always have something to learn and something to share, so I’m inviting readers to also come to The Garden Bench to find answers, discuss problems and pass along success stories and information.  I’ll post weekly, as many questions, answers and comments as time allows.

As I told readers back then, gardening is my hobby; my background is in journalism, not horticulture. But there are plenty of horticultural experts in Middle Tennessee, and I call on them, and reach out to the vast stores of information in books and on the internet, to answer your questions, and some of mine, too.

So if you have questions, just ask. I’ll try to find the answers. E-mail me at gloria@gloriaballard.com. I look forward to talking gardening with you.

(And if you want to see what’s happening in my back yard, click over to my garden journal, Turning Toward the Sun.)

 

 

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2 Responses

  1. Gloria,
    I LOVE your idea of The Garden Bench. It will be a very helpful resource for so many of us in the Middle Tennessee area where we fall into both zone 6 and zone 7 (being either too hot or too cold ).

    Good luck,

    Mary

  2. Thanks, Mary. I hope it helps gardeners, but I learn from it, too. We gardeners are always helping each other, aren’t we?

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