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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Get out and meet other gardeners

There are several good garden-related events coming up in the next few days. Don’t miss out:

Metro Public Works is sponsoring a one-day event to make composting easier. This is your chance to buy an Earth Machine backyard compost bin at the low price of $47 (the regular retail price is $100). The benefits? You can use all those coffee grounds and eggshells and apple and banana peels from the kitchen, and all those dry leaves left in the yard, to make rich, crumbly compost for the garden. By doing that, you can be among those who are helping to keep 600,000 pounds of organic waste per year out of the landfills. I’ve had an Earth Machine bin for several years, and can say that it works great, and it makes composting about as easy as it can be.

The sale is Saturday (April 2), 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. in parking lot D at LP Field. First come, first served, so get there early.

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Nashville gardener Billie Brownell and Jayme Jenkins of Eugene, Ore. have a new little garden book out called Garden Rules: The Snappy Synopsis for the Modern Gardener. It’s the perfect companion for new gardeners who want to know the basics – things like: “Plant the right plant in the right place” and “Get to know your dirt.” You know: how to start from scratch, when you know nothing about gardening.

Brownell will be on hand for a little garden chat and to sign copies of the book Sunday (April 3), 1:30, at Belmont Mansion. The book is published by Cool Springs Press, and they invite you to come and join the fun – both at the book signing Sunday and in a garden this spring.

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More later on these, but a reminder now so you can put them on your calendar:

– Bloom’n’Garden Expo, presented by the Williamson County Master Gardeners, is April 8 – 10 at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park. Visit www.bloomngarden.com.

– The Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee’s annual Perennial Plant Sale is April 9. new location this year: the Al Menah Shriner Center at 1354 Brick Church Pike in Nashville. Go to www.ppsmt.org for info.

Look for The April Landscape & Garden Calendar Saturday (April 2) in The Tennessean.

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