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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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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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