• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • 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.

  • Categories

  • Archives

Banishing ‘leaflets three’

QUESTION: What’s the best way to get rid of poison ivy?

Growing up where pavement and neatly trimmed lawn were the modern idea of landscaping, I didn’t encounter poison ivy until I became a real gardener. But by the time  I did learn the mantra (Leaflets three – let it be!) I knew to keep well away from it. Unfortunately, it seems to show up everywhere these days.

The best way to deal with poison ivy is, of course, to treat it very carefully. Fitzroy Bullock, a professor at Tennessee State University’s Cooperative Extension Program, has written a fact sheet on identifying the vine and dealing with it in the landscape.

When you find the sweet little seedlings in garden beds (often at the edges of the lawn, along fence lines, places that don’t get regular mowing), you can dig them out, roots and all, and dispose of them. Wear long sleeves and gloves to do the job. If you use disposable gloves, you can throw them away when you’re done, and avoid the possibility of accidentally getting the plant’s irritating oil on your skin. Some have suggested using a plastic newspaper bag as a glove, of sorts. Put your hand in the bag, use it to pull the vine out of the ground, then peel the bag off, inside out, with the vine inside.

If it’s a big vine with a well-established root system, it’s a bit harder to get rid of. Cut it as close to the ground as possible, and to keep it from growing back, immediately treat the stem with a garden herbicide that contains glyphosate (such as Roundup). Don’t spray the vine itself, and be careful not to let the spray get onto other plants, because glyphosate – or even a drift from the poison – will kill or damage most every green thing it touches.

Even after it’s dead, a large vine can be a problem. The toxic leaves dry up and fall on the ground, and later, after the aerial roots that have held it up begin to die, the whole vine could fall. Dispose of dead leaves and vines carefully, because the toxin is still present.

You may need to apply a second helping of herbicide if the vine begins to grow again from the stump. Apply herbicide again when the new, young leaves have opened fully.

If you are sensitive to the plant and accidentally make contact, expect intense itching, rash and blisters – not a serious situation, but certainly bothersome for a few days. It’s a good idea at any rate to wash your skin with soap and water after a day in the garden.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: