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  • Upcoming Garden Events

    Sept. 30: The Nashville Herb Society presents Through the Garden Gate: A Glimpse of Edwardian England, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Cheekwood Botanic Hall. Celebrate the gardens, foods and flowers that delighted Downton Abby family and friends at the turn of the 20th century. The event begins with a hearty Edwardian breakfast, followed by three speakers: Marta McDowell on Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life; Geraldine A. Laufer on Tussie Mussie – Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers; and Terry White, The English Garden event florist . Registration includes breakfast, box lunch in the garden with music, English tea and cookies. To learn more or to register, visit www.herbsocietynashvlle.org.

    Tips & tasks – September

    Cut the dead tops of coneflowers, but leave enough for goldfinches to enjoy the seeds.

    Plant cool-weather vegetables for a fall crop: spinach, mustard and turnip greens, radishes, leaf lettuce.

    Start a new lawn of cool-season grass, such as fescue, or refurbish or repair establish lawns.

    Don’t let the soil of newly planted grass dry out. New grass needs about an inch of water per week.

    It’s still warm, so continue to water and weed garden beds as needed.

    Remove dead foliage, spent flowers and other garden debris; replenish mulch as needed.

    Continue to harvest produce, which may be getting a boost now from slightly cooler weather. Keep watering sage, rosemary and other perennial herbs so they’ll be in good shape to get through winter.

    Prepare to bring houseplants back indoors: remove dead leaves, scrub soil from the sides of the pots, treat for insects. Bring tropical plants in before nighttime temperatures dip to 55 degrees.

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Tomato troubles

I have two questions for The Garden Bench:

1. The tomatoes on one of my tomato plants keep turning flat and black on the bottom before they get anywhere near ripe.  Any idea why that is and what to do about it?
2. When is the best time to dig up the garlic I planted last fall? — Anne-Marie Farmer

Soil with sufficient calcium produces prettier tomatoes, without blossom end rot.

The tomato question is a timely one, Anne-Marie, because it’s July, when most gardeners who grow things to eat think about tomatoes. So, to answer your questions here:

1. The tomatoes have a condition called blossom-end rot. It’s fairly common, and is due to a calcium deficiency in the soil. Try adding a bit of pelleted garden lime. It may not help immediately, but it will add calcium to the soil that will be available to plants in the future. You can also work crushed eggshells into the soil.

Recently I read the suggestion to put about 3 cups of whole milk (not 2%, not skim) into a hose sprayer and use it to spray the soil around the plants. Try not to get milk on the leaves, and rinse it off with plain water if you do.

2. Dig up the garlic after the leaves have started to turn yellow. Let the bulbs dry in the sun for a few hours, then lay them out on screens where they can cure for a couple of weeks. After they are cured, brush off as much soil as you can, but don’t wash them. You can braid the bulbs together and hang them to dry, or dry them in mesh bags. If any are damaged, use them as soon as you can.

Early-spring planting, early-summer harvest: Click over to A Garden Journal to see what we pulled out of the ground.

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