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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 – August

    Water lawns and garden beds early in the morning to allow foliage plenty of time to dry before nightfall.

    Container gardens will benefit from a light application of all-purpose fertilizer.

    If petunias have grown long and shaggy, cut them back and give them a dose of fertilizer. They should bloom again quickly.

    If squirrels and birds go after your ripe tomatoes, pick them while they are still green and allow them to turn red indoors. For best quality, don’t store fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator.

    Make sure spring-planted trees and shrubs get plenty of water during hot weather.

    Keep cutting the spent flowers of annuals so they will continue to bloom into the fall.

    To conserve soil moisture during hot weather, replenish mulch in annual and perennial beds as necessary.

    Begin planning a fall garden. Spinach, lettuces, radishes and other fall crops will mature when the weather turns cool.

    Begin clean-up of summer vegetable beds. Remove any decayed or dying foliage to prevent diseases from taking hold.

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Suffering from a summer brown-out

QUESTION: Why is my fescue grass turning  brown? I water 2 to 3 times a week and have it professionally treated  (fertilized and weed control). The lawn company says that’s just the nature of  cool weather grass in the summer heat. What do you think? — Charlie

A cool-season lawn may suffer in summer.

I’m not a lawn expert, but I do a lot of research to answer readers’ questions. Here’s what I’ve found:

It is the nature of fescue, which is a cool-season grass, to turn brown in the summer during hot weather, especially during dry periods. It goes dormant, and will green up again when the weather gets cooler.

However, there is also a fungal disease called “brown patch” that may affect fescue lawns. The symptoms include small brown patches that get bigger. It might start with a ring of brown grass with a patch of green in the middle. Individual blades of grass will be brown, but the plant will be green at soil level. If this symptom isn’t present, it may just be the summer heat. It’s a good idea to know for sure what the problem is before applying unnecessary fungicides.

Lawns do well with about an inch of water a week. They don’t need to be watered every day, but water deeply maybe once a week if it doesn’t rain. (Too much water may do as much harm as too little). It’s also a good idea to cut the grass higher. If it’s cut too short, it leaves the lawn vulnerable to more weeds and diseases.

I found this garden expert’s web site that may offer a little more information: http://www.walterreeves.com/lawn-care/fescue-diseases.

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How much are garden-grown stringbeans worth? Plenty, if you have to protect them from marauding rabbits. See my solution over the garden journal, Turning Toward the Sun.

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