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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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What else can go wrong with tomatoes?

QUESTION: My tomato plants are tall and full, and they have been blooming a lot but the blooms disappear. The flower usually dries up and falls off. Otherwise, they look  healthy. Can you tell me what’s wrong with them? – D.S.

When the weather is hot, tomato blossoms fall.

Two things could be causing tomato flowers to fall off: extreme heat and dry soil. When temperatures get above 90 degrees for several days – and we’ve had a lot of those days recently – tomato blossoms tend to drop off without setting fruit. Blossoms also drop off if the plants don’t get enough water. When the heat wave passes and if we finally get rain, you’ll probably see the tomatoes begin to bloom and set fruit again.

QUESTION: Some of my tomatoes look ripe but when I go to pick them they still have green patches that don’t ripen. – J.H.

I found information that suggests that the green patches on ripe tomatoes may be due to the tomatoes being on the interior of dense plants with heavy foliage. It’s a condition called “blotchy ripening.”

At the same Web site, which is CornellUniversity’s Vegetable MD Online, there are pictures of  tomatoes with catface, cracks, russeting, zippering and other common disorders. If you want to see just about anything that can go wrong in a tomato patch, find it here.

 

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