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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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The drought takes a toll on trees

QUESTION:  I have a concern about two hackberry trees in my yard. They are quite old and beautiful, but the leaves are turning yellow and are falling off rapidly.  Is this due to the high heat or another problem? I would sincerely hate to see these lovely trees die.  

During drought, a hackberry’s leaves may turn yellow and fall. Mature, healthy trees should recover.

Let’s just say that while the high heat is a major culprit in the early-summer yellowing of a lot of things, it’s not acting alone. “It’s drought primarily,” says Alan Windham, the ornamental and turfgrass pathology expert at U.T. Extension.

“I actually witnessed this, this morning on hackberry behind my home while walking my dogs,” he said when I sent him this question earlier this week. “It was breezy, and yellow leaves were falling from the hackberry like a fall day.”

Most likely, this leaf-fall is not a fatal condition. “Most mature trees have survived many droughts, and should be able to survive this one,”Windham said. “Regardless, I’m hoping for rain this week.”

Young trees that haven’t had a chance to develop an extensive root system are more vulnerable. An email alert from the Nashville Tree Foundation, which plants trees in public places and private yards on its ReLeafing day each November, has sent an alert with watering guidelines and new tips that you can read here to help young trees survive. Most important: water thoroughly, and water slowly to prevent run-off.

The long-range weather forecast may show some relief. Next week, it looks like temperatures will be in the more reasonable mid-to-upper 80s, with a chance of rain.

 

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