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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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Rosemary may suffer indoors

QUESTION: We received a potted rosemary plant as a Christmas gift. According to the plant marker, it is a variety called ‘Arp.’ It was fresh and green when we got it, but now the leaves are beginning to turn brown. What is the best way to take care of it?

RosemaryThose rosemary topiaries and the miniature rosemary Christmas trees are popular gifts for cooks and gardeners during the holidays. Unfortunately, they don’t always live as long as you might expect.

Some sources with information on houseplants say that rosemary is one of the culinary herbs that can be grown outdoors in summer and brought in during winter. But rosemary has specific needs that are not easily met in some indoor environments.

To grow well indoors, a rosemary plant, which is really a tender perennial shrub, requires bright light — four or more hours a day of direct sun, or about 14 hours of supplemental fluorescent light. In addition, it likes warm temperatures in spring and summer, and cooler (45 – 70 degrees) in fall and winter. It also likes fairly humid conditions, and the air in an average home may be too dry for the plant to thrive.

While you have it indoors, give the rosemary as much light and humidity as possibly (a daily misting may help). Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, but don’t let it dry completely.

‘Arp’ is one of the hardiest rosemary varieties. Plant it outdoors in early spring (full sun, but it also does fine with a little bit of shade), in soil that drains well. If you plant it in a sheltered location, there’s a good chance that it will last in the garden for many years here in Zone 7a.

Garden events in Middle Tennessee

Feb. 16: Backyard Sustainable Gardening workshops sponsored by Hands On Nashville and led by Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture. Day-long mini-course introduces the theory behind permaculture and offers hands-on training. Learn the basics of permaculture. Workshops will take place at the nands On Nashville Urban Farm, 361 Wimpole Drive. Learn more and register here.

Feb. 19: Perennial Plant Society meets at Cheekwood, beginning with plant swap and refreshments at 6:30, program at 7 p.m. Guest speaker is Marshall Allen, founder and owner of Allen Landscape Management; the topic is “Design using hardscape, various types of plants and other features of interest.” No charge for admission, and the public is invited.

Feb. 20: Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee meets at CheekwoodBotanical Garden. The program is on Phalaenopsis orchids. Refreshments at 6:30, and the program begins at 7 p.m. There is no admission, and the meeting is open to the public. No admission to Cheekwood and the meeting is open to the public.

Indoors gardens for inspiration at the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show.

Indoors gardens for inspiration at the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show.

Feb. 28 – March 3:Nashville Lawn & Garden Show at the TennesseeState Fairgrounds. More than 20 live gardens (all indoors!) by local landscape professionals; a series of free lectures by expert horticulturists and garden designers, and 250 booths of horticultural products, services and equipment for show and sale. Hours are 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Feb. 28, March 1 and 2, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. March 3. This annual event is produced by the Horticultural Association of Tennessee. Learn more here.

March 16: Backyard Sustainable Gardening workshops sponsored by Hands On Nashville and led by Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture. Day-long mini-course introduces the theory behind permaculture and offers hands-on training. Learn the basics of permaculture. Workshops will take place at the nands On Nashville Urban Farm, 361 Wimpole Drive. Learn more and register here.

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