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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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Aphids: a ‘green’ goodbye

My new tomato plants already have tiny green bugs on them. I think they are aphids. What can I put on the plants that is safe (no chemicals or poisons), but that will get rid of them?

Young tomato plants are vulnerable to aphid infestation.

Young tomato plants are vulnerable to aphid infestation.

You are probably correct that the tiny bugs are aphids. They tend to hang out in clusters on the tender new growth of many plants. If the infestation is heavy, it’s best to try to get rid of them because they use their piercing mouthparts to suck the plants’ fluids – a bad start for struggling new tomato plants.
Many garden information sources suggest knocking the bugs off with a strong spray of water. Spray all parts of the plants, including the undersides of leaves. One of the reliable resources I use, Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver, suggests blasting them with the water spray twice a week. They also suggest a garlic or hot pepper spray to deter the bugs, either a commercial product or a concoction that you make at home.
As a last resort, spray the plants with insecticidal soap. There are several commercial brands available (Safer is one that is commonly found at nurseries and garden centers), or make your own.
One recipe suggested by “green” garden expert Joe Lamp’l is this, from his book The Green Gardener’s Guide: Mix a teaspoon of dishwashing soap (not detergent), a teaspoon of cooking oil and one quart of water in a spray bottle. He adds a note of caution: “Insecticidal soaps can be phytotoxic (having a tendency to burn) to certain plants, so be sure to test a small area before applying on a larger scale.” Lamp’l also cautions that soaps are nonselective, and you may also be destroying beneficial insects, so use this solution sparingly.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
May 21: Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Speaker is Jimmy Williams from Paris, Tenn, on “The Perennial Border from February through December.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m.
May 23: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society meets at Cheekwood’s Potter Room, 7 p.m. Featured speaker is Jason Rives, owner of Petals From the Past in Jemison. Ala.; topic is “Incorporating Antique Roses into the Hosta garden.”
Fridays in June and July: Visitors to Cheekwood gardens can enjoy them in a new way on Fitness Fridays, with a variety of workout activities held in the gardens and on the grounds.
-7:30 a.m. Yoga in the Gardens, led by certified trainers from the Green Hills YMCA
8:30 a.m. Sculpture Trail Hike, a mile-long hike through Carell Woodland Sculpture garden led by certified trainers.
9:30 a.m. Stroller Strides, a vigorous workout for moms and dads up and down the paved driveways an din the garden.
Gates open at 7 a.m. Fitness Fridays are free to Cheekwood members; non-members pay the regular Cheekwood gate admission.

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