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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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Tomatoes: How late is too late?

QUESTION: I have some tomato transplants from spring that have not been planted. They are tall and skinny, but still look healthy. Is it too late to plant them now?
tomatoes green

Ideally, healthy tomato transplants should be planted in mid to late April or early May (or after the last frost date in your area). To wait until late June to get the transplants in the ground is asking for trouble, but if you have the space to plant and the time to coddle them through the summer heat, you might as well try. Plant them deep, or dig a trench and lay the stem on its side with the leaves at the top of the stem above the soil. Provide a dose of water-soluble fertilizer, water them well and keep the soil moist.

Planting in the heat of summer, you are likely to encounter problems with insects, slower growth, delayed blooming and soil that dries out too quickly for the young plants to grow well. But if the plants pull through the worst of it, you may be rewarded with a small crop of fall tomatoes.

If you’re late to start a garden this year and still want to have home-grown vegetables and herbs, consider these quick-start choices that should come up right away from seed: cucumbers, bush beans, summer squash, beets, carrots, scallions, basil, dill. Keep the bed moist after you sow.

And look ahead to fall when you can plant lettuce, turnip and mustard greens, cabbage, spinach, kale, and other favorite cool-season vegetables.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for posting the Orchid Society Info.

    Jan S. Lawrence, CMA

    Jan161@comcast.net

    615-871-0356

    _____

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