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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville: The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee annual Perennial Plant Sale at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 21: Herb & Craft Fair hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Top quality perennial and annual herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native and companion plants, along with food and craft items reflecting an interest in the homemade and homegrown: fresh homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, barbecue sauces, jams and jellies; knitted and sewn items, homes for birds and bees, and art, jewelry and more made from pressed flowers. Visit www.thefuun.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival, hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibiters, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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Dead plants add life to the compost

I have pots of chrysanthemums and geraniums that were killed by the frost. If I put them in the compost are they likely to sprout seedlings when I put the compost in my garden later?

Dead plants, leaves and other garden debris can be tossed into the compost.

Dead plants, leaves and other garden debris can be tossed into the compost.

Unless they succumbed to some kind of disease, frost-killed plants such as the mums, along with other end-of-the-season garden debris, are a good addition to compost, so toss them in and don’t worry about it. If they are completely dead, they are not likely to re-sprout, say compost experts. If, however, the plants you toss in have mature seeds, the seeds may sprout if the compost doesn’t get hot enough.

Here’s a quick lesson on hot vs. cold compost: The best compost is made with a ratio of nitrogen-rich “green” material such as fruit and vegetable scraps, fresh grass clippings, green yard waste and so forth, and carbon-rich “brown” materials such as dry leaves, straw, soil, woody material and even newspaper and paper towel tubes. The ideal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is 30:1. A well-working pile will heat up to about 130 – 150 degrees F. (you can buy a compost thermometer that allows you to check the temperature). A pile that heats up to at least 130 degrees F will kill mature seeds of weeds and other plants that you put in there.

That may take more tending and precise calculation than an average gardener wants to do, though, so it’s more likely you’ll end up with a “cold” pile, which still makes compost, but more slowly – over the course of a few months instead of a few weeks. But again, if what you put in is completely dead, it will just rot and not sprout again.

Metro Nashville’s Public Works Department provides a booklet called “The Dirt on Composting” with simple guidelines to composting food and yard waste. Check it out here.


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