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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    March 20 – 22, 2015: The Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee will host the Mid-America Orchid Congress, “Orchids in Rhythm,” at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin, TN. The show will have more than 20 displays with 500 or more blooming orchids. Vendors will have a wide variety of blooming orchids for sale. The show and sale are free to the public. www.orchidsinrhythm.org.

    March 21 – April 26: Cheekwood in Bloom, a six-week festival celebrating spring with garden demonstrations, live music, arts, family activities, entertainment and more at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art. Complete details at www.cheekwood.org.

    March 28: Introduction to Foodscapes and Permaculture Design, presented by Nashville Foodscapes, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cost of the workshop is $25. To register, click here or email jeremy@nashvillefoodscapes.com

    March 29: A Journey Through the Permaculture Design Process, presented by Nashville Foodscapes, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Cost of the workshop is $50. (Recommended that participants are familiar with Permaculture design, or take intro class on March 28). To register, click here or email jeremy@nashvillefoodscapes.com

    April 2 - 4: Wildflower Week at Beaman Park. April 2, wildflower hike, 10 a.m. - noon; April 4, Tree hike, 10 a.m. - noon; Wild Food display, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.; wildflower hike, 2 - 4 p.m; wildflower photo exhibit reception, 5 - 6:30 p.m.; Full Moon hike, 6 - 8 pm. Call to register, 615-862-8580. Beaman Park Nature Center, 5911 Old Hickory Blvd., Ashland City, TN.

    April 11: The Middle Tennessee Perennial Plant Society’s annual plant sale is scheduled 9 a.m. – noon (or until the plants sell out) at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The sale will feature more than 450 varieties of perennials, shrubs, roses, vines and annuals chosen to thrive in Tennessee gardens. A complete list of plants is at www.ppsmt.org (click the “Plant Sale” tab).

    April 18: Herb Society of Nashville herb sale, Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Find a list of plants for sale here.

    April 24: Nashville Tree Foundation’s High Tree Party. honoring the winners of this year’s Big Old Tree Contest, of Davidson County’s oldest and largest trees, 4 p.m. at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Details here.

    April 25: First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville Herb & Craft Fair, annual and perennial herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native plants plus craft items -- gardening aprons, specialty items, handmade pressed flower art and jewelry, natural handmade soaps, yeast breads, spice mixes, jams, jellies and other items. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., 1808 Woodmont Blvd. Details here. 

    May 3: Mid-State Iris Association annual Iris Show, 1:30 - 5 p.m., Franklin Synergy Bank, 1 East College Street, Murfreesboro, TN. Free admission.

    May 16: The Master Gardeners of Davidson County’s 5th annual Urban Gardening Festival at Ellington Agricultural Center. The free community event is designed to educate and engage visitors with garden demonstrations and exhibitors and vendors from throughout the greater Nashville area.

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New Month-By-Month Gardening

Month by Month open 2One of the resources I’ve relied on for several years to help answer garden questions is a book titled Month-By-Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky, by award-winning garden writer Judy Lowe. The book was first published more than a decade ago by Cool Springs Press, and it holds a wealth of easy-to-understand information that is useful for gardeners in the southeast U.S., both novices and those with more experience.

There’s a new version of the book out now, also published by Cool Springs Press. I’m looking at the two books side by side, and loving the fact that I can find much of the same useful information in a glossy new format. (Read on for details of a chance to win a copy of the book!)

Judy Lowe crop“The information has stayed pretty much the same, the activities are the same. But for those people who want to know everything in a month in a few pages, they will like this,” Judy told me when we talked by phone earlier this week.

What’s different? In the old format, the book is divided into categories – Annuals, Bulbs, Herbs & Vegetables, Houseplants, and so on – and each category is divided into months, generally with two pages for each month. Each month has information about planning, planting, care, watering, fertilizing and problems, with a timely tip or two.

The new, more compact, full-color glossy Month-By-Month Gardening is divided into months, using subheads, making it easier to see at a glance what needs to be done in each category that month. Each month has several “Here’s How” sidebars, and there are color pictures of plants, planting techniques, a few common garden pests and more. The pictures are especially useful.

“It does help, if you are new to gardening or don’t know a lot about it, to see those pictures — the close-ups, the illustrations,” Judy said. Some garden books are written in “garden language” that a new gardener has not yet learned. “Novice gardeners feel more comforted by seeing pictures and illustrations.”

Here in the middle of winter, there is very little real gardening to be done, but Judy passed along several ideas of how to begin to get ready for spring. Here’s what she suggests:

  • “Start a garden notebook, if you don’t have one.” The notebook can be a simple looseleaf binder, one with pockets to hold labels, seed packets or other small items. “It makes such a difference in knowing what happened in the past and what you have thought of doing before, or want to do. It helps you keep a record of what didn’t work, and can help you not make mistakes in the future.”
  • If you’re going to start plants from seed – and it’s really kind of fun, gives you a sense of satisfaction – start thinking about that in February.” Most common plants take only about eight weeks from sowing to setting out in the garden. “You want to be ready and get all your equipment together.” (And here are a couple of tips for growing your own transplants from seeds: You don’t need special grow lights, Judy said. For growing seeds, a couple of fluorescent lights will be fine. If you don’t have a grow light or a shop light, and you’re not getting enough light on your plants, use aluminum foil to reflect the light onto the plants. “It really helps, and it’s nice and cheap,” Judy said.)
  • She also recommends February as the time to have the soil tested if you haven’t had that done in the past five years. You can do that through your county’s extension service now and avoid the rush of the busier time in early spring. It will make a huge difference in how successfully things will grow in your garden, she said. “In the lawn, it can tell you everything, and mean the difference between success and failure.”
  • It’s also a good time to have your lawnmower serviced. “Particularly, have the blade sharpened. If it doesn’t cut correctly it can lave spots where disease can enter,” Judy said. “Lawnmower maintenance services get plenty busy in April, so get it done before the season starts.”

 

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11 Responses

  1. The temperature here is sub-zero. All I can do right now is imagine the possibilities!

  2. Lately, with this dreadful winter, the main thing I do is pick up fallen branches and twigs, and peruse those pornographically gorgeous garden catalog dreaming of days ahead!

  3. I am ready for spring when winter loses its grip. Let’s go! Let’s garden!

  4. The only garden task I have this time of year is to keep alive the plants wintering over in my sunroom. I’m glad to say, they’re hanging in there – but I’d love to have this guide to help me with bigger and better projects outdoors. As soon as it hits 50 or 60 degrees again!

  5. Researching how and when to plant. I’m a newbie!

  6. Your blog is helping me picture Spring in below 0 temperatures. Looking forward to using some of your suggestions soon!

  7. My task is to organize the messy pile of gardening tools I stacked up in the shed at the end of the summer!

  8. Looks like a book every gardener needs!

  9. […] other organic material so that the soil drains well. Space the transplants closely (garden expert Judy Lowe suggests placing them 4 inches apart) and firm the soil around the plants so they won’t be lifted […]

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