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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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Time to plant a rose

Question: We want to add roses to our landscape this year. When is the best time to plant them? Is it better to buy bare root plants, or plants in containers?

Rose WebRoses purchased as bare-root plants can be planted in late winter, whenever the soil can be worked. In this area (USDA Hardiness Zone 7a), roses in containers should be planted after mid-April, say the experts at the Nashville Rose Society. Either should grow well and bloom if they’re given the right conditions: lots of sun – six or more hours a day – and good drainage.

Here’s how to plant roses to get them off to a good start:

Before you plant a bare root rose, soak it for 8 – 24 hours in a large bucket of water with root stimulator added. This rehydrates the plant. Dig a hole 18 inches wide and deep. Place ½ cup of superphosphate in the bottom of the hole, and cover it with a mound of soil made up of 1/3 top soil, 1/3 compost and 1/3 sand or perlite. Prune any broken or dead branches or old canes smaller in diameter than a pencil, and prune back any broken or unusually long roots.

Place the roots over the soil mound in the hole and spread them out and downward over the mound. Place the soil mix around the roots to fill the hole about halfway, and pour a gallon of water with root stimulant over the soil and let it drain. After this has soaked in, finish filling the hole up to ground level with soil mix. Cover the soil with mulch to help keep the bush hydrated until the feeder roots begin to grow; remove the mulch gradually as the weather begins to get warmer.

To plant a potted rose (after the last frost date in your area), dig a hole slightly larger than the diameter of the pot and about 18 inches deep. Place ½ cup of superphosphate or bone meal in the bottom of the hole and cover it with 2 inches of soil. Remove the bush from the pot without breaking the root ball (you may have to cut the sides of the pot away) and place the root ball in the hole so that bud union – the knot where the rose was grafted onto the root stock — is just above ground level.

Fill in around the root ball with soil, and water thoroughly with a bit of root stimulator added to the water.

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The Garden Calendar returns in The Tennessean and at Tennessean.com

In March, hope springs eternal in the garden

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