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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Flowers now, tomatoes later

I remember reading somewhere about removing the early blooms on the tomato plants. Is this recommended?

tomato blossomThe general consensus is no, you don’t need to remove the early flowers of tomatoes, but there are two or three sides to the question. Some say to remove any blooms that may be on tomato transplants before you put them in the ground; some say to remove the first flowers after transplanting. The reason for pinching off any flowers at all would be to allow a very young transplant to focus on developing into a stronger plant before it puts energy into fruit production. But most resources (and all homegrown-tomato gardeners I’ve talked to) say it’s not necessary to remove the flowers at all.

There is also discussion about whether the tomato is a determinate variety (in which the tomatoes set fruit, ripen and are harvested all at once) or indeterminate (they ripen throughout the summer, until frost). If the tomato is a determinate variety, there’s a chance that you reduce the ultimate size of the crop if you pinch off the flowers. In general, there is no need to remove the flowers of either type if they are sturdy plants.

It is usually recommended to remove the suckers that grow as the plant grows. These are the shoots that grow from an axil, that point where a branch grows out of the stem. Removing them helps keep the plant more compact.

Making their debut: New shrub varieties

Last year I was invited to sample some new varieties of shrubs from Proven Winners® ColorChoice® that are making their debut in garden centers this year. They’ve been growing for a year in my garden now. Click over to the garden journal, Turning Toward the Sun, to see how they’re doing.

June Garden calendar

It’s the month for daylilies in Middle Tennessee, and the Middle Tennessee Daylily Society is holding its annual show and sale later this month. Find the June Garden Calendar listing this month’s garden events, tips and tasks at Tennessean.com.

 

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