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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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June garden tips & tasks

Lots of bright sunshine, and just enough rain — that’s perfect June weather, and what we always hope for. Here are this months tips and tasks to help you enjoy your time in the garden.

Early June

tomato red

Tomatoes are beginning to ripen.

Have you put off planting seeds in the kitchen garden? You can still plant bush and pole beans, squash, zucchini, cucumber, okra and eggplant, sunflowers, zinnias and other summer favorites.

Remove any leftover foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs, which most certainly has turned yellow or brown by now.

Morning is the best time to water lawns, perennial, annual and vegetable beds. About an inch of water per week is enough to keep most plants and lawns thriving.

Summer tomatoes will begin to ripen. Make sure they receive consistent moisture. Use mulch around the plants to keep them from drying out quickly. Replenish mulch around in all garden beds to help keep plants’ roots moist as the weather heats up.

Snip the growing tips of chrysanthemums. This encourages new, fuller growth, and delays flowering. Plan to pinch them back again next month, which will encourage them to flower better in the fall.

Middle of the month

Japanese beetle

Watch for Japanese beetles on plants and flowers.

Blueberries continue to ripen. If you want to get them before the birds do, cover the plants with bird netting.

Gladiolus and other tall, top-heavy perennials may need stakes to help keep them standing.

Cut basil frequently to use in the kitchen. Pinch out the flowering spikes of the plants to encourage bushier growth.

If you discover Japanese beetles munching away at your favorite plants, flick them off into a bucket of soapy water. Many garden experts discourage using Japanese beetle traps, which may lure more to your yard than they catch.

Vacation plans? Ask a friend or neighbor (or a young gardener looking for a little extra income) to water garden beds and containers if it doesn’t rain.

End of June

hosta 1

If you find holes in your hostas, you can probably blame slugs.

Shrubs and trees planted this spring should be watered regularly to help them continue to adjust to their first summer in the landscape.

Holes in your hostas are probably the work of slugs. Place a saucer of beer or yeast mixed in water near the plants to trap them.

Remove the faded flowers (a task called “deadheading”) to encourage more blooms of daisies, coreopsis and other summer favorites.

If ferns and other hanging arrangements are under shelter and out of the rain, they dry out quickly in the summer heat. Be sure to provide water frequently. You may need to water every day.

Spider mites strike when the weather is hot and dry. On roses, look for them if you begin to see yellow, speckled leaves. If you spot them on roses or other shrubs, blast them with a strong spray of water directed at the undersides of the leaves every two or three days.

In Saturday’s Tennessean: The gardens at The Craighead House, the historic property owned by Nashville landscape designer Steve Sirls, has been placed in the Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Gardens. Read it now at Tennessean.com.

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