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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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Holes in your hostas? Suspect slugs

The hostas in my shade garden are ragged and full of holes every year at the end of summer. Is this normal?

HostaIt’s not unusual to find holes in big, leafy hostas. Those large, wide leaves create a cool, moist shelter for slugs and snails, who may rest under them during the heat of the day and come out at night to dine. You can verify their presence by placing a small board beside the hostas where you’ve noticed damaged leaves. In the morning, turn the board over to see how many have gathered on the underside of the board. Dispose of them as you wish. Another option may be to set out a small dish or a shallow aluminum can (such as a tuna or cat food can) filled with beer beside the hostas. Slugs in the area may be lured by the beer to crawl into the can, and you can dump them all in the trash.

The American Hosta Society suggests several solutions for protecting plants from slug damage, one of which is to provide something else for them to eat, such as lettuce. A different strategy focuses on placing a barrier around vulnerable plants. Strips of copper on the ground can be effective because slugs don’t like to cross it; diatomaceous earth or table salt sprinkled around the plants also may keep them away, but be careful about adding too much salt to the soil.

The American Hosta Society mentions a couple of poison baits, but also suggests that a 10% solution of vinegar, sprayed on the slugs, stops them in their tracks – but you have to be out there with the spray when they are out, which is usually at night.

A final suggestion is to set a trap. Place two boards together with a small stick between them, where the slugs can crawl into the cool shade. Then, when the slugs are between the boards, remove the stick to trap and dispose of them.

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The Nashville Tree Foundation announces the opening of the Betty Brown Tree Trail and Arboretum, a leafy respite next to the newly developed Riverfront Park and Ascend Amphitheater in downtown Nashville. The meandering trail, Named after

Betty Brown

Betty Moorhead Brown

NTF’s founding board member and first president, the late Betty Moorhead Brown, includes 236 trees representing 36 different species. A dedication ceremony is planned for later this month, but Nashville Public Television’s Volunteer Gardener program has already taped a segment at the Trail. The segment will air on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sept. 20 at 9:30 a.m.

For visitors to the Trail, Nashville Tree Foundation has developed a guide pamphlet that lists the tree species and what to look for along the way. When you visit, pick up a pamphlet at the visitor’s kiosk, or download it here at NTF’s website.

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In The Tennessean — Easy design with herbs: Floral designer Ralph Null has a simple rule for arranging flowers: “My whole approach is what I call easy design.” He will be among the speakers at the Herb Society of Nashville’s annual Herb Day on Sept. 19, and offers tips for using herbs in floral designs in a story in Saturday’s Tennessean.

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