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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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October garden tips & tasks

Winding down from summer, gearing up for fall. These garden tips and tasks will get you outdoors to enjoy crisp fall weather.

Early in the month

maple leaves in fall

Rake leaves as they begin to fall and add them to the compost.

Leaf-raking is about to begin (or in some cases, has probably already begun). Shred leaves with the mower and place them in the compost, or shovel them directly onto garden beds as mulch.

Continue to provide water if the weather is dry. Herb beds, especially herbs that last through winter, benefit from regular moisture as the weather cools down.

Plant garlic. Prepare the soil so that it drains well and mix in a good balanced fertilizer. Separate the garlic bulb into individual cloves, and plant them about 2 inches deep and about five inches apart, pointed ends up. Add mulch to suppress weeds. Garlic will grow over the winter and will be ready to harvest next spring.

Cheery pots of mums brighten porches and garden, but remember to provide water to keep them fresh as long as possible.

Bring your houseplants back inside before nights begin to turn crisp. Clean the pots before you bring them in, and check the containers and the soil for hitchhiking insects.

Mid-October

Plant summer herbs in a pot to grow in a sunny window – or under lights – over the winter.

Harvest that second planting of bush and pole beans, cucumbers and summer squash, along with any tender herbs, before frost threatens.

daylilies

Many perennials can be divided in fall.

Perennials that need to be divided can be dug and replanted now. Prepare the new planting bed by removing weeds and amending the soil. Do this before you dig the plants to be divided so that perennials can be replanted immediately. Keep newly transplanted roots and foliage watered.

Bring any tender perennials – potted citrus trees, tropical hibiscus, bougainvillea, etc. – indoors and set them in a sunny spot to spend the winter. Provide regular water throughout fall and winter.

Clean up spent flowers, rotting foliage and other debris from perennial and annual beds to prevent harmful insects and diseases from overwintering.

Later this month

As leaves continue to fall, rake or blow them from newly seeded lawns to keep falling laves from shading the new grass.

Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Be sure to provide enough water now and throughout the plants’ first year. A layer of mulch helps keep the soil moist.

spring-flowering bulbs

Now is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs. Some garden wildlife consider bulbs a tasty treat, so you may need to protect your plantings by laying poultry fencing across the planting bed and covering it with soil. The foliage will grow through it next spring. Garden critters won’t bother daffodils, which are poisonous to chipmunks and other rodents, but tulips are often in danger of becoming a rodent’s dinner.

Say goodbye to summer gardening by cleaning mowers, trimmers and other power tools, emptying hoses and storing them indoors, and cleaning dirt and mud from garden tools before putting them away for winter.

 

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