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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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June garden tips & tasks

June is the garden’s high season, “the time of perfect young summer,” said gardener designer Gertrude Jekyll. Here are some garden tasks to enjoy during this “perfect” time.

Early in June

Tomatoes do best with consistent moisture as they begin to ripen.

Tomatoes do best with consistent moisture as they begin to ripen.

Summer tomatoes will begin ripening soon. 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.

Tidy up around perennial beds to keep pests and diseases at bay. Clip off faded foliage and remove rotting debris from around the base of the plants.

Deadheading – removing the faded flowers – encourages more blooms of daisies, coreopsis and other summer favorites.

Keep an eye on container plants on the porch and patio.  Containers can dry out quickly in the heat.

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

Watch for Japanese beetles, and knock them off before they damage your plants.

Watch for Japanese beetles, and knock them off before they damage your plants.

As blueberries ripen, cover the plants with bird netting to keep some of the berries for yourself.

Japanese beetles arrive in summer to munch on many landscape favorites, but traps may only lure more to your yard than they catch. Pluck off any beetles you find, and plunk them into a bucket of soapy water.

Gladiolus and other tall, top-heavy perennials and annuals may have a tendency to flop over. Use stakes to keep them standing.

Consider your garden in summer vacation plans. Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on the weather, and water beds and containers if it doesn’t rain. Be sure to return the favor.

Slugs may be eating holes in your hostas. Place a saucer of beer or yeast mixed in water near the plants to trap them.

Pinch out the tops of basil to encourage it to grow bushier. Don’t allow the flowers to form yet. Even better: use lots of basil to make pesto and other fresh summer favorites.

 

Late June

Rose

Watch for spider mites on roses, and spray them off with a strong blast of water.

Reminder: lawns need about an inch of water a week. No need to water every day; once or twice a week may be plenty. But when you do turn on the sprinkler, water deeply. Morning is the best time to water lawns, perennial, annual and vegetable beds.

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.

Mulch can keep your garden comfortable during the worst of the summer heat. Check your beds, and replenish mulch as needed.

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.

Water spring-planted shrubs and trees regularly to help them through their first hot summer in the landscape.

Enjoy a daily walk around the garden to enjoy the beauty, but also to watch for pests and other problems.

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