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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

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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