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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville: The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee annual Perennial Plant Sale at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 21: Herb & Craft Fair hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Top quality perennial and annual herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native and companion plants, along with food and craft items reflecting an interest in the homemade and homegrown: fresh homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, barbecue sauces, jams and jellies; knitted and sewn items, homes for birds and bees, and art, jewelry and more made from pressed flowers. Visit www.thefuun.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival, hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibiters, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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July garden tips & tasks

Things are heating up! Here’s a to-do list to keep the garden at its best this month.

Early in the month

It’s time for summer tomatoes! The fruits tend crack when watering is inconsistent, so keep the soil around tomatoes evenly moist.


ColeusColeus’ beauty is in the foliage, so when it begins to bloom, pinch off the flower spikes to encourage the plant to grow fuller and bushier. Wax begonias also benefit from periodic pinching to keep them from becoming leggy.

For the best flavor, pick squash and cucumbers while they are still small and tender. You can plant a second crop of bush beans, zucchini and cucumber, summer veggies that grow quickly.

Watch for slugs and snails that may chew holes in the leaves of some plants. Slugs seek out the damp, cool areas in a shady garden. Hostas are particularly susceptible to slug dining. To trap them, set out a shallow dish filled with beer.

Run sprinklers in vegetable, perennial and annual beds in the morning. Better still, use soaker hoses for more efficient watering.


glads orange garden benchGladiolus, hollyhocks, foxglove, dahlias and other tall-growing summer favorites may need staking to keep them from toppling during a strong summer shower.

Cut the stems of mums before they begin to form flowers. Doing so now will encourage fuller plants and more flowers this fall, when they become the stars in the garden.

Mid-July is a good time to divide bearded irises. Cut the leaves to about five inches tall, and gently lift the rhizomes from the ground and separate them. Cut away any rotting or diseased parts, and replant them in a prepared bed right away and water well. Share extras with friends.

Make sure the trees and shrubs you planted in spring get plenty of water. The Nashville Tree Foundation advises that trees planted in the last three years should receive 10 gallons per week per inch of tree caliper. Water your trees slowly with a bucket, soaker hose, slow drip hose or watering bag. www.nashvilletreefoundation.org.

Compost is really “cooking” in this heat. Add dried leaves or other “brown” material along with your kitchen scraps. Turn the compost periodically to help it break down faster.

Later this month

Summer annuals and perennials such as daisies, glads, zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos and others make beautiful summer bouquets. Cut them early in the day when they’re at their freshest and put them in water in a vase right away. Change the water daily to keep them fresh longer. Continue to clip off spent flowers of annuals and perennials to keep them blooming longer.

A tobacco hornworm covered with wasp cocoons, and one without.

A tobacco hornworm covered with wasp cocoons, and one without.

Garden pests to watch for include tobacco hornworms on tomato plants and Japanese beetles on just about everything else. Pluck the worms off the tomato plants and dispose of them. (If you see one with its back covered with white eggs, leave it; it is being parasitized by a tiny wasp.) Knock Japanese beetles off plants into a bucket of soapy water.

Lawn growth (and lawn mowing) may slow down as the heat increases. Continue to mow as needed, but don’t cut the grass too short. Provide about an inch of water if it doesn’t rain.

Don’t let mosquitoes become a problem. Empty anything that can collect water. Refresh the water in bird baths every couple of days. Use mosquito dunks in rain barrels and other containers of standing water.

It’s hot, but you may still have to get out there and pull weeds. Pick your favorite tool and get to work. Mulch in the garden beds helps keep weeds at a minimum, and also keeps the soil moist longer.

Take a daily walk around the garden to enjoy the scenery, but also to spot problems with weeds or bugs before they get out of hand.


2 Responses

  1. If a hookworm is covered by wasp eggs, why not get rid of it? We don’t want wasps, do we? Wasps aren’t pollinators like honeybees, are they?

  2. Yes! These wasps are also pollinators. Plus, these tiny Braconid wasps are considered beneficial insects as a biological control for tobacco hornworms. They are parasites that kill the hornworm by laying their eggs under the skin of the caterpillar — the hornworm. The eggs hatch, and the larvae feed on the hornworm that would otherwise be devouring the tomato plant.

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