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  • Upcoming Garden Events

    Sept. 30: The Nashville Herb Society presents Through the Garden Gate: A Glimpse of Edwardian England, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Cheekwood Botanic Hall. Celebrate the gardens, foods and flowers that delighted Downton Abby family and friends at the turn of the 20th century. The event begins with a hearty Edwardian breakfast, followed by three speakers: Marta McDowell on Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life; Geraldine A. Laufer on Tussie Mussie – Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers; and Terry White, The English Garden event florist . Registration includes breakfast, box lunch in the garden with music, English tea and cookies. To learn more or to register, visit www.herbsocietynashvlle.org.

    Tips & tasks – September

    Cut the dead tops of coneflowers, but leave enough for goldfinches to enjoy the seeds.

    Plant cool-weather vegetables for a fall crop: spinach, mustard and turnip greens, radishes, leaf lettuce.

    Start a new lawn of cool-season grass, such as fescue, or refurbish or repair establish lawns.

    Don’t let the soil of newly planted grass dry out. New grass needs about an inch of water per week.

    It’s still warm, so continue to water and weed garden beds as needed.

    Remove dead foliage, spent flowers and other garden debris; replenish mulch as needed.

    Continue to harvest produce, which may be getting a boost now from slightly cooler weather. Keep watering sage, rosemary and other perennial herbs so they’ll be in good shape to get through winter.

    Prepare to bring houseplants back indoors: remove dead leaves, scrub soil from the sides of the pots, treat for insects. Bring tropical plants in before nighttime temperatures dip to 55 degrees.

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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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