Monday, April 13, 2015

Full Tilt Springtime

Many thanks to everyone who stopped by our table at the UT Gardens Spring Plant Sale last Saturday! It was a pleasure to meet our fellow gardeners, readers, and listeners of the radio show.

April is the biggest gardening month here in the Tennessee Valley. If you have not already planted cool season crops like lettuce or mustard, the window for success is rapidly closing. Your best bet is fast maturing greens, such as mizuna or arugula, and heat tolerant lettuces. Jericho, Anuenue and most romaine varieties are heat tolerant cultivars. Another good one is Black Seeded Simpson, a local favorite since the 19th Century.

You can also plant beans, potatoes, onion sets or plants, scallions, beets, radishes, carrots and cabbage plants with success. Broccoli and cauliflower may or may not produce a crop if planted this late.

Even though tomato and pepper plants have appeared in the garden centers, hold off until at least May 1 to plant. We will still have some cold nights that can set these plants back if they are not protected. You have plenty of time to obtain a crop even if you wait.

It is still a bit early for cucumbers and squash. Plants in cold soil have more disease and pest problems. Wait until after Mothers Day to plant these veggies.

Here's a great idea for growing lettuce, which does not need a lot of root space. Slap a coat of white primer on a citrus crate. These little crates were full of mandarin oranges or clementines when we bought them. I saved a bunch (we love citrus in the winter) and we planted them with an assortment of smallish lettuces. The result is shown in the photo. If you'd like one of these, Sweet Pea in Bearden is carrying them. Besides interesting plants, Sweet Pea stocks a wide selection of high-quality garden art and accessories.

For those who would like to purchase our hardy orchids, they are available at the following local independent garden centers:

Stanley's Greenhouse
Ellenburg's Landscaping
Mayo Garden Centers in Powell, Bearden and Farragut
Sweet Pea, on Carr Street in Bearden

Hardy orchids will be available until mid-May.

Please support your local, family-owned garden centers this season. Not only will your dollars remain in the area, you will get better plants, better advice and an overall better value than you will find at any big box retailer.

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