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Spring Planting Tips from Lou!

Author: Andrea Horst

Lucille Horst has been gardening and working with plants since childhood. Her mother was picking peas the day she was born! We took some time to interview her and get an inside scoop on tips and tricks to spring gardening.

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Some common questions

  • When is the best time to plant flowers? - As soon as the frost is over, typically May 15th for middle TN. This will vary based on year and location so make sure to check with your local farmers!
  • What flowers can we plant in May? - After the frost, you can pretty much plant all your annuals, including Petunias, Impatiens, and all other sun-loving flowers. Now is the time to bring out your potted plants to the porch. Ferns can be kept inside through the winter and will make your porch beautiful in the summer!
  • Where should I get my flowers? - Locally, I typically get mine at Standing Rock Greenhouse in Banner, TN. Crossville Garden Center and Arts Home and Gardens in Cookeville are also some good local options. You could always go to Martinís Home and Gardens in Murfreesboro, which is my brotherís business. If you donít live close to any of these, Lowes typically has a great selection of plants in their greenhouses!
  • How should our gardens look by May? - By May 15th everything should be planted. I usually do my first till in early April, then add manure, mushroom soil, and occasionally lime. Around mid-April, I will go through and till again, mixing the soils. Till between rains to prep the soil. You should be ready to plant by late April. If you would like to plant your garden before May, be sure to protect them from frost. You can do this with 5-gallon buckets, blankets, or plastic, depending on the level of frost.
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6 Quick Tips for Beginners:

  1. Start small! Quality is better than quantity! It is always fun to plant, but keep in mind that you will have to maintain them in a few months. One tomato plant that is well taken care of will produce more than five neglected ones.
  2. You can never have too much compost, lime, manure, and mushroom soil in your garden. Adding these will give your plants a lot of nutrients!
  3. Mulch your garden. Mulching helps keep moisture in and weeds out. It can also add nutrients to your soil. Straw, newspaper, grass clippings, and hay will all work.
  4. Give your vines something to grow on. Tomato cages work great and so do stakes. By giving your plants something to grow on they will have more access to sunlight, therefore producing more.
  5. Daily walk-throughs! As you walk through your garden you will want to look for a few things. First, pick the weeds! It is always easier to manage when you spend 15 minutes a day rather than waiting and having to spend a whole day just picking weeds. Secondly, check for bugs. Be sure to spray them when you first discover one, they will eat all your crops in no time! Lastly, look for discolored leaves. This can be a sign of lack of nutrients, pH imbalance, lack of water, or several other things. It is important to catch this early as not to let it spread to the rest of your crops.
  6. Talk to your plants! While working in my familyís Garden Center as a teenager, this is the one tip I got from all the elderly women. If you take the time to talk to your plants, then you are more likely to catch any problems before they become detrimental.

In summary, we learned that gardening takes a lot of work, but it is worth it! Start small, fertilize, mulch, and pay attention to your gardenís needs, and you are bound to have a successful garden. Stay tuned for more tips from Lou in the future!

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