May 19, 2009

Gardening Tips from Middle Tennessee plant Swap

Not only did I snag some great plants at the Middle Tennessee Plant Swap last weekend but I got some terrific gardening tips from fellow swappers. Here are a few of my favorites. I wish I could remember who told me what so I could give credit where credit is due but I promise to take notes next time.

Jerusalem Artichokes: I've wanted these forever! Got some at the swap! The grower gave me the following tips about growing and eating: Plant in a sunny spot, the plants aren't hard to grow and will multiply freely - I translated that as slightly invasive. Harvest tubers in early fall, peel and cook. He said they taste like Macadamia nuts, are great in stir fry and full of vitamin C and other good things for our body. Leave enough in the ground to have a crop next year.

Mint: I was surprised that my Chocolate mint was one of the first things to go. Maybe is because it deters ants according to a nice lady I talked to. She said she plants a container under her humming bird feeder and the ants will stay away. She also said she plants it near her door too. Another tip from my humming bird lady was put a little Vaseline on the pole or chain of your feeder and ants will not climb into it.

On keeping deer from munching up your garden favorites: The first year my Camellia bloomed, a deer ate every bud off one of the bushes. I planted Anise Hyssop around all my Camellias and Hosta plants and no deer has bothered them since. I planted Marigolds, Lavender and Rosemary all around the perimeter of my vegetable garden this year to keep away the deer. We don't have rabbits in my area, could be the Coyote I saw early one morning that keeps them away. I'm not sure that I wouldn't rather have rabbits, at least they won't eat my dog.

I learned from another Tennessee Gardener on GardenWeb Forum that Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia) are easy to root in water. All you need to do is place your cutting in about 2 inches of water (too deep and the plant will rot) and wait a few weeks. It worked like a charm for me and this fall I plan to root new plants rather than winter over my gigantic plants!

I'd love for you to add your tips in my comments section. By the way, next Middle Tennessee Plant Swap is in October, watch their web site for correct date.


  1. Re: JA - multiply freely?? That's an understatment if I ever heard one. We planted TWO of these plants 3 years ago. We harvested at least SIX GALLONS of them this spring, and are treating any that spread out of their area as weeds. Everyone I know got a bag of them along with a warning about planting them and a recipe. I recently learned that "Jerusalem" is a corruption of the Italian "girasole" or "turn-to-the-sun. Good luck with them!
    m l a n g l e y @ a c g i . c o m

  2. Great tips! How interesting about the chocolate mint deterring ants.
    I'm not qualified to give anyone tips on gardening, but one thing I'm doing differently this year is commingling plants more -- my hope is that by doing this, rather than having one bed for squash, one for tomatoes, etc, I'll prevent the rapid spread of infection and pest problems.

  3. we will consider ourselves warned about the artichokes! Thanks, I did plant mine in a place where I don't mind them taking over. I'd love to see a recipe or two - email me your artichoke recipes to I'll start a recipe column.

    Ginger, I'm planting in smaller spaces too, My garden spot has turned out to be too shady - think I'll move a tomato or two to pots on the deck.