Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle – Week of April 13, 2020

Here is the weekly crop of Master Gardener tips from Nebraska Extension in the Panhandle. These tips are relevant to local lawn and garden issues in the High Plains, and follow research-based recommendations. his week’s tips come from Kathy Tando, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Volunteer

Turfgrass selection: Want to have a lawn that will “keeping going” like the energizer bunny for years to come? Your best bet comes from selecting from the best turfgrasses that are well adapted to our local soil and environmental conditions. If the turfgrass is locally adapted it will tolerate the stress of the varying weather conditions of the panhandle and be less likely damaged by insects that can be a nuisance here.

Consider compost: No matter whether your soil is on the sandy or clay side you’ve got a friend in compost. If you add it to sand, it improves water and nutrient holding capacity. If you add it to a more clay soil you increase its water and root penetrating ability. How do you provide your plants the best environment to thrive? You got it! Add compost!   

Wait for the weather: In past years I’ve gotten impatient and started buying plants too early.  My garage looked like planes stacked up on a runway during a blizzard. I just couldn’t resist buying before Mother Nature said it was time. Cool season plants like pansies can go out now but most annuals will be killed by frost. Our average last frost is around Mother’s Day so be patient.

Growing seedlings indoors: I’ve tried but failed miserably. Growing seedlings indoors requires the proper light, watering and temperature control. Specialized pasteurized growing medium is also part of a successful formula. “Hat’s off” to all of you who are successful at raising your own transplants from seed. For the rest of you, that are like me, we are much further ahead buying quality transplants ready for our gardens.

Fit the plant to the environment: It’s known by experience it’s easy to go crazy in a garden center. I want to try everything but not everything belongs in my garden environment. Consult the plant tag for its light and water requirements. In western Nebraska, plants tolerating dry conditions can be a better purchase. Also think about its mature size. A plant in the right environment is a happy plant.