Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle – Week of July 4, 2022

By Mary Winn, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener 

Spacing Out Your Plants
“Give me room, lots of room!” If your spring seedlings could speak, this is what they might be saying. Vegetables in particular need room for growth and optimum fruit production. Pay attention to seed packets for spacing between seeds and groups. For example, carrots should be thinned to 3 inches apart for straight fully developed roots. Crowding inhibits productivity. 

Enjoy Your Greens for Longer
Plant, eat, repeat! No need to stop with one planting of lettuce in early spring. With plants generously spaced, additional seeds can be planted weeks later. The mature plants will shade the new seedlings. For a fresh fall crop, sow the seeds in August. Enjoy your greens throughout the summer and early fall.

Should I Use Mulch
Strong winds take their toll on mulch, scattering it from where it is needed to retain moisture and reduce maintenance. Consider ground cover plants as an alternative to mulch. The right ground cover for a particular area does more than replace the need for mulch. It can also reduce the need for weeding, add color and texture, and prevent soil erosion.

Ground Cover Plants
Convinced of the benefits of replacing mulch with ground cover plants? Do your research before tossing the mulch and planting. First, remember that selections for Western Nebraska should be Zone 4 plants to survive the winter. Next, consider the amount of sun or shade for the area intended for planting. Semi-arid choices such as sedums work well—with a wide variety of colors and leaf patterns available.

Dividing & Sharing Perennials
Divide and hydrate! Although cooler weather provides the best conditions for dividing and sharing perennials, sharing is still possible with careful preparation. First, prepare the area where the plants will be placed. Secondly, the plant to be transplanted should be watered well so that it can be easily dug and divided, retaining moisture around the roots. Even for plants that ordinarily require little moisture, water generously during the first two weeks.