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Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle

Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle

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Time to separate ornamental grasses: It may be time to separate! When ornamental grasses have outgrown their space or the center has died out, division of the grass is necessary to maintain vigor and appearance. Cut foliage back to 4-6 inches, dig up the entire grass clump and use a sharp instrument to cut the clump in half or quarters. Separate divisions and make sure each division has a good root system still attached. Promptly replant divisions, water well, and protect with mulch.

Gathering annual and wildflower seeds after frost: The frost came, now it’s prime time for gathering your favorite annual or wildflower seeds. While avoiding any hybrids, harvesting should be done on a dry, sunny day to the brown seed pods of your best performing plants. Cosmos, zinnias, coneflowers, marigolds, poppies and nasturtiums are all good garden flowers to gather seeds from. Store seeds in a cool dry place in a labeled paper bag or envelope.

Fall care of rhubarb: Tend your rhubarb now to ensure a fruitful harvest next spring. Now is an ideal time for planting or transplanting established rhubarb plants. The crowns of the plant can be divided. Take care to leave as much root as possible each with an eye or bud. If you plant more than one row, rows should be 5 feet apart, with plants 3 to 4 feet apart in the row. Set crowns about 4 inches deep.

Fall care of perennial beds: Just because it’s chilly, don’t throw in the towel just yet! Tend to perennial beds now to have vibrant plants emerge next spring. If they are unruly or the center has died, it's time to divide. Simply dig up the plant while being cautious to leave the root systems intact; separate into smaller divisions, making sure each has three to five viable, healthy roots; replant or gift to neighbors; water well until re-established; and mulch to prevent winter kill.

Two ways to improve garden soil quality: Need to improve soil quality in your vegetable garden? Since soil quality degrades over time, consider incorporating green manure or a cover crop into your garden this fall. One of the best grains to use is annual rye. If planted now, it should get tall enough to help prevent erosion that occurs when a garden is left bare during winter. Annual rye dies over winter, increasing the organic matter and helping to retain moisture in the soil.

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