Damage from Tuesday night’s hail storm can be delayed, so John Porter recommends gardeners do another inspection of their plants in a few weeks.
Porter, who works for the Nebraska Extension of Douglas-Sarpy Counties, said the hail’s impact might have caused bruising that doesn’t show up right away.
“Even the smallest little tear is an entry point for disease,” he said. “You could see a lot more disease in your plants in a storm like this.”
If the damage or spots cover a large part of the leaf it should be pruned. If signs of disease like black spots, yellowing or wilting appear, get the disease identified and treat or prune accordingly.
If you had to start over with your vegetable garden, don’t despair. Anything can still be added except a cool-season crop such as leafy greens and radishes, which doesn’t do well in the heat.
He reminds those still planting to leave plenty of space for plants to expand as they grow. Tomatoes need about 2 feet between them and vegetables such as broccoli a minimum of 12 inches. Check the label for recommendations.
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“Most people plant stuff way too close. They are tiny little plants when you plant them,” Porter said. “It makes it difficult to harvest and creates conditions for disease growth because there is not enough air flow between the plants.”
The cool weather we’ve been enjoying this spring had actually been perfect for vegetables before Tuesday’s storm.
Warm-season crops such as tomatoes and peppers thrive in the 70s and low 80s. Leafy greens like it even lower into the 50s and 60s.
“It is basically prime temperature for plant growth,” Porter said. “It’s when we get to 85 and above we can run into issues.”
Temperatures are expected to move into those 90s this week, and Porter said be sure to keep everything watered.
Plants need a minimum of 1 inch of precipitation per week during normal temperatures. When it gets hot (above 90), Porter says more water will be needed as it evaporates quickly.
If there’s been less than 1 inch of rain in a week, gardeners should plan on watering. Spreading it out every few days should be fine, unless it is very hot. For reference, he said 1 inch of rain/water per square foot equals 0.6 gallons.
Although we often think the opposite, sizzling temperatures can create problems.
“For a few weeks last summer it got really hot and tomatoes stopped setting on or ripening and that was because of the extreme heat,” he said.
Native plants arriving at Mulhall’s
A new garden movement has both beginning and long-time gardeners turning to more earth-friendly garden design, and the team at Mulhall’s is supporting the movement with new plantings around the grounds of its garden center.
The store, located at 120th and Maple Streets, recently completed the first phases of major renovations to rethink the property as a hub for this new gardening movement.
Earlier phases included major updates to employee spaces, a new store entrance, outdoor plaza and other revisions to improve the customer experience. Now, Mulhall’s is preparing to install the first of several native plantings around the property.
“I hope this project is a great example to our community that native plants can be aesthetically pleasing when thoughtfully designed,” said Hannah Robertson, a nursery stock grower and native plant enthusiast.
The plantings will provide not only inspiration with masses of color and texture, but resources for pollinators birds and other local biodiversity — creating an environment where visitors can enjoy a bit of the natural world in the city.
The initial planting is located in the outdoor plaza, a community gathering space at the store’s new entrance, and will feature nearly 20 species of native plants from the Great Plains, grown by Robertson and the team at Mulhall’s farms.
This month, team members from across the business — plant specialists and accountants alike — are coming together to bring the project to life.
A planting and ribbon-cutting celebration, hosted by a sustainability-focused employee group at Mulhall’s, will welcome friends, family and other community partners for a morning of planting and celebration of the new space.
“Our team is full of passionate, nature-loving, excitable folks just like me and I couldn’t be happier to be working alongside a group of people like this,” Robertson said.
One last thing
Gardeners often say they are some of the nicest people on earth. Maybe it’s their willingness to share.
Since the hail storm Tuesday, I’ve been seeing that in action. Places such as Canoyer Garden Center and Nodest are offering discounts to help replace lost plants, while customers are determined to support Cirian’s Farmers Market, which lost much of its inventory.
Individuals are stepping up, too, sharing information about saving plants and offering replacements. One Geneva gardener offered all her extras, saying the drive could be turned into a garden adventure.
Gardeners across a swath of Omaha were assessing damage to their plants Wednesday after a hailstorm moved through Tuesday night.
The goal is to allow grass to grow unmown for the month of May, creating habitat and forage for early season pollinators.
Tomatoes will still likely be the biggest topic of conversation when “Backyard Farmer” kicks off its 70th season Thursday night, host Kim Todd predicts. So will turf.
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