Soil preparation and proper watering lead to gardening success

What a difference a year makes! This year we have been blessed with more normal rainfall and our ponds, lakes and streams are filling with water and our topsoil and deeper subsoil moisture is in much better condition compared to last year’s drought. All of our trees, shrubs, lawns, vegetables and garden flowers are off to a much better start and the state is looking a beautiful spring green. Last weekend was absolutely gorgeous after the two preceding weekends had delivered late freezes or at least the threat of frost on the heels of several weeks of unseasonably warm weather. If the weathermen are correct on their seven day forecasts we surely have escaped our last cold weather of spring and the threats of more freezing so we should now be able to plant even the “hot” blooded plants like periwinkle, caladiums and okra. Some of the early planted vegetables and spring flowers that survived or escaped the late freezes are really looking good and after getting their roots established they are producing a surge of plant growth and beginning to flower. Even though many folks will succeed with their early plantings if they missed the frost and freeze damage the next month is really the prime planting season for most all sunny or shady area bedding plants, perennials, Bermuda and other sunny area grasses and container grown trees and shrubs.

Your success in gardening is often effected by the job you do of soil preparation for your new plantings. The addition of sphagnum peat moss, composted bark, composted cotton burrs, composted alfalfa or other organic matter will enrich your soil, lower the soil PH and improve the air and moisture movement throughout the soil root zone. After you select and transplant your plant choices make sure to water them in very good and then to soak them regularly, especially any week we don’t get good soaking natural rains. You can further reduce your watering and dramatically reduce weed pressure on your plantings by mulching the tops of your flowerbeds with a one to three inch thick top surface mulch using cottonseed hulls, cocoa hulls, eucalyptus or bark mulches of cypress, cedar, oak, pine or fir bark. If you apply the mulch soon after planting it will keep the soil temperature more consistent, retain moisture in the soil and prevent most weeds from germinating and competing with your chosen plants. It is early enough that you can plant small or large plants and still get significant impact this year. You can plant larger plants now if you want more immediate impact but the smaller bedding plants will often catch up in fairly short order. If you wait later into summer to plant annuals you may want to start with larger plants as the time to the first freezes in late October or early November gets closer and allows for a shorter growing season.

Proper watering is probably the most important thing to do for your plants and along with light these are the key building blocks of plant life. Don’t forget that just as we need food in addition to water so do our plants so you need to apply some granular, water soluble or slow release fertilizer to get the maximum impact from your plants. Just as we can over eat you need to read the instructions and not over fertilize your plants. If you will do a soil test every couple of years that will go a long way to insure you feed your plants correctly. Feeding correctly is good for the environment, over feeding and causing nutrient rich runoff can be bad for the environment.

About half of plant material and gardening supplies are now purchased at box stores or discount stores and sometimes you can get some good buys and even some nice plant material if it hasn’t been at the store for too long. I would encourage you to also shop your local nurseries and garden centers because they usually have a much broader selection of plant material, are often real plant lovers with much more plant knowledge, particularly local knowledge and can be important advisors in helping you select the proper plant material and to be successful in your gardening efforts. Our state and country needs to support these local independent businesses and keep this type of knowledge and assistance available for future reference.

Don’t forget to visit the Oklahoma City Arts Festival which is underway through Sunday and in addition to the beautiful and imaginative art you can enjoy the newly reopened Myriad Gardens Conservatory which has been closed for remodeling since January and the beautiful Myriad Gardens outdoor gardens. Also take time to enjoy all the pretty landscape and container gardens around the Arts Festival Grounds. Over 20 volunteers have worked hard for several months to grow and plant all these beautiful flowers. I am very proud of my wife Dona and my mother Marjorie who have worked hard with Randy, Laura, Jimmy and so many other volunteers to prepare all these horticultural delights for your enjoyment and to help create an environment of natural beauty for this special event. My mom actually fell and broke her hip finishing one of these Art Festival flowerbeds last weekend so you will need to enjoy the arts festival for her as she will be out of action and won’t get to partake of the festival again until next year.

This is a great time to get out in the yard and plant some live plants for your continuing enjoyment. This isn’t the theater so we don’t want to break a leg or a hip but we do want you to have a good time and soak in some natural beauty and the many wonders of plant growth and development.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: