Time to prepare soil for plants

It seems like we go right from ice and snow to battling tornadoes, but that seems to be the annual trip from winter to spring in Oklahoma. We have a long list of projects ready to tackle in the garden. Based on telephone calls, e-mails, comments from garden center owners and others it appears many additional folks are planning to plant a vegetable garden this year. Vegetable gardening can be part of adjusting our lives to deal with new financial realities, trying to live a more independent or sustainable life style or just part of getting back to basics. Now is the time to plant many of the cool season food crops.

Hopefully you have already prepared your soil for planting. If not, till and work your beds right away. Valentine’s Day to mid March is the time to plant onion plants and onion sets, to cut up and plant your seed potatoes. This is the time to plant cauliflower and cabbage plants. Plant seeds or plants of leaf and head lettuce to grow your own fresh salads. Plant seeds of carrots, swisschard, kohlrabi, peas, spinach or turnips now to get your cool season garden growing. In early March we can plant some of the more tender cool crop vegetables like broccoli, beets and radishes. Now is also a great time to plant perennial food crops like asparagus or rhubarb crowns and bareroot blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and spring or everbearing strawberries. Many of those perennial crops require planting now to enjoy harvests in future years where the annual crops will produce a harvest over the next few weeks and months.

I get lots of questions about controlling weeds in lawns and when and how to control crabgrass. Now until late March is the best time for pre-emergent weed control on your lawn. There are several products, like those containing Dimension, you can apply later and still get results but it is best to apply now. Work with your nurseryman to pick the best herbicide for your application from a smorgasbord of good pre-emergents including those that contain Balan, Simazine, Atrazine, Trimec, Sulfentrazone, Gallery, Team, Surflan, Ronstar, Treflan or my favorite, Prodiamine. You can apply these as a herbicide alone or as part of a weed and feed product. The most important thing is to get the product applied and activated before the Crabgrass and other weeds germinate. The herbicide does not become effective until activated by a good rain or watering of ½” or more. It is great if you can apply it before a rain. If not, water thoroughly to achieve pre-emergent weed protection for 60 to 100 days.

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