Spring is blooming early

Welcome to the gambling season of spring gardening. The calendar shows spring has officially arrived and many days are so warm that if feels like we are well into spring. This is the season when we all get the “itch” to plant warm season crops. Many stores already are merchandising tomatoes, peppers, marigolds and even real “hot blooded” crops like periwinkle and caladiums. Our flowering trees, shrubs and spring flowering bulbs are all flowering 1 to 2 weeks early.

We are all getting anxious to get outside and start planting, especially on crops like tomatoes where so many want to produce the first home grown tomatoes in their neighborhood. You might plant now and get away with it, but it is still a gamble on warm or hot season crops as our last average freeze date in Oklahoma City is April 7th and that date stretches to mid April in northern Oklahoma. You are safer to wait until at least mid April to plant warm season vegetables and color annuals after most risk of frost or freeze and when night temperatures have warmed enough that your new plantings will grow rapidly in the, near perfect, spring weather.

If you can’t resist the temptation to plant warm blooded annuals early, be prepared to cover them with household sheets, newspapers, nursery row cover protection fabrics or have some “Wall-o-Water” or Hot Kaps ready to provide extra protection on the cold or frosting nights that are likely still ahead of us. Some years the early planting gamble pays off and other years the “Sooners” get to plant again after that late freeze.
We are still very dry across most areas of our state, putting big areas of farm crops like wheat at risk. The same winter/spring drought effects your trees, shrubs, bulbs and lawn. With most of our planting material trying to leaf out for spring, they will need water to support and maximize their spring growth.

Spend a little time out watering the yard while watching and enjoying the miracles of spring as nature comes alive.
I love watching the spring symphony of flowers unfold as we have now moved from daffodils to tulips and hyacinths as the spring bulbs bloom. The pears, apricots and peach tree flowers have now yielded to the gorgeous flowering crabapples and our state tree, the redbud. The flashy yellow forsythias have faded, replaced by quince, spirea and wisteria with many more waiting in the wings.

We are in the final stretch to apply pre-emergent weed killers or weed and feed products to your lawn if you want them to be effective in controlling crabgrass and summer weeds. The pre-emergent must be applied before those weeds germinate to be effective.
While waiting for the risk of freeze to pass this is a great time to plant more trees, shrubs and perennials that will make a lasting impact on your yard.

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