Exercise restraint against early planting

Most of the state was blessed with some nice soaking rains late last week.  That is very good news for gardeners and farmers across our state as we need to replenish the moisture in our top soils and subsoils before we enter spring and summer.  Our ponds and lakes can certainly benefit from some additional rains as well.

Many of you are getting anxious with our warm temperatures and spring-like weather and wanting to plant warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers, petunias, impatiens, and many others. It is best to exercise restraint as the odds are still against us escaping another killing freeze.  Our last average freeze in central Oklahoma is usually around April 7 or almost 4 weeks from now.  It is best to concentrate on planting the cool season crops that need to be planted now, fertilizing your trees and shrubs and applying pre-emergent summer weed killer to your lawn and flower beds.

If you can’t resist the temptation to plant warm season crops  now please be prepared to cover and protect these crops anytime we are going to drop near or below freezing using old sheets, milk jugs, or Hot Kaps, row covers or cones of Wall O’ Water tubes.

It is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs after these good soaking rains when the soil is moist  and easier to work. Do not plant when it is muddy or soppy. This is the tail end of the planting season for many of the cool season vegetables we have talked about for the last few weeks.  For best success these cool season crops should be planted at once to allow most growth and maturity before the extreme heat of summer.  Leafy crops like leaf and head lettuce, cabbage, mustard, spinach and swiss chard, as well as broccoli, peas, kohlrabi and cauliflower should be planted right away.  Root crops like beets, carrots, radish, turnips, onion plants or sets, and seed potatoes should all be planted sooner rather than later.  This is also the best time to plant perennial crops like asparagus crowns, rhubarb roots and bareroot strawberries to establish long term healthy food sources right in your own yard.

We are in the final stretch of the annual window to apply pre-emergent herbicides or weed killers to your  lawn to control crabgrass and other summer weeds and grasses.  There are many good products available.  Visit your local nurseryman or garden center for input on the best choice to use on your type turf grass and for the weeds you want to control.  Most of these pre-emergents only work if applied and watered in before the crabgrass  or other weeds have germinated. Everything is sprouting early this year so the sooner you apply the more effective this “birth control” for weeds will be.  If you are concerned you are late to apply and your summer weeds are already sprouting you can use a product with Dimension that will still help control crabgrass for a few weeks, even after germination.

Our  weather has been unusually nice so hopefully you have been making time to enjoy the beautiful flowering yellow forsythia, bright orange /red quince, white Bradford Pears as well as the charming Daffodils and other early season garden delights.

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