GARDENING & WET SPRING MAKES FOR GOOD FIRST HARVEST

Oklahoma gardeners are already harvesting their first home-grown tomatoes, squash and other fresh produce.  As bad as the crops were with the drought and excessive heat last year they are to the great side this year as we have been blessed with cooler temperatures and fairly regular refreshing rains to put most plants in a happy mood.

 Hopefully you got some flowers and veggies planted earlier this year and are already getting to enjoy the work of nature as you watch those plants grow and develop.  Most plants are now container grown and can be transplanted at virtually any time the ground is not frozen.  We certainly don’t have to worry about frozen ground now, so you can still plant most everything if you make the commitment to water these new plantings when needed between natural rains.  We are only two months into our normal growing season but we still have 4 ½ months or over 2/3 the 2012 growing season ahead so you can still get lots of color this season by planting annuals.  Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now will provide color and interest this year and joy and beauty for years to come. 

 Last year I added a bunch of new perennials to my flower beds, and they are back this year even more impressive with larger crowns, and spectacular mounds of flowers on my Shasta daisies and Echinacea cone flowers.  Most of the perennials don’t bloom for as long as annuals but by planting a good mix of perennials you can have some crop in bloom at most all times while adding a  lot of seasonal interest to your landscape.  There are literally hundreds of perennials that do well here in Oklahoma and will come back year after year.  Visit your local nursery or garden center and start adding a few species from bright yellow Coreopsis to stunning blue hardy salvia to your yard each year and before long you will have an impressive mix of plants that liven up your yard with minimal care.

As Oklahoma gets hotter and drier heading into July and August please be prepared to water your plantings to keep them happy and growing rather than stressed and dehydrated.  You can do this by soaking them by waterhose, sprinklers, soaker hoses or by installing a drip watering system.  Remember that soaking with a good slow watering equivalent to a 1” rain is far better for your plants than a daily spritzing or squirting!  The hotter and drier it is, the more water your plants will need to replace the water lost from the plant and the soil.  Plants in containers, and particularly hanging baskets, most exposed to the drying winds will need more supplemental or human watering than plants grown in the ground.  Mulching is one of the very best gardening practices in Oklahoma and will reduce moisture loss from the soil reducing watering by up to 50% while keeping the soil temperatures cooler and dramatically reducing weeds in your garden.  Mulch with 1” to 3” of the bark or hull mulch of your choice to earn these great benefits.

Enjoy your garden and take time to sit in the yard and watch your plants grow and bloom while eating some fresh strawberries or veggies.

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