OKLAHOMA CROPS THRIVE THIS SEASON

We are already enjoying some really nice harvests this year on our tomatoes, peppers, squash and the watermelons, cantaloupes and okra are all coming along nicely as long as you have been attentive to your watering responsibilities.  We have been blessed with more moderate daytime temperatures than last year, and have enjoyed a big improvement with nighttime temps in the 70’s instead of the 80’s and 90’s.  That difference in nighttime temperatures is huge, giving our plants a chance to relax from the intense stress of the hot summer heat.  Last year we got almost no tomatoes across Oklahoma because we had super hot days and the night temperatures from late May on hardly ever dropped below 80°. Tomatoes were hard to find last year because they are usually not successful at pollinating above 80°.  No pollination means no fruit on tomatoes.

We are having a much better summer this year for most all of our ornamental and vegetable crops.  It is very important to be diligent about your watering.  Learn to “read” your plants for when they are under stress or very dry.  They will often wilt or display droopy leaves or stems when crying out for water.  Many plants will get pale or turn a grayish or lighter bleached out green color when dehydrated and screaming for your watering assistance.  Observe and watch your plants and they will do a pretty good job of communicating with you when they have an extreme need for water.  If you miss these early signals they will often “sunburn” or scald either big brown spots on the leaves of broadleaf shrubs or plants or will burn around the perimeter or outer edges of tree leaves.  You can reduce watering requirements by adding polymer gels or liquids to your soil or by mulching the top of your gardens and flowerbeds with a layer of 1’ to 3” of hulls or one of the many choices in bark mulches.

 There are many plants that love the heat and make their big show in the summer. One of my favorite flowering shrubs is the Crape Myrtle.  There are many varieties that do great in Oklahoma and they are making a huge splash across our state right now in many tones of red, pink, purple and white.  There are dwarf varieties that only grow a couple of feet tall, intermediate sized shrubs and varieties that are really small trees of 15’ to 20’.  Some varieties are susceptible to mildew and some are not as winter hardy and may freeze back to the ground in really harsh winters but they are a largely trouble-free plant that makes a fabulous show in our Oklahoma summers.  They are so impressive that someone needs to start a crape myrtle festival in Oklahoma! 

Shasta daisies are making a big show in the perennial garden while periwinkle or vinca, lantana and penta are starring in our annual flowerbeds.  The mornings and evenings are a great time to walk, water or enjoy your time in the summer garden.

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