Cool Season Crops and Pre-Emergent Time!

Two months of 2014 are already in the history books.  As we start the month of March the number of gardening opportunities expands dramatically.  This is the prime season to plant potatoes, onions, radish, carrots and most all the cool season “root crops.”  It is also the time to plant all the cool season leafy crops like lettuce, cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower.  Over half of our United States vegetables are usually grown in California.  With their extreme drought well over a half million acres of vegetables are not even being planted this year since there is no water to pump for watering in many production areas.  As this season progresses expect big increases in vegetables prices from lettuce and cool season crops to the later season warm crops like tomatoes and peppers.  If there was ever a year in recent memory to expand your vegetable and fruit gardening or to start a vegetable garden this is the year.  Supply and demand at the grocery store will drive up pricing at the grocery store as this year progresses.  Most of these cool season crops will produce their highest yields if planted by Saint Patrick’s Day or for sure by the end of March.   Please exercise patience to plant the warm season veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and the annual herbs until after our last average frost in April.

There are many berry crops that can be purchased bare root to save money and planted now will provide harvest for many seasons to come.  This would include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries and many others.  This is also the time to plant bare root crowns of asparagus, rhubarb and horseradish.  This is the time to plant bare root fruit trees to start or expand your own orchard and grape vines to start your own vineyard for fresh grapes or wine.  All these berry and fruit crops can be planted later in the year from container grown material but of course these will cost more as the nurseryman will have to invest in containers, soil, labor and production space to grow those crops.  You can buy them bare root and plant them in a well prepared planting hole over the next few weeks and reduce your cost and still enjoy a high success rate.  Bare root planting does not work well as we warm up in April and later. 

Even if you don’t have flower beds or a garden area you can have a lot of fun growing many of these vegetables in container gardens, raised beds or innovative above ground containers like the root control or fabric growing bags made right here in Oklahoma City.  If you grow your vegetables in a raised bed or container garden use a well drained prepared soil or use a good loam mixed with sphagnum peat, composted bark or other organic matter for best yields.

This is the very best time to apply pre-emergent weed killers to your lawn to prevent crabgrass and summer weeds that compete with your lawn for our scarce water resources.   You can apply the weed killer by itself or in combination with a spring fertilizer marketed as weed and feed product.  There are many good products and your nurseryman can help you select the best for your grass.  My favorites use Barricade, Dimension, Balan or Treflen as the active ingredient.

Take advantage of the pretty days to finish your pruning, to dig new flowerbeds and to plant more trees and shrubs as the real spring season grows ever closer. 

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