Back to school fall planting!

We have been blessed with a very mild summer this year across Oklahoma, especially compared to the very hot and dry summers of the last three years. We have rarely knocked on the 100 degree door and have actually gone into triple digits less than a handful of days in most parts of the state. As a result of the milder daytime high temperatures, the much milder nighttime temperatures and several nice rain showers through June and July much of our vegetation is a beautiful green. It has been a long time since we have enjoyed such lush green trees, shrubs and grass across Oklahoma in the outdoor oven that is August on the plains. We never know what weather the seasons will produce for us until it is happening or by reviewing it after we have enjoyed or survived it. Even in a very moderate year like this we still have stretches that get hot and or dry where your landscape and gardens will need water besides that provided by natural rains. You can further reduce your water needs by mulching your flower beds, vegetable gardens and container gardens with a mulch of bark or natural hulls to cool the soil and reduce evaporation losses. You may want to consider installing drip irrigation to further reduce your water use.

Schools and college classes are back in session which makes it easier to believe that fall is just around the corner. Gardeners learn to think ahead to get the most out of their gardening experience. Hopefully you are still harvesting and picking fresh nutritious veggies off your spring garden but now is the time to do the final planting on your fall garden. You can still plant seeds of tender vegetables like: bush beans, lima beans, cucumbers, and summer squash but these should get planted within the next week to get a good harvest before the killing freezes later this year. There are much semi-hardy vegetables available as plants including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collards, leaf lettuce, leek, parsnip and onions that should be planted right away for harvest this fall and even for a period of time after the first mild freezes. You can still plant seeds of many semi hardy vegetables including beets, carrots, collard greens, leaf lettuce, leeks, mustard, onions, parsnip, green peas, radish, rutabaga, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips. Most of the semi-hardy crops are cool season leafy crops or root crops that can tolerate early cold spells and keep producing. You can further extend their season with mulching, row covers or other light protection once we start dealing with freezing weather.

If you want a green lawn this winter we are at the beginning of the planting period for tall fescue and rye grass. You can overseed fescue and rye grass from mid August to mid October across Oklahoma. These cool season grasses will germinate and provide green color to your landscape all through the cold days of winter in sunny or part shade turf areas. They will succumb to the heat next spring and yield to your Bermuda grass summer lawn.

Enjoy our best summer in years and spend time in your yard and gardens enjoying the wonders of nature.

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