April Showers! This is the Season To Plant!

Most of Oklahoma has been blessed with nourishing spring rains the last two weeks.  These rains have certainly not been enough to get us out of our long term drought but they have been a great gift to all our green growing plants and trees.  We have heard many comments that this is the greenest folks have seen their yards, shrubs and fields in several years.  We pray we will continue to be blessed with life giving rains throughout the rest of this year and that our streams, ponds and lakes will be returned to near capacity.  Far more of our precious water is held in the ground then in our ponds and lakes. We are just not able to see the water stored in our soil clearly although we can tell its presence when we dig to plant our spring vegetable gardens, colorful flowers, shrubs and trees.  One of the severe problems of a long term drought is when we reduce those moisture levels stored in the “water bank” that is our soil.  The longer and harder the drought, the deeper in the ground we lose soil moisture.  First we lose the topsoil moisture, which is easiest to lose and easiest to replace with rain, drip irrigation, hand watering or watering by sprinklers. As we start to lose subsoil moisture the drought takes a greater toll on our deeper rooted and more permanent plants like perennials, grasses and even shrubs and trees.  This sub soil moisture is harder to restore and often takes many rains or sustained slow and deep watering.  Too heavy or hard rains are more likely to run off.  Gentle, soft rains may not last long enough to restore subsoil moisture as water saturates as it soaks in and generally doesn’t move deeper in the ground until the upper soil is totally “full”.  This is why we advise that it is better to water your flowerbeds, lawn and trees less often but with longer “soaking”, rather than spraying or squirting your plantings every day. 

Oklahoma City and many central and western Oklahoma communities are on every other day watering restrictions to save or conserve water.  This is not a problem for most plants and actually may encourage better watering habits of soaking less often rather than squirting every day.  As a general rule most plant material can survive with less, but does best with about an inch of rain equivalent water per week from either natural rains, your drip water system or your water hose.  Some suggest that we not plant lawns or flowers during a drought and thus further reduce the need for water but as the dust bowl in our own state’s history and countless other examples around the world have shown, we need plant vegetation to reduce erosion, to modify the temperature cooler which reduces water use and evaporation and to help rain to soak into the earth instead of running off.  Lawns and plants do all these drought reduction and temperature reduction services while providing us fresh, healthy vegetables, fruits, berries and herbs and the life giving oxygen we humans need for very survival.   On top of those benefits few, things can so dramatically impact the beauty of our yards and neighborhoods and give personality to our homes as gardening.  The ever changing chorus of new growth and flowers provides worldly beauty while feeding our soul and nourishing our spirit as a place to meditate and enjoy and reflect on life. 

This is the season to plant.  Plant your tomatoes, peppers and the rest of the warm season vegetables.  Plant your bedding plants from the almost unlimited choices of colorful annuals and perennials.  Plant new shrubs and trees to add to or update your property. Plant fescue grass seed in shady areas and Bermuda grass in sunny areas.  This is also the time to apply spring fertilizers.  This is the season to plant most everything in our beautiful spring weather and then to sit and watch them grow and to enjoy your part in cooling and beautifying our state.

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