Raining, still have planting time! Watch for diseases and extra weeds due to the much needed rain!

Most all of Oklahoma including all of the Oklahoma City metro area has been blessed with rain, lots of rain.  This is the wettest spring we have had in many years, even decades.  It has been so wet, so often the last three weeks lots of folks complain that they haven’t been able to plant the spring plants they have already purchased or even mow their lawns

We still have lots of planting time left so you can catch up on planting everything you have already purchased anytime the soil has dried to moist instead of muddy.  Oklahoma greenhouses and garden centers are loaded with lots of great spring crops that would have normally sold the last three weeks while we have been so cloudy, wet and getting waves of rain.  As a result the selections of color annuals, perennials, vegetables, shrubs and trees are much greater than normal for late May.  The cooler temperatures, wet weather and good moisture in our top soils and sub soils make this a great time to shop for more plant material, to plant and to be successful with your summer gardening.  Some plants at local greenhouses or garden centers may have stretched tall and lanky in the darker, cool, cloudy weather.  Crops like tomatoes and marigolds root on their stems and you can just plant deeper.  Most plants should not be planted deeper but at the same depth as their current soil line.  Some of the crops that have stretched or gotten lanky like wax begonias, impatiens, pentas and petunias will benefit from pinching or cutting back the tall stems to force out new lower branches after you transplant into your flowerbeds or decorative containers.  Spring planting season has not passed you by; it has just been delayed by our much needed rain showers.  

The rains have also resulted in the most fungus and disease problems we have faced in years as these pathogens do best with high humidity and moisture and have largely been missing the last few years when we have been stuck in a hot, dry drought cycle.  Be observant and watch for mildew, black spot, rust and various forms of damp-off and rot.  You can use fungicides to try and control these and limit disease damage or wait for hot, dry, sunny windy weather to help provide a cure in the future. 

The heavy and regular rains have also caused an explosion in the Oklahoma weed population as weed seeds that haven’t germinated for several years seem to have all sprouted and grown in conditions that were good for a higher germination and weed survival than we have seen for years.  These weeds can steal space, food and water from your desired crops.  You basically have two choices.  Hand pull the weeds with a passion and energy like the young man used in the Karate Kid movie to paint the fence or work with your local nurseryman to select a weed killer or herbicide that can help safely kill the weeds among your favored plants.  Remember these weed killers are usually either pre-emergent to kill weed or grass seeds that have not yet germinated or selective post-emergent herbicides to kill either broadleafs or grasses or vegetation killers to kill everything.  Be very careful and selective in where you use weed killers or herbicides to be careful you only kill what you call weeds.  Hand pulling is of course the safest way to do this and offers a good chance for garden meditation but is not a garden activity everyone enjoys.  As soon as you have the weeds pulled or killed you can dramatically reduce future weed issues by mulching your flowerbeds or decorative containers with a two or three inch thick layer of natural bark, straw or hulls.  This layer of mulch will really reduce weed germination and weed pressure while keeping your soil cooler in our summer heat and reducing your watering by holding more moisture in the soil. 

It is such a blessing to have moisture again for our lawns, trees and gardens even if it has delayed part of our gardening activities.  Thankfully we still have time to plant and enjoy most all crops this growing season.

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