Spring on the Calendar! Longer Days, Garden & Yard Care Time!

We have officially entered spring on the calendar but the Oklahoma weather is still being indecisive. In the last week parts of the state got down to 16° and the metro area got down to 29°. The wheat farmers across the western part of our state likely lost all or a significant part of their wheat crops as their crops were running several weeks early after a month of mild weather before this killing freeze in the west. We are likely to still have some frosts or even a hard freeze here in the metro area so it is wise to practice patience and wait until after April tenth to plant your tomatoes, peppers, begonias, penta and other warm season annuals. The “hot” season crops like sweet potatoes, caladiums, okra and periwinkle should not be planted until May first or after for best results.

You can plant away on trees, shrubs, most perennials and cool season crops. If you plan to create new flowerbeds or garden areas, this is the perfect time to get those prepared and ready to plant. If you want to do more container gardening this is a good time to select your containers and soil mix to be ready to plant when our night temperatures are dependably warmer. If the container gardens are small enough to carry inside the home or garage, you can go ahead and plant now and just be prepared to move them inside on nights that are going to be in the thirties or below.

Your lawn can benefit from a little attention at this time. We usually recommend applying pre-emergent weed killers or weed and feed type products by the time the Redbud trees are done blooming. The Redbuds of all color tones of pink, red, white and even lavender are in bloom now across our state so you need to get the pre-emergent down at once if you want to help reduce your crabgrass and sticker problems later this year. We have been running so far ahead this spring you may not get the full effect applying now but you will get even less effect a week or two weeks from now. Most pre-emergent’s only work when spread or sprayed and watered in before the weed seeds germinate. Once they have germinated you need to use a different product, a post emergent weed killer for control. This is the prime season to plant or sow tall fescue or ryegrass seed if you want new grass or to freshen up your turf in shady areas. These shady or cool season grass seeds should be sown by mid May.

We have had a spectacular show of color this year from all of the spring bulbs planted by the gardeners who thought ahead and planted tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus last fall. The flowering shrubs have been awesome this year with beautiful flower shows form the forsythia, quince and spirea and we are looking forward to the wisteria, lilacs, azaleas and hydrangeas which will be shouting out their colors of joy very soon. You can plant all these flowering shrubs now so you can host your own flowering shows in the future. The flowering trees have also been impressive this year with splashy displays from the plums, apricots, peaches, pears and redbuds as we get ready for the crabapples and magnolias. You can plant any of these flowering or fruit trees now so you can enjoy this color in your own yard next year and for years to come.

If you decide to gamble and plant warm season crops while we are still at risk be prepared to protect those crops on nights when we get in the thirties or below. Oklahoma wheat farmers aren’t able to cover fifty, one hundred or a thousand acres of wheat but you can use Hotkaps, Wall-O-Water tubes or row covers and garden blankets or old sheets or even milk bottles and cardboard boxes to give limited protection to your tender annuals. You may not be able to protect a full peach tree but you can give some protection to a few early tomatoes. Don’t forget that new plantings need water and be prepared to water when Mother Nature is not providing natural rain. Enjoy the longer days and special times in your garden.

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