Oklahoma Spring 2016 Off To A Strong and Happy Start!

This spring has been off to a strong and happy start for most Oklahoma gardeners, nurseries and garden centers. After several years of intense drought and then heavy rains through much of the planting season last year we are finally enjoying a more “normal” weather year in 2016 which is allowing more spring planting and lots of gardening success. Even this week we have received several nice rains across many areas of the state and moderate, even almost cool late May weather. If you have already planted vegetables or flowers they are likely off to a good start and doing well. If you haven’t planted yet or want to plant more, the weather conditions are near perfect with some moisture in the soil and still moderate temperatures. Many gardeners tell me everything is growing well, even the weeds, which may be one of the biggest garden challenges so far this year. There are several key ways to deal with the weeds, pull them out by hand or hoe and scrape them out of the areas you do not want them growing. There are pre-emergent herbicides you can apply, some you can use over the top of desired plants to kill weeds or grasses before they germinate. There are a few choices of post-emergent herbicides including some you can apply over the top of desirable plants to help control or kill weeds and grasses that have already germinated. Make sure to read the directions carefully as a post-emergent killer may also kill desirable ornamental grasses as it is unable to identify between what you think are good or bad grasses. There are similar concerns with broadleaf herbicides. Never use Roundup or glyphosate over any green desirable plants as it will kill anything green it comes in contact with. As amazing as Roundup is to clear an area for a new flowerbed or to clean up fence rows or along sidewalks it can be deadly to your desirable green plants if it gets on them.

The only totally safe way to remove weeds is to hand pull them, but you must be wise enough to only pull the weeds and not the plants you want to keep and cultivate. After you weed you can dramatically reduce future weed pressure by mulching the top of the soil in your garden, flowerbeds, and decorative containers with a blanket of a couple of inches of one of the many mulches of bark, straw, or hulls. A top dress of these mulches will not only reduce weed pressure but will drastically reduce your watering needs, will cool the soil and roots when we face the full heat of July and August and will result in healthier, happier plants.

We have seen limited pest problems so far this year but are likely to face more insect pressure from aphids, thrips and worms as the temperatures warm up. The cooler, wetter weather is leading to a few fungus and disease problems on lawns, vegetables and flowers, especially those in wet or shady areas that may not be well drained. Take a sample of insect or disease problems to your local garden center or nursery and they can help identify the problem and advise you of your choices to address the challenge.

We still have two new flowerbeds I plan to plant and several where we plan to add significant new plant material to go with the shrubs and perennials that are already in those beds. We are only a little over a month into this growing season so it is still a great time to add new flowerbeds or add new plants to your existing plantings. Container gardening continues to grow in popularity and you can get in on the fun whether you only have an apartment balcony, a small patio at a condo or big porch at your home. Some people use container gardens to grow their fresh vegetables, others for color annuals that are easier to reach without having to get down on your knees in a flowerbed. Other folks use tropicals or a family heirloom type plant and then try to save or over winter them in their garage or a hobby greenhouse.

Get in on the gardening fun and give yourself a good reason to be outside in the healthy sun shine and fresh air enjoying the wonders of nature by planting more beautiful plants to feed your soul and stomach from your own yard.

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