Summer Mode Gardening!

Memorial Day is now in the rear view mirror and most schools are out for the summer so we are psychologically in summer mode even if the calendar does not officially go there for another three weeks. We have been blessed with periodic rains and moderate weather so far this growing season so we have not had to go into full watering mode to save our gardens. In fact, Mother Nature has done most of the watering and we have only had to step in a few times with supplemental or hand watering to keep from stressing our desired plant material. This is likely to change as the days get longer and the sun gets even brighter. Our yards will likely need us to help with more “fill in” watering as we get hotter and drier. So far we are enjoying one of our best gardening seasons in years on most plant material but we are only six weeks into our normal thirty-two week growing season. Shoppers are not as thick at the local nurseries and garden centers now but most still have a great selection of vegetables, flowering annuals and perennials, container grown shrubs and trees that you can plant and enjoy this year while we still have eighty percent of the 2016 growing season in front of us. The early bird gardeners this year have gotten a lot of help from natural rainfall and mild temperatures so most of their plantings are already rooted in and looking great. Those planting now may not get as much help from rains and may need to spend a little more time watering but they can still have a great gardening season and the thrill of picking their own fresh tomatoes and peppers or the beauty of their own fresh flowers.

Remember that plants in hanging baskets or decorative containers will usually dry out quicker and more often than plants grown in ground beds and may require extra watering. Be aware that planting in flower beds under your roof overhang, under thick tree or shrub canopies or in containers under porches or patios may receive limited rainfall and will need to be watered whether it rains or not. One of the joys of gardening is to be observant and learn how various plants grow and respond to different soil, water, day length and weather conditions and then to use our experiences and common sense to garden even wiser in the future. Observation and learning really enhance the joy of gardening. These experiences help us learn to move plants to sunnier or shadier areas, to more protected or less protected spots, to better drained or less drained areas, to use bigger growing containers and how and when to feed, water and spray our plants. Our knowledge and experience continues to grow and evolve just as our plants grow and evolve. Gardening is a partnership between the plants you select and plant, the weather and conditions nature serves up and our role as planters and caretakers.

Assuming the sun rises and shines each day the next most important issue for planting or gardening success is usually water. Sometime nature provides too much by way of floods or standing water and we have limited ways to deal with an overabundance of water except for creating well drained soil over time by the addition of sphagnum peat moss, compost or other organic matter. A shortage of rain or water is the challenge Oklahoma gardeners are more likely to face and we humans can really help with this challenge. We can hand water, use overhead sprinklers, soaker hoses, and automatic sprinklers or install drip irrigation, the most efficient way to supplement watering between rains. Most established plants need water equivalent to 1 to 2 inches of rain per week. New plantings often require more until they are well rooted into their new home.

Mulch the soil under new and existing plantings with a blanket of 1 to 2 inches of cottonseed hulls, pine straw, pecan hulls, cocoa hulls or pine, oak, cypress, cedar or fir bark shredded or chipped in different sizes and colors to reduce watering by half and weeding by even more.

This is still a great time to plant so finish planting the containers and flowerbeds you want to enjoy this year and then take time to observe, learn and enjoy your yard.


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