Oklahoma Rain, Prime Planting Season,Weeds!

Most of Oklahoma has thankfully received measurable rain over the last week.  Some areas have even been blessed with several rains after virtually no rain across much of the state since September or October of last year.  Our trees, shrubs, perennials and spring bulbs are all breathing a deep sigh of relief after this much needed moisture.  We have had more winter damage than usual because of the extreme drought which has led to some actual dehydration of many trees and shrubs and the loss or burning of more foliage then usual on our broadleaf and needlepoint evergreens.

We are in the middle of prime planting season for our cool season food crops.  Between now and mid March you should plant leafy greens like leaf or head lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and Swiss chard.  Now is the time to plant broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, green peas, and turnips.  There are many root crops to plant now to harvest and enjoy two to three months later including beets, carrots, onion plants or onion sets, Irish potatoes and radishes.  These are very easy crops to grow and have limited pest or disease problems so they are a good way to start gardening.  The above crops are all annuals that will produce this year and then be done when harvested or stressed out by the summer heat.

There are some good perennial, cool season food crops that should live and produce for multiple years with just a little basic care.  These include crops like asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, horseradish, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries and blueberries.  These cool season fruits and vegetables can be grown in traditional ground beds, raised beds or in decorative containers.  Most do best in a well drained soil where they will not be standing in water.

Cool season veggies are a great opportunity to involve kids, grandkids or neighbor kids in a gardening experience.  I just returned from a national meeting of Seed Your Future, a volunteer group that is committed to encourage more youth to have experiences with plants and hopefully encourage some to even explore plant careers.  Many youth get to sow seed or take cuttings and see the miracles of plants in first, second, even third grade but few get much exposure or  experience with the joy of plants after those early grades.  Reach out to the kids in your world and invite them to plant seed potatoes or onion plants with you and let them check in over the next sixty to ninety days as those crops grow. Then have them help you harvest, clean, cook and eat these fresh crops they helped plant and grow.  Kids are always impressed when you sow the seeds of carrots, radish or beets and then to see them germinate, watch them grow and then to pull them out of the ground at harvest.  Most kids don’t even realize these root vegetables are grown underground.  This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the kids in your life, to learn and have fun together as you increase their awareness of plants and nature.  You can learn a lot more about plants, soil, moisture, bugs, weather and life by living and participating in gardening than you can in a class lecture or reading a science textbook.

As we get closer to spring planting of warm season crops in mid April  this is a good time to prepare the soil in our flowerbed and garden areas or to create new flowerbeds.

Now is the time to apply pre-emergent herbicides or weed killers to your lawn for control of crabgrass and warm season weeds.  Lawn weeds are much easier to control with a pre-emergent which kills the crabgrass and winter weeds as they germinate.  Most of these pre-emergents will work for four to twelve weeks, depending on their chemistry, after application to your lawn and getting watered in to activate the herbicides.  You can apply these as a herbicide or weed killer only or blended with a fertilizer to act as a weed and feed product.  Look for a herbicide or weed and feed product that includes Prodiamine (Barricade), Dimenson, Balan, Treflan, Team or Sulfentrazone for best weed control results in Oklahoma.  Some folks try to get organic pre-emergent weed control with corn gluten.

Gather the kids in your life and share the joy and productivity of planting your cool season vegetables and food crops as we prepare for spring 2018.

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