Days are getting longer, weeds are coming out!

The days are getting longer and spring is inching ever closer.  We are at that season where we can do lots of planning, thinking or ordering but it is still too early to do most things in the garden.

Veggie growers can start planting seed potatoes, onion plants and onion sets from early February to mid March.  These root crops are really easy to grow in well drained soil or above ground in decorative containers or the innovative smart fabric pots.  You can start onions from onion sets which are like a bulb or onion plants which have been grown from seed, and then the sprouted onions are pulled bare root from the ground and are available in red, white and yellow varieties for you to grow your own fresh onions.  The early planted onions will grow bigger hamburger style onions than the later planted onions because they are sensitive to day length and later plantings won’t make as large as an onion.  Start potatoes by buying seed potatoes in white, gold, red or blue/purple then cut the potatoes in pieces making sure to have one or more “eyes” on each chunk that can then sprout and grow a new plant to produce a fresh crop of potatoes. The potatoes at the grocery store have generally been treated to prevent sprouting and do not make good seed potatoes.  You can buy untreated seed potatoes at your local garden center.

February is also the season you can start planting bareroot perennial food crops like strawberries, rhubarb, horseradish, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, gooseberries and youngberries.  Berries have become very popular as people have realized their high levels of antioxidants and great nutritional value.  You can buy the strawberries as bareroot transplants in spring bearing or everbearing varieties.  The spring bearing plants produce one major crop each spring while the everbearing have fewer fruit at once but produce over an extended season.  Rhubarb, asparagus and horseradish are available as bareroot crowns that were dug from their growing fields, bare-rooted and available at garden centers for you to buy and transplant into your home garden.

February to mid March is the best time to take action to control crabgrass, goatheads, sand burrs and other summer weeds in your lawn.  Pre-emergent herbicides are the easiest way to control these problems but they must be applied before the weed seeds ever germinate.  Most of these pre-emergents work for six to twelve weeks after application as a prophylactic to prevent the weeds from sprouting.  There are a number of different products available as either an herbicide (weed killer) only or combined with fertilizer to be a weed and feed type product.  Your local nurseryman can help you pick the best product based on your chosen lawn grass and the weeds you are battling.  Most of the best products contain one or more of the following pre-emergent herbicides; Balan, Treflan, Dimension, Gallery, Barricade (Prodiamine), TEAM or Sulfentrazone.

Over the next week or two we can begin planting the cool season vegetables and berries and applying pre-emergent weed killers to our lawns.  The list of things we can do outside will start growing rapidly as we warm up.  .

Rodd Moesel serves as President of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame.  Email garden and landscape questions to rmoesel@americanplant.com.

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