New here, first time gardener!

brittanny(7)February 17, 2012

Hi! My name is Brittany and I am new to gardening and live in Southwest Oklahoma! We just recently purchased a new home that has a garden in it and I am determined to keep it going and start growing my own vegetables and herbs! I noticed we have asparagus growing on the fence line and there was another vegetable my grandmother in law recognized but i forgot now what it was. I will post pictures later of the garden and also the plants surrounding the house maybe you guys can identify the flowers and stuff like that so i know what i need to plant to attract the right pollinators and how to distract the birds and other animals from the garden!

This year i am planning to grow carrots, potatoes, leaf lettuce, onions (green and the big round ones), broccolli (i noticed 2 types mentioned on here i want to try packman and piricicaba), radishes, beets, tomatoes, cucumber, okra, and peppers... I havent looked into the herbs quite yet so ill have a list of those. I decided not to attempt fruits this year since they usually take up lots of room, what kinds of fruit have you guys planted the only kind i say one the osu list was watermelon and cantaloupe.

And what type of seeds do you recommend for the vegtables listed above? I am hoping to make an order with boutiful gardens prety soon for the first part of those veggies i listed since they need planted pretty soon.

Thanks for reading this! I am very excited to learn more about gardening and hopefully it will be a good year!

I also am ordering a book that was recommended to me, Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits & Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times... Are there any other helpful books for first time gardeners :)

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Welcome, Brittany. You will learn all you need to know here or be directed to where to learn. And be sure to use the search feature of this site as we've discussed many of the veggies you are interested in many times over the last few years. I'm going to the greenhouse to plant sugar snaps now, but will be back after dark.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 10:58AM
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Welcome to the forum Brittanny! I am also somewhat new to gardening, and everyone here has been amazingly helpful since I joined. All the gardenweb forums have a ton of information on specific questions and vegetables, and I've been able to find most of the answers to my questions by using either the search bar at the bottom of the page or doing google searches (the Gardenweb forums tend to be one of the top search results no matter what I type in). I've read a few books from the library, but so far I've learned way more about gardening here, particularly as it relates to dealing with our harsh climate here in Oklahoma.

I'm jealous that your house came with a garden! I've spent the last six months just making the beds and amending our awful soil. Now that I'm planting stuff I finally feel like I'm getting to the fun part. :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Thank you for the welcomes! So far i have educated myself on potatoes and the planting and maintaining a garden okiedawn posted and brought to the top for me. There is just so much to learn and take in! And i dont know what ill have to do to the garden before i can plant! im hoping not a lot since the majority of everything i want to plant needs planted now!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:38AM
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Brittanny, Take a breath and slow down a little. Almost everything that we have talked about here, we have planted under lights, not in the garden. The only thing in my garden so far, is one bed of onions. I have cole crops planted but still very small, my potatoes curing, and planning to plant Sugar Snaps in the next day or two, but inside in cups to be planted out when they are a couple of inches tall. You have plenty of time.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:47PM
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oh from what i read im supposed to plant in between feb 15 and march 10 because of my location with it being sometime closer to the first part because im so far south. plus i need to get my seed potatoes and let them sit out for a week then cover in sulfer and wait another 5 to 7 days... or do you start all this stuff in a smaller place under lights then move it?

i looked up my first and last freeze date and this is what it said
Each winter, on average, your risk of frost is from November 2 through April 2.
Almost certainly, however, you will receive frost from November 20 through March 22.
You are almost guaranteed that you will not get frost from April 13 through October 15.
Your frost-free growing season is around 214 days

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 1:17PM
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ok now i have been corrected on a plant date, should be feb 26th- beginning of march!
:) gives me more time to get everything together

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 2:34PM
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Welcome to the forum, Brittany! I also live in SW Oklahoma. I'm pretty new at this as well. I've been growing vegetables for a few years now, but I had limited space so I didn't have room for much. I'm expanding my garden this year, so this will be my first year with an actual garden instead of plants put in random places. I'm hoping the weather this year will be more hospitable, but that should be pretty easy because last year was terrible.

The best advice anyone could give you is to take what people are doing in other parts of the state with a grain of salt. I like to see who's doing what and when, but you should never assume that because they're planting it, you should plant it. Some parts of the state may be pretty close to our overall climate, but others are very different. No part of the state gets hot as early as we do and we also stay hot for longer than pretty much any other part of the state. I use April 2 as my frost free date here, but you have to realize that our first day over 100 degrees last year was April 3. And even though last year was a horrible year for gardening, it was the lack of rain that made it horrible. If you've lived here long, you know that last years temperatures weren't really that out of the ordinary. We may have had more days over 100 than normal, but at a certain point, hot is hot. A plant doesn't like 95 degrees any more than it likes 100.

I don't want it to seem like it's not worth it to garden here, though. Like I said, I'm even expanding my garden this year. You just have to figure out what works where you live and what doesn't and that's going to take some time.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 3:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Welcome to the forum.

For planting dates, watch your weather forecast and watch what Leslie is planting and when. She's geographically closer to you than anyone else on this forum, I think. This early in the season, the overnight lows are more important than the daytime highs because we have plenty of pleasant days but still are having really cold nights here and there. It is easy to get excited about warm, mild winter days but we have to remember that the nights are still cold, and the soil temperatures still are pretty cold too. Most of us have very little actually growing in the ground right now. All I have in the ground right now are onions and perennial herbs.

For plants that are grown inside and started from seed and then transplanted into the garden, you still have time to start your own seeds inside if you have the space and proper lighting or you can buy transplants at nurseries or big box stores. I bought transplants for years when I had a small garden and only started growing from seed once I had the space for a lot of plants. I know maybe you feel like you're behind, but you're not. Many of the plants we've started from seed and have growing indoors will not go outside and into the ground for another month or even longer depending on what the weather does.

Have you measured the size of your garden? That's a good place to start. It will help you to figure out how much space you have, and then you can plot out your planting plan on paper and see if you have space to grow everything you want to grow. In our early years here, I drew out a scale drawing on graph paper so I could figure out where to put everything. Now that we've been here for quite a while, I just figure it out in my head, but in those early years, putting the plan down on paper was really helpful.

Then, I'd suggest you do the soil jar test I've linked below. It will help you understand what kind of soil you have in your garden area right now. Then, if you have heavy clay that drains too slowly or sandy soil that drains too quickly, you can learn what you need to do to improve your soil before planting time rolls around.

Understanding your soil will help you decide what you can grow. For example, if you have extremely rocky soil, it may be impossible to grow root crops like carrots and potatoes until/unless you remove a lot of those rocks. If your soil is dense clay and drains slowly, you may need to make raised beds if the garden that came with your house doesn't have raised beds, and that's especially true for plants like tomatoes and peppers that don't tolerate wet roots very well. If you have sand that drains very quickly, you may need to add organic matter to it to help it to hold moisture, but many plants grow well in sandy and sandy loam soils---and carrots, southern peas and melons of all kinds would love that kind of soil. Most plants will grow in most soils, but with sandy soils, there are often root knot nematode issues and with dense, clay soils there can be issues with drainage and root rot. So, understanding your soil before you start helps you make important decisions about what to grow and where to grow it. If you have very sandy soil, it is more important to chose vegetable varieties that have been bred to tolerate root knot nematodes since root knot nematodes often became a problem in gardens with sandy soil.

Since y'all get hotter out west earlier than other parts of the state, you may find it challenging to grow cool-season crops. You may find that your region of the state warms up so quickly that the weather gets too hot too early for the cool-season plants. To some extent, I encounter that issue here in southcentral OK most years, so with cool-season crops, I try to plant varieties with relatively short days-to-maturity so the plants have the best chance to produce before the weather gets too hot for them.

With tomatoes in particular, it is very important to choose proven varieties that perform well in southern parts of the country where the weather goes from too cold to too hot almost overnight. Tomatoes have a fairly limited time period here in which the air temperatures are in the right range for good fruit set to occur, so varieties with shorter DTMs usually do a better job of setting fruit early before it gets too hot. However, most tomato plants that produce small, bite-sized fruit will set fruit much later in the summer than plants that produce larger fruit. Last year, SunGold and Mountain Magic produced fruit well throughout the summer, even with temperatures over 100 degrees for 70-something days, and even when our high temp was 110 or higher. So, if you choose the right varieties and have some luck on your side as well, you can get a good harvest despite the weather. Mulching helps because it helps keep the soil temp lower and helps the soil stay moist, and some of us have had some success with using shadecloth fabric to reduce the mid- through late-summer heat stress on tomatoes and peppers.

Remember, too, that gardening is a journey and not a destination so enjoy the process and be prepared for setbacks along the way. There's never a 'perfect' gardening year here because our summers are so brutal, but there are lots of good years.

We all can tell you what we've tried, what we've learned, what works or doesn't work for us, etc., but you will have to be willing to experiment to learn what works for you in your climate and your soil, and you shouldn't be afraid to experiment. It is one of the best ways to learn. And, you need to know that what works one year will not necessarily work in another year. I have to make big changes to my gardening methods in wet years when my county gets 40 to 50" of rain, and have to be willing to make other changes to my gardening methods in a year when we only have 18 or 20 or 22" of rainfall. So, be willing to be flexible and go with the flow because in this climate, you have to scramble at times to keep the weather from destroying your garden. Sometimes, no matter what you do, Mother Nature wins. For example, you can have the most beautiful garden in the world, and then along comes a tornado (which happened to one of our forum members last spring) or a hailstorm or a severe downburst and it just annihilates your garden. While events like that can be incredibly frustrating, it goes with the territory when you live and garden in this part of the country.


Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Jar Test for Texture

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 5:19PM
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OK thank you dawn!
so far i have measured my gardening space and not much else because my husband decided to but a car port in the backyard and its on a good chunk, like half of my garden... and it was my birthday tuesday so we celebrated this weekend :)
so i have about 19x19 ft towards the front and on the side of the car port i have a 6x22 ft area... im just worried now that the car port is going to make the garden too shaded... I am going to do the soil sample test this weekend!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:44AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You're welcome.

I want to wish you a belated Happy Birthday!

I can't really blame your DH for wanting a carport, I suppose, since it hails so much here.

There are lots of plants, including leaf crops and herbs, that grow fine in part shade. How are the garden area and carport placed---is it set up where the garden area will be shaded in the morning or the afternoon or what? Look at the garden area on the weekend and see how much of it currently is in full shade versus full sun, and remember that it will change somewhat as we move more towards summer. If you continue to observe that area as the weeks pass, you may be surprised to see how the path of the sun changes over time. There is an area north of tall barn-style detached garage that is in full shade right now, but by summer, most of the area shaded now will be in almost full sun. If I looked at it right now, I'd think that nothing would grow there, but everything grows there just fine in the spring and summer and most of the fall. It only is "too shady" for part of the fall, winter and earliest part of spring.

In our part of the country where the sunlight is so intense and the temperatures often get so high for so many weeks on end, it often benefits even some "full sun" plants to have partial shade. Peppers are one veggie that perform better for me if I give them some shade at mid-day or in the afternoon than if they are in full sun from sunrise to sunset. Even tomato plants tolerate some shade in our climate, which often surprises people who've never gardened this far south or southwest. You can slow down the speed with which lettuce and spinach bolt in spring by planting them where they get a lot of afternoon shade. So, just because you have shade, that doesn't mean you won't be able to grow something in that shade.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 4:16PM
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awww thank you i had a great birthday :)

and thanks for giving me some inspiration regarding the shade! i was looking forward to planting peppers and tomatoes so that is helpful!
I have some pictures of the garden... ill link the one that best shows the whole garden... the carport isnt finished but there will be cars in it so i wont be able to plant inside it! and to the right of me is the house so the garden starts at my house and goes all the way to the alley (we live inside town)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:11PM
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Welcome Brittany!

An Asparagus plant? Do you have any idea how many years it takes for them to establish? I'm jealous. That's a real jewel to have in the garden already. Congratulations on your move and new home.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 11:36PM
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Hey Leslie!

What are you planting soon? I was reading up on carrots and other things to plant like broccoli, Irish potato, garlic, onion, and maybe spinach...

Have you had any luck with any of those or anything else, and what types(seeds) of those items do you buy?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 4:54PM
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