Well folks, it's that time. Radish seeds going in on Saturday. They can withstand that hard frost so that is all I'll have out there for a while but it signals the start of the season!
Reed, Getting eager to start planting, huh?
Radishes can tolerate some frosts, but at our house it is still too cold for them. Their foliage can freeze when temps drop below 26 degrees, and we were 22 degrees here around sunrise this morning. I'm not sure the cold temps are done with us yet here, though I wish they were. Of course, radish seed is cheap and if the radish plants freeze, a person can always sow more seed.
For anyone reading this who is new to gardening (Reed is not new to gardening and he knows the risk he's taking) and who wonders when it is safe to plant various vegetables, I've linked the OSU Garden Planning Guide, which has recommended planting dates for the vegetables most commonly grown in home gardens. The guide gives a wide range of dates, and the way it is intended to be used is that the earliest date in a range is meant for southeastern OK and the latest date is for northwestern OK. People who live in between can choose a date somewhere between the two.
Sometimes I plant earlier than the recommended dates, but I do so with the knowledge that my early plantings may be frost or freeze killed. It can be worth the risk to plant early some years, but it also can be a disaster when a period of warm weather is followed by a period of significantly colder weather.
Folks who are brand new to gardening need to know that some vegetable plants are very cold hardy, some are only semi-hardy, some are tender and cannot be planted until all danger of frost is past, and some are very tender and shouldn't be planted until soil temperatures are fairly warm. You'll notice on the linked planning guide that each veggie has a description out on the right-handed side of the chart that indicates if it is hrady, semi hardy, tender or very tender.
You can push the envelope and plant earlier than is recommended, and many of us do that, but there is always a risk that anything planted too early will freeze or suffer frost damage. You can mitigate the possibility of damage by covering early crops with floating row covers when the temperatures will be going lower than what those specific plants can tolerate.
I'm not going to put anything in the ground just yet, but I might start in a few days.
Here is a link that might be useful: Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide
Yeah, I'm not saying everyone should plant yet. These are only 21-day radishes. It's a risk but worth it in my opinion. Only doing one 5-ft row at this time.
i couldnt wait any longer so a few weeks back I started some broccoli and other things to do in containers in the greenhouse. started a few too many broccoli so ask an experiment I put some of the leggier ones inground and i am protecting them with clear water bottles and blankets.
Probably go ahead put onion transplants in this weekend
Next ten days is looking pretty decent.
some of us just cant wait, LOL
You guys are tuffer than I am. I dont have a greenhouse and this cold wind keeps me inside, but I have been planting in my mind for months.(but nothing has come up)
Reed, I'm not saying you shouldn't plant early if you want to. I just don't want for us to set off a stampede of early planting by first-time gardeners who don't have experience with planting hardy crops in our erratic late winter weather.
I have found that early planting here in Oklahoma is much riskier than it was when I lived in Texas. I used to plant cold-hardy crops as early as the first week in January but found it only paid off about two years out of ten. I'm a lot more conservative now because my microclimate stays cold at night much later than I'd like.
I think early through mid-February does look pretty good, Mike, and I might be doing some planting next week. I have floating row cover, though, and I know how to use it. : )
Larry, I don't have much in the greenhouse--just the containers of lettuce that have been there all winter. Even with really good 50% shade cloth on it, my greenhouse gets really toasty on warm sunny winter days so I intend to use it more for warm-season seedlings than for cool-season ones that might get too warm inside of it. I just leave the cool-season ones out on the patio since they need the cooler weather.
Who am I to discourage anyone from planting early when I have 4 tomato plants in pots on my sun porch? They go outside once the temps are over 50 degrees and then come back inside onto the glassed-in but unheated sun porch when the temps drop below that. I bring them inside the house at night if freezing temperatures are likely. I wish I could train the pots to walk in and out by themselves, but since they won't, that means I carry the plants in and out every day, but it is worth it to be harvesting tomatoes in April. If carrying the pots in and out wasn't so tedious, I'd have 20 plants in pots.
I just think anyone planting earlier than the recommended dates needs to consider the risk. That's all.
My winter lettuce both outdoors and in the greenhouse is starting to bolt now, so I'll be sowing new lettuce seeds today.
I have some scrape lumber and yesterday I made a box. It is about 3' by 3' and 18 inches high - not pretty. If I staple plastic to the top of it, can I plant lettuce or radishes this early?
Helen, I hope to do the same, I have scrap lumber and plastic. I expect to have to remove or open the plastic as needed.
Larry, I don't bother to plant in my mind because I don't think it is fertile enough to sprout anything. LOL
There is no temptation for me to plant anything outside. My ground temperature is right around freezing, we had snow yesterday, and I can remember a big ice storm in February. In about 3 weeks I will put in onions if conditions are better.
I need to start going through my seeds for transplants and get those ready to start though.
Carol, you are funny. I am doing everything wrong with my onions, but at this point they still look good. I am trying to hold my purchased plants dormant but not dehydrating. My seeds were started months too late, but are doing well. I am not sure what I will do with them. This is my third year at trying to grow bulbing onions. They are harder to grow than I expected, but I am having a lot of fun experimenting.
Dawn, my lettuce and broccoli froze about 8 or 10 weeks ago. I have winter onions, rape and collards left in the garden, but they dont look great.
I planted spinach, radishes and lettuce in the greenhouse. Planted the spinach first and it's up already. The tomatoes and cabbage I planted in the kitchen on a hot pad last Sun were up on Wed. Haven't seen the peppers yet.
Helen in years past I planted my lettuce, spinach and radishes in a cold frame the first week in Feb. It will work better if you let the ground warm up under the plastic for a few sunny days, since you're so far north.
Dawn, DH and I ate the first ripe tomato from the greenhouse yesterday and came to the conclusion that it's not worth it to grow tomatoes in a winter greenhouse. So the "hot room" which has cost us way too much to heat this winter will become another cold room (I need more room for carrots and beets anyway) and the house plants will once again winter on the sunporch which stays much warmer being insulated and attached to the house. I miss having the plants out there anyway. Hate to have to go to the gh to smell petunias when I use to smell them on the porch. I will probably grow a couple patio tomatoes on the porch, but no more giant indeterminates. We don't have a thermostatically controlled fan in the gh but with so many windows it is pretty easy to keep it cooled down on sunny days.
Helen, I think that would work, and you'll never know if you don't try. You will find it heats up really fast in the mornings when sunlight hits it, so as Larry noted it, you'll need to uncover it to allow the excess heat to escape.
Carol, I started seeds earlier this week of tomatoes, peppers, tomato-related berry-type fruit(Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry, Giant Cape Gooseberry and Ground Cherry), hot and sweet peppers, cabbage, and broccoli. Those are in a flat on the light shelf.
Today I started lettuce, snap peas and cool-season herbs in 3 oz. paper cups placed in disposable aluminum pans that are on a table in the greenhouse.
On Sunday, I hope to start a lot more herb varieties and a lot of flowers in flats on the light shelf. On Monday or Tuesday, I'll likely direct sow spinach and some other cool-season greens into the big veggie garden area. Then, I'll spend the rest of the week working on the two new garden areas out west and north of the barn.
I feel like it is time for me to get busy outside, and it helps that the weather looks favorable. Our soil temps have skyrocketed from the mid-30s to mid-50s in just a couple of weeks' time, but I am carefully watching the weather to see how the second half of February looks. I already can see from the forecasts that the first couple of weeks look good, so I expect I'll be able to put my Dixondale Onion plants in the ground as soon as they arrive at mid-month.
Larry, I have held onion plants at least a month before by pouring soil into a flat and sticking the bunches into the flat so the bulb and roots are buried. I didn't water unless the soil was bone dry and then I just misted it. The soil helped keep them from dehydrating. It was a wet winter and I was waiting for the clay to dry out enough to plant them.
Dorothy, That's the same conclusion Tim and I reached when we grew indoor tomatoes in winter. The flavor was poor enough that we thought it wasn't worth the effort. I think that that tomatoes need good heat in order for their flavor enzymes to develop properly. It was a huge disappointment because I worked really hard to keep them happy and it wasn't reflected in their quality.
You know, not having a fresh tomato for a few months really does make that first ripe tomato a huge event. And even though I love my April and May tomatoes, even they do not have the same knock-you-off-your-feet flavor that June, July and August tomatoes have.
I can cool down my greenhouse just fine if I open the 4 vents and 2 doors. Issues can arise if I forget to go outside and do that as early as I should, or if we are at an early-morning fire and I can't open the greenhouse doors as we're leaving because it is freezing, and I cannot leave the fire to run home and open the greenhouse just because the sun is up. I wish the greenhouse doors could be operated by remote control sometimes. (That's not ever gonna happen.)
I just went and bought some potting mix so I can start my seeds. I simply can't wait to plant outdoors. I have a few pots for herbs and such. Starting a few veggies in egg cartons.
I planted this weekend too. It was great. I bought a little shelf set at lowes that has a clear cover, a mini greenhouse. I did tomatoes,celery, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce. I'm sure ive forgot something.
This is my first try at seeds that aren't grown with the "wintersown" technique. I'm optimistic.
Super Bowl Sunday is my traditional seed-starting day. Since I already started most of the cool-season seeds and the tomato and pepper seeds a few days ago, I'll spend a few hours this afternoon starting lots of herb and ornamental seeds.
I'm probably more ready for spring than I should be. Clearly we are having winter nights here still, no matter how warm the days are. It was a chilly 25 degrees here early this morning. Brrr!! At least it does warm up quickly once the sun rises.
So... I planted my onions and some radishes and turnips. I've looked at the weather and feel pretty good but this is a big gamble on my part.
I would like to plant my onions but it rained again this morning and I am up to my ears in mud.
Reed, I usually get a great onion harvest whether I plant early or on time, so I wouldn't spend much time worrying about gambling. It generally pays off. Oklahoma is a pretty good place to grow onions. I have less trouble with bolting here than I did when I lived in Texas. Mine haven't bolted too much the last 3 or 4 years, so I think having it warm up early and stay warm does us a favor, as opposed to those years when the winter and early spring weather see-saw wildly from cold to hot and back to cold again and the darn things bolt. This feels like one of those years where it will warm up early and stay warm.
Larry, Keep your ears away from the mud! Do you know how many Q-tips it will take to get all the icky clay mud out of your ears?
We just had very light rain this morning, so definitely no mud. We have dry dirt and dust though.
yeah we went ahead and put in 70 onion transplants. 35 each of 1015y and Red Candy. I may go get some Yellow Granex also. I feel confident in the groundhog, LOL. Our soil in the garden was at 48 degrees 4 inches down and 43 degrees in the yard under grass.
My seeds from Johnny seeds just arrived! I can't wait to start some of the tomato seeds. My daffodils are coming up already and my Iris's never died back. Going to clean up the flower bed and add some new seeds. So happy to see spring coming along. Summer not so much and I have a feeling it will be here sooner than expected.
Mike, Groundhogs are one problem I don't have here. I expect all the 4-legged predators here would dine on groundhogs if they lived this far south.
The cottontail population is starting to explode because the coyote population seems light this winter. I'd rather see rabbits in the yard than groundhogs though. It is easier to fence out the rabbits.
Carmen, It is great to see all the signs of spring. Like you, I'm afraid the summer-like weather conditions will arrive much earlier than we like.
I do love it when the temperatures are 10 degrees (or more) higher than the average temps in the winter months, but not so happy when they are that much hotter than average in spring and summer.
dawn I meant punxsutawney phil's prediction of an early spring, sorry.
we dont have groundhog problems either
Oh, darn, I thought you were being entertained by a little groundhog living in the yard. : )
I believe in Phil's forecast this year too, but I was believing it for several weeks before he forecasted it. Lately our highs are about the same as our usual lows at this time of year, and even though I like it right not, it cannot be a good sign. It is acting a lot like last year when the cold weather just more or less said adios in February and that was that. I planted tomato plants into permanent non-movable containers around Ferb. 23rd last year, which was a huge leap of faith. I only had to throw a blanket over them on a couple of cool nights, and likely they would have been fine without the blanket but I was in the rather-be-safe-than-sorry frame of mind.
I know that some NE OK counties have groundhogs. George has them near Talequah. I don't have them here and don't have many, if any, Japanese Beetles either. However, we have an occasional stray alligator or cougar, so I don't want you thinking life here in far southern OK is too dull.
I have seen a groundhog about a half mile from my house numerous times, but the other day I got a real surprise. We were driving down 3rd Street which is the old business part of Grove, and we were a block from Main Street, and saw two groundhogs come out from behind a big piece of broken concrete that was up against a business. This is not exactly a city life we live here. LOL
Carol, Better to see it a groundhog anyplace else other than in your own garden!
I expect y'all have plentiful wildlife there around the lake, even if it seems like there are so many houses that you wouldn't.
When we lived in Fort Worth in the 1980s and 1990s we were in a neighborhood where the homes were built in the 1940s, so it seemed pretty citified to me. However, we still had possums and foxes and an occasional copperhead snake. I think a lot more wildlife exists even in the suburbs than most of us would expect. My brother lived in the same Fort Worth suburb as we did, but in an area where the homes were built in the early 1970s. He once opened his mailbox (the kind attached to the wall of the house by the front door) and found a fox curled up in the mailbox along with his mail. We all thought that was hysterically funny, but never figured out how the fox got into the mail box.