Planning , Planting And Maintaining A Vegetable Garden

Okiedawn OK Zone 7February 1, 2008

Lately we've had quite a lot of new gardeners asking various questions about vegetable gardening, so I thought I'd say a few things about planning a vegetable garden. I hope others of you will add the things I forget, 'cause you know I won't think of everything.

1.) Do your research and make a plan. Understand that some plants which grow well in some other parts of the country simply cannot tolerate our heat and, depending on where you live in Oklahoma, our humidity (or lack of such).

I'll give just a couple of examples. Rhubard grows great in areas with milder summer Pennsylvania, where my DH grew up. Here, rhubard struggles to get through the July and August heat and often dies out in the heat of the summer, even though it is partially shaded and well-watered.

Apples are another challenge to grow here, but more because of their susceptibility to cedar apple rust....since our millions of cedar trees are host to this disease. Raspberries can be very challenging (though not necessarily impossible) to grow here but blackberries aren't hard at all.

Some crops that will grow here are "backwards" from how they grow in some other parts of the country. Brussels sprouts are one of those. You'll tend to have greater success with Brussels Sprouts if you plant them in mid- to late-summer and harvest them in the fall. When planted in the spring here, brussels sprouts often "burn up" in the heat before they can make much of a crop.

2.) Obtain your seed and draw out a garden plan based on the plant spacing recommended for each variety of plants. This will help you figure how large to make your garden plot OR it will show you that you need to cut back on your list of things you want to grow because you don't have room for them all.

3.) Select your garden site based on available sunlight. Most vegetables need at least 8 hours of sunlight a day, although a few can get by on 6. If you property is heavily shaded, a vegetable garden may not be possible.

4.) Prepare your soil properly. It all starts with the soil. You CANNOT grow bountiful crops without loose, fertile soil, and most of us start out with less than ideal soil. Ideal garden soil is going to be loose, fluffy, loamy soil that has a lot of organic material in it. Many of us start out with very sandy, very silty or very, very clayey soil and have to add a lot of soil amendements to create ideal garden soil. You should ideally add a minimum of 6 to 8 inches of organic material and till it into the soil or double-dig the beds (google to find instructions for that) and work in the amendments by hand.

You can add anything organic to enrich your soil: compost, chopped or shredded leaves or straw, animal manure, peat moss, small pine bark fines, greensand, lava sand, mushroom compost, used coffee grounds, composted cotton hulls, etc.

Just the act of adding several inches of organic material will raise the grade of the soil above the surrounding area. Raised beds are best for veggie gardens. (Think about last year's heavy rains and you can understand why.) You can use mounded soil as a raised bed. You can use stacked stone or lumber that has NOT been chemically treated to build raised beds. Avoid creosote-treated railroad ties and chemically-treated landscape timbers.

Raised beds offer improved drainage and they warm up faster in the spring. If properly mulched they do not erode.

If you go to all the trouble to build raised beds, walk only in the pathways so you don't compact the loose, fluffy soil in the raised beds.

5.) Select varieties recommended for Oklahoma. Many vegetable varieties recommended for the USA in general are really geared towards cooler climates and don't do as well in our heat as we would like. Be sure you select varieties proven to do well in Oklahoma.

6.) Understand that our long growing season is really several mini-seasons. You have to plant each crop in the proper mini-season for success.

Cool season crops include asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Chinese cabbage, chives, collards, endive, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, green peas, parsley (can plant in fall also), parsnip (can plant in spring or fall) potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, salsify, shallots, spinach, swiss chard (planted early is best, but it can produce all summer in our heat), and turnips/rutabagas. They need to be planted in mid-February (in more southern parts of the state) to mid-March (in more northern parts of the sate). If you plant them too late, they won't produce a crop, because once it heats up, their productivity seriously declines or stops. Most of them are harvested in late spring to early summer. Garlic is best planted in the fall, by the way, and harvested in mid- to late-spring.

Warm season crops include artichokes, beans, cantaloupe/muskmelons and other melons, cucumbers, eggplant, New Zealand spinach, okra, peppers, pumpkins, southern peas (including black-eyed peas, crowder peas and cream peas), summer and winter squash, sweet corn and popcorn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomatilloes and watermelons. In general, most warm season crops are planted on or after your average last frost date. Some of them, like southern peas, sweet potatoes, and okra like REALLY warm soil and should be planted a month or more after the average last frost date once the soil is really, really warm.

These plants will produce for varying amounts of time. Keep in mind that many crops play out in the July heat, which brings us to the next mini-season, which is the fall vegetable garden. The fall veggie garden is actually planted in summer for a fall harvest. You can grow almost anything in the fall garden if it matures in about 100 days or less.

Tomatoes are popular for fall gardens because they often stop producing in the heat of the summer and have a hard time rebounding in the fall, so many gardeners set out fresh transplants in June or early July for a fall harvest.

I didn't list many herbs, but most of them grow well when planted in the spring. They are not, in general, as affected by the heat and often produce well into the fall, unless you let them go to flower and set seed. Cilantro is an exception. It likes to grow in cooler Spring weather.

Some fall crops that are very cold-hardy, like spinach and collard greens can be planted very late and will overwinter and give you a spring crop in most of the state.

7. If your garden is on the smallish size, choose dwarf size plants that take up less space. Many of the plants developed/advertised as being "great for containers" also grow well in the ground and take up less space.

8. Grow vertically to save space, create shade, and prevent disease. Tomatoes should be staged or caged. Tomato plants that sprawl on the ground tend to get more diseases, especially of the type that cause tomatoes to rot. Many vining type crops like pole beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, muskmelons, winter squash and malabar spinach can be grown on fences, bamboo teepees, trellises, etc.

9. Create your own shade. Plant taller crops like corn, okra or trellised plants on the west and south sides of your garden and plants that benefit from some summer shade, like peppers, on the north side of the taller plants. The taller plants will shade the pepper plants part of the day and help keep the peppers from getting sunscald (sunburn).

10. Avoid bare soil. Newly tilled or turned-over soil looks lovely, doesn't it? Just wait a few weeks, though, and EVERY INCH of bare soil will have weeds and grass sprouting in it. So, plant your crops and, as soon as they have emerged from the ground and gotten a little height, add mulch, mulch, mulch, to keep the weeds from sprouting. For cool season crops, mulch heavily as soon as you can because it will help keep the soil cooler and the cool-season plants like that.

For warm season crops, though, I start out with a light layer of mulch as soon as possible in spring, and add to it as the season progresses. There is a reason for this. A very thick layer of mulch will keep the soil from warming up, and warm-season crops need warm soil. They DON'T need hot soil, though, so I add layer after layer of seed-free grass clippings throughout the summer to keep the soil cool, moist and weed-free.

11. Water efficiently. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are best. They waste less water (a lot of the water from sprinklers evaporates before it reaches the ground) and keep water off the plant foliage. In general, water on the plant foliage increases the odds they'll have disease problems and you want to avoid that.

12. Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. It is not necessary to feed your plants with a chemical or synthetic fertilizer. If you enrich your soil with a variety of amendments as listed above, your soil will feed the plants. If you think plants need an extra boost, use natural and organic fertilizers like compost tea, liquid seaweed, animal manure, liquid fish or fish meal, blood or bone meal, or granular or liquid fertilizers made from safe, organic ingredients. Too much fertilizer (whether synthetic or organic) is actually harmful to the plants and plants that are over-fertilized have lots more disease and pest problems.

13. Please don't poison your soil, your groundwater and your food. Many pesticides are, in fact, nerve agents to which you should not expose yourself or your families. Many chemical fertilizers are made of hazardous materials. Go organic as much as possible. Use Integrated Pest Management. THINK before you act. I know someone who decided to put a popular chemical fire ant product in his garden. Clearly he didn't read the label as it was not labeled for use in a veggie garden. Once he realized he'd contaminated his soil, he found he should not eat crops from that soil, nor grow food crops in it again for several years. Don't let something like that happen to you.

14. Practice safe pest control. Understand that there ALWAYS will be insects and bugs in the garden. Some of them are good, some are bad, and some of them are necessary for pollination. You cannot use broad-spectrum measures to kill the bad bugs because they will kill the good bugs (the ones that prey upon bad bugs) and the pollinators. Without pollination, some crops will fail.

Safe pest controls include releasing good bugs like lady bugs, parasitic wasps and green lacewings to prey upon the bad bugs. Avoid releasing praying mantids as they will kill all the bugs--both the good ones and the bad ones--including one another. You can handpick slow-moving bugs like potato bugs and drop them into a bucket of water to drown them. You can remove many insect eggs from the back of leaves before they hatch. You don't have to panic and go into "wipeout" mode every time you see an insect. People in this world have grown crops for thousands of years withou chemical pesticides. Work with nature and not against it.

15. Fence in the garden. Keep in mind that EVERY living creature around will find your garden attractive, including your pets, children and wildlife. This is especially important in a rural area.

Even in our fenced-in rural garden we have lots of wild creatures who try to find their way over or under the fence (and sometimes succeed), including deer, bobcats, squirrels, moles, voles, gophers, skunks, possums, rabbits, birds of all types, mice, turtles, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes (including poisonous ones), etc. Our fence keeps out most of them, but every now and then one or two find their way in.

Make your life easier and fence in the garden to begin with. If you are in town, you still will need fencing to keep the pets (or neighbors' pets) and kids out of the garden. Even small pets can trample and dig up plants and even terrific kids can unintentionally wreck a garden.

16. Don't forget to feed the birds! Wild birds are a double-edged sword, but generally are beneficial to your garden and a delight to have around. I attract birds to the garden by keeping a water source there for them and by planting a border of flowers and herbs that produce seeds they like. I also have bird feeders around the yard and especially around the perimeter of the garden. Birds are VERY beneficial as they eat lots of insect pests. However, if they get hungry or thirsty, they will nibble at some veggies, especially tomatoes, and may eat tree fruits and berries. So, you kind of walk a fine line with them.

17. Weed early and often. Pull sprouting weeds as soon as they are large enough to pull up. If you let the weeds hang around a while, they will steal food and water from your garden plants AND they are a lot harder to pull up once their roots are big and well-developed. After you pull up the weeds, mulch the area to keep new weed seeds from sprouting. Weeds will even sprout in mulch, though not as much as they do in soil, so you will have to keep after them all season.

18. Keep bermuda grass out of the garden. Every time it sprouts there, dig it up and dispose of it. Bermuda is evil and will completely take over the garden if you let it. Don't let it.

19. Plant from seeds or transplants and follow all applicable directions. If you raise your own transplants indoors, be sure to harden them off gradually by giving them increasing amounts of sunlight over a period of a few days. If you take plants that have grown exclusively indoors and put them out in the sun for a full day without hardening them off, they likely will sunburn and possibly die. Windburn can kill tender vegetation too, so harden them off in a sheltered location out of the wind.

20. A garden is a journey and not a destination, so enjoy it every step of the way. When you harvest and eat something fresh and delicious and wonderful that you grew yourself, you will be so proud!

OK, hope this basic guide to growing a veggie garden helps. I hope the rest of you experienced gardeners add to this thread as I am sure there is so much that I did not think to mention. One of the wonderful things about gardening is that even long-time experienced gardeners are constantly learning, exploring and trying new things. I think that is part of the appeal of gardening--it isn't just the garden that grows, but the gardener as well.

Oh, and I barely touched on fruit at all. If someone wants to talk about growing fruit in detail in another thread, we can do that!

Happy Growing,


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Dawn, you mentioned keeping water in the birdbath and growing herbs and flowers whose seeds the birds like to keep them out of the garden. The last several years I have had a lot of trouble with Mockingbirds, who poke one hole in the most beautiful tomato (or peach, if I'm lucky enough to have any) they can find and then just go on to the next one. So frustrating! So are they doing this because they're thirsty, or do they just love tomatoes?

What kind of herbs and flowers should I plant for those dang birds? We get squirrels in the yard, too, if we give them any encouragement at all, so I don't want to do that. They like to raid my sunflowers when they start going to seed. Those little critters can eat a lot and boy are they destructive! They can also do a lot of damage if they can get into the eaves of your house! (been there) Our dog likes to chase them so we don't have a lot of trouble with them inside the chain link ordinarily.

We enjoy watching and listening to the birds. We have hummingbirds that come to our pink honeysuckle. Last year, due to all the rain, the honeysuckle was just covered with flowers and very fragrant. Our little hummers got fat. There are a few little -- I want to call them thrushes?? -- they are tiny and kind of a taupe-gray, with the sharpest little beak. They sing the LONGEST song! They nest in some "houses" I made out of apple gourds, under the grape arbor and fuss at me whenever I have to be near there. I enjoy them. Sometimes finches come with little red or yellow heads -- at least I've been told that's what they are. Doves sit on the electric and cable lines up over head and once in awhile come into the yard. Our dog knows not to chase the birds, and our cat is too lazy to do anything but just watch them. There are cardinals, too. But I'm not very fond of Mockingbirds, Bluejays that attack all the other birds, or those awful Grackles! And I would SOOOOO love to keep them from pecking my tomatoes.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 3:52PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Most of the herbs and flowers I plant for the birds are those that produce nectar, pollen or seeds that the butterflies and songbirds like. As luck would have it, mockingbirds aren't coming to the garden looking for nectar, pollen or seeds because they prefer berries. And, guess what? Botanically, tomatoes are berries. So, it is hard to say if your mockingbirds are seeking water or if they are eating some of the flesh of the tomatoes. I don't have a lot of problem with birds pecking holes in the fruit except in really, really dry years when the ponds and stream have dried up, so that leads me to think they tend to be looking for water more than food.

If you want to attract mockingbirds away from your tomatoes, you have to give them fruit. I haven't had to plant a lot specifically for the mockingbirds but I have had to be careful when clearing underbrush in the woods because a lot of things I usually would remove (like poison ivy and greenbrier), I have left because the mockingbirds and other birds like their berries. Still, when I plant shrubs and groundcovers, I try to select those that have some sort of berry, fruit or seed that the mockingbids can eat. In the mixed borders around the house I have planted the following for the birds: southern max myrtles (berries), barberry (berries), purple wintercreeper (berries), virginia creeper (berries), hollies (berries), desert willow (nectar and seeds), chaste tree (nectar and then berries/seeds later on), chinaberry (berries), American crossvine (nectar), trumpetcreeper (nectar), honeysuckle (nectar) and groundcover-type junipers (seeds).

In addition, when clearing the land, we left the following native plants because they offer food (in various forms) to the wildlife that shares this land with us: oaks, possumhaw hollies, American beautyberries, rusty blackhaw viburnums, coralberry, honeysuckle, redbuds, mulberries, sumacs, pecans, Mexican plums, thicket plums, rough-leaf dogwoods, hickories, an occasional cedar (although we've removed most of them), wild grapes, dewberries, Virginia creeper, Carolina snailseed, peppervine, elms, hackberries, and most of the native grasses.

In the borders near the garden, I have planted a variety of perennials and annuals that attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators, moths, hummingbirds, and small seed-eating songbirds. They include: zinnias, Mexican hat, coreopsis, purple coneflower, Indian blanket, Greenthread daisies, brown-eyed susans, larkspur, poppies, borage, chamomile, tansy, Texas hummingbird sage, verbena bonarienses, morning glories, black-eyed susan vines, moonflower vine, 4 o'clocks, daturas, castor beans, Texas star hibiscus, catmint, catnip, lemon verbena, lemon balm, Mexican mint marigold, etc.

With all those flowers, my garden never suffers from a lack of pollinators! I also seem to have lots more green lacewings, lady bugs and trichogramma wasps than I used to.

You can "control" squirrels to a certain extent by spraying the sunflower seedheads with a garlic-pepper tea AFTER the blooms have faded. (If you spray the flowers while the petals still look good, they may burn and wilt.)
Squirrels DO NOT like hot pepper. There is a company that makes birdseed sprayed with hot pepper to keep the squirrels from raiding the feeders. The hot pepper doesn't bother the birds.

Our pink-flowered honeysuckle was exceptionally gorgeous last year too and the hummers were delirious. I enjoy them so much.

Sometimes the only way to protect your tomatoes from the birds is with birdnetting or floating row covers (like your sheer curtains) that put a physical barrier between the birds and the tomatoes. You also can pick the tomatoes as soon as they show the first blush of pink and let them finish ripening on the counter.

Finally, you can hang red Christmas balls on the tomato plants a couple of weeks before your tomatoes begin to ripen. With any luck, the birds will think that the Christmas balls are ripe tomatoes and peck at them. When they get nothing out of those Christmas balls, they will get disgusted and leave and might not come back and try again when your actual tomatoes are getting ripe. Some people say this works, some say it doesn't. I suspect it might work with some birds and not others.

I have a nice bermuda lawn (wish it was San Augustine though) around the house, but elsewhere we have left all the native grasses. We mow it down short on the couple of acres closest to the house, but let the rest get tall and set seed because many, many birds eat all the seeds of the native grasses. Our place is a virtual bird paradise, and I do love them all.

Surprisingly we don't have much trouble with grackles or starlings here. I think our native blackbirds and crows chase them off.

I'm looking forward to seeing the purple martins returning late this month. I love them! Every night after supper I like to sit out by the pond, or take the dogs out to the pasture behind the barn to run and play, and watch the purple martins fly around and around eating all the bugs they can find. Sometimes, near twilight, we get to watch the bats too! I love living in the country.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 6:21PM
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That sounds like a good idea, red christmas ornaments. A lot of the flowers and herbs you mentioned are already in my little corner garden, or I have wintersown seed for it. So guess I'm off to a good start. I don't have many berries, though, except for a currant bush and a few little blueberry bushes that I've been trying to protect from the dog. He pees on everything he can. I know it's "a dog thing", but that particular trait annoys me a lot. I guess you can tell I'm not really much of a "dog person". At least he stays out of the raised beds, so when DH and I took out the strawberry bed, he made two smaller raised beds out of the one and I moved my blueberry bushes into one of them. I hope it wasn't too late. If I ever get any berries from them I'm not going to be wanting to share those with the birds. Your southern max myrtles -- are they anything like crepe myrtle? I have one of those really near my raised beds, and it does make "berries", though I don't remember seeing the birds getting any of them. What about the seeds that privet hedge and nandina make, do the birds like those?

I'll make sure to keep water in the birdbath this summer and see if all this helps. Thanks for all the tips.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 8:52PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Southern wax myrtles are just a lovely evergreen shrub that produces berries. They are native to various southern states, especially the Carolinas, I think, but are very well-adapted here. The berries hang on the shrubs all winter. Bayberry candles are (or used to be) made from the berries of the southern wax myrtles. Like so many other scents nowadays, they probably use a lab-created scent, though. It takes pounds and pounds of bayberries to make a candle.

There are two forms--the standard southern wax myrtle and a dwarf wax myrtle. I grow the standard ones and mine are about 14' tall. I think they will eventually reach a height of about 20'. The dwarf ones stay about 4' to 6' at their tallest, I believe. I wanted the tall ones because we have a 2-story house and I needed some tall "shrubs" to be in scale with the house. I have pruned mine up to a tree form and have purple wintercreeper on the ground beneath them for a low-maintenance bed on the north and northeast side of the house.

I want to plant some more wax myrtles, maybe around the fenced-in dog yard. So far, all I do is plant vines on the fence to screen the dog yard in the summer and give them a little extra shade. I need a more permanent solution, though, and I think it will be wax myrtles.

I hope you're able to keep the birds out of the tomatoes and blueberries!


    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 8:51AM
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Those wax myrtles sound great! Is it possible to grow wax myrtle from seed? If so, I'd love to try WSing some. Do you know a source or do you have any seeds of the tall ones to spare?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 12:04PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Are you in zone 6 or 7? Southern wax-myrtle is only reliably winter hardy to zone 7B, so it might not be cold hardy for you.

Mine (I am in zone 7B) has suffered some major winter dieback once, when the plants were about 4 years old and we went down to 6 or 8 degrees. I pruned off the parts that froze once spring arrived, and they did recover.

You can sow them from fresh berries collected in September or October, so I can collect some at that time and send them to you next fall if you want to try them. I've never had a single volunteer come up in my yard, though, so I don't think they sprout easily.

To grow the seed, you'll have to soak the seeds in a water and lye mixture to remove the waxy coating, and store them in the refrigerator to cold stratify them OR plant them in peat moss, keep it damp, and keep it at 31 to 41 degrees for 60 to 90 days. Then you have to grow them in dedicated seed beds the first year, and protect them from frost until they are about 1-gallon size, which takes at least a year.

Are you experienced at rooting shrubs from cuttings? It might be easier than raising them from seed.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Well, I'm right on the line of 6a and 6b. So they probably wouldn't work for me. Shucky durn. Thanks anyway, though. --Ilene

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 3:58PM
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Dawn, I wish I could scan your brain and enter the gardening info into mine! :O) I have so many questions, hope you can answer a few for me! I am so excited to find this forum and hopefully fill the many gaps in my gardening knowledge.
First of all, I live in NE Oklahoma, and I want to embark on a much larger garden than in the past, where I have mostly just done tomatoes, peppers, corn (without much success)gourds and beans.

I have a compost tumbler which my husband built but it has never done anything, everything I started with is still there. Do you think it didn't get enough wet stuff? As far as compost goes, I don't really know how to make it. When we mow, we leave the grass clippings on the ground. My kitchen scraps and manure from the pasture don't amount to much.

What is your best advice for weed control? We are planning to plant clover for a cover crop and some mulching but I know we have burmuda. Any ideas?

Also, do you have problems with bugs on your tomatoes and corn? This is one of the aspects of going organic that is troubling for me.

Gosh I have so many questions but I won't take any more of your time. . . lol

Thanks so much for any information you can give me!


    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 9:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Brandy,

Well, it's Super Bowl Sunday and I've got company coming at 10:00 a.m., so I'll be brief. (Ha ha! I'm never really brief, but I'll try.)

Compost needs browns (carbon-containing materials) and greens (nitrogen-containing materials). It also needs moisture. It needs heat. It needs to be turned periodically. With a compost tumbler, that should be easy.

What can you put into your compost tumbler: anything organic...i.e., anything that was once alive, including leaves (I run over ours with the lawn mower to chop them up and pick 'em up with the grass catcher and add them to the compost pile), straw, hay, grass clippings, small twigs, fruit and vegetable peels and scraps, leftover veggies you don't eat or fruit/veggies that go bad before you can eat them, coffee grounds, egg shells, cow, horse, chicken, pig or rabbit manure (but not dog or cat), hair trimmings, prunings from trees, shrubs, rose bushes, etc. You can add weeds you've pulled up as long as they haven't set seed. NEVER add bermuda grass stolons/roots/runners because they WILL root in the compost pile. If you have a paper shredder, you can add the shredded paper to the compost tumber. You can add newspaper (but not the glossy advertising supplements) although it works best if you cut it up or shred it first. Add a shovelful or two of good garden soil as it contains microbes that help the other materials break down. Do all that and the compost happens. Do not add anything like meat, fat, bones, etc. as they can attract pests you don't want. Add a little water occasionally if it is dry. Move the tumbler to a sunny location if it is shaded. Heat helps compost happen.

Remove all the bermuda you can from your garden site. If you leave as little as 1/4" long pieces of stolon, about 1 every 3' or so, they will root and the grass will completely engulf the garden before the end of the growing season. To keep weeds down, mulch, mulch, mulch. To really keep weeds down, lay down newspaper (eight to twelves pages' thick) or cardboard after your plants are up and growing and cover the newspaper with an inch or to of your chosen mulch: chopped leaves, pine needles, pine bark or other mulch purchased in bags (or from your city if they chip/shred debris and sell it back to residents), straw (hay can be used, but may have seeds in it), etc. Or, if you want, purchase and use the woven fabric weed-block type fabric and then mulch on top of it. Be sure to get the woven type because weeds will grow right through the kind that has little perforated holes in it to "let the moisture through". Those little holes let the bermuda grass and weeds through, and who needs that.

I spend a lot of money mulching my garden, but it saves hundreds of hours of weeding, so it is worth it to me.

There ALWAYS will be bugs. They are a part of the cycle of life and God put them here for a reason. Believe me, I have run the whole gamut of gardening in my 48 years. My daddy and grandfather used TONS of pesticides, including DDT, when I was a kid and they had more bug problems then than I do know. Because of their experiences with bugs (for example, my dad lost ALL of his tomato plants to red spider mites 4 years out of 5 by late July or early August), I was terrified that bugs would wipe out my whole garden when I started gardening on my own as a newlywed in my mid-20s. So, I used all the chemicals dad and grandfather did....and still had bugs. Lots and lots of them. And, I wasn't REALLY surprised, because there was a little voice in my head saying "if chemicals work so well, why are there always more and more bugs every year?"

Searching for a better way, I slowly went organic, bit by bit, letting go of my "security blanket" piece by piece. Was it easy? No. It was terrifying. What if I was screwing up? What if organic gardening was a crock of, um, manure? How could I risk losing so many plants that were important to me. Of course, I had many doubts.

Here is what I learned. As an organic gardener, I had maybe 10% of the bug problems that I had as a user of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc. Why? Why? Why? Because, every single insect or bug pest that is out there has SOMETHING that eats it. I call those the good bugs or predator bugs. If you nuke your garden you kill off all the good bugs and it is a scientifically established fact that bad bug populations rebound first and more quickly than good bugs. So, you hurt yourself and your garden when you kill off the good bugs.

And, when it came to feeding plants with natural, organic fertilizers, I worried they wouldn't grow as well. I was wrong. After I switched to organics, I had better plant growth, less bugs, much, much less disease. There's a pretty simple reason for that: most chemical fertilizers overfeed plants. Overfed plants ARE more attractive to bugs and to diseases like fungi, bacteria,etc. I even tested this by deliberately "overfeeding" one row of peas and one row of tomatoes with a high-nitrogen fertilizer and leaving one row or peas and one row of tomatoes "unfed", relying on my organically-enriched soil to feed the plants. Guess which one was perfect? The organic one. It took me quite a while to become a true believer in organics, but I do believe in gardening in the most natural way possible. It works.
When you garden organically, you do everything you can to encourage and attract the good bugs and, for the most part, the good bugs take care of the bad bugs. I wouldn't say this if I had not observed it for over 20 years of organic gardening. I have NEVER lost a tomato plant to red spider mites since I started organic gardening (and neither did my dad, once he converted to mostly organic gardening himself).

There are some pests, like corn earworms, leaf-footed bugs and stinkbugs that are hard to eradicate organically, but it can be done. I encourage you to give organic gardening a try. Personally, I don't want to use any chemicals in the garden where I spend so much of my time, nor do I want to eat food raised with chemicals.

You can ask all the questions you want and I'll do my best to answer them. In fact, I'll be happy to. I was lucky. I learned how to garden (from my grandparents and dad) from the time I could toddle around their gardens with them. I always had them there to answer my questions. I realize everyone didn't grow up gardening "their whole life", so I am delighted to share all those years of experience. And, believe me, at the age of 48 I am STILL learning something new about gardening all the time. There are always new and better ways of doing things, and I am always looking for them.

Talk to you later!

(Go Giants! I HAVE to root for the underdog--that's just the kind of stubborn fool that I am.)


    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 9:55AM
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The process most utilized by pest elimination is often a mix of heavy steam remedy and insecticide, often a alternative having d-Phenothrin mixed in. That is often a pesticide that is useful through contact and also as a stomach toxins. Utilised for spray, heat fog, aerosol and ULV programs. This big usage associated with d-phenothrin is certainly inside the handle connected with insect damage like bedbugs along with head lice.

You will find combined views on the these bugs ability to discover insecticide; for that reason, a few companies are now applying Chlorfenapyr that's non-repellent and useful for just a amount of time

Under, I include steam solution as well as exactly what you might want to realize, as well as point out a handful of other solutions of pest elimination.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bed Bug Bites

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 3:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bumping this back up to the top of the page for Brittney.


After you read the suggestions in this thread, if you have more questions about how to start a vegetable garden, just ask here.

We have some members of this forum who do garden in your part of the state (southwestern OK), so they should be able to tell you when they plant specific crops.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:25PM
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Live in Moore, OK, just south of OKC and found this posting really, really helpful. Thanks so much for posting all of this info for a fall garden. I have a small patio garden, but can grow most of the veggies and herbs I need for myself. Most of my questions were on the planting times and on the soil amendments. Don't know much about that, so your posting was "extremely" helpful. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 1:32PM
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