Signs of Spring Here

Okiedawn OK Zone 7March 10, 2013

Yesterday and today I noticed that some of the trees are leafing out. While fruit trees and ornamental trees have been blooming for some time now, this weekend is the first time I've noticed that deciduous trees are leafing out!

Other than that? The Purple Martins are back, we have a lot of moths, butterflies and ladybugs around, daffodils and other early spring bulbs are blooming everywhere, and quite a few of the early wildflowers are in bloom, including henbit, bluets and spring beauties. We have bees out on warm days but I don't really consider that a sign of spring since they come out all winter long on the warm days.

We have seen flocks of geese and ducks flying north, though not yet in huge numbers. We hear woodpeckers drilling i nthe woods, and are seeing more and more migratory birds in addition to the ones that overwinter here.

The mountain cedar has been pollinating for weeks and weeks. It must be finishing up because those of us who are allergic to it are starting to feel better again.

And, of course, there's those unique signs of spring in the rural areas.....spreaders and sprayers in the fields, tractors being driven down the roads and new calves, kids, foals, etc. popping up in the fields.

What signs of spring are y'all seeing where you live?

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ReedBaize

The weather here is driving me nuts. 50-60s during the day and 28-34 at night. Killing what I can put out.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:23PM
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seeker1122(7a ok)

Spring flowers are blooming everywhere
I drove around lake El Reno and there where hundreds of white pelicans so cool.
I'm craving to go fishing more and more every day
a giant horse fly in the house
my lawn is turning green
the winter birds are fewer and fewer
so many things telling me spring is on the way
TREE

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:19AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Reed, I say this with a smile.....get used to it! Some springs we have highs in the 80s or even the 90s and yet still will have occasional freezing nights. We all just work around our roller coaster weather as best as we can.

I keep lots of floating row cover available to cover up plants on cold nights. It has saved my garden from freeze kill or frost damage many times.

We often go from too cold to plant to too hot in a remarkably brief period. I plant as early as soil temperatures allow, and then use floating row cover on cold nights to protect those plantings.

True Confession: I first read about the existence of floating row cover in Dr. Cotner's vegetable book in the mid-1980s when I still lived in zone 8 Fort Worth. "Ridiculous", I muttered to myself, "There is no way I am going to go outside with some sort of fabric and cover up my garden at night and uncover it in the morning." I laugh at my younger self now because I find floating row cover indispensable in my Oklahoma garden.

One of the surest signs of spring in my garden is the sudden appearance of row cover over a bed of plants late in the afternoon when a very cold night is expected.

Tree, It sounds like spring really is busting out all over there. We generally only see pelicans here when they are flying further north, and we've seen them flying north for 2 or 3 weeks now.

I'm ready for spring and hope it hurries up and gets here.

Dawn

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:47AM
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ReedBaize

Dawn,

With 40 tomato plants spread in beds around the house, I'm scared to put them out and risk them freezing. I was planning on planting out on the second week of April. What is the frost risk at that stage?

Again, new to this area so trying to familiarize myself with the weather patterns.

Reed

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:26PM
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soonergrandmom

I shoot for around April 7th, but I start watching the ten day forecast around the first of April, and adjust my date at that time. I may still have to cover a few times at night after that date, but I mostly have to cover because of hail threats rather than cold. I keep plastic flower pots in the garden for about 6 weeks so I can cover quickly if I need to.

I can never just set one day and plan to plant. Some years it is too wet, other years still too cold, but occasionally there is a warm Spring that lets me slip them in a little early. I am in Zone 6. I never plant peppers until after the middle of April.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:02PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Years ago the zone line between 6 and 7 ran a little north of me. It has move farther north now but it is still cold in this valley. I had ice up til about 10:00 on a tote tub top. When the sun hit it it melted quickly.

My potatoes look like they have been bit, the cabbage and lettuce still look Ok.

Larry

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:42PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Reed,

In your county, it should be safe to plant out your tomatoes around April 10-15 if your 7-day or 10-day forecast looks good, but there are no guarantees.

The OSU-recommended planting dates for tomatoes are April 10-30, with the earlier date being for SE OK and the later date for NW OK and everyone in between those two parts of the state just picking and choosing a date between April 10-30 that seems sound to them based on their understanding of their local weather. Of course, people often plant earlier than April 10th depending on what their local weather is doing in any given year.

I stagger my plantings over a couple of weeks so that I am not risking everything at once. Also, since I raise my own transplants, I have backup plants for every single one that goes into the ground. Hence, I can risk planting early and losing them, though I don't think I've lost a tomato plant to a late frost or late killing freeze since 2008.

I've linked the OCS county data for Oklahoma county. If you go down to the page that features temperatures, it will show you your county's probability of having freezing and subfreezing temperatures after certain dates.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Oklahoma County Climatology

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 6:57PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Edit. Didn't want someone to read my "no more freezes" post when we have a few close calls coming.

Mike

This post was edited by mksmth on Sat, Mar 16, 13 at 9:21

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:09PM
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ReedBaize

One more question: I've got a few nights that are showing as low as 39 here in Edmond. Now, I've never really had to deal with this as I wouldn't set my plants out until WAY past the frost date in Texas. Will 39 harm my plants?

Reed

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mike,

I hope they're right. I still don't feel like the cold nights are really over yet. Last year, I felt they were over this early, and they were...but this year I'm just not feelin' it.

Reed,

Would I trust 39 degrees as my forecast low and would I go ahead and put plants in the ground with that forecast several days out there in the forecast? No way.

I regularly see frost or even freeze damage on tomato plants even though our low temperature stayed above freezing. There are technical reasons for why this happens, but it is not all that rare. A particular set of circumstances has to come together for it to happen, but based on my experiences here, I'd say it happens at our house fairly often.

Keep in mind that we are talking about your forecast temperature, but your plants will have to deal with the actual temperature that is recorded. Forecasts can be wrong.

Official temperatures are recorded 5' above the ground, but plants grow in the ground and the foliage is above the ground but below that 5' level. Since cold air sinks, your temperature at ground level where the plants are can be significantly cooler than your official low temperature. I assume when they forecast a low temperature, the forecast is for 5' above ground since that is the level at which the NWS records actual temperatures.

Also, objects cool off faster than air does and their temperatures can drop lower than the air temperature, so plants can have frost form on them even when the air temperature stays above freezing. At our house, which I know is in a low-lying microclimate, we often have plant damage even when our own thermometer just a few yards away from the plants (posted 5' above ground) records overnight low temperatures between 33 and 38 degrees. So, I've learned to wait until it feels safe to me to transplant tomatoes, and I don't feel like it is safe if my forecast lows still are in the 30s or even the very low 40s. I try not to let one warm week trick me into going ahead and transplanting....but if a pattern change holds for 2 whole weeks, in my head I declare winter over and go ahead and start transplanting if my 7-day forecast looks good after 2 weeks of nice weather.

I also know that the temperature forecasts change from day to day, so just because your forecast has a 39 for a night next week, that doesn't mean the forecast might not drop lower before that night gets here.

I have low confidence in NWS temperature forecasts. Last week our point forecast for our specific part of our county was 29, and we went to 23 degrees and had a hard frost. That's pretty common. It is part of the reason I base planting decisions more on recent observed temperatures and trends than on forecast temperatures.

Dawn

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:28PM
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ReedBaize

Well, although a lot of my warm weather plants haven't been set out yet, I'm COVERED up in cabbage, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, onions, radishes, beets, turnips and carrots. I love cool weather crops.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:20AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Headed to 80 degrees today. May have to turn on the AC

all my tropicals are out soaking up the sun. I love this time of year.

Mike

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:39AM
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tigerdawn(7)

Here's what spring looks like at my house.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mike,
lol lol lol

Now, you just know that if anyone declares winter is over, it will come roaring back with a vengeance!

We hit at least 83 degrees twice...I guess on Friday and again on Saturday and it was gorgeous. It helped dry up the still much-too-wet garden somewhat so I could plant a few things, but I need more drying so I can finish planting potatoes. I was out in the yard and garden all day every day since about Tuesday or Wednesday and am sunburned, stiff and sore....but I got tons of stuff done. Of course, with acreage, you never really get everything done. You just do as much as you can.

Reed, I've been yanking out or rototilling under some of last fall's cool-season crops to make room for this season's. The winter purple sprouting broccoli is just starting to form heads, so it got to stick around a while longer. I love cool season crops too. They keep me busy so I am not tempted to plant warm season crops too soon.

Tiger Dawn, It looks nice...and springy!

Our daffodils are done, but now the Dutch hyacinths have been in bloom the past few days, and the redbud trees have buds that are just a couple of days from blooming. The elms and some of the other woodland trees are leafing out, and the hollies are about to bloom.

None of the plants here have read the memo about the approaching cold front that will have us freezing by Friday or so, so they are acting as if spring already is here. Oh, and the frogs are croaking in the afternoons and evenings, and (unfortunately) the mosquitoes are out.

Dawn

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:42PM
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