Prepping for Spring 2013

nated(7)November 4, 2012

Spring and Fall 2012 garden didn't do anything so i decided it was time to figure out what i did wrong. I found one thing! 4 mulch loads later I'm happy. Pay no mind to my row errors; in engineering that is called an imperfection. Can't wait to put plants in.

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Lisa_H(7)

Nate d, don't be too hard on yourself...it was a ROTTEN year to grow anything. The cost of most of our water bills was probably astronomical. I grow flowers, so I don't even get to eat my water bill :)

But you can never go wrong building your soil.

What do you want to grow?

Lisa

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 11:02PM
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mulberryknob

Looks good, depending on where in the state you are, you may want to add some lime or wood ashes to that mulch to counteract the acidity. This is more important over here in Eastern Ok where our soils are acid than in the central and western parts of the state where they are more alkaline.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:55PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Nate, the past two years have been tuff. The soil looks good. I sure hope those leaning trees are not an indication of the strong winds you have to deal with.

Larry

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 4:00PM
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Lisa_H(7)

I received an email from Nate d. He grew:
Vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, onions, and lettuce.

Nate: spinach and lettuce are cool season crops. Onions too, maybe? Someone else here with more veggie knowledge can pop in and give better advice than me. My experience is more in the realm of flowers!

HOWEVER, if you want a sure fire crop, I highly recommend zuchetta! :) I grew it and it thrived this year. If it grew in my yard, it will grow anywhere!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Nate,

Soil is very important, but so is planting at the right time, so strive to plant your seeds or transplants at the proper time for your part of the state.

Planting a couple of weeks too early sometimes creates issues with cold soil and seeds rotting before they sprout or sprouting so slowly that they never get growing well before the heat arrivse.

With warm season plants like tomatoes and peppers, timing is everything. If you plant too early, they can freeze or be permanently stunted from long exposure to cold but non-freezing temperatures or, if planted too late, the weather can get so hot it prevents them from pollinating/setting fruit properly.

The sad thing is that our weather sometimes is so erratic that even when you plant at the time recommended for your specific geographic location, you still can have issues. Many of us have had a lot of weather-related issues in 2011 and 2012 because the weather got too hot too early. In most cases that meant some cool-season crops burnt up in the heat before they could produce a harvestable crop, and some warm-season crops suffered pollination/fertilization issues because it got too hot too early in their life.

I've linked the OSU Garden Spring Planting Guide for you below. Be advised that there is a range of dates for each vegetable, and the earlier date in the range is for far southeastern OK, the latest date is for far northwestern OK, and everyone in between chooses planting dates more in the middle of that range. Now, nothing will guarantee the weather will cooperate with you, but planting at the right time will help a lot.

Lettuce and spinach need to be planted really early while it is still cold so that they can reach a harvestable size before the heat makes them bolt. You can grow them from seeds sown directly in the soil, or from transplants if you prefer.

Onions, if we are talking about the kind that form bulbs, are best grown from small plants with a diameter roughly the same size as a No. 2 pencil or a little smaller, purchased in little bundles in January through March. Be sure you choose types that are short-day or intermediate-day length and not long-day types. Once you've got more experience gardening, you can raise your own from seeds, but need to plant them early so they can mature before the daylength hits the right point to induce bulbing. If you plant them too late, they'll be too small and you'll get small bulbs instead of big ones. If you are wanting to grow green onions used as scallions in cooking, you can use the same type of transplants as above, but plant them close and harvest them young, or you can plant something like Evergreen Bunching Onion from seed.

Peppers and tomatoes are best planted from transplants that are 6 to 8 weeks old. With peppers, it is okay if the transplants are a little older as long as they stems are still growing well and are supple and have not turned too woody before you transplant them. You plant tomatoes as close to your average last frost date as you can without actually subjecting them to freezing temperatures, but peppers should not go into the ground until a couple of weeks after your average last frost date. Peppers need warmer soil and warmer temperatures and if transplanted into the ground while soil temps and/or air temps are too cold, they'll often remain stunted and nonproductive for much or even all of the growing system.

If you'll read the threads here regularly beginning in January you'll see the experienced gardeners saying things like "I planted my onions today, and I am in central OK" or maybe saying that they've started seeds indoor under lights in late January for transplants to go into the ground 4 or 6 or 8 weeks down the line. That should help you see the timing that different gardeners use in different parts of the state. However, do not get excessively hung up on planting dates. Those dates are used because they are the "average" time that the soil and air temps are right for a specific vegetable, herb or flower to be planted. However, plants and seeds do not respond to calendar dates---they respond to soil temperatures and air temperatures and each type of veggie, herb or flower has specific temperatures it needs. That's why you'll see some of us "adjust" our planting dates from the recommended dates depending on what our own local soil and air temps look like at a given time.

If you've never had a soil test, that's important too in order to determine if your soil pH is in the correct range and if your soil has good nutrition levels. You can do everything correctly, but if you soil has low levels of nutrients or a very high or very low pH, you're not going to have success until you correct whatever is amiss in the soil.

For anyone who took up gardening in 2011 or 2012 and is disappointed in the results, I'd say that those are the two hardest years I've ever seen for us as gardeners, and most years it is not so difficult to garden and get good results.

Hope this helps,

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: OSU Garden Planning Guide

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:42PM
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mulberryknob

Like Dawn said, the weather can cause us to adjust our planting times. I planted broccoli and tomatoes earlier than I usually do (in midMarch) in 12 because I had enough transplants to replace them if needed. But I didn't need to. We didn't get a frost here after midMarch so everything came out early. This in contrast to 10 I think it was when a very hard freeze on April 18 took out much of the early peas and broccoli and I had to start over.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:34PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Dorothy, I planted early in 2012 and had amazing results. Other than the cool-season crops that failed to produce well because it got too hot too early, everything that was planted early produced a great harvest. I think our last freeze at our house in 2012 was March 4th. Isn't that incredible? Certainly better than May 3rd or 4th like 2010.

Of course, I am going to try to be ready to plant early in 2013.

If we keep having persistent drought, I think it will be more important than ever before to get a good early crop before heat and drought set in. Our greenhouses should make that a little easier since we can keep seedlings in a more sheltered environment in January-March as we wait for the time to get right to put them in the ground. I am just relieved that my days of carrying seedlings downstairs and outside to harden off every day and then back upstairs to the light shelf room at night might finally be over. I say I won't heat the greenhouse, but once I have seedlings moved out from the light shelf in the weight room upstairs, I would be more inclined to heat the greenhouse on a few cold nights than to carry all the plants back inside and upstairs again.

So, I'll be ready to attempt an early planting again next season, but only because I'll have back-up plants and also the greenhouse to protect them. I likely wouldn't risk all my plants in an early planting without a means of protecting them. Our weather is so erratic any more that we don't know if the last frost will be in March, April or May, which is ridiculous. The use of floating row cover also has allowed me to plant earlier with less fear that the early plantings (or the autumn ones) will freeze.

And, for 2012, the fall cool-season crops that survived the grasshoppers (most of the snap peas and pole beans did not, but pretty much everything else did) are producing well so at least that makes up for the poor harvest from the spring cool-season crops. I'm having to water more than I'd hoped since almost no rain has fallen here since I planted them, but at least they're producing a harvest. I appreciate having a second chance every year in the fall, even though sometimes it doesn't pay off. This year it has.

Dawn

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:28AM
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mulberryknob

Dawn, even if we decide not to heat the greenhouse itself, I have heating cables and lights on my plant starting benches to heat them, and they are covered in plastic that can be lifted up during the day if it gets too hot. With a timer on the lights, I can set them to come on at 1 or 2 am and that will heat the benches some as well as light them. I too am tired of dragging trays in and out even though I only had to go down the porch steps into the front yard.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Dorothy, After a lifetime of dragging trays in and out, I think you and I deserve a break.

I hope this winter we have time to build heated propagation benches. Lately we've been spending too much time at the fire station and at fires and I am behind on garden chores. I'm hoping it will quiet down for a while (some rain would really help!) and we can work on the "To Do" list.

Dawn

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 2:32PM
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