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Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Posted by osucowboys405 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 2, 12 at 7:45

It's so hot and dry.

Have you given up on this year's garden?

How much longer do you think we'll have such hot weather and drought?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

We watered the okra and tomatoes the other day for the last time. (Except for the Sungold and Black Cherry; they are loaded with young fruit unlike the large tomatoes) May still water the sweet potatoes a few times. The perrenial stuff we have to water. Strawberries, blueberries and figs in the garden and 20 fruit trees in the orchard, several of which are only a few years old and not very big yet. And I am trying to keep the azaleas in the shade next to the house alive. Most of those are several years old.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Much of my garden is gone, some in ICU. I expect I will have to water the okra, sweet potatoes and peppers. We have 40+ trees and shrubs that may have to be watered.

I planted some Early Sunglow corn, Pinkeye Purple hulls and Roma bush beans yesterday. I will plant more seed of some kind soon. If I could train the birds to crap in the garden I would feed the seed to them, but instead I will try to get some organic out of them by tilling in whatever comes up. These are old odds and ends of seed I need to replace anyway.

As far as the hot weather, I am not betting on any good growing conditions for a long while.

Larry


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

You have my deepest sympathies. I don't have as much good stuff as you all-- just 7 or 8 yard tubs of stuff. That said, I'm still watering the fig, mint, malabar spinach, turmeric, salad burnet, bunching onions, mexican mint marigold, and french sorrel. The tomatoes, vietnamese coriander, and sorrel have bitten the dust. The sorrel bit the dust yesterday; the malabar spinach and turmeric are in fine form. Everything else is just hanging in there.

Unfortunately, the unwatered chinese tallow, hackberries, johnson grass, and virginia creeper are chugging right along. It would be wonderful if they would die! Them, I'm trying to kill. :-(


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

The tomatoes are looking completely crispy. Plan to cut them back to about two feet tall once it's not meltingly hot outside. Our sweet pepper plants look good, but all the fruit is burned or something - one half of the fruit is brown and soft on most of them. I can cut it off and still eat half of the fruit, but it's a bummer. My pumpkin vines up and died a few days ago. I did see a foot tall tomato volunteer sprout in my hydrangea bed where I'd thrown some hail-damaged tomatoes a few months ago - that will now be THE fall tomato. :) Potted herbs are going great... basil is almost three feet high. Need to get some major basil recipes soon!

The weeds are crazy in the veggie garden, once it cools a little I will rip them all out and start something for a fall/winter crop.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

This is a hard question to answer. I guess my answer is most like Dorothy's in that I have given up on some things, but have been watering others. As time has gone on and the drought has deepened even as the high temperatures have soared, I have cut back more and more and more on what is getting water.

Because we had an incredibly good tomato harvest this year and preserved huge amounts of them, the tomato plants, which occupied about 60% of the main garden, were the first thing I stopped watering. Despite that, a few still are ripening fruit that had set before I stopped watering them. I have several SunGold plants, too, that are producing fruit. They are right beside okra and melons that I have been watering and that's kept them going pretty well. Last year, SunGold produced even with no rainfall and no irrigation for over a month, so maybe it will be as tough this year and hang in there until rain returns this fall.

I stopped watering summer squash, pole beans, cucumbers and Armenian cukes on one side of the garden next. The hoppers were eating the beans down to bare stems, we'd had plenty of squash already and were getting rired of it, the Armenian cukes on that fence were sickly and the cukes were dying in the heat.

Until this week I had continued watering the peppers, cantaloupes, watermelons, winter squash and okra, which all is grouped together in one part of the garden. It was always my intention to keep this area going for as long as possible. Well, with 5 consecutive days of 110+, and about 10 out of the last 14 days having high temps between 110-112, I think I have decided that "as long as possible" ends now. And, it is not a decision made lightly. We've been getting great harvests from the cantaloupes and we have a lot of melons in various sizes and stages of development. We've had tons of peppers and okra, and while I'd like to harvest more, the world won't end if I don't. So it is farewell to these garden favorites. I think the cantaloupes on the vines will continue to ripen for another week or so without water. What usually happens when you stop watering them and the watermelons is that the foliage dies and then you lose the melons to sunburn. In my case, I'll feed the ones that aren't fully ripe to the chickens.

I will keep watering the fruit trees, especially those planted just this spring, and the asparagus.

The Seminole pumpkins may or may not continue to do well without irrigation. Some years they do fine without it, but in this heat I am not sure that will be the case this year.

All of that is the big garden. In the Three Sisters Garden, the corn is long over and the stalks removed. The grasshoppers have eaten all the lima beans, Kebarika bush beans and Red Ripper southern peas right down to the ground. The Tahitian Melon (actually a winter squash) also is being completely defoliated by grasshoppers so I'll harvest the couple of squash on it that have reached a good size. The decorative gourds are wilting and near death, but some of the gourds on the plants probably far enough along to be harvested and used for fall decorations.

Most of the herbs in the ground are fine and likely will be fine without irrigation for a few weeks.

Up near the barn where I have tomatoes, herbs, a handful of peppers and a couple of figs in pots, I'll keep watering. How well they will or won't do depends on the heat, which is just brutal.

I started southern peas and bush beans for fall under floating row cover, and don't even know if I will keep watering them in this horrible heat.

I always keep the foundation well-watered both to avoid the cracking of the foundation and to keep the shrubs alive.

As far as how long this drought goes on and when decent rainfall returns, who knows?

Last year was fairly similar and we had two days in August when we had a little rainfall and a couple of days under 100 degrees, but that rainfall didn't even total an inch. Our real relief was around mid-September.

We are watching as signs of a developing El Nino become apparent. Usually (though not always) an El Nino weather system develops in fall, usually no later than around Christmas, and gives us at least a rainy winter and spring, and sometimes a rainy summer. So, we can be reasonably certain rainfall of some sort will occur here beginning sometime between October and December.

There's a point at which you may be able to water enough to keep your veggies and herbs alive but not producing much if anything at all. So, I tend to stop watering if the garden is not producing enough to make it worth the amount spent to water. It is foolish to spend $100 watering a veggie garden if it is likely to produce only $20 worth of produce, for example.

However, money spent keeping perennial crops like asparagus, fruit brambles and fruit trees is money well spent because if you let them die, it takes not just money but years to replace them and get the replacement plants large enough and old enough to produce.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

This is a hard question to answer. I guess my answer is most like Dorothy's in that I have given up on some things, but have been watering others. As time has gone on and the drought has deepened even as the high temperatures have soared, I have cut back more and more and more on what is getting water.

Because we had an incredibly good tomato harvest this year and preserved huge amounts of them, the tomato plants, which occupied about 60% of the main garden, were the first thing I stopped watering. Despite that, a few still are ripening fruit that had set before I stopped watering them. I have several SunGold plants, too, that are producing fruit. They are right beside okra and melons that I have been watering and that's kept them going pretty well. Last year, SunGold produced even with no rainfall and no irrigation for over a month, so maybe it will be as tough this year and hang in there until rain returns this fall.

I stopped watering summer squash, pole beans, cucumbers and Armenian cukes on one side of the garden next. The hoppers were eating the beans down to bare stems, we'd had plenty of squash already and were getting rired of it, the Armenian cukes on that fence were sickly and the cukes were dying in the heat.

Until this week I had continued watering the peppers, cantaloupes, watermelons, winter squash and okra, which all is grouped together in one part of the garden. It was always my intention to keep this area going for as long as possible. Well, with 5 consecutive days of 110+, and about 10 out of the last 14 days having high temps between 110-112, I think I have decided that "as long as possible" ends now. And, it is not a decision made lightly. We've been getting great harvests from the cantaloupes and we have a lot of melons in various sizes and stages of development. We've had tons of peppers and okra, and while I'd like to harvest more, the world won't end if I don't. So it is farewell to these garden favorites. I think the cantaloupes on the vines will continue to ripen for another week or so without water. What usually happens when you stop watering them and the watermelons is that the foliage dies and then you lose the melons to sunburn. In my case, I'll feed the ones that aren't fully ripe to the chickens.

I will keep watering the fruit trees, especially those planted just this spring, and the asparagus.

The Seminole pumpkins may or may not continue to do well without irrigation. Some years they do fine without it, but in this heat I am not sure that will be the case this year.

All of that is the big garden. In the Three Sisters Garden, the corn is long over and the stalks removed. The grasshoppers have eaten all the lima beans, Kebarika bush beans and Red Ripper southern peas right down to the ground. The Tahitian Melon (actually a winter squash) also is being completely defoliated by grasshoppers so I'll harvest the couple of squash on it that have reached a good size. The decorative gourds are wilting and near death, but some of the gourds on the plants probably far enough along to be harvested and used for fall decorations.

Most of the herbs in the ground are fine and likely will be fine without irrigation for a few weeks.

Up near the barn where I have tomatoes, herbs, a handful of peppers and a couple of figs in pots, I'll keep watering. How well they will or won't do depends on the heat, which is just brutal.

I started southern peas and bush beans for fall under floating row cover, and don't even know if I will keep watering them in this horrible heat.

I always keep the foundation well-watered both to avoid the cracking of the foundation and to keep the shrubs alive.

As far as how long this drought goes on and when decent rainfall returns, who knows?

Last year was fairly similar and we had two days in August when we had a little rainfall and a couple of days under 100 degrees, but that rainfall didn't even total an inch. Our real relief was around mid-September.

We are watching as signs of a developing El Nino become apparent. Usually (though not always) an El Nino weather system develops in fall, usually no later than around Christmas, and gives us at least a rainy winter and spring, and sometimes a rainy summer. So, we can be reasonably certain rainfall of some sort will occur here beginning sometime between October and December.

There's a point at which you may be able to water enough to keep your veggies and herbs alive but not producing much if anything at all. So, I tend to stop watering if the garden is not producing enough to make it worth the amount spent to water. It is foolish to spend $100 watering a veggie garden if it is likely to produce only $20 worth of produce, for example.

However, money spent keeping perennial crops like asparagus, fruit brambles and fruit trees is money well spent because if you let them die, it takes not just money but years to replace them and get the replacement plants large enough and old enough to produce.

In summary, I never completely give up and try to water anything that is not an annual enough to keep it alive. I never stop watering the foundation area. And, I give up in stages, hedging my bets a little bit by continuing to water whatever has the best chance to continue or finish producing, at least until we reach the stage where good production seems unlikely even though the plants are being watered.

I'll even stop watering the containers if we go another couple of weeks with brutal heat and no rain.

You have to choose the solution that works best with your soil and your plants and your budget.

Your area's Keetch Byram Drought Index number also could give you some guidance. For years I have watched my county's KBDI on almost a daily basis so I know what it means in our specific soil on our property if the KBDI is 300 or 450 or 600 or 775, and I make watering decisions based on that.

When my county's KBDI hits 600 (today it is a 597), no matter how much I water in-ground plants, they will not produce even if I use exorbitant amounts of money watering them. With different soil, different people will find that point might occur at 350 or 500 or 700 for them.

I'll link the KBDI map below. While it is intended to predict wildfire intensity, for me it is a great indicator of how dry my soil is. Just remember these are the normal numbers for each season in an "average" year: Spring 0-200; Summer 200-400; Autumn 400-600; Winter 600-800. If your KBDI in early August is an Autumn or Winter type number, things are very bad indeed. 0 is exceptionally good, 800 is exceptionally bad.

Finally, since I mentioned the KBDI, let me throw this info out there for y'all. Once you KBDI is 600 or higher, even the compost in your soil, the duff layers and the trees roots underground will burn. This is one reason I try to keep the soil around the house moderately moist---because if fire reaches us I do not want for our shade trees' roots to burn and cause us to lose all the shade around the house. I realize that in this heat, and with more and more watering restrictions daily, keeping the tree root areas moist may be impossible or impractical.

Please note when you look at this map that the higher your KBDI, the greater the chance of wildfire and the greater the chance that any fires that start will be very hard to put out.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Today's KBDI Map


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Yikes! We are well above 600 here in the OKC metro area it looks like.

I don't have a very big garden, but the only things that seem to be surviving right now are the sweet potatoes, a couple of melons, and one okra plant that survived the rabbits. Tomatoes, beans, cucumbers are all dead. I planted a couple of tomato plants I got at TLC earlier this week, but I don't think they are going to survive. I know its time to start the fall garden, but I just don't see how its possible right now.

I've got a soaker hose around my blueberry bushes and they are doing better than I would have expected. It looks like I'm going to lose my maple trees out front, though :(

Shelley


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Shelley,

Are your maple trees showing signs of severe stress? It might not be too late to save them.

Here's one way to gauge how much they are struggling.

If their leaves are turning colors and dropping, that is a sign the trees are trying to save themselves by going dormant. If that is the case, a long, slow deep watering once or twice a week with a soaker hose may save them.

If their leaves are turning brown and crispy, but are hanging on the tree and not dropping, that's generally not such a good sign and they may be too far gone to save.

It is hard to get a fall garden going in these conditions, and to have it happen two straight years is just terrible.

Today, my DS asked if I know how to grow cactus. I asked him why he wanted to know and he said "you may need to just focus on growing something that will survive here". (sigh) I am not even sure if he was serious or just being funny, but I wasn't in a laughing mood.

I wonder what it is like to live somewhere that is cool and pleasant in the summer and that has rainfall and where things stay green?

Dawn


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Hi Dawn,

Unfortunately, I think my maples are doomed. The leaves turned brown and are still on the trees. They have done this each of the last three summers (they were planted in the fall of 2009). Last summer they were also attacked by borers, and one of them only leafed out partially this summer. It appears that part of the tree (several of the branches) are completely dead. Also, I noticed this spring that that one has a lot of fungus growing on its trunk too. I will have to replace them this fall I guess. Whatever I choose this time will be a lot better adapted to this climate. I love maple trees, but they don't seem to do so well down here.

I was reading online that somebody had interviewed a number of people in their 70s and 80s who gardened in central Texas when they were younger, and apparently back then they planted early and had everything harvested and put up by the time the heat hit. Then they would pick up again in the fall. They are saying this hotter, drier weather may be our 'new normal', so I think I'm going to start planning on this myself. I'm going to build some cold frames this winter so I can get crops into the ground early enough in the spring so they can mature before the heat sets in. This will take more work, but it would be easier than trying to keep stuff alive in this heat. Same thing in the fall - since I probably won't be able to plant anything till early September (this year anyway) I'll need to use row covers to keep things going late enough to mature.

What do you all think?


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Canokie, I think you are on the right track. I used a cold frame for early spring and late fall crops for years. Still have a couple of simple movable frames with screen wire over them that we put plastic and old quilts on in the winter. I've grown lettuce and spinach over winter for years that way. And when that got to be inadequate, we built a greenhouse and ate greens out of it all last winter. This winter hope to have tomatoes all winter. We built a small "hot room" into it (8x8ft) and will heat just that much.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Canokie, I bet you're right on. That's how we intend to garden, at least, until several years prove it unnecessary.

I'm putting out some new tomato plants (started the last week of June) for a fall crop. Monday I put out two San Francisco Fog tomato plants, babying them with extra humus, trench planting them, watering very well and finally, I mulched with shredded paper (brilliant white) which someone at work had given me. I forgot to cover them, for some protection, for the following day. Twenty-four hours later I returned to inspect them. They were as crisp as if I'd cut them off at the roots and set them in the food dehydrator for those 24 hours! I put out the rest of that variety two days ago, covering them during most of the day, and haven't mulched yet. They're doing okay.

I am SOLD on Roma VF for heat. I direct seeded some Roma on June 9th, and started more in containers on June 20. I direct seeded something like 30 seeds. Grasshoppers and crickets killed all but three of those. But those three are doing quite well, looking unfazed by the heat. However I have had to spray them for blister beetles. Starting about a week ago, I have been putting out a couple Roma seedlings, every couple of days. They are bucking the heat and looking great. I'm impressed!

Our Tennessee Cutshort Pole Beans are not producing. But they are flowering. I'm watering them in hopes of a fall crop. Jerreth has been picking and canning tomatoes for the last two weeks. Heavy mulch and clay based soil have really helped us.

Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin is obviously better suited for the North. My planting is only just barely hanging in there and has produced very little. By contrast, I have a volunteer Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin looking pretty good. I only just dumped two buckets of water on it, this week. It looks like it will start crawling soon. In the future I'm going to focus on Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin. Our climate dictates it.

George
Tahlequah, OK


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two more observations

Two more observations:

Baker Family Heirloom and Yellow Pear are both tomatoes which seem to be setting fruit in this heat.

Also, I've noticed that those plants which are caged, and grow up, are doing WAY BETTER than those which I allowed to sprawl on the ground, even if both are mulched. My theory is that the the caged plants produce their own shade to protect their roots and soil at their base. Plus, it's cooler up away from the ground level.

George


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Shelley,

There are some maples that do well in OK, notably the one linked below. However, we are having hotter and hotter summers so it seems likely that you might want to go with something ever better adapted than maples.

Yes, I think you're on the right track.

When we first moved here, I met a guy who didn't mess with weather forecasts or planting calendars or anything. He had his own routine developed from gardening here for about 60 or 70 years. He planted everything April 1st. He stopped watering on the last day of June, but generally was able to pick at least tomatoes, corn and okra for 2 or 3 weeks after that. He didn't attempt a fall garden that required planting in August. Instead he waited until it cooled down in the fall and planted winter crops like spinach and lettuce and such in early October, and usually had a fine stand of them before Thanksgiving depending on how quickly they germinated and grew. He did it every year, regardless of the weather, because he sort of planned for worst-case scenario weather. I watched him do that year in and year out. I understand why it works for him. I just haven't wanted to adopt that technique myself, but the weather demands I at least adopt the part about not trying to keep a good garden going in July and August of drought years.

Anything you can do to get an early start in winter or early spring pays off. I put my first tomato plants into containers in February and into the ground in early March and had a phenomenal harvest. Of course, it helped that our last freeze was extra-early, but I had floating row cover and was prepared to use it. In 2013 I will plant more than just the tomatoes early. Actually, I did plant summer and winter squash early and bush beans too, and it paid off. It is a lot of work to keep them warm on a cool night, but at least that way we get a good harvest from them.

Early planting works best when paired with so-called "short season" varieties that mature more quickly. For example, I'd look for bush beans with DTMs in the 45-65 day range instead of in the 60-75 day range. Clearly tomatoes classified as extra-early, early or mid-season always will work best for us. It is interesting to note that my late-season tomatoes with longer DTMs produced, in some cases, as early as my mid-season tomatoes if they were planted at the same time. I've never had that happen before.

It is possible this is the new normal. In the county where I live, we have had drought more years than not since the late 1990s. It has occurred often enough that I've adapted some of my gardening practices to the changing climate, but I need to do more. That's one reason I originally started using floating row covers--to get the plants off to an early start in order to beat the heat. It just seems like every year it is harder and harder to beat the heat every summer. I always say that using floating row cover, with or without cold frames and greenhouses, will change a gardener's life, and it is true.

Because we're becoming increasingly hotter and drier in summer, we need to have the best spring gardens we can, and we need to get better at fall and winter gardening too. I feel like our seasons are changing. Last year even my prickly pear cacti shriveled and died, and it didn't come back this year either. If the cacti cannot survive the summer, then how silly am I to think that my veggies can tolerate the heat?

George, FYI My Fowler bush beans finally stopped flowering and setting beans when our high temp hit 112. Before that, they had been unstoppable in this year's heat. I'll grow them every year from now on. Roma VF was my first paste type to die in the heat, but you know how that goes---different things work for different people in different years. Heidi has done the best in the heat of all the paste tomatoes, with Schiavonne Italian Paste not far behind. Jaune Flammee and SunGold always fight the heat better than anything else I grow in the non-paste categories.

Seminole performs for me the way Old Timey Cornfield performs for you, but I do still have one Old Timey Cornfield plant hanging in there so far. In this brutal heat, I don't know how they do it. With today's high heat and high wind, they may be brown by nightfall though.

I agree that caged toms likely shade their own roots and I always cage mine. It is a pain to do it in spring when a lot of garden chores need to be done, but it pays off in the long run.

Oh, and don't forget Early Girl. Mine has about 20 tomatoes ripening on it right now. It produces better in August for me than almost anything else.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Shantung Maple


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

I haven't given up on this year's garden because I feel like I owe it to my plants. However, next year's garden is likely to be made up of interesting rocks of different sizes, shapes, textures, and colors.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

I have thrown in the towel on squash & cucumbers.... And see the squash bugs moving in fast on my melons. I have fought a long hard battle but oh my! We were steadily planting but we were able to harvest less than a wk before the plants were getting taken out. DD has plans to make a new spot on the other side of the farm for more cucumbers & squash. They were both crops that she wanted to grow for market this yr. she has done well with cucumbers but honestly never been able to harvest enough squash to make it worth the space they took up this yr.
My peppers are slim & sad. Best producer in the heat appears to be red mini bell -- but it is more of an ornamental. I sell them 10/$1 for salads. Customers love the cute factor. I am still picking tomatoes every 2 days down to about 100 lbs a wk instead of 100 lbs a picking. Arkansas traveler seems to be doing better in the heat than others. And I have more tomatoes on my brandywine than I have all yr (but that isn't saying much). I only had a few early girls & yesterday picked a tomato that was so large I was certain it was a sunmaster & had to do a double take. I am not really seeing much new fruit & hardly even seeing blossoms! The 128 new plants I put in the ground I lost half of. My drip tape being chewed into caused them to dry up. Of course I didn't realize the drip tape failure until I caught the sad looking plants. At 110+ a day without water is enough to take out a new seedling. Watermelons are getting sunburned like crazy. Try covering them with some hay to shade them but the battle continues. I direct seeded LOTS of aspargus this spring some is thriving & others are crispy. However I seeded heavy to this fall I will attempt to thin it & fill in the holes of the missing or dead plants.
We didn't attempt winter squash or pumpkins since the insects have best us so bad. Corn & greenbeans for fall are making it. Not sure how much we will have but they germinated & are still alive so that is a plus right? The purple hulls & 2nd greenbeans haven't germinated yet, but I have spent my efforts watering plants not seeds this wk. oh & of course the okra is producing well. Except the parts the goats & grasshoppers mowed down.
I am still going to continue to do what I can, looking forward to getting raddish, beets & a few other things in the ground in the up coming wks. I have to get something producing soon produce at the market is getting slim. Customers expect a large selection of produce reguardless of how hot or dry it is outside.
This wk I am going to experiment with popcorn shoots. Anyone tried them. Soon as it gets a tad cooler I will try pea shoots as well. Or at least try my best to produce them!

I may have to beg & pled for some of the baked family seeds if they are enjoying these temps.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Picking lots of okra. Other than that, I QUIT!


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Dawn, thank you for the link to Sooner Plant Farm. I spent most of my lunch hour today checking out all the trees. What I really want is something that will produce food but my lot isn't big enough for a pecan tree and I need something that will shade the front of my house, which faces south. I only have about 50 feet from the front of my house to the sidewalk. Has anybody here had any luck growing almonds? They like the heat, right?

I think there's a lot that can be grown in the spring, fall and winter here in Oklahoma. Last year was a mild winter, but I had spinach, lettuce and green onions that made it through without any protection whatsoever. The thing I've noticed is that growth slows way down in December and January. I'm assuming that has more to do with the amount of sunlight/daylight than the temperatures. I guess the secret is to have a large quantity of spinach, kale, etc. almost ready to harvest before the days get really short, then there's enough to last through that two months or so. I'm going to try that anyway.

Lots of good ideas here. It makes sense that early maturing varieties would work a lot better.

I have been trying since I started three years ago to grow three crops because on paper it should work out time-wise, but it doesn't seem to work so well in reality. I never get the spring crop in early enough, then its time to plant the summer crop but the spring stuff isn't done yet, and so on. I think I've been doing this wrong. Since its too hot to go outside anyway, I'm going to spend some time this weekend reworking my gardening plans.

Shelley


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Shelley,

Someone who used to post here did grow almonds, and in NW OK, and had as much luck with them as we have with peaches or plums.

Louise Riotte, gardener and garden writer extraordinare, grew Almonds in Ardmore, so I would think they would grow here for you.

The growth of the plants slows down because of light and soil/air temperatures. Each vegetable has cool temperatures at which they'll grow, colder temperatures at which they'll stall and just sit there, and still colder temps at which they freeze and die. Some of them are more cold-hardy than others.

In the early 2000s when my part of Oklahoma was having winters that, every winter, they decribed as "the warmest winter ever" I almost completely stopped growing cool-season crops except for onions. I had space limitations and ran into the same trouble you did. Even worse, with early heat, they were not producing well enough to make growing them worthwhile. For a few years the spring cooled off again, maybe in 2008-2010, so I grew more cool-season crops and they did really well and I still had time to get warn-season succession plantings into their space and get good production. Since then? It is getting too hot too early so I don't think I'll give as much space to cool-season crops next year. Just watch. It probably will stay cool until June 1st just to spite me.

Part of the problem with gardening here is that we all plan next year based on what happened this year. Yet, with our inconsistent weather, next year could be completely different from this year. What can you do? Flip a coin and guess, I suppose. One thing I know is that it is impossible to predict what Mother Nature will do to us most years, so it always is a guessing game and a wild ride.

Sooner Plant Farms is one of my favorite websites to recommend to anyone who wants to get an idea of what can be grown in Oklahoma, or at least in some parts of Oklahoma.

Dawn


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Thanks for the info on almond trees, Dawn. I might just try that. I don't see any at Sooner but I'm sure I can find one somewhere.

Do you have pecan trees? If so, do you know if there is a 'semi-dwarf' or smaller type? One of the gals at work said I wouldn't want one in my front yard but she didn't elaborate. Anybody who grows pecans - do they make good shade trees? Are they likely to lose limbs in the wind? Anything else I should know before I plant one in my front yard, assuming I can find one small enough?

Thanks,

Shelley


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Shelley,

You're welcome. I usually see almond trees in big box stores like Home Depot or Lowe's in spring at the same time they have fruit trees.

I have native pecan trees, which produce pecans with great flavor but the nuts are smaller than commercially available, grafted and named varieties.

Scott would be the person to recommend a good pecan variety for your yard. He maintains a large pecan grove.

I like Kanza, but haven't grown it here. I have friends who have it and like it.

Pecan trees can be nice shade trees, but I wouldn't put one too terribly close to a house and certainly not near a sitting area or patio that does not have a covered roof. They drop lots of messy stuff at various times of the year, including all kinds of limbs. They drop limbs right and left for any occasion at all, which is what I like least about them. Every now and then they get aphids that leave everything under the tree a sicky, honeydew-coated mess.

We have a large pecan tree in our front yard, but it is at least 40' from the house. We have some closer to the house on the north side, but not terribly close--maybe 25' from the house. The north side of the house is the least used side of the house. It is the quiet side of the house because the front of the house faces east, the back faces west and that's where the detached garage and patio are, and the driveway is on the south/southwest side....so the north side sort of gets ignored, which is why the pecan trees are there.

They are decent enough shade trees, but messy ones, and I am not sure I'd deliberately plant one in a yard, especially in a smaller urban yard. We have one because it was here when we bought the property. It was big and we knew it would provide shade, so we saved it and worked around it when building.

I've never heard of a semi-dwarf pecan tree. They become huge monster trees, and I wouldn't attempt to keep one a smallish size. You can, to a certain extent, manage their size with pruning. Would I try to keep one yard-sized via pruning? No. I'd select a tree that would be lower-maintenance for the front yard.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: OSU: Recommended Pecan Varieties for OK


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Dawn;

I was wondering why the windshield on the truck had that mess exactly as you described. It was sitting beneath the pecan tree.

Shelly; Our pecan is huge and very close to the house shading our roof. You've might have noticed me mentioning it on another post. We're mortified of any impending death. We would not be able to afford disposing of it safely should it peter out. A bucket truck is required to maintain it and definitely required to remove it without damaging the house. At it's age I suppose it is more durable than other species in this drought.

I'm like you, though. I prefer to have some types of fruit-bearing trees on hand and I do enjoy a good pecan pie every now and then. :D


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Dawn, you've given me an idea. I have some Dragon's Tongue bush beans and wonder if I can, after sprucing up the potting soil, plant them in the tubs that my tomatos have been in. Bad idea? How many could I plant in an 18-gal. upwards to 25 gal. tub?

Not much happening with the veggies, including tomatos and cukes. Okra still going strong. Small, dwarf squash plants still plugging along, but not big enuff for any production yet. I am about to give up on tomatos, hence the question about the bush beans.

Does anyone living here in OKC know if Horn's is carrying fall tomato plants?

Susan


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

I threw in the towel when the last of the tomatoes bit the dust. I could not keep up with the watering in this heat. I tried to install a drip system on a timer this year but for some reason it would not fit on the outside faucet. The people that built the house built it too close to the ground! I am determined to find a solution for next year though.

Sniff...sniff...I don't like this time of year. I like to call it "the dead zone". Come September it will be better.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

My Armenian melon is doing ok, not as abundant as last year. My auto mechanic's squash is doing great, he gave me all I could carry when I had to get some work done last week.

I'm occasionally watering two tomatoes just because they seem to want to live and the peppers are still producing and putting on flowers. I really do want to do shade cloth next year.

I couldn't function without the soaker/timer, and am so glad I got faucets added out in the garden several years ago when the plumbers had my backyard dug up for a gas leak. ezzirah, perhaps you could add a little short hose extension and just be sure the connections didn't leak. After the timer I have a 5-hose splitter, then it splits from that. It covers everything but my herb garden, so I moved most of that to where it could get watered (except for the thyme and rosemary that do ok on their own) Not pretty or ideal, but while I was gone in June I had it on 90 minutes every three days and I lost very little. Actually, I lost nothing. The stuff I thought had died came back after a few weeks of pampering.

I'm worried about my old homestead lilacs though. Betty


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Susan, How many beans you could put in that container would depend on the size and shape of the container---a wider container would hold more than a taller but less wide container. Just space your bush beans far enough apart that none of the plants shade the others too much. When I grow in large containers, I usually space bush beans in a grid pattern putting about 12 to 16 plants every square foot of surface area, very similar to the spacing used for square foot gardening.

Betty, Are the lilacs showing stress like leaf scorch or dying leaves or anything? I hope they make it.

Dawn


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

Dawn, sorry for how long it took me to reply!

Yes the lilacs are really scorched and parts have died, but there is quite a bit of new growth coming up from the base. They didn't get watered while we were gone.

The hydrangeas turned totally black and crunchy while we were gone - they are about 20 years old - so we cut them waaayy back and now they are really working hard to put on new leaves, so I'm very pleased.


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RE: Drought-- Have you given up on this year's garden?

My hydrangeas look dead, dead, dead. They are several years old, so I am hoping the roots are still okay. Thanks for the idea, I'll try cutting them back and see it if makes any difference.

Because I have so many landscape plants/flowers I can't give up, but believe me, I am wishing I had 100% grass at the moment. I'd just let it curl up and crunch.

Lisa


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