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Gardening: Early spring time for garden growth to begin

Rodd Moesel writes about Oklahoma gardening and horticulture.
By Rodd Moesel, For The Oklahoman Published: March 11, 2013

This is a fun time of year. We can almost feel spring in the air as the days get longer and the crocus, daffodils, and snowdrops all pop from the ground to unveil their colorful and magical flowers. We have been blessed with some moisture the last few weeks and are more than ready to welcome more rain.

Early bird gardeners are seeing growth in their cool season veggies like lettuce, kale, cabbage and Swiss chard. There is still time to plant seed potatoes, onion sets or plants along with broccoli, the green leafy veggies and the root crops like carrots, beets, and radish. These cool season crops will do better and yield more harvest the quicker you plant them. If you wait too long, these cool season crops will have to battle our hot summer heat and will produce less fresh produce to enjoy at your table and to share with family and friends.

Growing up, we always said to plant these cool season crops from Valentine's Day to St Patrick's Day for best results. You can plant the cool season crops all the way into early April but the sooner you plant them the more produce you will get. This is also the stretch run for planting bare root strawberries, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, and the many other fruits and berry crops. You still will be able to plant those crops later if you invest in container grown plants, but the window for bare root planting is closing over the next couple of weeks.

We have about a month until our last average frost date so we all need to exercise patience on the warm season veggies and annual color crops. Unless you have your own greenhouse, are prepared to go to extreme measures to provide frost protection to your early crops, plant in containers you can bring in on cool days or believe we are in for a repeat of last year when everything was over four weeks early and the early gardening “Sooners” actually got away with their very early plantings; practice patience.

We now have an extra hour of daylight every evening after the “spring forward” clock movement this past weekend so you can satisfy your planting instincts by preparing the soil in your existing flower beds, preparing new flower beds or gardens, planting perennials, shrubs and trees. We have lost or damaged many trees and shrubs across our state the last few years between the ice storms, hard winter freezes, extreme summer heat and the drought of the last couple of years. This is a good time to select areas where you want to add new trees or shrubs to your property and to start planting.

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