We have jumped from midwinter with limited things we can do in the garden to mid-February when we suddenly are overwhelmed with gardening opportunities. We can plant cool season veggies like seed potatoes, onion sets or onion plants, as well as seed for carrots, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, green peas, radish, spinach and turnips. You can now plant seeds or plants of leaf and head lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. This is also the time to plant many other food crops that can provide fresh nutrition and gardening pleasure for years to come. Plant crowns of asparagus, horseradish or rhubarb for years of harvests. Plant bare-root or container-grown strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, gooseberries, boysenberries or youngberries to color up your diet.
Speaking of berries, the professor who wrote the book on fruit trees and berries, Jules Janick of Purdue University, will be giving a free program at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Oklahoma City Zoo educational building. Janick has been national president of the Pomology Society and is one of the most respected fruit and berry researchers and breeders in the world. He will be speaking on “Cupid and Psyche: Fables and Festoons” looking at horticulture as depicted in Renaissance paintings. The Oklahoma Horticulture Society and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation are sponsoring the program. It will be a fun and entertaining trip through the history of horticulture and agriculture and great classic artworks. You can see the history of maize, squash and beans as they follow Columbus and other explorers from the New World back to Europe.
This is also the season to apply pre-emergent weed killers to your lawn or flower beds if you want to control crabgrass and other summer weeds. There are many excellent herbicides that are labeled for use on lawns and turfgrasses and a couple that can be used on flower beds. Visit with your nurseryman to select the proper product for your lawn or flower bed. Pre-emergents work best when applied from now when the forsythia begin showing their enchanting yellow flowers until the redbud trees finish their show of red and pink flowers.
Pre-emergent weed killers work as a prophylactic to prevent seed germination. Once the weed seed has germinated they are no longer effective and you will need to confront weed problems by pulling up the weeds by hand or by using a post emergent herbicide. My favorite pre-emergents for use in flower beds feature Treflan or Dimension. My favorite pre-emergents for lawns include Barricade or prodiamine, Dimension, Treflan, Balan or Sulfentrazone. For those trying to go organic you can use 60 percent powdered corn gluten meal. Make sure to read the directions on whatever pre-emergent you choose before application. Most require a good rain or watering the equivalent of a half-inch after application to activate the product.
Get your gardening boots on, start planting cool season vegetables.
Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma Horticulture Industrial Council and the Oklahoma State University agriculture dean's advisory committee. Email garden and landscape questions to email@example.com.