We have been blessed to get a little moisture the past couple of weeks including three quick, wet, but light snows for most of the state. Every bit of this moisture will increase the energy of our seeds, bulbs, plants and trees as they launch into spring in the next few weeks.
If you are an experienced food gardener or a first timer, this is the prime planting season for cool season vegetables. Some folks have been planting for a couple of weeks and you can procrastinate to mid March on your cool season veggies and still be successful. We are in the “sweet spot” or middle of that planting season right now. Some crops are photoperiodic like onion sets or onion plants, and if you desire large hamburger slicing onions you will do best to plant them sooner rather than later while we have shorter day lengths. There are many nice varieties depending on whether you prefer white, yellow or red onions, the size of onion and the taste. The most popular variety is Super Sweet 1015 Yellow onion plants. Taste of the same variety of onion can vary a lot depending on your soil type and PH.
Seed potatoes look just like the baked potatoes you can buy at the store except they have not been treated to prevent the “eyes” from sprouting. The most popular seed potatoes are white flesh varieties like Irish Cobbler or Kennebec, red flesh varieties like Pontiac and Lasoda or yellow flesh varieties like Yukon Gold. Just cut the potatoes in chunks or slices with at least 2 eyes per piece to sprout your new potato plants. Plant the potatoes now and in 90 to 120 days you can be digging your own fresh potatoes. Many folks are now growing some personal potatoes in fabric potato bags or decorative containers on their patio, deck or even apartment balconies.
Plant seeds of root crops like turnips, radish, carrots and beets to raise your own fresh food. Plant seeds of leafy cool crops like spinach, Swiss chard, leaf and head lettuce to liven up your salads and other food dishes. Plant small transplants of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower or lettuce over the next few weeks so they can mature before it gets too hot. This is also the season to plant crowns of perennial food crops like asparagus, rhubarb and horseradish as well as strawberry plants to provide home grown food for years to come.
There are many small fruit and berry plants that are not only very healthy but do well in Oklahoma. Plant bareroot or container grown grapes, blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, youngberries, gooseberries and blueberries now.
As you enjoy the early flowers of crocus and daffodils don't forget that this is the time to use pre-emergent weed killers or herbicides to kill the crabgrass and summer weed seeds in your lawn before the weeds even sprout and come up. This is the easiest chance to control these weeds of the whole season. Visit with your nurseryman to select the best product for your yard and get this “birth control” for weeds applied before the Redbud trees are done flowering. Enjoy the pretty days out in your yard and have fun raising your own garden and fresh, healthy food.
Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma Horticulture Industrial Council and the Oklahoma State University agriculture dean's advisory committee. He is a former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers. Email garden and landscape questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.