For more information, call the phone number or use the email address provided. To submit items, call Melissa Howell at 475-3770 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference “Home and garden calendar.” Please submit items at least 10 days before publication.
• Viola Garden Club, 11 a.m., Feb. 20, at Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Program is “Growing Vegetables In Oklahoma” presented by Ray Ridlin, OSU Extension horticulture educator. Visitors welcome. Call 722-8822.
• Central Oklahoma Cactus and Succulent Society, 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Program is “How to make the most of your South Florida vacation.” The meeting also will have a sale/exchange of plants, books or other cactus-related materials.
• Late Bloomers will meet at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Trochta's Flowers & Greenhouse, 6700 Broadway Extension. Lunch at West Restaurant, 6714 Western Ave., will follow at 11:45 a.m. Call 760-4653.
• Oklahoma Horticultural Society, 7 p.m., Feb. 26, OSU Agriculture Resource Center, 400 N Portland. Janette Cooper from the State Department of Agriculture will speak on “Plant Problems You Need to Worry About.”
• Apogon Iris Garden Club, noon, Feb. 27, 2701 N Harvard Ave. Program is “Walk in My Miniature Garden” presented by Tis Bohlman. Call 773-4443.
• Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association, 7 p.m. Feb. 28, at Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension Service, 930 N Portland. Visitors welcome. See Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association's Facebook or Yahoo page or contact Rick@OKBees.com for information.
• Beginner Beekeeping classes are scheduled Saturday, March 2, March 9 and March 16. See Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association's Facebook or Yahoo page or contact Rick@OKBees.com for information.
• Oklahoma Rose Society annual “Rose Bingo,” 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36. Event features more than 100 rose bushes available to bingo winners. Snacks and drinks available.
• Oklahoma Gardening School presented by Devon Energy, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 16, Devon Auditorium, Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W Reno. Learn from internationally known and local speakers how to develop a more sustainable garden. Cost in advance is $45 per member or $55 per nonmember, or $60 at the door. Call 445-7080.
Watering during a drought
Drought conditions and carelessness have made conservation imperative. Most of our available moisture is only in the top 4 inches of soil, and at 16 and 32 inches there is barely any water. At this point, our area needs 24 to 28 inches of rain in the next six months to relieve the drought altogether.
In addition, most of Oklahoma is classified as a D3 and D4 status according to the U.S. drought monitor. These designations indicate extreme and exceptional drought; the highest drought levels possible. These stats are sobering going into the hot, summer season. We have already seen death of mature trees and large shrubs, and the drought is projected to last another three to five years. What can you do?
This time of year, you should only be watering mature trees and shrubs — no lawns, no gardens, nothing that isn't actively growing right now. Shrubs and newly planted trees need 1 to 2 inches of water every few weeks. Mature trees can take one to 3 inches of water, from a slowly running hose, at the drip line. Water mature trees every month or two.
In the next couple months, as lawns and gardens begin to wake up and be planted, water no more than 1 inch per week, in one application. So pick a day, apply your water and be done. This goes for annuals, perennials, vegetables, and lawns. Watering more than this will create more dependent, shallow root systems. Shallow root systems will not survive the drought unless you are responsible for all the water the plants receive.
Lawns are the biggest water waster in the landscape. Stick to the 1-inch rule, or better yet, let your Bermuda grass go dormant during the summer. In addition, leave the grass longer as the season warms. I encourage those with fescue lawns to let them go. It is counterproductive to baby a cool-season, water hogging lawn through 100-degree temperatures in a drought. Use a mulch layer under shade trees instead. You may consider minimizing some large turf areas and replacing them with low water use flower beds.
When you do decide to water, hand-water as little as possible and early in the day. This ensures less water is lost to evapotranspiration. Any type of aboveground sprayers or sprinklers are very inefficient, so use soaker or drip hoses wherever you can.
Draining ponds and using well water carelessly is no excuse. Fertilizer and herbicide applications shouldn't be applied to drought-stressed plants.
After mowing, don't hose off cement or other areas. Instead use a broom or leaf blower.
Soil improvements can be made to help improve water infiltration and retention. Don't till if you can help it.
Tilling breaks down the soil profile and decreases pore space where air and water reside. In addition, add organic matter, in the form of compost, to the soil. Adding compost is the best way to improve clay soils and increase pore space. Use 1 to 2 inches of compost as a mulch, or underneath a thin layer of bark mulch. You must mulch any plants you want to keep.
Additional drought and weather information can be found at mesonet.org and droughtmonitor.unl.edu.
Tracey Payton Miller,
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service