Two months of 2014 are already in the history books. As we start the month of March the number of gardening opportunities expands dramatically.
This is the prime season to plant potatoes, onions, radish, carrots and most all the cool-season “root crops.” It is also the time to plant all the cool-season leafy crops like lettuce, cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower.
More than half of U.S. vegetables are usually grown in California. With the extreme drought, well over a half-million acres of vegetables are not even being planted this year since there is no water to pump for irrigation in many production areas.
As the season progresses, expect big increases in vegetables prices from lettuce and cool-season crops to the later-season warm crops like tomatoes and peppers. If there was ever a year in recent memory to expand your vegetable and fruit gardening or to start a vegetable garden, this is the year.
Supply and demand will drive up pricing at the grocery store as the year progresses. Most cool-season crops will produce the highest yields if planted by St. Patrick’s Day or for sure by the end of March.
Exercise patience in planting warm-season veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and the annual herbs until after our average last frost date in April.
There are many berry crops that can be purchased bare root to save money and planted now will provide harvest for many seasons to come. This would include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries and many others.
This is also the time to plant bare root crowns of asparagus, rhubarb and horseradish. This is the time to plant bare root fruit trees to start or expand your own orchard and grape vines to start your own vineyard for fresh grapes or wine.
All these berry and fruit crops can be planted later in the year from container-grown material but of course these will cost more as the nurseryman will have to invest in containers, soil, labor and production space to grow those crops.
You can buy them bare root and plant them in a well prepared planting hole over the next few weeks and reduce your cost and still enjoy a high success rate. Bare root planting does not work well as we warm up in April and later.
Even if you don’t have flower beds or a garden area you can have a lot of fun growing many of these vegetables in container gardens, raised beds or innovative above ground containers like the root control or fabric growing bags made right here in Oklahoma City.
If you grow your vegetables in a raised bed or container garden use a well drained prepared soil or use a good loam mixed with sphagnum peat, composted bark or other organic matter for best yields.
Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma State University Agriculture Dean's Advisory Committee. He is a former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers Association. Email garden and landscape questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.