Spring Garden Planting Timeline
One of the most important dates for Oklahoma gardeners is our last freeze of the spring season. Garden discussions would be much simpler if we lived in a climate where we could consistently guess what this date might be. Unfortunately, that is not the case with our last freeze coming anywhere between mid-March and early May. The best we can do is go with our long term average, which falls somewhere between April 10-15th for Payne County.
Given this information, now is a good time to plant many cool season crops. Cool season crops are those that prefer the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. An important part of this is their ability to withstand frosts or temperatures just below freezing without suffering damage. Warm season crops on the other hand, will usually die at even the first hint of a frost and most are the happy when the weather is summertime warm.
OSU Fact Sheet #HLA-6004 Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide (PDF/Mobile) features planting guides for some of the most common vegetable crops for Oklahoma gardens. Here are a few examples of plants that can go into the ground right away, especially now that we’ve received some much needed rainfall.
Vegetables that are considered frost hardy, meaning they need no protection from frost or light freezes, include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, onion, peas, radish, rhubarb, spinach and turnips.
Vegetables that are considered frost semi-hardy, meaning they can benefit from some cold protection with a lightweight material like a towel or bedsheet during cold snaps, include;
beet, carrot, cauliflower, swiss chard, lettuce, and potatoes. If you do have to cover these crops to help them through a cold spell, always remember to uncover them as soon as it warms up above freezing as small plants can easily smother if covered on a sunny day.
If the idea of cool season or warm season is new to you, here’s a helpful hint when you are not familiar with the growing preferences of a vegetable. With all these plants (with the exception of peas) the edible part is either leafy or grown very near the ground. Plants we grow for the fruit such as tomatoes, watermelons and squash, are typical of what we find in warm season plants.
For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.
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