Spring in Oklahoma

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
Note: This week’s cold snap seemed especially harsh given last weekend’s temperatures. Unfortunately, it was much more common for us than we would like to believe. So much so, that I simply had to change one word to make this column from last year 100% applicable to this year (sigh)….

Even though Tuesday’s temperatures might have seemed like a late freeze, in reality, it came right on schedule for the last average freeze date for North Central Oklahoma. If you lost several new garden or landscape plants, I suggest you go to the December page of your calendar NOW and make a note for next year about timing for planting tender spring plants.

This also provides a good opportunity to talk about the concept of staggering spring vegetable plantings. It is hard to resist the urging to rush out and plant early and that is understandable. It is also sometimes wise, as the last two summers have proven. The most successful plantings last year seem to have been those that were in the ground early and matured before our hot, dry spell set in. This strategy can just as easily work against you, as we’ve seen this week.

Staggering your crop planting dates, such as planting in 2 week increments of early, suggested time, and late provides a cushion against extreme weather or pest events. Adding diversity to the varietal selection does the same thing. This also provides the added bonus of stretching out your harvest over a longer period of time.
For trees and shrubs that were nipped back, be patient for a week or two and see how they respond. In most cases, the plants will make a complete recovery. However, a few shrub species may need to be pruned back just a bit to look good this season.

Hardy perennials may also need a bit of corrective attention if the early leaves were burned back by the freeze. Obvious damage can be pruned off right away, just be patient before pulling a plant out of the ground because it appears dead.

Lastly, the freeze should have killed any early germinating crabgrass. If you did not apply crabgrass preemergence because you were afraid it was too late, go ahead and do that now.

For more information of 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 keith.reed@okstate.edu, 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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