SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
okiedawn1

Planning , Planting And Maintaining A Vegetable Garden

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
14 years ago

Lately we've had quite a lot of new gardeners asking various questions about vegetable gardening, so I thought I'd say a few things about planning a vegetable garden. I hope others of you will add the things I forget, 'cause you know I won't think of everything.

1.) Do your research and make a plan. Understand that some plants which grow well in some other parts of the country simply cannot tolerate our heat and, depending on where you live in Oklahoma, our humidity (or lack of such).

I'll give just a couple of examples. Rhubard grows great in areas with milder summer weather...like Pennsylvania, where my DH grew up. Here, rhubard struggles to get through the July and August heat and often dies out in the heat of the summer, even though it is partially shaded and well-watered.

Apples are another challenge to grow here, but more because of their susceptibility to cedar apple rust....since our millions of cedar trees are host to this disease. Raspberries can be very challenging (though not necessarily impossible) to grow here but blackberries aren't hard at all.

Some crops that will grow here are "backwards" from how they grow in some other parts of the country. Brussels sprouts are one of those. You'll tend to have greater success with Brussels Sprouts if you plant them in mid- to late-summer and harvest them in the fall. When planted in the spring here, brussels sprouts often "burn up" in the heat before they can make much of a crop.

2.) Obtain your seed and draw out a garden plan based on the plant spacing recommended for each variety of plants. This will help you figure how large to make your garden plot OR it will show you that you need to cut back on your list of things you want to grow because you don't have room for them all.

3.) Select your garden site based on available sunlight. Most vegetables need at least 8 hours of sunlight a day, although a few can get by on 6. If you property is heavily shaded, a vegetable garden may not be possible.

4.) Prepare your soil properly. It all starts with the soil. You CANNOT grow bountiful crops without loose, fertile soil, and most of us start out with less than ideal soil. Ideal garden soil is going to be loose, fluffy, loamy soil that has a lot of organic material in it. Many of us start out with very sandy, very silty or very, very clayey soil and have to add a lot of soil amendements to create ideal garden soil. You should ideally add a minimum of 6 to 8 inches of organic material and till it into the soil or double-dig the beds (google to find instructions for that) and work in the amendments by hand.

You can add anything organic to enrich your soil: compost, chopped or shredded leaves or straw, animal manure, peat moss, small pine bark fines, greensand, lava sand, mushroom compost, used coffee grounds, composted cotton hulls, etc.

Just the act of adding several inches of organic material will raise the grade of the soil above the surrounding area. Raised beds are best for veggie gardens. (Think about last year's heavy rains and you can understand why.) You can use mounded soil as a raised bed. You can use stacked stone or lumber that has NOT been chemically treated to build raised beds. Avoid creosote-treated railroad ties and chemically-treated landscape timbers.

Raised beds offer improved drainage and they warm up faster in the spring. If properly mulched they do not erode.

If you go to all the trouble to build raised beds, walk only in the pathways so you don't compact the loose, fluffy soil in the raised beds.

5.) Select varieties recommended for Oklahoma. Many vegetable varieties recommended for the USA in general are really geared towards cooler climates and don't do as well in our heat as we would like. Be sure you select varieties proven to do well in Oklahoma.

6.) Understand that our long growing season is really several mini-seasons. You have to plant each crop in the proper mini-season for success.

Cool season crops include asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Chinese cabbage, chives, collards, endive, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, green peas, parsley (can plant in fall also), parsnip (can plant in spring or fall) potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, salsify, shallots, spinach, swiss chard (planted early is best, but it can produce all summer in our heat), and turnips/rutabagas. They need to be planted in mid-February (in more southern parts of the state) to mid-March (in more northern parts of the sate). If you plant them too late, they won't produce a crop, because once it heats up, their productivity seriously declines or stops. Most of them are harvested in late spring to early summer. Garlic is best planted in the fall, by the way, and harvested in mid- to late-spring.

Warm season crops include artichokes, beans, cantaloupe/muskmelons and other melons, cucumbers, eggplant, New Zealand spinach, okra, peppers, pumpkins, southern peas (including black-eyed peas, crowder peas and cream peas), summer and winter squash, sweet corn and popcorn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomatilloes and watermelons. In general, most warm season crops are planted on or after your average last frost date. Some of them, like southern peas, sweet potatoes, and okra like REALLY warm soil and should be planted a month or more after the average last frost date once the soil is really, really warm.

These plants will produce for varying amounts of time. Keep in mind that many crops play out in the July heat, which brings us to the next mini-season, which is the fall vegetable garden. The fall veggie garden is actually planted in summer for a fall harvest. You can grow almost anything in the fall garden if it matures in about 100 days or less.

Tomatoes are popular for fall gardens because they often stop producing in the heat of the summer and have a hard time rebounding in the fall, so many gardeners set out fresh transplants in June or early July for a fall harvest.

I didn't list many herbs, but most of them grow well when planted in the spring. They are not, in general, as affected by the heat and often produce well into the fall, unless you let them go to flower and set seed. Cilantro is an exception. It likes to grow in cooler Spring weather.

Some fall crops that are very cold-hardy, like spinach and collard greens can be planted very late and will overwinter and give you a spring crop in most of the state.

7. If your garden is on the smallish size, choose dwarf size plants that take up less space. Many of the plants developed/advertised as being "great for containers" also grow well in the ground and take up less space.

8. Grow vertically to save space, create shade, and prevent disease. Tomatoes should be staged or caged. Tomato plants that sprawl on the ground tend to get more diseases, especially of the type that cause tomatoes to rot. Many vining type crops like pole beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, muskmelons, winter squash and malabar spinach can be grown on fences, bamboo teepees, trellises, etc.

9. Create your own shade. Plant taller crops like corn, okra or trellised plants on the west and south sides of your garden and plants that benefit from some summer shade, like peppers, on the north side of the taller plants. The taller plants will shade the pepper plants part of the day and help keep the peppers from getting sunscald (sunburn).

10. Avoid bare soil. Newly tilled or turned-over soil looks lovely, doesn't it? Just wait a few weeks, though, and EVERY INCH of bare soil will have weeds and grass sprouting in it. So, plant your crops and, as soon as they have emerged from the ground and gotten a little height, add mulch, mulch, mulch, to keep the weeds from sprouting. For cool season crops, mulch heavily as soon as you can because it will help keep the soil cooler and the cool-season plants like that.

For warm season crops, though, I start out with a light layer of mulch as soon as possible in spring, and add to it as the season progresses. There is a reason for this. A very thick layer of mulch will keep the soil from warming up, and warm-season crops need warm soil. They DON'T need hot soil, though, so I add layer after layer of seed-free grass clippings throughout the summer to keep the soil cool, moist and weed-free.

11. Water efficiently. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are best. They waste less water (a lot of the water from sprinklers evaporates before it reaches the ground) and keep water off the plant foliage. In general, water on the plant foliage increases the odds they'll have disease problems and you want to avoid that.

12. Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. It is not necessary to feed your plants with a chemical or synthetic fertilizer. If you enrich your soil with a variety of amendments as listed above, your soil will feed the plants. If you think plants need an extra boost, use natural and organic fertilizers like compost tea, liquid seaweed, animal manure, liquid fish or fish meal, blood or bone meal, or granular or liquid fertilizers made from safe, organic ingredients. Too much fertilizer (whether synthetic or organic) is actually harmful to the plants and plants that are over-fertilized have lots more disease and pest problems.

13. Please don't poison your soil, your groundwater and your food. Many pesticides are, in fact, nerve agents to which you should not expose yourself or your families. Many chemical fertilizers are made of hazardous materials. Go organic as much as possible. Use Integrated Pest Management. THINK before you act. I know someone who decided to put a popular chemical fire ant product in his garden. Clearly he didn't read the label as it was not labeled for use in a veggie garden. Once he realized he'd contaminated his soil, he found he should not eat crops from that soil, nor grow food crops in it again for several years. Don't let something like that happen to you.

14. Practice safe pest control. Understand that there ALWAYS will be insects and bugs in the garden. Some of them are good, some are bad, and some of them are necessary for pollination. You cannot use broad-spectrum measures to kill the bad bugs because they will kill the good bugs (the ones that prey upon bad bugs) and the pollinators. Without pollination, some crops will fail.

Safe pest controls include releasing good bugs like lady bugs, parasitic wasps and green lacewings to prey upon the bad bugs. Avoid releasing praying mantids as they will kill all the bugs--both the good ones and the bad ones--including one another. You can handpick slow-moving bugs like potato bugs and drop them into a bucket of water to drown them. You can remove many insect eggs from the back of leaves before they hatch. You don't have to panic and go into "wipeout" mode every time you see an insect. People in this world have grown crops for thousands of years withou chemical pesticides. Work with nature and not against it.

15. Fence in the garden. Keep in mind that EVERY living creature around will find your garden attractive, including your pets, children and wildlife. This is especially important in a rural area.

Even in our fenced-in rural garden we have lots of wild creatures who try to find their way over or under the fence (and sometimes succeed), including deer, bobcats, squirrels, moles, voles, gophers, skunks, possums, rabbits, birds of all types, mice, turtles, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes (including poisonous ones), etc. Our fence keeps out most of them, but every now and then one or two find their way in.

Make your life easier and fence in the garden to begin with. If you are in town, you still will need fencing to keep the pets (or neighbors' pets) and kids out of the garden. Even small pets can trample and dig up plants and even terrific kids can unintentionally wreck a garden.

16. Don't forget to feed the birds! Wild birds are a double-edged sword, but generally are beneficial to your garden and a delight to have around. I attract birds to the garden by keeping a water source there for them and by planting a border of flowers and herbs that produce seeds they like. I also have bird feeders around the yard and especially around the perimeter of the garden. Birds are VERY beneficial as they eat lots of insect pests. However, if they get hungry or thirsty, they will nibble at some veggies, especially tomatoes, and may eat tree fruits and berries. So, you kind of walk a fine line with them.

17. Weed early and often. Pull sprouting weeds as soon as they are large enough to pull up. If you let the weeds hang around a while, they will steal food and water from your garden plants AND they are a lot harder to pull up once their roots are big and well-developed. After you pull up the weeds, mulch the area to keep new weed seeds from sprouting. Weeds will even sprout in mulch, though not as much as they do in soil, so you will have to keep after them all season.

18. Keep bermuda grass out of the garden. Every time it sprouts there, dig it up and dispose of it. Bermuda is evil and will completely take over the garden if you let it. Don't let it.

19. Plant from seeds or transplants and follow all applicable directions. If you raise your own transplants indoors, be sure to harden them off gradually by giving them increasing amounts of sunlight over a period of a few days. If you take plants that have grown exclusively indoors and put them out in the sun for a full day without hardening them off, they likely will sunburn and possibly die. Windburn can kill tender vegetation too, so harden them off in a sheltered location out of the wind.

20. A garden is a journey and not a destination, so enjoy it every step of the way. When you harvest and eat something fresh and delicious and wonderful that you grew yourself, you will be so proud!

OK, hope this basic guide to growing a veggie garden helps. I hope the rest of you experienced gardeners add to this thread as I am sure there is so much that I did not think to mention. One of the wonderful things about gardening is that even long-time experienced gardeners are constantly learning, exploring and trying new things. I think that is part of the appeal of gardening--it isn't just the garden that grows, but the gardener as well.

Oh, and I barely touched on fruit at all. If someone wants to talk about growing fruit in detail in another thread, we can do that!

Happy Growing,

Dawn

Comments (57)

  • brandy222
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Dawn, I wish I could scan your brain and enter the gardening info into mine! :O) I have so many questions, hope you can answer a few for me! I am so excited to find this forum and hopefully fill the many gaps in my gardening knowledge.
    First of all, I live in NE Oklahoma, and I want to embark on a much larger garden than in the past, where I have mostly just done tomatoes, peppers, corn (without much success)gourds and beans.

    I have a compost tumbler which my husband built but it has never done anything, everything I started with is still there. Do you think it didn't get enough wet stuff? As far as compost goes, I don't really know how to make it. When we mow, we leave the grass clippings on the ground. My kitchen scraps and manure from the pasture don't amount to much.

    What is your best advice for weed control? We are planning to plant clover for a cover crop and some mulching but I know we have burmuda. Any ideas?

    Also, do you have problems with bugs on your tomatoes and corn? This is one of the aspects of going organic that is troubling for me.

    Gosh I have so many questions but I won't take any more of your time. . . lol

    Thanks so much for any information you can give me!

    Brandy

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Brandy,

    Well, it's Super Bowl Sunday and I've got company coming at 10:00 a.m., so I'll be brief. (Ha ha! I'm never really brief, but I'll try.)

    Compost needs browns (carbon-containing materials) and greens (nitrogen-containing materials). It also needs moisture. It needs heat. It needs to be turned periodically. With a compost tumbler, that should be easy.

    What can you put into your compost tumbler: anything organic...i.e., anything that was once alive, including leaves (I run over ours with the lawn mower to chop them up and pick 'em up with the grass catcher and add them to the compost pile), straw, hay, grass clippings, small twigs, fruit and vegetable peels and scraps, leftover veggies you don't eat or fruit/veggies that go bad before you can eat them, coffee grounds, egg shells, cow, horse, chicken, pig or rabbit manure (but not dog or cat), hair trimmings, prunings from trees, shrubs, rose bushes, etc. You can add weeds you've pulled up as long as they haven't set seed. NEVER add bermuda grass stolons/roots/runners because they WILL root in the compost pile. If you have a paper shredder, you can add the shredded paper to the compost tumber. You can add newspaper (but not the glossy advertising supplements) although it works best if you cut it up or shred it first. Add a shovelful or two of good garden soil as it contains microbes that help the other materials break down. Do all that and the compost happens. Do not add anything like meat, fat, bones, etc. as they can attract pests you don't want. Add a little water occasionally if it is dry. Move the tumbler to a sunny location if it is shaded. Heat helps compost happen.

    Remove all the bermuda you can from your garden site. If you leave as little as 1/4" long pieces of stolon, about 1 every 3' or so, they will root and the grass will completely engulf the garden before the end of the growing season. To keep weeds down, mulch, mulch, mulch. To really keep weeds down, lay down newspaper (eight to twelves pages' thick) or cardboard after your plants are up and growing and cover the newspaper with an inch or to of your chosen mulch: chopped leaves, pine needles, pine bark or other mulch purchased in bags (or from your city if they chip/shred debris and sell it back to residents), straw (hay can be used, but may have seeds in it), etc. Or, if you want, purchase and use the woven fabric weed-block type fabric and then mulch on top of it. Be sure to get the woven type because weeds will grow right through the kind that has little perforated holes in it to "let the moisture through". Those little holes let the bermuda grass and weeds through, and who needs that.

    I spend a lot of money mulching my garden, but it saves hundreds of hours of weeding, so it is worth it to me.

    There ALWAYS will be bugs. They are a part of the cycle of life and God put them here for a reason. Believe me, I have run the whole gamut of gardening in my 48 years. My daddy and grandfather used TONS of pesticides, including DDT, when I was a kid and they had more bug problems then than I do know. Because of their experiences with bugs (for example, my dad lost ALL of his tomato plants to red spider mites 4 years out of 5 by late July or early August), I was terrified that bugs would wipe out my whole garden when I started gardening on my own as a newlywed in my mid-20s. So, I used all the chemicals dad and grandfather did....and still had bugs. Lots and lots of them. And, I wasn't REALLY surprised, because there was a little voice in my head saying "if chemicals work so well, why are there always more and more bugs every year?"

    Searching for a better way, I slowly went organic, bit by bit, letting go of my "security blanket" piece by piece. Was it easy? No. It was terrifying. What if I was screwing up? What if organic gardening was a crock of, um, manure? How could I risk losing so many plants that were important to me. Of course, I had many doubts.

    Here is what I learned. As an organic gardener, I had maybe 10% of the bug problems that I had as a user of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc. Why? Why? Why? Because, every single insect or bug pest that is out there has SOMETHING that eats it. I call those the good bugs or predator bugs. If you nuke your garden you kill off all the good bugs and it is a scientifically established fact that bad bug populations rebound first and more quickly than good bugs. So, you hurt yourself and your garden when you kill off the good bugs.

    And, when it came to feeding plants with natural, organic fertilizers, I worried they wouldn't grow as well. I was wrong. After I switched to organics, I had better plant growth, less bugs, much, much less disease. There's a pretty simple reason for that: most chemical fertilizers overfeed plants. Overfed plants ARE more attractive to bugs and to diseases like fungi, bacteria,etc. I even tested this by deliberately "overfeeding" one row of peas and one row of tomatoes with a high-nitrogen fertilizer and leaving one row or peas and one row of tomatoes "unfed", relying on my organically-enriched soil to feed the plants. Guess which one was perfect? The organic one. It took me quite a while to become a true believer in organics, but I do believe in gardening in the most natural way possible. It works.
    When you garden organically, you do everything you can to encourage and attract the good bugs and, for the most part, the good bugs take care of the bad bugs. I wouldn't say this if I had not observed it for over 20 years of organic gardening. I have NEVER lost a tomato plant to red spider mites since I started organic gardening (and neither did my dad, once he converted to mostly organic gardening himself).

    There are some pests, like corn earworms, leaf-footed bugs and stinkbugs that are hard to eradicate organically, but it can be done. I encourage you to give organic gardening a try. Personally, I don't want to use any chemicals in the garden where I spend so much of my time, nor do I want to eat food raised with chemicals.

    You can ask all the questions you want and I'll do my best to answer them. In fact, I'll be happy to. I was lucky. I learned how to garden (from my grandparents and dad) from the time I could toddle around their gardens with them. I always had them there to answer my questions. I realize everyone didn't grow up gardening "their whole life", so I am delighted to share all those years of experience. And, believe me, at the age of 48 I am STILL learning something new about gardening all the time. There are always new and better ways of doing things, and I am always looking for them.

    Talk to you later!

    (Go Giants! I HAVE to root for the underdog--that's just the kind of stubborn fool that I am.)

    Dawn

  • Related Discussions

    Planning a vegetable garden

    Q

    Comments (3)
    Hi Tess, all of the plants you mentioned do take up a decent amount of space, so I think one deep is your best bet. I do follow a lot of the square foot gardening concepts, which technically say that one "large plant" such as tomato/pepper/bean/zucchini per square foot is OK, but in my experience planting them that close together has some drawbacks. Among other things, it means that the front plant would shade the rear plant. I would rather have one very happy and productive plant in a 2.5' deep bed as opposed to one happy and one struggling. Also, tomatoes, at least, probably need staking/caging/trellising, so you'd have to think of that as a consideration if you tried to plant two deep--I think it would be tough to find room in that bed for two tomato cages front to back. What you could do is underplant your large plants with smaller ones like marigolds, lettuces, radishes, carrots, etc. since those types of things don't take much space and might appreciate a little midday shade on a southern exposure. Good luck!
    ...See More

    Hours to Maintain 1000 sq ft vegetable garden

    Q

    Comments (14)
    While I can't give you the number of hours, I can tell you that my experience with a large garden has been very different from others who have answered here. My garden is a lot of work at planting and a lot of work processing (freezing/canning/etc) the harvest, but otherwise, does not take much time. I have space larger than 1000 sqft as my garden; however, all of it is in some sort of raised bed: mostly 4x8, 4x12, 4x14 except the tomato/zucchini trellis areas that are 2.5 x~20. I have 620 square feet in vegetable growing space and an additional 100 square feet edging the garden in flowers/herb (and sometimes veggies) that attract pollinator/predator insects. I plant by the square foot gardening method (you may want to buy the book, I only follow the spacing in it, not the other stuff) and because I plant very closely together, I do very little, if any, weeding. I have not noticed any reduction in harvest from the close planting. My paths are all mulched with wood chips, so again, no weeding. I add compost in the spring or fall and then do not fertilize during the growing season. My garden is 100% organic, so my main time-spender during the growing season is hand picking pests. I also spend time watering if the rain is low. To give you some background on the amount of time I have to spend: I have a full time job that keeps me at work for more than full time hours (gotta love science). I am the only person working on my garden, just me. In addition, I have a neuromuscular autoimmune disease that has wiped me out from June until September for the last two years. When it is bad, I have a very hard time walking. Despite all this, once the garden is planted, I am able to keep it going with small amounts of time invested. As for spacing of tomatoes and peppers in 4 foot beds, I place peppers one per square foot. I do this for hot and sweet peppers and it works great. The Habaneros were crowded and had quite a canopy, but underneath was a bonanza harvest last year. My first year, I spaced my tomatoes in cages in a four foot wide bed at one per 4 square feet block. It was really too close, but they did fine that year. If you are just starting gardening, only put some of the garden in this year. Start slow. But, with the right set up, you can do a larger space. Happy gardening! Bellatrix Here is a link that might be useful: Square Foot Gardening
    ...See More

    planning an Asian vegetable garden

    Q

    Comments (5)
    You are asking tough questions! I cook for 2 maybe 3 or 4 times a week. Family comes once a week. Other night we have leftovers, eat out, or my husband cooks something easy. I have been studying and trying Asian recipes this past year. How much you plant depends on how much you like each vegetable. I've been able to try some things from the Asian market. Maybe some of my comments on your list will be helpful. Daikon: I grew a short row but wasted most of the crop because it bolted sooner than I expected. I did not have a good set of recipes so I didn't use as much as I might this coming season. I also plan to plant Chinese Watermelon or Red Meat Radishes. I like Daikon and carrot pickles but my family does not. Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin; much smaller than American pumpkins) We grew a variety from Johnny's called Confection which I believe is from this family. It's a winter squash. Confection has been a great keeper, stored in our semi-heated garage. It is March and we still have some good squashes. Our crop wasn't as good the second year as the first but we had a very rainy summer. I discovered we much prefer using the squash in Massaman curry instead of sweet potatoes (which we do not grow). I'm not familiar with the next 3: Winter Melon Pickling Melon Sword Beans Long beans: I am trying these this year. I planted too late last summer and the beans didn't have enough time to mature before our early frost. Check the days to harvest. Amaranth (water spinach): not familiar Chinese celery: I take this to mean cilantro. I have a hard time growing it because it bolts early. The seeds sown late did better in cooler weather. mustard greens: we discovered we don't like mustard greens mizuna mibuna burdock root (gobo; it's a long root veggie) bitter gourd Asian Eggplants (Chinese, Thai, and Japanese varieties) Bok Choy and Pak Choy (pak choy is baby bok choy): These bolt easily. Just grow a few plants so you can use them fresh, and do successive plantings. Misome: not familiar Turnip Greens: This year I will grow choy sum for the first time. I finally bought some at the Asian grocery. We like it better than Swiss chard. Watercress: not familiar Komatsuna:not familiar Azuki Beans, Black soybeans (kuro mame): I don't grow Sesame seeds, black, white (don't know about this; all depends on if my growing season is long enough): cheaper to buy Herbs: Yomogi (mugwort, Japanese herb) Shisho (Japanese variety of Basil) This really isn't a basil but it's related. I don't use it much. Thai Basil: I love the flavor of this. A small patch would be good, maybe 3 x 1'. I did not freeze or dry this. Garlic Chives: I really haven't made good use of these although I have grown for many years. A short row is probably sufficient. Bird's Eye Chilies: I grow one plant but we don't use many hot peppers. I use bottled sauces that add enough heat.
    ...See More

    Planning the Spring Vegetable Garden

    Q

    Comments (17)
    Finding tomatoes that do well in the fall is a HUGE challenge and is so dependent on the summer and early autumn heat. Here are the criteria I use when trying to select tomatoes for fall: 1) Days to Maturity 2) Flavor 3) Ability to set flowers in heat In a way, you could say Days to Maturity is the MOST IMPORTANT factor and, technically, you would be right BUT it seems more important to me that the tomato be able to flower AND set fruit while the weather is still quite warm. Some tomatoes that have the "right" DTM still won't produce a good fall crop because many of their August flowers don't set fruit until the temperatures are more to their liking in mid to late September. And, there is no way to know in advance which tomatoes will or won't set fruit in heat, except perhaps based on the experience of other tomato growers in the hot regions of the country. Based on my experience in growing tomatoes in Oklahoma and Texas, I would say the best fall crops come from plants that: a) produce smaller rather than larger tomatoes b) produce on determinate plants set out earlier than what is usually advised for fall tomatoes c) are often advertised as "plants that produce all summer long", like Arkansas Traveler, Porter or Homestead 24 I generally choose for flavor, and tend to avoid all those tomatoes bred specifically to produce in the heat like Heat Wave or Sunmaster because they lack flavor. For fall cherry tomatoes I favor Sun Gold, Rosalita, and Black Cherry. For smaller slicing or salad tomatoes I usually go with Porter, Black Plum, Martino's Roma or Heidi. For larger tomatoes, I usually go with Purple Cherokee, Earl's Faux, Black Krim, Persimmon and Better Boy. Although Better Boy lacks the outstanding flavor of the heirlooms, it sometimes produces like gangbusters in spite of our extreme heat. Two of my best producing years with Better Boy, I had spring-planted plants produce tomatoes until the first frost in October, and had to pick dozens and dozens of green fruit the day before the freeze. Last year, Persimmon, Black Krim and Cherokee Purple set fruit in August and September despite our high temps that kept hitting 110 to 114 degrees. I thought that was amazing. This year I am going to try a lot of heirlooms for fall tomatoes, especially the heirloom winter storage types. I also am especially interested in seeing how Neves Azorean Red, Cherokee Chocolate, Champion and Little Brandywine do as a fall crop. In the past, Bucks County produced well all summer and into the fall but it appears to be "gone" this year, and there has been speculation in the tomato world that Little Brandywine is, in fact, Bucks County simply re-named. To get a fall tomato harvest, I do ALL of the following: In early- to mid-July, I cut back a few of the healthiest tomato plants to 12" to 18" tall and feed them a good balanced fertilizer. I keep them well-watered and they are usually flowering sometime in August and producing fruit in September In early to mid-June, I set out fall tomatoes that I have raised (in 4" pots) from seed outdoors in the heat. Raising them outside in the hot weather is hard, but it ensures they can handle the heat. I like to get these in the ground as early as possible in June. Setting them out later in June makes it more likely we'll get fruit before a freeze. I always set out a couple of fresh plants in VERY LARGE containers that can be pulled or pushed into the garage to avoid the first freeze and then brought back outside as soon as weather allows. If an early frost is threatening, I will cover two to four of my most productive fall plants with a blanket or heavy 6mm plastic. If you can protect them and get them through that first really cold weather spell of autumn, we often have 4 to 6 weeks of "Indian Summer" and will get a lot more ripe fruit during that time frame. Finally, if really cold weather is inevitable, I pull up the tomato plants that have a lot of fruit and hang them upside down in my tornado shelter or garage. A lot of those fruit will continue to ripen, sometimes for weeks! This is especially true for cherry tomatoes. Many years I pick a lot of green ones in the fall, but would rather have ripe ones than green ones (!) so anything that can be done to stretch the harvest is worth the time involved, I think. And, once in a blue moon the first fall freeze will be VERY, VERY LATE here....sometimes after Thanksgiving, and in a year like that, I have a huge fall harvest and am pretty much the happiest woman in Oklahoma!
    ...See More
  • rogerferero12
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The process most utilized by pest elimination is often a mix of heavy steam remedy and insecticide, often a alternative having d-Phenothrin mixed in. That is often a pesticide that is useful through contact and also as a stomach toxins. Utilised for spray, heat fog, aerosol and ULV programs. This big usage associated with d-phenothrin is certainly inside the handle connected with insect damage like bedbugs along with head lice.

    You will find combined views on the these bugs ability to discover insecticide; for that reason, a few companies are now applying Chlorfenapyr that's non-repellent and useful for just a amount of time

    Under, I include steam solution as well as exactly what you might want to realize, as well as point out a handful of other solutions of pest elimination.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Bed Bug Bites

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Bumping this back up to the top of the page for Brittney.

    Brittney,

    After you read the suggestions in this thread, if you have more questions about how to start a vegetable garden, just ask here.

    We have some members of this forum who do garden in your part of the state (southwestern OK), so they should be able to tell you when they plant specific crops.

    Hope this helps,

    Dawn

  • patti24
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Live in Moore, OK, just south of OKC and found this posting really, really helpful. Thanks so much for posting all of this info for a fall garden. I have a small patio garden, but can grow most of the veggies and herbs I need for myself. Most of my questions were on the planting times and on the soil amendments. Don't know much about that, so your posting was "extremely" helpful. Thanks.

  • Jessica W
    6 years ago

    Greeting from S OKC! We live upstairs in an apartment complex and I am attempting to grow herbs, veggies, and strawberries on the balcony and I plan to supplement with lights since our weather is anything but consistent (I do get 6+ hours of sunlight out there). I am wanting to know about our wonderful (rolls eyes) Oklahoma wind vs my romaine lettuce plants. They've recently been transplanted, the wind seems to be breaking my leaves. I've been searching for anyone with a similar problem, but have had no luck. I know this post is old, but in the odd chance you get this.... What is your advice to growing on the balcony. Would you advise bring some plants in when our wind is high?

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I've never grown on a balcony, so have no experience upon which to base an answer, but if I were growing on a balcony where wind is an issue, I'd put a tomato cage type structure in the container and wrap it with row cover to break the wind. The lightweight row covers allow plenty of light transmission and some wind, but not all of it.

  • hazelinok
    6 years ago

    Good grief! Was the wind crazy today or what?! The plants I'm hardening off this week while off work, got a good doze of real life today. They all survived though. And the lettuce didn't have any broken leaves.

    Can you push your plants next to the wall, Jessica? Maybe that would give them a little shelter...?

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    It is March so, you know, it is crazy wind time! We have not been nearly as windy down here in southcentral OK as y'all have been further north, but I'm not complaining. When hardening off seedlings before they can go into the garden, I do position them up close to walls, but once they are in the ground or in their large (too large to easily move) containers, they just have to deal with it. In some of the windier years I have wrapped every tomato cage with clear plastic to protect the young plants from the wind when first transplanted but you have to be careful with plastic as it impedes air flow to some degree (this is less of a problem if the top of the cage is left open or if you leave about an inch of open air space between the ground and the plastic wrapped around the tomato cage). I prefer row cover for wind protection because there's less of a heat build-up with the more lightweight row covers than there is with clear plastic in a hot spring, and this spring qualifies at our house as a very hot spring.

  • Jessica W
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Living here all my life, I just kind of expect the worst of the weather, wind included. :) I thought I had left enough room from the dirt to the top of the tub to shield it some, but not enough apparently. (The iceberg lettuce was fine) I ended up bringing them in, they were so pitiful. I'm very happy to say most of the leaves bounced back!! I would push it against a wall but we face the east and only the edge closest to the rail gets full sun. I'm definitely going to try shielding it with the row cover. This is my first time trying to actually grow anything besides an aloe vera plant... Which I believe now are virtually indestructible. I'm amazed at how quickly our bush bean plants are growing. And the cilantro!.. sprouted SO quickly! We've planted some carrots in a Sterilite tub, which now I'm second guessing. I've read that they are prone to root rot since the plastic is thicker. I was thinking about drilling

    some small holes in the sides. In my mind, that would help aerate the soil, but I don't have any science to back that up. Lol. Does anyone have experience with planting carrots in containers? I would love any and all tips/tricks/things to avoid for container gardening on a balcony in Oklahoma. :)

  • hazelinok
    6 years ago

    Jessica, I've never had luck with carrots in a garden bed. I'm actually trying a container for them this year too. I purchased a SmartPot--it's a cloth type of pot. Never used one of those either. They're made here in Oklahoma. I first saw them on a video where a woman was planting a horseradish root in one, and then saw the pots at K&K, so I purchased one but it was the wrong size for horseradish.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I have grown carrots in containers and as long as the containers are deep enough and the soil-less medium drains well and the pots have drainage holes in the bottom, they've done just fine. One thing to remember about containers is that the plants in them lack the insulation that the sun-warmed ground has, so when you are growing in containers, your plants are growing one zone colder in winter. So, if you're in zone 7, your container plants are in zone 6 conditions without the insulation of the earth. I usually plant shorter carrots (like Danvers half-long and other similar types) in containers and put longer carrots in the ground. I've never drilled holes in the sides of the containers for air flow (only have drilled holes in the bottoms for drainage) and I've never had carrots in containers rot, but if drilling the holes makes you feel better, then doing so certainly won't hurt. If people are having carrots rot in containers, then I can't help thinking they're overwatering the carrots or are just in a climate where it rains too much.

  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    Dawn,

    Best post I've read in some time! I will be passing around a link to it.

    Here is a picture of our green manure. We plan to mow it and immediately plow it under about 5" but not until it is about 18" tall. Austrian Winter Peas, Winter Wheat, and Cereal Rye. It has been growing since late September.



  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    Dawn,

    Here is a trick I am trying on a new section (worst section) of our 12th Street garden.

    Create a shallow trench (6" deep) fill with sand, add some compost and a balanced fertilizer. Mix it all well with a small tiller. Cover the trench with our tractor and row hipper. We will be growing bush beans and okra there. The trench on the far left is ready to cover with the row hipper.

    By the way, our deer fence is still working perfectly.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Johnny, thanks, I'm glad you found the info in here useful.

    That is great news about the deer fence, and in our early years here, I did some trench planting in that same way, especially for carrots. It is one of the best ways I know to quickly create a planting area in soil that is not yet up to a gardener's usual standards. It also is a great way to get good germination of tiny or finicky seeds in soil that crusts over on the surface and impedes the germination of some small seeds.

    Your cover crop looks so lush, lovely and green that I sort of hate the thought of you plowing it under, but it is for the greater good, right?

    I can't believe it is still mid-March. My garden looks almost like mid-April. Out in the fields, the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are blooming. I feel like my garden is getting ahead of itself, but as long as I can protect it on cold nights, it will be okay.

    Dawn

  • hazelinok
    6 years ago

    As I'm out working in the garden, I come up with a list of random questions...and then when I sit down, I can't remember them until next time I'm out.

    However, I do remember one thing. Wait! I remember two!

    1. I'm cleaning out the beds for tomatoes and peppers. Last year, my neighbor gave me large metal food containers (like coffee cans) to use with the tomatoes. Some of them are rusty now. Does rust affect soil or plants? My tomatoes failed last year probably for a couple of reason--mostly weather. They actually started making fruit days before the first freeze. Bummer.

    2. Last fall, I left large piles of compost on cardboard boxes by the three raised beds (for tomatoes and peppers) to finish breaking down. As I was cleaning out weeds, I noticed large mushrooms on the compost piles. Is this...bad? ...good?...neither?


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    1. I don't really know how to answer the question on rust, except to say this. When I was a kid, old-time gardeners who'd been gardening a very long time would save metal cans (might have been coffee cans) with nails and things in them, filled with water. The water would turn rusty, and they'd water plants with it to put iron into the ground for plants that needed it. I have no idea if this worked, but they had beautiful plants. I'm not sure if they even knew if their soil needed iron, or not, but they went to a lot of trouble to water their plants with rusty water. Maybe the rusty water is just an old wive's tale, but it didn't seem like it hurt their plants.

    2. The large mushrooms are fairly normal. Just a sign of some excess moisture allowing fungi to grow. They'll dry up and go away as your compost pile dries out. You won't see it as often in drier years. Sometimes you can prevent it if it bothers you by turning the compost pile regularly. I almost never turn my compost pile because it tends to stir up snakes and stuff that I don't want to see but that's the price I pay for living in the wilderness. (We laughingly call it the Oklahoma Outback.)

    There's a possum roaming around the front yard right now and it is driving my dogs crazy, so they are barking and driving me crazy. I guess since I wasn't home to throw anything on the compost pile out back today, the possum is scavenging its way around the front yard searching for food. I don't know how I ever get any compost from my pile because the wildlife get far too much of the stuff I toss on the compost pile. And, see there, I don't have to turn my compost pile because the possums and skunks turn it for me. How's that for working with nature?


  • hazelinok
    6 years ago

    I'm trying not to start a new topic for something so small.

    I spent a ridiculous amount of time making chicken wire cloches for wind protection. I made the cloches from chicken wire. They are about 24 inches tall. I then wrapped strips of old sheets up around the chicken wire about 12 inches and fastened them with bobby pins. I staked them in the raised bed with landscape staples. Some of my seedlings were WAY outgrowing their containers and had been up-potted already. They needed to be planted but this wind has already ruined several of my seedlings as they were hardening off. Has anyone else used this method for wind protection? My biggest concern was that the entire thing would blow off, but so far it's holding tight.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    That's a whole lot more work than I'd ever do.

    What kind of seedlings are you trying to protect? Well, regardless what they are, the way I normally protect plants from the wind if they are not in the ground already is to put them in their growing containers on whatever side of the house will block the wind as much as it is possible to do so. So, if the wind is blowing from the north, I put the plants on the south side of a structure and if the wind is blowing from the north, I put the plants on the south side of the structure. That is how I always did it before we built the greenhouse. Now I just put them in the greenhouse, properly vented of course. If the wind is below 30 mph, I don't even leave them in the greenhouse, but merely put them in a sheltered location as described above. If wind is above 30, I'm likely to move plants into the greenhouse, even if the flats normally are sitting outside in full sun (I have 50% shade cloth on the green house to prevent overheating). Yesterday, after the plants had had 5 or 6 hours of full sun, I moved them to the covered patio to get them out of the sun/wind. Sometimes I leave them in the sun and just put shade cloth over them and move large containers filled with trees and shrubs around the plants to serve as a wind break. Some people use cold frames, propping them open on warm days so the plants don't cook.

    With plants already in the ground, you can:

    a) use floating row cover over hoops to protect plants or, if the plants are tomatoes that have cages. wrap the cages in floating row cover;

    b) do the same thing with plastic, preferably slitted plastic that allows limited air flow so the plants won't roast under the plastic or get a heat/humidity build-up that contributes to the development of diseases (you can buy slitted plastic from garden suppliers or, after putting the plastic over hoops or cages, you can cut slits yourself with a knife to allow some air flow)

    c) cut the tops and bottoms off large veggie cans (often you can obtain these from places that cook in bulk---my dad used to get them from the school cafeteria ladies) and place the can in the ground around the plant you wish to protect. If you work the can several inches into the ground, it won't blow away. A lot of people use 5-gallon buckets or cat litter buckets (with the lid removed and the bottom cut off with a saw) worked ino the soil this way to provide temporary wind protection for young tomato and pepper transplants at the time they are transplanted into the ground, leaving the cans or buckets in place for several weeks until the strongest winds abate and the tomato plants are larger and stronger.

    Because the wind is supposed to be especially brutal today, tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night, I'm going to leave all my flats of seedlings and my potted trees, shrubs, flowers and tomato plants in the greenhouse all day today. So far, we haven't had much March wind down here, so my plants aren't adapted to it, though the plants that are in the ground have had more wind exposure than the ones still in flats, since they have been living out there in the wind ever since being put in the ground. On a day like today or tomorrow when we are likely to be paged out to fires, I plan ahead by making sure everything is in the greenhouse. There's nothing worse than coming home from 10-12 (or 160-18!) hours at a wildfire than finding badly windburned and sunburned plants sitting in flats looking half-dead, which happened to me when I returned home on April 9, 2009 (a day in which massive wildfires burned across OK...ours here in Love County burned about 15,000 acres on a day when the wind here gusted to at least 53 mph). Ever since then, I have been very careful not to have plants out in the wind when I leave for a big wildfire, even if it means I have to carry plants back into the greenhouse before I leave.

    The plants I have in the ground (everything cool-season, and a handful of early plantings of warm-season tomato, pepper and herb plants) as well as many reseeding or perennial herbs, flowers and veggies like asparagus, will just have to deal with the wind today. I could put row covers over all the hoops, but I'd rather the plants have full sun. Row covers cut light transmission. And, if I was going to use row covers today, I'd probably zip-tie the row covers to the support hoops so that they wouldn't blow away. The usual landscape fabric staples and boards I use to hold down row covers might fail in winds like we are expecting today. At some point the plants must deal with whatever wind we get, so once plants have been in the ground for a couple of weeks, I don't give them special wind protection.

    WIthout fail, I put hoops over each bed as it is planted. That way, if I need to cover up the plants for any reason: hail, strong winds, freezing temperatures, etc., it is just a matter of putting the material of choice over the hoops and securing the covering to the ground so it won't blow away. I don't lift the hoops and remove them until the weather settles down, which often doesn't happen until late May, or at whatever time the plants outgrow the hoops. Tomato plants outgrow hoops before any other plants do (except for peas or beans on trellises), but the tomato plants are caged so I can still wrap cages if needed. (I just don't wrap cages normally since I grow so many plants. It would be one thing to wrap a dozen cages and another to wrap dozens or even hundreds.) I even have a lot of seedlings already in the garden sitting in their flats in a raised bed that's not planted yet. I have hoops over that bed so I can leave the seedlings there and just put row cover over the hoops if cold weather is expected.

    If I had young bean plants sprouting from the ground, I likely would put a row cover over the hoops over that bed today because young bean plants windburn very easily, but I don't have any beans growing in the garden yet, so that's not an issue at this point.




  • haileybub(7a)
    6 years ago

    Such great information on this thread, thanks everyone! I read and read and before I know it, hours have passed and I need to get up early for work!! Speaking of that, let me back up for a bit. This year I decided to start plants from seeds and built an awesome grow light stand out of PVC. I have four 6500K 4' CFL bulbs I'm using with it. I purchased my seeds, 3 types of cherry tomato, 4 types squash, cucumbers and some sugar snap peas. I bought a bag of organic soil-less mix and started them 2-28-16. I figured that's about 6 weeks before the last frost. I didn't expect them to sprout so fast but the peas are a good 9" tall and are ready to go out in my garden now but with my long hours and this horrible wind, have not hardened them off as I should and I just finished building trellises last Sunday. The squash looks very good now too and I have the urge to go ahead and plant them this weekend. I am surprised that it looks like they want to start flowering, there are tiny swells on them. BUT, they need hardening too. Question: can I plant them then put the top half of a 2 liter plastic bottle over them? ( I like the idea of a large can, but only have one. I don't drink pop but I have co-workers bringing me some bottles.) Would that be sufficient to acclimate them to the garden life? Should I wait a few more weeks? I've set the peas out but just for a couple hours at most, I hate to leave them out all day while I'm gone, and again, this wind is relentless here in northern OK right now. Yesterday I sowed pea seeds in the garden, so I'll have those too. I'm not a bit concerned about them, I'm confident they'll be fine. SO, I have squash, peas and cukes I want to plant, but certainly not if it's too soon. ( I know it's not too soon for the peas.) Now on to the tomatoes. I really thought they'd be much bigger by now, I bought black pearl, sun gold and some other kind that look awful. The sun gold are looking the best, but all of them are no taller than an inch and a half. They are 2 inches from the light source and I have left the light on 24/7. I gave them a watering with organic fertilizer last time I watered. In the past I have purchased tomato plants from a local nursery and they are a good 6-8" when I buy them in early May. Hmm. I just don't see my seedlings getting that tall and strong in a month. Finally, I planted beets (my first) and short carrots in some large containers a couple days ago, it was mentioned somewhere on this thread about the top of the soil becoming hard and crusted, which has actually happened daily. I water them every day in hopes I can keep that soil moist enough for germination. Last year I planted a long carrot variety in my garden but was bad about thinning and they were crowded. They grew but only tasted good in soup, not just eating raw. I hope this years carrots are tasty raw. I have a feeling I chose the wrong type of soil for those containers, I chose a potting mix for container veggies but it looks pretty rough, twiggy and all. Time will tell. I planted garlic for the first time last fall and that's growing very well. ALSO, as I have written before, I am starting asparagus this year but my trenches aren't ready. I refuse to dig dirt in this wind! I have several compost bins I started last year with nothing but leaves, and another that has all other stuff like kitchen scraps. I shred the leaves and they compost very fast. I think that's going to be my go to compost material. I have nice neighbors who are so kind to let me rake and shred their leaves. I am so anxious to start planting!! Any thoughts and advice will be much appreciated!! I still feel so new at this, and have worked to learn about this clay soil and amending it and know it gets better every year.

  • hazelinok
    6 years ago

    Hailey, I'm in the same boat. I have all these seedlings I "hardened off" last week while I was off work and they did great until this insane wind started. My plan was to plant everything on Monday. That all came to a screeching halt. I think I lost several pea seedlings on an especially windy day--maybe Sunday. Now, they're sitting there under the lights looking pitiful and they were so vibrant before. And now I'm too afraid to put anything out--either to harden off (because they would freakin' blow off--tray and all) or plant in the garden. I did plant a few things on Monday and put cloches over them. One of the cloches broke loose from the garden staples.

    I'm just trying to sit tight and wait for the wind to go away for awhile. I couldn't sleep last night because I kept wondering about the seedlings I did plant. The garden (and chickens) are on the east side of our bedroom and I kept looking out and could see that the cloches were holding. But I checked on them every hour or so because I kept waking up. Then one finally blew off tonight. I've got it back in place but the seedling looks sad.

    Dawn, I actually have some of those food containers and for some reason that I can't remember now, I decided not to use them. (why?! I can't remember) My neighbor gave me several of the cafeteria food container cans for my tomatoes last year. I don't get home until after 8:30 on Wednesdays, so I was out in the garden with the full moon and a flashlight trying to stake in the cloche that pulled out. I was still dressed for "work" and the chicken wire kept catching my necklace and cardigan. UGH! And I kept thinking a coyote was going to kill me. It's back in place...but why didn't I just use the food container cans?!

  • haileybub(7a)
    6 years ago

    HAHA! I'm glad you were not killed by the coyotes!! I live next to acres and acres of a farmers field, I love hearing the coyotes scream. I had heard that one can sound like 5! Also, I despise this stupid wind!!! Really now, whats the use? I know that wind serves many purposes, but really???? This is awful, it's supposed to be gone by morning. Heck. My house will probably be gone by morning. I will keep you posted on how my garden is doing, sounds like we have a lot in common in that area, I do so wish I had the guts to take the chicken plunge though.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    As long as y'all can keep laughing about gardening problems (coyotes and all), nothing can or will defeat you.

    Hailey, I hope you can get the peas into the ground soon. WIth them being 9" tall, they need to be in the ground so their roots can expand and grow. When you transplant peas into the ground after they already are that tall, they can sulk and pout and sit and not grow for a couple of weeks, so don't be shocked if that happens. I transplanted my peas into the ground when they were an inch tall, but they probably are 8-10" now. The difference in mine and yours is that mine have had to make their growth out in tough conditions---wind, heat, cold, etc. so they are hardened and tough and I feel like they can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at them now, and in fact, they got hailed upon twice last night and your perfectly lovely today. Yours have had cushy indoor conditions and they are not especially going to like giving up their cushy conditions to move outdoors, especially with the sort of winds that northern OK has been having. Since yours have had cushy, protected conditions, you'll have to harden them off as much as possible before you put them in the ground. I know that when you work full-time away from home, it is hard to do the standard hardening off technique of 1 hour the first day, 2 hours the second day, etc. Maybe if you get home in time you could get them 1 hour of sun and wind on Thursday after work, two hours on Friday after work, and then maybe 3 or 4 hours on Saturday, and 4 or 5 hours on Sunday, and then plant them on Monday? Or leave them outside all day on Monday up close to the house or in some other sheltered condition so they can get sunshine but have wind protection, and then plant then on Tuesday evening? You have to be creative sometimes to make hardening off work with your schedule.

    SQUASH: Putting squash in the ground now while the soil temperatures are still so low would be a mistake. If the plants are so big that you think they cannot handle staying in a container longer, could you pot them up into a larger container? I often pot up seedlings into Solo Cups or styrofoam cups that are anything from 16 to 24 or 26 oz. Sometimes when a seedling is confined in a small container, it will try to flower because it is trying to set seeds before it dies. That doesn't mean the plant "thinks" it is about to die. All it knows is that its roots cannot grow any farther so it must be in some sort of trouble. If its roots are confined in a small container, that may be why it is trying to bloom so early. Of course, daylength (number of hours of light per day that it is receiving) and warm indoor temperatures likely are tricking your squash into thinking it is May or June. You could slow it down by growing it at cooler conditions. I won't say "don't" put the squash in the ground now because it is your garden and you can do whatever you want, but I wouldn't put squash plants in the ground yet, and the high temperature at our house hit 87 degrees yesterday. The key is that an occasional warm day doesn't make the soil stay as warm as the plants need, so while yesterday's high temperature might have made planting squash sound like a good idea, tonight's forecast low of 39 degrees (or 37 or 36 or 38, it changes constantly) would make planting squash sound like a bad idea. You can check your soil temperatures at planting depth with a soil thermometer and plant summer squash when the soil temperature at planting depth is at least 60 degrees for 3 or more consecutive days. I suspect your soil isn't that warm yet. Even then, you must be prepared to cover up the plants whenever frost or freezing temperatures are a possibility because squash is a heat-loving plant and does not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures. Winter squash is even more of a heat lover and needs soil temperatures of 70 degrees.

    Planting anything under a whole, largely intact 2-liter bottle is risky here because of the way our temperatures fluctuate so wildly in spring and because of our strong sunlight. A 2-liter soda bottle is not that big, and the area inside of it can warm up quickly and might cook your plant to death. Using an air-permeable floating row cover wrapped around a tomato cage would shelter a plant of any type while still allowing air flow, or even wrapping a tomato cage with 4 or 6 mm plastic (but leaving the top open for air flow) would shelter a plant but wouldn't cause overheating. I am worried a soda bottle just isn't big enough to avoid overheating. If all you want is wind production, a soda bottle cut in half (so it allows plenty of air flow over the plant) might allow wind protection without getting a heat buildup, whereas just cutting the bottom off a soda bottle and using the whole bottle in full sun like a terrarium more likely would give you a well-cooked and thoroughly roasted squash plant.

    TOMATOES: FIrst of all, leaving the light on 24/7 is not good for them. It actually slows down their growth because they don't get a dark period in which to rest. Research has shown that seedlings grown under lights are fine with 16 hours of light per day or less. Mine usually get only 12-14 and they grow perfectly fine. Seedlings need rest just like human bodies need darkness to sleep well at night. This is a case where more light is not better and is, in fact, harmful. Whenever someone says their tomato seedlings are not growing, almost the very next thing they will say is that they leave the lights on 24/7. Try letting them have nighttime darkness and see if that helps.

    Much depends on the room temperature where they are growing, whether they have good air flow and whether their growing medium is correct/proper as well as whether their growing medium is staying evenly moist (which is desirable) versus staying too dry or too wet or swinging wildly from too wet to too dry. Tomato transplants growing too slowly have something wrong, so think about their conditions and try to figure out which thing is "off". Your now-tiny transplants will be the right size to go into the ground in a few weeks as they can grow quickly once they are happy. You just have to figure out why they are not happy. It also helps to keep a fan running in the room where they are growing for part of each day, as the wind movement helps them grow and develop stronger stems and foliage.

    CARROTS: Are you going to grow the carrots in the containers permanently? Or, do you intend to transplant them into the ground? Carrots love warmth and sprout quickly in warm temperatures and very slowly in cold temperatures. Carrot flavor is affected by heat, so you get the sweetest carrots when they mature when they mature when temperatures are between 40-85 degrees. If they are in the ground and growing in hotter temperatures, it will have an adverse affect on their flavor. To some extent, you can help them out in hot weather by putting up shade cloth over them, which can cool their soil substantially, as will a 2" layer of mulch. The problem is that it can be hard to get carrots to sprout early in cold soils so they can grow when air temperatures are between 40 and 85 degrees. You can do a few things to help them: pre-warm the soil by putting black plastic over it for a couple of weeks before you sow the seeds, or sow the seeds and put a plastic-covered tunnel or row cover tunnel over them to keep the soil warm. If spring/summer carrots don't work out for you, try planting them in late summer for a fall/early winter harvest. Carrots are divas and want things to be just so.

    You're on the right track and I can tell you are doing your research and trying to do everything right. So, now for some advice from an older gardener: try to set aside the anxiety (I know it is hard) and have fun. Don't get so caught up in trying to do things right that you take all the fun out of it. Remember that plants want to grow. They have a biological imperative bred into them to grow and produce. All we really have to do is plant them and try to stay out of their way and let them do what they do naturally. You don't have to do everything perfectly. It is okay to view the entire garden as one big science experiment, and keep in mind that experiments give different results. Try one thing one time, and if you don't like the results or think you can get better results the next time, then try to do something differently the next time. Your plants, and your soil, will show you what they need. All you have to do is look, listen and learn. The food from the garden will feed you and your family, but it is the entire process of growing, learning and enjoying that will feed your soul. Have fun and don't focus so much on the destination that you fail to enjoy the journey!

    Hazel, Springtime weather (especially in March!) can be a wicked witch on wheels, so just watch your wind, watch your plants and exercise patience. Be cautious with how much wind and sun you expose your seedlings to (especially after a bad day seems to have set them back) and don't rush them back out into full sun and full wind too quickly. March is a month where garden progress often is a case of one step forward and two steps back. Things should get better in April after the weather stabilizes a little more. None of us would have taken a 3 month old baby out into the garden yesterday or the day before or even today and left it out there to fend for itself in those winds, and we sort of have to treat our young seedlings like the new-born plant babies they are.

    I cannot read your mind so am not sure why you didn't use the metal vegetable containers. Maybe you became concerned about some material used in making the cans? I'm just guessing here. Honestly, though, people everywhere use them to protect young seedlings so I think they likely are perfectly safe for use.

    Cases of coyotes attacking adult humans are rare, though there have been a few times when this has happened. I have confronted coyotes (not on purpose, lol, but rather from looking up as I walked around a corner or something and there they were), and in every case but one they turned and ran off immediately with their tail between their legs. In the one case where the coyote did not turn and run, a long-time resident of my neighborhood asked me to describe the coyote to him. As soon as I told him it was more blonde than the typical coyote, he told me that I probably had run into a hybrid that was a cross between a dog (in this case, due to its appearance, likely a goldern retriever) and a coyote. He said the naturally-occuring hybrids (which often occur when feral dogs that run in packs along the Red River bottoms mate with coyotes) like this are occasionally seen here, and the problem is that there is enough domestic dog in them that they don't fear humans. I was able to scare it off that day by waving my arms and yelling at it, but it stared at me a long time before it turned and went on and internally I was shaking like a leaf. You can't let them see your fear though.

    I love listening to the coyotes at night, when I am safely indoors, but I don't like it if they are sitting outside our bedroom window and howling, which has happened before.

    If you can't sleep because you're worried about your seedlings, I can't help you. Sometimes I have a sleepless night like that as well, though not as often as I used to. Using the frost blanket weight of row covers has made it possible for me to sleep like a baby, unless the temperatures are going to go even colder than my fabric is rated for. Most of my fabric gives 10 degrees of protection, so I shouldn't have to worry unless we're dropping below 22 degrees, but on windy nights, the row covers are not as effective as they are on calm nights. All we can do is give our plants the best protection we can when conditions are threatening, and be prepared to replant if something happens. No garden is perfect. Crap happens. We get over it and move on. Gardening is still the most fun ever no matter what hardships occur.

    Dawn

  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    Dawn,

    I heard a screech the other day, while at our 12th Street garden. It sounded almost like a woman. My first thought was a big cat. A few days later a friend told me there have been big cats photographed on the hillside just West of our garden.

    It sounded like this. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Panther+Scream+at+Night&&view=detail&mid=43BAB5064DD773A15CBF43BAB5064DD773A15CBF&FORM=VRDGAR

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b
    6 years ago

    Yikes, Johnny! I thought you were going to say it was peacoçks. They sound like someone yelling help. I can't figure out how to link a you tube video, but if you google peacock calls you can hear it. My sister-in-law got in trouble as a child for calling the police because of this "help" call.

  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    Amy,

    It was not a peacock. I grew up going to the zoo monthly. It was cheap and fun.

    I just found out a panther has been photographed there in recent years. Also, one of my friends said she heard it too.

    Frankly, I'm concerned about our toddler volunteers. Maybe we need to carry a gun there. A big cat could carry off a toddler very quickly.

    I'll have to sleep on this one. Maybe I'll call our county game warden.

  • stockergal
    6 years ago

    Johnny was it late evening or early morning? I ask because that's when we usually hear our big cat. She's been around SW OKC for years. I have never seen her but they are usually shy and shouldn't bother anyone. I would call the game warden, they will probably deny its a big cat but I bet you it is!!!!!

  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    stockergal,

    I'll call our game warden tomorrow. I already know his number.

    When I take a nap there, I'll take more precautions.


    I have lived through a career as a soldier, on three continents. I refuse to be eaten by a cat within miles of where I was born.

    Johnny

  • hazelinok
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stockergal, where in SW OKC is a big cat?! And why didn't I know about this? How interesting. :) We used to live across the street from Earlywine Park and heard coyotes and even saw them in the park once or twice but I've never heard about a big cat.

    Dawn, I wasn't really too worried about being killed by a coyote. But it's so dark out here and the wind was blowing like crazy and I got stuck on those stupid chicken wire cloches by my necklace a couple of times while staking them. And the full moon was shining once the clouds moved away and...it was delightfully eerie.

    I was worried about the rust on cans...but I think I had worked through that by Monday. Who knows. Maybe I was looking at cute decorative chicken wire cloches and thought they would look cute in the garden. Okay. I was doing that.

    Thanks for the reminder about putting a fan on the indoor plants. I've neglected to do that. Some of my tomatoes look so wonderful but they will need to be planted soon and it's just too early here. I'll have to put then in bigger pots again. I honestly did not realize there were so many varieties of tomatoes until I joined this forum. I have Early Girl, Brandywine, and Rutgers. And tomatilloes.

    Next year, I'll need to work on getting all the protective cloths, hoops, and stuff.

  • stockergal
    6 years ago

    The big creek that runs several miles between western and pen. we have heard her for years. Never saw her but she can be vocal. It is always just before dark and just before sunup and usually just one loud scream. It happens so fast you don't ha e time to ever figure out what it is. A friend of mine that works with rescued big cats told me that she is calling for a mate!! That leaves me to wonder where her boyfriend is??? She also told me Bobcats don't scream like that so it had to be a mountain lion and they are all along the Canadian river released years ago to control wild boar, deer and coyotes. There goes the government messing with Mother Nature.

    Johnny, take all of your precautions, if it's hungry all logic is out the window.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Johnny, I couldn't listen to the tape or I'll have nightmares. I've heard a big cat live and in person in the dark of the night when I was outside, alone, unarmed, around 9 p.m. on a cold winter's night. I never want to hear it again. It is the most awful sound and nothing else sounds quite like it. Previously, I had heard one several times, with the sound coming from down in the river bottoms while I was working near our back property line, which is about 800 feet west of the house itself, so you're pretty secluded back there. Because the earlier screams were from such a distant area, it didn't scare me like the one close to home did. I would be worried about a small child. Usually the cougars are not out in daylight, but both times they were near my garden, it was daylight. Once it was on a summer morning a few hours after sunrise and the other time it was in autumn in late afternoon. Mine was a juvenile both times that still had some of its spots, but it wasn't the same one. The second one was not as big or as long as the first one. They put out a trap to try to catch it, but all they got was a piddly little bobcat that the cougar would have eaten for a snack. That summer, several other people on our road saw them, and two guys saw two together on separate occasions but in the same general area. I think seeing one is bad enough. I don't want to see two.

    Normally, a cougar will not attack a person, but a friend of mine here was stalked by one and he certainly thought it was going to attack him. He walked home backwards up his little country lane so he could keep an eye on it as it followed him home.That was in the late 1990s or the earliest 2000s. Can you imagine? He had a very large dog with him. He and the dog went inside and he came back out with a gun, and the cat was gone. He later saw other ones but was never stalked again. He lived directly between us and the river, and he saw them more often than I have seen them. A couple of years after we moved here, a friend of ours had his Australian shepherd killed by a cougar. They found the body of the dog, partially eaten, cached under brush. He and another friend sat out there some distance from that cache for several nights, armed and ready to shoot, but the cougar never came back. I suspect it came back, smelled their scent and left before they even saw it.

    I never for the life of me could understand why all the old ranchers here told me every single time they saw me working out in the woods to "be careful" and to "carry your gun". They were overprotective to the point of being ridiculous. I mean, if they were driving up the road and saw me working in the woods they'd pull the pickup off the road, climb out, climb our barbed wire fence and come talk to me. They pretended they were making small talk, but always asked if I was armed and ready to protect myself before they left. It was like having 10 or 12 extra dads around looking after me. After I started hearing and seeing cougars, I finally understood their concern. All that time I had worried about encountering coyotes or bobcats, skunks or snakes, and wasn't even really aware that the big cats were seen here periodically. After my first encounter I asked why they didn't tell me about the cougars, and they said they thought I knew. Men! How would a city girl know cougars occasionally roamed the Red River bottom lands? Well, I know now.

    Stockergal, I'm glad yours has been around for years because that probably means she is cautious and is a good hunter and has learned to peacefully coexist around people. I'd rather have that sort of cougar living nearby and roaming around than to have a young, aggressive male who's hungry and looking to find a mate and establish a territory of his own.

    I haven't seen or heard one lately, but people who live pretty close to me have. I told the to keep it over there, and to not let it come here. However, in recent times, the sightings I've heard about have been more from the northern end of our county. Since I'm at the southern end of the county, I'm perfectly okay with that. I hope they stay up there.

    I have noticed in recent weeks that the deer have become mighty scarce. After seeing them daily and nightly for months and months, all of a sudden I haven't seen one in weeks. I can't help wondering why, and I kinda think I know why and I don't want to let my mind go there. Suffice it so say, when the deer go into hiding, it usually is because something is hunting them. In fact, except for an occasional possum, coon, skunk or wild turkey, I'm not seeing much of anything....no rabbits, no baby cottontails hopping around playing, no deer, no foxes, no bobcats in a couple of months, etc. That also is not a good sign. Usually the wildlife are pretty visible in March, enjoying the warmth and the greening up of the vegetation, or trying to find ways to circumvent the garden fence.

    Hazel, Being out at night, I'd be more worried about a skunk. I run into them surprisingly often at night, and if they are happy to see you (or if they are rabid), they'll chase you. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you'll see a ringtail cat around dusk. I have only seen a ringtail out once in broad daylight, so in order to see one, I have to be out after dark, which I tend to avoid doing.

    There's nothing wrong with cute chicken wire cloches. I have seen some I like. I happen to like cute things in the garden. The more attractive a garden is, the more I enjoy being out there, and the more I enjoy being out there, the more I stay on top of planting, weeding, watering, mulching, etc.

    The fan will help toughen up the plants. I had vowed to myself that I'd leave all the flats of plants in the greenhouse today because it was windy. Instead, I carried all the flats outside for 4 hours of strong wind. It sounds cruel but they were strong enough to take it, and it will toughen them up even more. They can't get used to wind if they never are exposed to it.

    My big achievement for the day was to harvest 3 or 4 lbs. of asparagus, wash it, trim it, blanch it, dry it, bag it up and freeze it. We'll be eating that asparagus later this year after the asparagus harvesting period has ended. I love fresh asparagus, but fresh-frozen asparagus is the next best thing. While harvesting asparagus, I didn't see any wild animals, but the neighborhood cows and goats were making a racket, and so were our roosters and turkeys. Hopefully they all were just enjoying the gorgeous, sunny day.

    Dawn

  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    Dawn,

    I watched a special on TV a few years ago. Folks in other countries wear Halloween masks on the backs of their heads to confuse large cats.

    I will not volunteer to test the theory even though I have spent my time in chest deep swamps on pitch black nights. Soldiers do lots of dumb stuff. They tell us it is necessary training.

    Gotta go to bed now. I will be plowing a 1/4 acre garden tomorrow, making drainage ditches and tilling it for a nice seed bed. Vision Farms creates gardens for free.

    Johnny


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Johnny,

    I think I'll skip testing that theory too. What if the mask a person choose to wear happened to intrigue a big cat enough that he or she wanted to have a bite to eat? Ouch.

    Hope your gardening efforts today are going well, and I am sure the folks you're doing this for will appreciate it so very much. It is such a pretty day here today and I assume it is pretty up there as well. After the wild wind earlier this week, today seems almost too quiet, but we'll take it!

    Dawn

  • kddyd
    6 years ago

    I found this site by searching vegetable gardening in Oklahoma. I just want to thank you for being so informative. I won't lie. I have an absolute concrete thumb. As a matter of fact, I have never kept a plant alive more than a couple of months in my adult life. I am now 38. What possessed me to decide to plant some things this spring eludes me. Okay, in reality, I was having a bad day and wanted to kill something. Naturally, I decided I should just go buy a plant rather than kill my husband. However, I had no idea how expensive or labor intensive that would be. Especially, because I put the "O" in OCD.

    I ended up spending about $300, and still have to actually do the work. Instead of buying "a" tomato plant, I bought 5 tomato plants (hoping one would survive), 3 bell pepper plants, 3 poblano plants, 1 jalapeno, 1 summer squash, 1 zucchini, and onions...only to find out it was too late to plant them. Naturally, I bought nine 15" pots, potting soil and manure in the hopes that I wouldn't have to deal with tilling without a tiller. However, clearly, the squash and zucchini need to go in the ground. I think I will plant my poblanos in the ground as well since they seem to thrive better that way.

    Needless to say, having never grown anything before, I had no idea that I would need far more potting soil and manure than I purchased, as well as mulch. So much for thinking I was just going to stick something in a pot and hope it grows! I had no idea that I would need to worry about direct full sun, cross pollination, etc. A friend was kind enough to tell me not to plant my peppers near anything else, or I would end up with hot bell peppers. She also told me not to plant my squash and zucchini next to each other or they would cross pollinate. How far apart do they need to be?! Last week, while painting my house, I learned I did not miss my calling in life. I am not a painter. Somehow, I'm afraid that I'm not a farmer either!

    I also have a lot of wildlife to contend with. I'm not sure I will actually get a tomato to call my own. We have lots of birds, possum, skunk, raccoon, squirrels, snakes and even scorpions. I'm sure I could invest in netting and many other solutions, but I'm not sure I am that dedicated. At this point, I will be happy if my plants actually live. I'm sure it will be a learning experience.

    Good luck to all and happy gardening!


  • johnnycoleman
    6 years ago

    You will enjoy growing cowpeas. They don't require much water, don't care about good soil and LOVE the heat. I like Top Pick, Pink Eye, Purple Hull peas. Some like crowders some like cream.

    However, you will have to keep the deer away. We are planting over 3,000 row feet this year.

    Johnny

    https://www.facebook.com/visionfarms/

  • kddyd
    6 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Planting my summer squash and zucchini today. Glad to know I can put them next to each other. Saves me a lot of extra work! I will also plant my Mucho Nacho Jalapeno in the pot next to my Bell's and not worry about it. Yay for the internet and amazing people. So far, all of my bell peppers and tomatoes are planted. They look like they are adjusting okay. The only thing I see are some holes in the leaves of one of my bell pepper plants. I don't recall seeing them when I planted it yesterday. I don't see any bugs, and the other plants seem unaffected. I did notice my Beefsteak tomato plant seems to have stems growing out along the dirt rather than up. Should I pinch these off, or let them be? I did bury over half of the transplant as directed. I guess those remaining stems have to go somewhere. Hopefully my smaller 15" pots will get the job done this year. Maybe next year I will rent a tiller and plant a real garden. Unfortunately, I have a short chain link fence, so no adequate fencing around my plants. I'm not sure much would keep out the possum, squirrel and birds though. I live in Midwest City with half an acre. No deer to worry about in the city, but there are fruit trees on the back of my property, so lots of critters are attracted. I have planted my tomatoes in pots along my front fence line which should get full east/west light. My home faces east. The peppers are along the south chain link fence, between myself and my neighbors. It should also get full east/west sun. I am going to plant my poblanos in the ground along the southern wall of my detached garage and hope for the best. There should be plenty of east/west sun hitting them.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    You're welcome. We're all here to help each other and to share the joy of growing things.

    The small holes in pepper leaves this early in the season might be from flea beetles. Just keep an eye on it and make sure that there's not more and more holes every day. The pests are as happy to see green plants in spring as we are and will eat some of the leaves, but I usually just ignore it and the newer leaves keep growing and replacing the older leaves that are lower on the plants.

    I would leave the tomato plant alone for now to see how it does. I hate removing stems or leaves because the more of them the plant has, the more it can conduct photosynthesis and grow. Since you planted the tomato plant deeply, naturally some branches will be near the ground. Later on, after the plant is taller and stronger, you can remove the branches close to the ground if you want, but I'd wait until the plant is a couple of feet tall and has produced a lot of new growth that will support it. If you remove low stems too early, the plant grows much more slowly.

    The chain link fence may or may not keep out the critters. You'll learn as you go. Our possums are not nearly as destructive as the racoons, skunks and armadillos, but the possums do prowl the compost pile and eat all the good stuff they can find. The compost pile isn't fenced, so all the wildlife has a field day with it. It is a wonder I get any compost at all. Squirrels generally are not as big of a problem for me because our woodland is huge (about 10 acres) and filled with native plants that provide fruits and nuts for them. However, in drought spells they'll eat tomatoes for the water and I do have to fight them for the peaches, and to a lesser extent, for the plums. I keep w pan on the ground and a separate birdbath filled with water near the garden, but outside the garden fence, so the squirrels and birds have access to water without having to peck or chew on tomatoes to get it. That helps a lot.

    I'm glad you're putting the poblanos in the ground. The plants can get quite large. In a year with good rainfall, mine get 4-5' tall and sometimes taller, and spread out very wide. I think it would be hard to keep them happy in a 15" pot, and they likely wouldn't be very productive. Mucho Nacho is my favorite jalapeno and it does just fine in a pot, though I generally grow mine in the ground.

    There's nothing wrong with growing in containers, but it is easier to grow in the ground. When plants are in the ground, their roots can travel a lot farther looking for water and nutrients, and just for space to spread out and grow. When the roots are confined within a container, you must always be careful to provide them with the water and nutrients they need since they cannot spread out beyond the container to search for what they're hungry or thirsty for. So, in that sense, container gardening is easier to start up with since you aren't dealing with breaking up the ground and amending the soil, but requires more care over the long run as you must pay very close attention to keeping the growing medium evenly moist and keeping the plants well-fed.


    Dawn

  • kddyd
    6 years ago

    Okay, my summer squash and zucchini have been in the ground just over 12 hours. They looked really healthy as transplants. This morning.....destroyed. Nothing left but stems. There are swarms of little flying bugs around the mounds that look like a cross between a gnat and a baby fly. That was an expensive waste of potting soil and compost/manure. I'm not sure whether to try to plant something else there or not. They were in the ground, and not in pots.

    On a bright note, my tomatoes and all varieties of peppers are still alive and survived this terrible Oklahoma wind. I was a little concerned about those baby poblano transplants I planted yesterday just flopping with the wind, but they seem okay.

    I'm a little, okay, a lot, under-educated on "feeding" plants. I did use some Miracle Gro Shake and Feed for Tomatoes and other Vegetables in my pots before planting my tomatoes and peppers. I also used tomato food stakes in the tomato pots. I haven't used anything for the poblanos yet, just planted them in the potting soil/compost/manure. What/when/how often/how much am I supposed to feed my plants? I want them to be healthy and thrive, however, I tend to be an over-achiever in the sense that I "over" water. I'm afraid of "over" feeding and burning them up.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I addressed your squash issues on the thread you posted about them.

    Plants can suffer wind burn in strong winds, but generally they bounce back if they were hardened off somewhat to wind. The most dangerous time for plants, in terms of wind exposure, is when you first move them outdoors to harden off after being grown indoors under lights. On those first few days outsides,

    How often you have to feed your plants depends on your soil and on your gardening method. As an organic gardener, I try to amend the soil and build up rich, nutritions soil and let the soil feed the plants. One of the amendments I add to the soil pre-planting is an organic fertilizer. If you have poor soil that is low in nutrients, regular feedings likely will be necessary, using the organic or synthetic fertilizer of your choice. Whatever you choose to use, just read the label and follow the directions. There are so many kinds of fertilizers available that I cannot throw out any general sort of guidelines as the directions for use vary enormously. The one thing I'll say is that overfeeding plants can be as bad as underfeeding them. Also, overfeeding plants with excess nitrogen can make them very, very attractive to pests and can inadvertently turn your plants into pest magnets. After many years of amending my soil with compost and other organic matter, I mostly just do a pre-planting incorporation of Espoma organic fertilizer in the soil before I dig the planting holes and plant. If you use a synthetic, water-soluble fertilizer, you'd just dilute as the label says and feed at whatever interval the label says.

  • kddyd
    6 years ago
    thank you!
  • hazelinok
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    kddyd, if you have any zucchini and squash seeds left, maybe you could just pop them in the ground. They've always done well for me that way.

    I didn't even put my plants out yesterday or today to harden off. I did on Monday, but the wind has been extreme yesterday and today. (We may have lost one of the smaller kindergartners to it today--blew right out of the playground. ;) )

    I was hoping to plant them on Saturday.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    kddyd, You're welcome. It still is kind of early for zukes and squash. The OSU-recommended planting dates are April 10-30 as they are very tender and don't like cold nights. Planting them too early can make them more vulnerable to early-season pests and diseases since they don't like growing in cool soils. Having said that, our soils probably are warmer right now than they normally are in early April of most years. It's been such an odd spring.

    hazel, I hope y'all found the smaller kindergartners that blew right out of the playground. Try explaining to their parents that they blew away!

    The wind was awful today. The NWS changed our forecast to max wind gusts of only 21 mph this morning (down from an earlier forecast of 29 mph) and I was excited when I saw that this morning. So, what did we have? Huge wind gusts all day---all day long---as high as 30-33 in the morning and 38-40 mph in mid- to late-afternoon. I was not happy and kept wondering where my 21 mph wind gusts were because they certainly weren't here. Needless to say, I didn't go ahead and plant a bunch of tomato plants today since our real weather bore little relation to our forecast weather. The trees in the woodland adjacent to the garden were rocking and swaying in the wind and I was worried one would fall on the garden (and on me too). Only one limb came down that I know of, and it didn't fall into the garden.

    Dawn




  • stockergal
    6 years ago

    Hazel, I think one of your kindergartners flew by my house!! That just cracks me up, I know at times I couldn't stand up so I can imagine the little ones blowing around. Ha ha

    i just gave up this afternoon and rearranged the garage. I will not be able to find anything.

    hopefully Thursday and Friday will be calmer.

  • kddyd
    6 years ago
    Some little guy was digging in my garden last night. How rude!
  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    No garden fence? Or, did something circumvent the fencing?

  • kddyd
    6 years ago
    No fence. My squash and poblanos are the only things in the ground.
  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Sometimes you can deter diggers by sprinkling red cayenne pepper on the ground around the plants. I buy it in a very large container at Sam's Club. I wouldn't use the pepper if pets or small children go into the garden as they might touch the ground or mulch and get the pepper on their paws, hands, feet, lips, eyes, etc.

  • haileybub(7a)
    6 years ago

    Hazel, how exciting to hear about your plants! It's a fun and rewarding time of year, isn't it? I have decided not to worry so much about doing every little thing just so, Dawn is right, plants know what to do. SO. . . when did you plant your beans? You planted them from seed? What kind of beans did you plant? I have not planted mine yet but I'm thinking I need to get on the ball and do it. My habit has been to plant later rather than earlier and I think this year I want to go ahead and get my seeds in the ground. It's been a warm and extremely dry season so far. I'm sure the colder temps are behind us. I just want RAIN!! My carrots and beets are still very small but at least they have a start. Everything I started indoors, under the grow light I made, I have been very disappointed with. (I'll do my homework for next year) I started my squash and cukes too early and I'm just going to plant seeds next week. My tomatoes are just pitiful. I think I'll keep trying and transplant next month and have a back up plan with plants from a nursery. Here in Enid, my selection is a joke, BUT actually last year I bought a cherry tomato plant, variety unknown, that just did marvelous and produced till the frost did it's number on it. My peas that I planted from seeds look great, about 3" tall now. Oh how I hope I get a good crop, I do love my peas! My asparagus is doing superb, almost all of the 18 or so plants have sprouted and are now covered with soil and hay.

    Dawn, you have so much experience and give great advice, so here is a question for you. What kind of Espoma do you use? I had no idea there were so many to choose from! I also have been adding organic material to my soil for the past couple of years and it's looking good, I would like to simplify things and get a basic fertilizer, if that is what can be done. I have had the OSU extension center do soil sample tests on different parts of my garden for a couple of years and my pH is good, just needs a bit of potassium and phosphorus, which I have added. Thanks all!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hailey, I generally use whichever Espoma is appropriate for whatever plants I'm working with....so TomatoTone for tomatoes (and it works well for other plants in their family like peppers, eggplant and tomatillos), Garden-Tone for the rest of the veggie garden, Holly-Tone for my holly shrubs and Plant-Tone for ornamental plants. I haven't used any of their newer formulations like Rose-Tone or Flower-Tone so cannot comment specifically on them, but I have been happy with all the Espoma products that I have used. I add them to the soil along with compost prior to planting every year or, for plants like perenials flowers that stay in the same spot permanently, I just topdress the bed with them.

    Dawn