Spring is approaching. During this transitional period, local experts and plant enthusiasts are offering advice to those looking to prepare their gardens ahead of the growing season and to give their houseplants extra sunlight.
NSU freshman David Cox is a plant enthusiast and has at least 80 plants of various sizes hanging in his apartment.
“We have more and more collections of all kinds,” says Cox.
Although he never intended to own so many plants, Cox said he had a love and affinity for them. . Cox uses a hybrid method to get the plants well lit.
“I’ll put up with the winter. [my plants] There are grow lights inside,” he said. “I like to put it outside during the summer.”
Despite typically frigid temperatures this winter, warm days have been frequent in recent weeks, and Cox is taking advantage of them. Being “young and able-bodied,” he takes the plants outside to bask in the sun during the day and bring them indoors before the temperature drops too low.
However, Cox does offer some tips for those who can’t routinely get their plants in and out, like using grow lights and working with windows.
“Plants are much more adaptable than we give them credit for,” he said. “My best advice is to research plants that perform better in the current environment.”
Cox said he pays attention to the dates of the last and first frosts to know when to move the plants outside during the season.
“Usually around March they go out and stay outside,” he said.
Jody Parolini, an agricultural educator at the Oklahoma State University Extension Office in Cherokee County, says the last frost-free day in the area is around April 11th.
“Some say it sooner, some say it a little later,” Parolini said. “That said, it’s a rough estimate. We all know Oklahoma weather can change quickly, so there’s always a slim chance of freezing again after this point.” Instead of marking the date you plan to plant your garden on your calendar, look at the temperature when you plant your garden.”
If another freeze occurs after April 11, Parolini said there’s no need to worry about plants already outside.
“Depending on the crop, your plants may still be able to make it,” she said. , please protect the plants. ”
The USDA has different freeze sizes. Between 32 and 29 degrees Fahrenheit is a mild freeze that kills soft vegetation and has little destructive effect on other vegetation. Twenty-eight to twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit is a moderate freeze, with widespread and devastating effects on most vegetation, causing heavy damage to fruit trees, soft and semi-hardy plants. Temperatures below 24 degrees Fahrenheit are severe freezes, causing great damage to most plants.
“At these temperatures, the ground freezes hard, and the depth of the frozen ground depends on the duration and severity of the freeze, soil moisture, and soil type,” USDA said.
Parolini advised gardeners to also keep soil temperature in mind.
“No matter how cold-hardy you are, if the soil freezes, you can’t plant crops,” she said. “There are things you can do to warm the soil faster so that you can plant faster, like raised beds, low tunnels and plastic mulch.”
During the transition from winter to spring, there are “warm” and “cold” seasons that are ideal for growing crops.
“Hardy cool season crops include peas, radishes, spinach, leeks, garlic, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts,” she said. Celery, lettuce, potatoes, chard, etc.”
For example, Brussels sprouts can withstand temperatures as high as 75 degrees and as low as 45 degrees. The optimum growing temperature range is 60-65 degrees.
“Soft warm season crops include cowpea, soybeans, tomatoes, sweet corn, New Zealand spinach and cowpea,” she said. , eggplant, okra, pepper, pumpkin, etc.
Parolini said it’s better to grow cool-season crops that are hardy to half-hardy in the spring, when it’s still a little cooler.
“At this point, we don’t jump right into planting warm season crops,” she said.
Planning ahead is key to a successful garden.
“What do you want your garden to look like? Write it down and plan it out,” says Casey Hentges, an OSU Extension Associate Specialist and Oklahoma Gardening host. “Make a list of plants you like and want to grow. It may be helpful to walk through your garden space and note the sunny and shaded areas. This information will help you with your plant selection.”
Henges said previous failures should not deter plans for this year. It’s important to remember what worked and what didn’t work last year and learn from it.
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your head. Start small this year with just a few plants or containers. You’ll be able to adjust as the season progresses,” said Henges. “Our growing season may enter the fall, so there will be plenty of time to adjust our plans.”
Parolini said winter is the perfect time to reflect on the growing season.
“Have you had any illnesses last year? If so, it might be time to rotate crops,” she said. Try planting it.”
Parolini recommends gardeners “always, always, always” do a soil test before deciding to plant.
“We do this for weeks, even a month in advance so that we can get started in the spring. “By taking a soil test, you can find out what’s going on with your soil nutritionally.”