When is it Safe to Plant a Garden in Oklahoma?

about this time of year we as gardeners

start trying to outguess mother nature

trying to figure out just when that last

freeze is gonna come along so we can

kind of guide when we're going to be

planning our end of our cool season

crops and the first of our warm season

crops now many of you in Oklahoma if I

ask you when your last freeze date is

you could probably give us a pretty good

idea but I want to put a couple of maps

up to kind of really some of you who are

new to the state would like to find out

when the freeze date is in your area

now the first map is courtesy of the

Oklahoma climatological survey and if

you look at the map starting in the

southern part of the state you'll see

that around Ardmore in that area the

last freeze date is March 26 and then

you move right on up through the

northern part of the state out into the

Panhandle and their last freeze date is

April 25th so you can see there's almost

a month difference throughout the state

of Oklahoma and that's something that's

real key and knowing when you're

planting dates are gonna be now if

you'll just study the map and spot your

area you'll see how the lines go across

some map in between those areas kind of

gives you a range of approximately five

days to 10 days between one line and the

other to kind of pinpoint when that last

freeze date is going to be now a map in

comparison to that is through the OSU

research stations and it also shows the

last date of killing frost in the spring

but in the southern part

it starts with March 30th and as you

move on up through the state to the

panhandle their last freeze date on this

map is April 24th so we'll see that

there's about a days difference in the

Panhandle and approximately four days

difference in the southern part of the

state so what is that telling you well

you need to know that these maps are

really freeze probabilities that means

that there's still a 50% chance that you

can get a freeze after that date so

really it's just a tool or a guideline

to kind of go by and the most important

thing for you to do

during that time is make sure you watch

the weather to see if there's any

potential of future Co spells that might

affect what you're planning one of the

earliest crops and the favorite crops of

the spring garden is lettuce and of

course there's many different choices

anymore from the catalogs a lot of them

that are very cold tolerant that can be

planted earlier and then a lot of new

varieties that are coming out that are

more heat resistant too in case you

missed the earlier planting dates and

you've still got a few weeks that you

can be planting these too

now if you've been reading through your

garden catalogues you're probably

noticing like I am a lot of references

to lettuce or salad mixes or in some

cases you notice it called mescaline

mixes and mescaline is just a French

word for a mix of greens or lettuces

it's very simple and what they're doing

is they're selling you a blend of

different varieties now I've noticed

that there some of the companies that

are adapting them to specialties in

cooking some are adapting them to

regional planning dates others are even

finding mixes that are coming from other

countries so the sky's the limit and of

course you know there's a lot of

catalogs that are very specialty

oriented for cooking and heirloom type

varieties and sometimes you'll even find

these in your garden sooner so again the

sky's the limit in trying to find a mix

like this now again just read between

the lines make sure you know what you're

getting to find out if it will grow in

your area and as a general rule the

lettuces are going to germinate and be

ready to harvest anywhere from 35 to 45

days now what we're going to do is we're

going to make our own masculine mix and

what we've done is we've selected three

varieties black Simpson or Simpson curl

that's just a cultivar of the black

Simpson we've also got one that's called

Centennial and this is a new one this

year that actually starts out as a leaf

type lettuce that you can harvest that

way but then if you allow it to grow it

will form a bib type or something

similar to that not quite a head lettuce

but in between and then another one that

we liked last year is royal oak leaf now

you'll notice that there's a lot of

different characteristics as far as

tape and some variations of color but I

would encourage you to maybe throw in

some greens like mustard greens or

possibly some of the varieties that have

red color to it to give you even more of

an eye appeal and what we're going to do

is just take the jar here and we're

going to just blend our seeds together

and we're just going to sprinkle a few

seeds of each one of these in the jar

and again we've got three different

varieties I've seen some of the catalogs

put in as many as five varieties and a

mix you're gonna now if you're wanting

to keep track of which ones which you

need to keep your tags with you or make

sure you label it well because when you

mix them up like this it's hard to tell

and then we're gonna add our third

variety and then what we're gonna do is

just mix us up real good in our jar and

we're gonna plant under our greenhouse

umbrella now this has been in the ground

for several days to kind of help warm

the temperature up a little bit and the

first thing we want to do is the soil

has crusted so we're gonna loosen it up

a little bit and you can see it's nice

and dry from the dust blowing level it

out and we are not putting any

fertilizer in ahead of time and planting

because our soil test tells us that our

P and K phosphorus um tascam levels are

adequate so we're not putting any

fertilizer in and we're just going to

sprinkle the seed in the planting area

now again we're not doing it in a row

it's just a nice mix and obviously our

spacing is going to be pretty close but

once they start to germinate we'll come

in and we can let them get pretty tall

cut them out and harvest those and then

get our spacing down to about four to

six inches so after you've got some

sprinkled in what we're going to do

instead of raking it in to cover it up

we're just going to put some of our good

compost over the top from last year that

we've gotten out of the compost pile

you're gonna sprinkle it about a quarter

of an inch real shallow and this is also

going to give us a slow release nitrogen

and that will help in an organic form

to help get these plants going and then

of course will water them in with our

water can one thing that I want to

mention to you too is once they get

going and you make your first harvest

you will need to come back and side

dress them with nitrogen now you can use

a synthetic preferably a slow release

nitrogen but will probably use something

like blood meal or something high like

alfalfa meal something high of nitrogen

to get some support there so after we

water them in since there's still a

little risk we're gonna cover them back

up and that will also help them

germinate quicker now we're kind of on

the tail end of planting some of the

cool season things let me take you over

here and show you some warm season crops

we're gonna put in early over the past

couple of weeks we've shown you some

very unique examples of coal frames to

either overwinter those cool season

vegetables or start your warm season

transplants a little bit earlier

now you're probably used to the term hot

caps and many of you use like gallon

milk jugs to cover up your transplants

earlier but one example of a plant

protector hot cap that we've used at

Oklahoma gardening is a wall of water

and again it's been used here with great

success for several years and you can

actually start the plants even six to

eight weeks early using this wall of

water and the concept is little

individual tubes of plastic that are

filled with water and the sunlight will

penetrate through the water and actually

warm it out and help insulate the inside

of this and as it goes together it

releases a little bit of heat but it

also keeps it very insulated during

those cold temperatures and some people

have had success with using these and

transplants even down into the 20s and

the teens on some of these particular

vegetables now the way this works is you

usually get a package of three and they

come again anywhere from probably eight

to ten dollars for a package of three

but you place a container about a

five-gallon bucket upside down if you're

gonna put your transplants in ahead of

time later on in the season but we're


it's quite early so we're going to just

put the plastic covering on first to

warm up the soil a little bit before we

plant and then you just turn on the

water and you fill up individual cells a

little bit at a time and we've got a

little tool here to help us and you

really want to fill them up about

two-thirds of the way and you'd go

around each one of those to fill them up

then you would remove your bucket and

that's when they come together now you

can get some algae growth if you have a

lot of sunlight and that's a good reason

to put in just a little drop or two of

the bleach to help keep that problem

down but after you remove the plant when

it warms up in the summer you've got to

be careful or you'll get the bleach on

the plant you can burn the plant so

you've got to be real careful but again

this is just a neat example of some of

the things you can do to plant tomatoes

peppers etc several weeks early and get

an early production before we leave you

today I want to remind you once again

that if you didn't get your cool season

lawn planted like fescue last fall now

as a second best time to do that over

the next few weeks again there's many

choices out there so be sure and do your

homework to find the one best suited for

your location well that's all the time

we've got today we hope you'll come back

and join us next week on Oklahoma garden