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Garden Groove

April showers mean May flowers, so there’s no better time to get to work perfecting that garden you’ve always dreamed of creating.

Ryann Gordon
March 29, 2017

Even though the winter was mild, we are still happy to welcome Oklahoma’s spectrum of spring flowers: daisies, petunias, marigolds and all the native annuals; dianthus and poppy, but only the ones that love Midwestern soil; and blooming bulbs and wild flowers all grow freely in Oklahoma.

Whether you’re a gardener of flowers or prefer to grow more functional items like vegetables and herbs, you’re in the perfect place to cultivate a garden that will wow passersby all spring/summer. You aren’t too late either — April is an ideal time to start planting most annual flower seeds and summer flowering bulbs. According to many gardeners, by the middle of April most soil should be free from the scare of frost. However, don’t plant flowers that prefer warm soil, such as periwinkle, petunia and elephant ears, until late April or early May.

The list of tips and tricks to help you create the garden of your dreams is endless. You can also attend training from OSU’s Tulsa County Master Gardeners in a five-part series they are offering this month. From April 20 to May 18 (on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. at the Tulsa County OSU Extension Office), you can take part in Urban Gardening Training for either $10 a class or $30 for all five classes.

You can also practice our tips on how to get your garden ready for summer.

Garden supremacy starts beneath the roots, in the soil. Make sure to test and add a nutrient-rich compost mixture to the soil in your designated garden area, and also leave the right amount of space for each seed or plant.

Consult knowledgeable staff at the nursery before selecting which seeds to buy and plants to place together in your garden; you can find this help at gardening stores like Stringer Nursery, Southwood Landscape and Garden Center, Spring Creek Nursery, Nickel Creek Nursery and many more across Tulsa.

In order to decide which plants will work best for your city’s climate, you should know that Tulsa is located within planting zones 6-8, depending highly on the season. For April, you’re going to want to seek out plants that grow in warmer soil conditions that also withstand a bit of cold (only for the earlier half of the month).

Start with some easy-to-grow annuals, like petunia, geranium, fabulous marigold and eye-catching periwinkle. Line the edges of your garden with deer-repellant snapdragon that makes for a lovely border and even lovelier barrier against pests. If you’re into butterflies, add black-eyed Susans and zinnia. There is also no sin to letting your garden become home to the wild flowers, like poppy, violet and indigo, or test your skill with the ever-so-tricky begonia. Fill in spots with colorful pansies, elegant primrose, showy gladiolus, edgy dianthus and dainty Shasta daisies.

Although many vegetables were planted
 in March, you’ve still got time to plant cucumber, corn, squash, sweet potato, okra, tomato, radishes, beans, pepper and melon, not to mention a number of other vegetables that will have a second planting time later this summer.

For most vegetables, the location of the garden and soil composition is the key to success. Place your veggie garden near water in a sunny location, with eight-plus hours of sun a day, and make mulch your friend.

Aside from vegetables, you can also grow herbs to use in dishes at home as well. Chives and thyme grow perfect around this time in late spring, while basil and sage will do well in the summer after soil conditions have completely warmed up.

Summer is almost here, meaning there’s no better time to get outdoors and add some color to your life and home. Pick up a new, healthy hobby and create the garden of your dreams, whether it’s for the aesthetic appeal or for the homegrown deliciousness and esteem of having cultivated your own food.

Do research on some of your favorite Oklahoma plants, how to grow them
and what to pair with them, and grow breathtaking blooms that may grace your garden for years to come.

Gardening Tips for Beginners: No Green Thumb? No Problem.

Test Your Soil
To get a thorough reading of your soil’s pH and nutrient levels, send a sample to your local nursery or cooperative extension. There are also at-home testing kits available at places like Home Depot and garden centers. The results will tell you how acidic or alkaline your soil is, which affects how plants absorb nutrients. Since different plants thrive best in different pH levels, this test will help you decide what to plant or indicate how you should treat the soil.

Know Your Region
It may sound obvious, but not everything grows everywhere, so what you plant is determined by where you live. It’s the most important thing to start with because you’ll want to understand the limits and the possibilities.

Start with “Easy” Plants
Early success is inspiring. Vegetables don’t take as long to grow, so if you make a mistake you won’t have wasted months and months of your time. Sunflowers are also a good option, since they grow quickly and tall, or try easy-to-grow ferns.

It’s a great way to keep track of garden activity. You can also keep notes about the interesting plants you come across elsewhere, so you can make a reminder to include them in your garden next year.

Create a Plan
To avoid crowding, research your plants first so you know exactly how big they will get and how to space them out accordingly. It’s also important to know how high your plants will grow. Shorter and creeping ones should be planted toward the front and edges of the garden bed, with the taller plants in the back.

Water Carefully
Give a consistent and ample amount of water. Make sure the water penetrates the soil as opposed to just putting a little bit on the surface. Newer plants will need to be watered more frequently because their root systems aren’t completely developed.

Be Patient
Gardening is a process. It doesn’t just happen in one day — it takes time. Impatience can cause you to overwater or fuss too much with the plants. Monitor regularly, but unless something looks wrong, let them be.

Easiest Vegetables to Grow

Lettuce and Salad Greens
Lettuce grows quickly, is really easy to harvest (just snip the tops off the plants or pick leaves as needed), and takes up very little space. They can even grow in containers.

Possibly the most popular vegetable for any size garden, you can grow tomatoes in hanging baskets or in containers anywhere they’ll get lots of sun and have support for their stalks.

Cucumbers like sunlight and warm temperatures as well as support for climbing. Once you provide these simple basics and water them regularly, they grow almost like weeds.

The only thing about carrots is they might not grow very large, especially if you have rocky soil. Deep soil and well-drained soil is preferable. They tolerate light shade too, although, like most plants prefer full sun.