Want to grow your own food? Here are tips to get started – Oklahoman.com

want-to-grow-your-own-food?-here-are-tips-to-get-started-–-oklahoman.com

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NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Published: Sat, February 27, 2021 5: 00 AM

The planting season for many cool-season spring vegetables like carrots can begin right now. [Jonathan Kemper/Unsplash]

In the past year, there seems to have been an unprecedented interest in learning how to grow food due to experiencing the pandemic.
Many who had never tried to grow fruits or vegetables have become interested in experimenting with this type of gardening and may have met some challenges. Here are some fact sheets and tips to help you succeed with this fun and rewarding hobby.
Timing of vegetable planting is key, especially with Oklahoma weather. The planting season for many cool-season spring vegetables (which can handle freezes) like spinach, carrots, lettuce, peas, onions and broccoli can begin right now. Note that you can plant these again in late summer, as well, to have a fall garden.
You need to wait to plant your warm-season crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and green beans until after we stop having freezes, which is usually mid-April in central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State University Fact Sheet No. 6004, “Oklahoma Planting Guide,” can be downloaded from Osufacts.okstate.edu, or you can call the Master Gardeners in our office at 713-1125 if you would like us to mail you a copy. This valuable guide tells you exactly when to plant, how far apart to plant, whether you need to use a transplant or seeds, and even tells you how long until you can begin harvesting.
The many different varieties of vegetables available also can be overwhelming, especially in seed catalogs. Another helpful fact sheet is No. 6032, “Vegetable Varieties for the Home Garden.” If you are just getting started in gardening, this fact sheet recommends some fail-proof varieties for Oklahoma, which have been field trialed by researchers at OSU over the years. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but these recommended varieties can help you get a good start.
If you are interested in growing fruits of any kind, we also have a series of fact sheets on this topic. The one to start with is No. 6222, “Home Fruit Planting Guide,” which can you give you basic information on the best fruit trees and berries for our state and how to succeed growing them.
The ideal site for growing vegetables is an area that has at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day in the summer and has an irrigation water supply. If you are wanting to place the garden where you have a bermudagrass lawn, you will need to get rid of the grass.

This can be a big task. You may want to consider using raised beds lined with good-quality landscape fabric, or container gardening. Fact sheets No. 6033, “Raised Bed Gardening,” and No. 6458, “Container Gardening” can give you tips.
And, of course, it all starts with the soil. Modifying or improving the soil with organic matter like compost prior to and during the gardening season as a mulch is important. In a very sandy soil, the incorporation of organic matter like compost would reduce rapid drying of the soil and improve nutrient availability. In a very heavy clay soil, organic matter would improve soil aeration, water absorption, and drainage.
More information on garden soil improvement is given in Fact Sheet No. 6007, “Improving Garden Soil Fertility.” We also are offering a free workshop, “Secrets of the Soil: Solve the Mystery of Your Troubled Soil” from noon to 1: 15 p.m. March 12, which you can attend virtually or in person. For registration information for this workshop, call us at 713-1125 or email [email protected]
Julia Laughlin is an extension educator in horticulture with the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service in Oklahoma County. Email her at [email protected]

Related Photos

The planting season for many cool-season spring vegetables like carrots can begin right now. [Jonathan Kemper/Unsplash]

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