Winter Gardening in Oklahoma – Shawnee Information-Star

Winter Gardening in Oklahoma – Shawnee News-Star

January is a time for new beginnings with the spring gardening season and there are many things we can do now to make this gardening season the best it can be.
To have a plan. Think about what worked in last year’s garden. Most of all, think about what didn’t work. Walk around inside and look out your windows. Do you have a nice view of trees, shrubs and flower beds or do you overlook the neighbor’s warehouse? If your view is blocked by a tree or shrub, cut off the branches so you can see. If you don’t like the view, plant a beautiful native tree or shrub to become a focal point.
Layer on the compost. Compost means “the gardener’s gold” and is Mother Nature’s miracle cure for almost everything. Adding a new layer of compost this spring will make your life easier for the rest of the season. Compost nourishes the plants and soil, improves sandy or clayey soils, keeps soil temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter, keeps everything looking neat and tidy, keeps most weeds from sprouting, and keeps moisture out in the Oklahoma heat , drought, and wind.
Dry, cold winters kill more plants. This fall and winter was very dry in Oklahoma, and the result of long dry spells in the fall and winter is the injury or death of portions of a plant’s root system. Affected plants may appear completely normal and grow back in spring using stored food energy; However, plants can be weakened and all or part of them may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise. Weakened plants are also more susceptible to insect and disease problems. Help your plants survive by making sure they have enough moisture. Water only when the air temperature is above 40 degrees F. Apply water at midday to give it time to soak before it potentially freezes at night. Make sure the plants have been watered well before freezing. Plants that receive heat reflected from buildings, walls, and fences are more susceptible to damage. The low angle of the winter sun makes this more likely when facing south or west. Windy locations also result in faster drying out of soil and plants. Newly planted trees are the most vulnerable to winter drought damage. Woody trees generally take a year to become established for every inch of trunk diameter. For example, under normal conditions, it takes at least two years for a two inch diameter (caliper) tree to become established. Make sure your shrubs and trees are mulched to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Sprinklers do a good job of watering lawns and flowers, but trees and shrubs need a deeper soak. The best way to get water in depth is with a drip hose, or a hose that can slowly trickle and seep to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Apply water to many places below the drip line and beyond (not the trunk). As a general rule of survival, apply 10 gallons of water for every inch in diameter of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree requires 20 gallons each time you water. Newly planted shrubs require more water than established shrubs that have been planted for at least a year. During dry winters, all shrubs will benefit from winter watering from October to March. New shrubs need about 5 gallons of water every two weeks. Small established shrubs (less than 3 feet tall) will need 2 1/2 gallons every two weeks. Large established shrubs (more than 6 feet) will need 9 gallons every 2 weeks. Water in the shrub’s dripline. Winter watering is also advisable for perennials that you only planted last fall and for perennials that are in windy or south-western exposures.
TAKE A GARDENING COURSE to learn more about watering and caring for your plants. The best information about which plants will do well and which will not do well at all in your area comes from local gardeners who have learned from experience — that is, they have killed many plants. We always learn more from mistakes than from successes. The drought of the last two summers and the extreme cold of the last two winters will force us all to replace lost crops, relocate crops, and add new crops. Unfortunately, this dry, cold winter will damage more plants that will need to be replaced or rejuvenated. Betty Sue Tow and I are two of those experienced gardeners – which means we’ve killed a lot of plants. We teach Home Gardening and Landscaping at Southern Tech for the Spring Term on Monday evenings beginning Monday 13th February through Monday 1st May at Southern Tech. We’d love for you to join us and create some garden memories. To register for Home Gardening & Landscaping, walk by or call Southern Tech at (580) 223-2070. Happy New Year and happy gardening!