Rodd Moesel: Gardening to-do list grows with the days
The calendar has turned to February and our gardening options are exploding as the days get longer.
February is prime time for pruning your trees, rose bushes and most other shrubs. Do not prune spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, quince, azaleas or other spring flowering shrubs until after they bloom, or you will cut off your spring flowers.
We can start vegetable gardening by planting cool-season vegetables that will tolerate some freezing weather yet to come. Plant seed potatoes to raise your own baked potatoes, French fries, new potatoes or even potato chips. Seed potatoes are available in white, gold, red or purple varieties and have not been treated to prevent or reduce sprouting at the potato eyes like grocery store potatoes. Cut the seed potatoes into chunks with at least one eye per chunk and plant away.
You can start onions from seed, bareroot plants or sets. Most folks start onions from plants or sets to raise their own hamburger onions, salad onions, cocktail onions or green pulling onions. The most popular onions for Oklahoma are Super Sweet 1015 yellow, White Bermuda, Red Burgundy, Candy Red, white or yellow Granex.
Onion flavors vary based on the pH and type of soil they are grown in. Yellow Granex grown in Oklahoma is the same as the Vidalia grown in Georgia, but the flavor will be a little different because of the soil differences. If you want large onions, plant sooner rather than later as they are photoperiodic, and it is easier to get larger onions when planted under short day conditions and harder for later plantings as the days get longer.
This is the season to apply dormant oil spray to your trees and shrubs to help control overwintering pests like aphids, mites and insects that cause galls to reduce your insect pressure later this spring and summer.
Now is a good time to fertilize your trees and shrubs so they will be well fed and have good energy when spring really does arrive. Fertilize with a well-balanced fertilizer unless you have done a soil test and know exactly what nutrients you really need. Water in the fertilizer after application if there is no rain to water it in within a day or two of application.
The next few weeks until middle March are the season to transplant bareroot trees, shrubs, roses and berry vines or bushes if you want to stretch your budget and plant bareroot plants. Plant asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish or strawberries now for future harvest. Make sure to water in these bareroot plants and then water regularly until they are well established. You can plant container-grown plants most anytime, but we have this tight window to successfully plant bareroot plants.
If you want to control crabgrass, goatheads, sandburs or summer annual weeds, this is the time to apply pre-emergent herbicides or weed killers. These great products kill weeds before they germinate and are sometimes called birth control for weeds. Do not apply pre-emergent herbicides over lawn areas or flowerbeds where you plant to overseed grass seed or flowers as the pre-emergent may kill those seeds as they germinate just like the weeds you want to kill.
The best season to control crabgrass and summer annuals is February and the first half of March. Many of our plants are running early this year with our mild winter so you may want to apply your pre-emergent herbicide sooner rather than later for best results. You can apply alone or in combination with a fertilizer known as weed-and-feed products.
You can apply most herbicides in a liquid spray form, or many homeowners prefer to work with the granular forms you spread over the lawn. There are many brands of pre-emergent, but I suggest a product with an active ingredient of Dimension, Prodiamine, Balan or Treflan for best results depending on the weeds or grasses you are trying to control.
Rodd Moesel serves as president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame. Email garden and landscape questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.