Rodd Moesel: July showers bring August flowers, veggies
July rains, less punishing summer daytime heat and pleasant, relatively cool summer evenings have resulted in some beautiful August flowers and still-prolific vegetable gardens.
A drive across town is a tour of gorgeous crape myrtles, canna bulbs in full bloom, and surprise lily or naked lady bulbs producing tall spikes of flowers before they even produce any leaves. The begonias, marigolds, petunias, penta, geraniums, rudbeckia or coneflowers and many other annuals and perennials are making a big splash of summer color.
In many years, July and August are a battle of survival for our vegetable gardens, involving lots of hand watering and mulching. This year Mother Nature has handled more of the watering load. Mulching still makes a difference in plant health and productivity, but is not a life-and-death action like in a bad drought year.
Many folks still are harvesting nice crops of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs and other vegetables. It sometimes creates a space challenge to plant a new fall vegetable garden when the spring garden is still doing well. If you do want to start a fresh fall vegetable garden, we already are getting late on some of the tender, warmest-season crops and early for a few of the semihardy cooler crops.
This is truly a good time to spend some time enjoying the plants you planted in flowerbeds or containers earlier this year. There is a special satisfaction or pleasure in watching the seeds, bulbs or plants you planted earlier this season, or even trees you planted years or decades ago, as they grow and succeed in producing the flowers, color and shade you hoped and cared for.
It is always fun to see your plantings reach and exceed your expectations after your investment of time, money and care to help them grow and reach their potential. If you haven’t planted in your own yard, make time to walk or drive across your neighborhood to enjoy other pretty yards and business landscapes. Take a COVID-19 escape tour of the Myriad Gardens Conservatory, the new Scissortail Park downtown, the amazing Will Rogers Park Gardens, and the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden to enjoy the natural beauty of the plant world.
There are also some frustrations in the garden as we battle the insects of summer that want to share in the summer bounty and garden harvest. This year those problems have centered on grasshoppers, worms, bagworms and spider mites. If you have any of these problems, visit with your local garden center or the Oklahoma State University Extension office to help decide on a plan of action to limit or control these summer pest problems.
It has been exciting to watch so many new gardeners harvest their first crops of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and now cantaloupe and melons. It is hard to beat the really fresh taste and joy of vegetables you raise yourself.
If you haven’t raised any fresh vegetables, need more or want to supplement what you raised with more variety, please try a visit to your local farmers market to meet great farmers from your community and nearby that are raising fresh local produce. These farmer markets are an important part of the food chain, and it is exciting to meet and support your neighbors that are growing fresh local vegetables, fruits and berries.
Enjoy your summer and stay healthy and happy soaking in the beauty of your yard and neighborhood while eating fresh, nutritious and healthy vegetables from your garden or your neighbors at the local farmers market.
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 email@example.com.