Oklahoma State University Extension gives tips on how to start a garden at home.
1. CHOOSE A SITE
An area exposed to full or near full sunlight with deep, well-drained, fertile soil is ideal. The site should also be located near a water supply and, if possible, away from trees and shrubs that would compete with the garden for light, water, and nutrients.
Areas with light or thin shade can be used, such as those under young trees, under mature trees with high lacy canopies, or in bright, airy places which receive only one to two hours of direct sun per day. There are several vegetables which will grow under these conditions, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips. Unfortunately, few vegetables will grow well under full, dense shade. If the site is not well drained or if the soil is thin, the use of raised beds can help with this problem.
2. PLAN THE GARDEN
Perennial vegetables (asparagus, rhubarb, winter onions, etc.) should be planted at one side or end of the garden for efficient operation. Hardy vegetables planted early in the season should be planted together, so they may be followed with late season plantings of the same or other vegetables. Vegetables requiring similar cultural practices should be grouped together for ease of care.
Based on the temperature that the plants will withstand, vegetables are hardy, semi-hardy, tender, or very tender. Hardy types may be planted before the last killing frost. The semi-hardy ones will be injured by a hard frost, but will grow in cool weather and not be harmed by a light frost. Tender plants are injured or may be killed by a light frost but can withstand cool weather, while the very tender are injured by cool weather.
Differences in suggested planting dates range from the earliest for southeast Oklahoma to the latest for the northwest part of the state.
3. GARDENING TIPS
The following tips may help to prevent some common garden problems: • Sample soil and have it tested every three to four years.
• Apply fertilizers in the recommended manner and amount.
• Make use of organic materials such as compost where available.
• Use recommended varieties.
• Thin plants when small.
• Use mulches to conserve moisture, control weeds, and reduce fruit rots.
• Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soil are wet.
• Examine the garden often to keep ahead of potential problems.
• Keep the garden free of weeds, insects, and diseases.
• Wash and clean tools and sprayers after use.
• Rotate specific crop family locations each year to avoid insect and disease buildup.
• When possible, harvest vegetables during the cool hours of the day.
4. AVOID THE FOLLOWING MISTAKES:
• Planting too closely, which prevents walking or working in the garden.
• Placing fertilizer directly in contact with plant roots or seeds.
• Cultivating deeply, resulting in injury to plant roots.
• Depending on varieties not recommended for your area; however, do try new releases.
• Watering frequently or excessively so that the soil is always wet and soggy.
• Allowing weeds to grow large before elimination.
• Applying chemicals or pesticides in a haphazard
manner, without reading label directions or proper mixing.
• Using chemicals not specifically recommended for garden crops.
• Storing leftover diluted spray.
More information can be found by visiting www.extension.okstate.edu/ fact-sheets/oklahoma-garden-planning- guide.html
—CNHI News Service