Starting a Fall Garden in the Sweltering Heat of Oklahoma
For the past two years I have attempted to start a fall garden near this time of the summer. Here in Oklahoma, the temperatures are over 100 most days in August, so getting any seeds to germinate is tough to do. You can germinate them inside, but then you have to keep them under a light. The light heats up the house even more, so it’s annoying to use in the summer.
This year, me and my Little Sprouts were super lucky because we had a few cold spells in the summer. It actually got down in the 50’s at night for a few days. These temperatures are unheard of here. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen that. I have been looking ahead at the forecast and watching the temperatures. We were able to put in plantings during two different cold spells and get some things to germinate outside. One of them even came with some rain. What a blessing! We planted seeds outside for carrots, lettuce, peas, green beans, and parsnips.
Here are a few tips for fall plantings: Mulch very well to keep moisture in the soil and roots cooler on these dog days of summer. Gardens need more water when it’s so extremely hot, so here, even though we usually water once a week, we have been watering 2-3 times per week to keep the plants from drying out. In addition, plant seedlings and seeds underneath larger mature plants that will be dying out soon from the heat. This gives your tender vittles a little shade to stay cooler as they sprout. Most of our summer plants are starting to die back or will be soon, so we planted ours among them to give our seedlings some protection as they start.
We also planted seeds in flats inside. They have not done very well, but we planted cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi. I found a few seedlings online for kohlrabi and broccoli so I ordered those and we planted them in the garden. This past weekend I visited an organic nursery in Tulsa and got some cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, chard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. I also got a few plants of dill since ours has died off for some reason.
The Oklahoma State University website has information on what can be grown in the fall in Oklahoma. You can check it out here: http://osufacts.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1114/HLA-6009web.pdf
Here are the planting times they list for each kind of plant:
Beans, Bush Aug 10-20 Seed
Beans, Cowpea July 15-Aug 1 Seed
Beans, Pole July 15-30 Seed
Beans, Lima Aug 10-20 Seed
Cilantro July 15-Aug 1 Seed
Corn, Sweet July 15 Seed
Cucumber Aug 10-20 Seed or Plants
Eggplant July 15 Plants
Pepper July 15 Plants
Pumpkin July 15-30 Seed or Plants
Summer Squash July 15-Sept 1 Seed or Plants
Winter Squash July 15-30 Seed or Plants
Tomatillo July 15 Plants
Tomatoes July 1-15 Plants
Beet Aug 1-15 Seed
Broccoli July 15-Aug 15 Plants
Brussels Sprouts July 15-Aug 15 Plants
Cabbage Aug 1-25 Plants
Chinese Cabbage Aug 1-25 Seed or Plants
Carrots July 15-Aug 15 Seed
Cauliflower Aug 1-25 Plants
Collards Aug 1-Sept 1 Seed or Plants
Garlic Sept 1-Oct 15 Bulbs (cloves)
Kale Sept 1 Plants
Kohlrabi Sept 1 Plants
Leaf Lettuce Aug 1-15 Seed or Plants
Leek Sept 1 Seed or Plants
Onions Sept 1 Seed, Sets, or Plants
Peas, green Aug 15-Sept 1 Seed
Rutabaga Aug 15-Sept 15 Seed
Spinach Sept 5-25 Seed
Swiss Chard Aug 1-Sept 15 Seed
Turnip Aug 1-Sept 15 Seed
As you can see there is still time to plant quite a few things for a fall garden. I have been helping the kids plant seeds all summer long. It doesn’t hurt to try it any time and seeds are not that expensive, so we have been doing a lot of experimenting around here.
What have you been up to in your garden?