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Dandelions, daffodils, hyacinths defy cold fronts

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Working in the yard last weekend, I saw my first dandelions in bloom and noticed the daffodils and hyacinths already had popped from the ground. I could even see the future flower buds tightly wrapped in that first thrust of leaves.

Spring flowers are not far away. As the days get longer and the Earth starts to green up with our cool-season crops, there are many more things we can do in the yard and garden.

This is the best season of the year to control summer weeds in your lawn by applying pre-emergent herbicides or weed killers from now until the redbud trees bloom later this spring.

Most pre-emergents work by killing crabgrass, sandburs or other weeds as they start to sprout from their seeds over the next six to 12 weeks, depending on the herbicide selected. Visit your local nursery or garden center to select the right herbicide to use with your turf type and yard conditions.

You can apply herbicides as a granular to spread or as a liquid to spray. You can apply as a pre-emergent weed killer only or in combination with a fertilizer often referred to as “weed & feed” products.

Vegetable or food gardening is kicking into high gear for many of the cool-season crops that can tolerate the freezing we are likely to get for another two months or so. You can start warm-season vegetables or ornamental flowers indoors under lights or in good window light, but they should not be planted outdoors until mid-April or later.

This is the time to plant onion plants and onion sets, seed potatoes and seeds of cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, head lettuce, leaf lettuce, green peas or spinach. You also can plant seeds of root crops like carrots, radish or turnips now.

This is the season to plant perennial food crops like strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus and horseradish as bareroot crowns or plants. Plant bareroot grapes, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or boysenberries.

Bareroot fruit trees can be planted over the next few weeks. Many of these crops will be available container-grown that you can plant later in the season, but you have a brief window over the next few weeks to plant them bareroot. Make sure to water all new plantings thoroughly.

You can prune most trees, shrubs and vines at any time of year, but a good time on most crops is right now before the new growth sprouts out. There are important exceptions. Do not prune early spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, quince and wisteria or spring flowering trees like crabapple, redbuds and ornamental peaches and pears. Wait to prune until after they bloom.

Get your flowerbeds ready, start planting cool-season crops, apply your first rounds of fertilizer and weed control, and get most of your pruning done as we get ready to grow another season.

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 rmoesel@americanplant.com.

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