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.

Gardening with kids

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.

Kids planting seeds

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.

Kid's gardening

The Oklahoma State University website has information on what can be grown in the fall in Oklahoma. You can check it out here:

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?