Tuesday, April 4, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Selecting Vegetables to Grow

Picking the right veggies to grow in Oklahoma

Brian Jervis Ask a Master Gardener

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Q: What are the best varieties of vegetables to grow in Oklahoma? T.M., Tulsa
A: Our weather extremes present a challenge for many varieties of vegetables. Fortunately, there are some good resources from OSU and elsewhere. OSU fact sheet F-6032, “Vegetable Varieties for the Home Garden in Oklahoma” is a good place to start.
In addition, OSU conducted a vegetable trial in 2014 obtaining information on a wide assortment of vegetables. This is available online by searching for Oklahoma States’ “2014 Vegetable Trial Report.” In particular, this report has a review of the best tomatoes for heat tolerance and taste, which would be of interest to Oklahoma tomato growers.
Another resource worth looking into is the All America Selections website, all-americaselections.org. This organization evaluates a host of new cultivars of ornamentals and vegetables and submits a yearly list of its winners. A partial selection of vegetable cultivar winners and the judges’ comments are below.
Candle Fire okra: This okra has bright red pods that are round, not ribbed, on red stems. The Candle Fire okra was graded not only for productivity, taste, texture and tenderness, but also for ornamental value. It was noted to be tolerant of heat and disease resistant, which is particularly pertinent to gardeners in our area. It was recommended for its fruit and ornamental value.
Mad Hatter Pepper: This pepper has several assets, not the least of which is its unique shape. The plant is described as a vigorous early producer with high yields. It is a large pepper, with a good taste, according to AAS judges. They describe the taste as “a citrus floral flavor, which remains sweet, only occasionally revealing mild heat near seeds.” Its origin is South America, but this cultivar has been bred for North America. This pepper is worth consideration for appearance and for a healthy food.
Winter Honeybaby squash: This plant is productive and is compact. The vines grow to 2-3 feet in a semi-bush habit and would be great for a container garden. The squashes are short and wide and are meatier than most squash. The taste was described as sweet and nutty, and it was recommended to be used steamed, baked or made into soups and stews.
Chef’s Choice Yellow tomato: This is a beefsteak type indeterminate (produces all season) tomato with a nice yellow color and a great taste. The plant is productive, with 30 or more 10-ounce tomatoes on a 5-foot vine per season. It has multiple disease resistances.
Patio Choice Yellow tomato: This tomato is a compact determinate (produces one crop) cherry tomato; the vines grow to 18 inches and are ideal for containers or limited-space gardens. The plant is said to be productive, with more than 100 fruit per season, and having a favorable mild flavor. This tomato would work in a hanging basket and you would have the fruit at your finger-tips.
There are other vegetables and a host of ornamentals in this group of AAS winners; consider looking them over.

Garden tips
·       Most bedding plants, summer-flowering bulbs and annual flower seeds can be planted after danger of frost. This happens around mid-April in most of Oklahoma. Hold off mulching these crops until spring rains subside and soil temperatures warm up. Warm-season annuals should not be planted until soil temperatures are in the low 60s. The Oklahoma Mesonet website has information about soil temperatures.

·       Harden off transplants outside in partial protection from sun and wind prior to planting.

·       Don’t plant tomato sprouts too early. The soil temperature is key and should be above 60 degrees before planting. If the soil is too cool, the plants will sit there and not grow. Remove the blossoms from any tomato plant at the time of planting, it needs roots before making tomatoes.


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