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Oklahoma Outside Beating Summer By Dee Nash O


klahoma is home to one of the most diverse landscapes in the United States. If you travel diagonally from one end of the state to the other, you’ll fi nd it is composed of 12 differ- ent ecoregions from the Black Mesa in the Panhandle to the swamps of the south central plains. The I-35 corridor is a demarcation line that divides the state nearly in half. It contains the Cross Timbers, where the North American Prairie meets the central woodlands of the eastern deciduous forests. Composed of prairie, savanna and woodland, the Cross Timbers is unique to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Rainfall in Oklahoma is as diverse as its regions so don’t despair if you


fi nd it hard to garden here. Drought is a reality we live with because most of our rain falls in spring and in autumn with a long, dry summer in between. Some years, it doesn’t seem to rain at all.


May is a beautiful month in our fair state, but don’t let spring breezes lull you into complacency about the months ahead. Oklahoma doesn’t mimic England’s maritime climate especially in summer. Instead, we sit at the center of a large continental climate that doesn’t resemble any- where else. If you want to learn more about Oklahoma’s unique weather, check out the Mesonet online. Oklahoma is fortunate to have a central envi- ronmental measuring system that records data used by fi refi ghters, farm- ers, meteorologists, gardeners and others everyday. “Although more states have added automatic stations, our Mesonet is still considered one of the premiere, statewide weather networks,” Oklahoma State University Mesonet Agricultural Coordinator Albert J. Sutherland said.


With the challenges drought and heat bring each year, here are 10 ways to tackle them:


✓ Don’t waste water and plan now for the most effi cient way to irrigate your landscape. Try drip irrigation in pots with a kit from your local nursery, or install a complete irrigation system with timers and rain gauges to water only when needed. Soaker hoses with store-bought timers are a less expensive option. ✓ If possible, plant trees and shrubs in fall instead of spring. They will settle in better before summer. Remember all new plantings require extra water. For one tree or shrub, you can set up a hose to trickle for an hour or two each day on a timer. With a series of y-connectors and a timer, I did this for three young Royal Raindrops® crabapple trees planted spring 2011. They survived the most brutal summer we’d had in years. ✓ Use large containers because they hold water longer on hot summer days. Don’t use terra cotta for anything other than cacti or sedums. The roots of sedums may even get too hot in terra cotta. ✓ If you haven’t done a soil test recently, submit one through your local County Extension Offi ce. Then, feed the soil based upon test results. This prevents over-fertilization of grasses and plants and reduces nitrogen pol- lution in lakes and streams. ✓ Improve your soil with compost and don’t forget to mulch with


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