The Q&A Archives: Gardening in Oklahoma vs. Connecticut

Question: We are moving to the Tulsa, OK area in April. I don't know a thing about gardening there. We usually have a vegetable garden with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, squash, broccoli and cauliflower, etc. Will they grow in Oklahoma? How about my herb garden? Also, my bearded iris are descended from some my grandpa planted 40 years ago. Should I try to take them, or give them to a Connecticut home? I don't even know the zone for Tulsa. Here we plant the weekend after Memorial Day. I'm sure it's earlier in Tulsa, but how much earlier? Please advise me, I can't imagine missing a gardening season.

Answer: All of your listed plants will grow just fine in Tulsa, but be prepared to take a year or two getting used to the comparatively extreme summer heat. For example, you may find that some of your heat sensitive, sun-loving flower favorites now prefer only full morning sun, and you may look for heat-tolerant vegetable varieties rather than those preferred by New England gardeners. Iris do extremely well there! Also on the plus side, you will be able to garden over a longer season -- starting easily a month earlier for some crops -- and enjoy some of the gorgeous heat-loving tropical plants grown as annuals. There are many avid gardeners in the Tulsa area with a very strong gardening tradition. I am sure your new neighbors will be willing to show you their successes and help you learn what does best in your new home. Your Tulsa County Agricultural Extension office (918-746-3700) can provide you with locally-oriented information about soil types, frost dates, and suggested vegetable varieties for the area as well. If nothing else, spend your first season observing and preparing your soil because fall is an excellent time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials. And that fall vegetable garden should be started in late summer. Enjoy your new garden!

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