Next week's garden column will focus on fall gardening so I called Sue Gray, Extension Educator, Horticulture, Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.
Gray wrote a fact sheet for Tulsa Master Gardener's website and contributed to the OSU Fact Sheet number HLA 6009 on fall gardening.
Gray said to clean up the bed and mulch it ten days to two weeks before planting so the soil can be cooled by the mulch. In the meantime, if you are dying to start seeds, start them in pots.
It is still too hot to start lettuce outside so Gray is starting hers inside where the lettuce's preferred 70-degree temperature for soil and air can be met.
P. Allen Smith's newsletter says he is planting spinach this week in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he lives. Smith prefers Bloomsdale Longstanding.
Garden Guides says it is also time to put out flower seeds that need a cold stratification to come up and bloom next spring. Pansy, alyssum, calendula, bachelor buttons, love-in-a-mist and many other seeds should be purchased now and planted in prepared soil in September.
Muskogee gardeners plant Larkspur and poppy seeds around Thanksgiving. West Texas Cooperative Extension has a helpful sheet on flower seed planting and they recommend September for many flower seeds.
Gray said to look at the seed packets - they often say spring or fall seeding. The other item to read on the seed packet is "days to maturity". Gray said anything planted now should mature in 70-days or less.
When I was at Stringer Nursery in Tulsa yesterday, the owner reminded me that all perennial flowers appreciate being planted from seed at this time of year. By the way Stringer has their 2008 seeds in already and they plan to re-order as needed over the winter.
If you have not seen it yet, Winter Sown is a website specifically geared toward information on sowing seeds in cold weather. The Winter Sown link is to an essay on the basics, including a list of plants to consider.