Grow your own!
SNAP benefits may be used to purchase plants and seeds to grow your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Growing your own food is a great way to stretch your budget and enjoy fresh, home-grown produce! May is a perfect time to plant. Are you short on space? One option is container gardening. With a little creativity, container gardening can be inexpensive; gather pots from resale stores, reuse buckets, storage containers, or barrels. Moreover, plants that share similar watering and sunlight requirements can go in the same pot. Farmers' Markets have a lot of plants for sale (Click on this link for those accepting SNAP benefits).
To help you get started ONIE has a list of produce that is easy to grow in Oklahoma.
Nothing tastes better than a tomato grown locally or in your backyard. These plants can be grown in your garden plot or in a container (if using a container, choose a dwarf version ). When planting in your home garden plot, place plants 3 feet apart. These plans do better if supported by a cage or a stake. Thoroughly water the soil once or twice week, increasing the amount of water during the hot summer months of July, August, and September when the plant is bearing fruit.
Kale and Chard
The word is “easy” to grow. Your local farmers’ market will have varieties to choose from that do well here. Armed with many vitamins and minerals, both kale and chard are considered superfoods. These leafy greens may be planted in a container or your garden plot. Plant seedlings or seeds 12 to 15 inches apart and keep the soil moist.
Green or Spring Onions
Green onions can be used in almost any recipe or make a nice topping for a salad or on a baked potato. There are red and white varieties. Sets for planting are available at your local farmers’ market. Plant each starter onion about 1 inch apart and water weekly.
We can grow our own peppers in the backyard. There are any varieties and peppers can be planted in your garden plot or in a large container. Pepper plants like the heat and are drought resistant. These plants do need a little room to grow, try to plant them 12 inches apart.
There are a variety of summer squash to choose from including zucchini and yellow squash. A few plants will yield a bountiful harvest. However, you do need 3 to 5 feet of space for the vines to grow. Some gardeners build a mound of dirt (a hill) and plant 4 to 5 plants on each hill. Water generously each week and these plants will flourish.
Growing a variety of herbs is a great money saver. Herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, chives, parsley, tarragon, lavender, and rosemary are all easy to grow in a garden plot or in containers. At ONIE, sweet basil was one of the first herbs many of us grew. It works well in Italian recipes and is almost a no-fail plant to grow with a little moisture. Herbs need a sunny spot to thrive.
Greens bean plants are easily grown from seeds. Plant the seeds about 2 to 4 inches apart. It is best to keep the soil most. These too are a low-maintenance vegetable to grow. Plus, green beans are an Oklahoma favorite to eat.
Okra, another Oklahoma favorite, is easy to grow here. It thrives in warm weather and needs full sunlight. It also requires space to grow. It is recommended that rows be planted 3 to 4 feet apart and seeds planted 12 to 18 inches apart. Water frequently as well. A little tip on harvesting, these pods are best when they are about 2 to 3 inches long. Larger pods can be tough. As they begin to produce, pick the pods often. The bonus is that not only are the pods tenderer, but the plant will produce more.
Watermelon and Cantaloupes
The kids love to see watermelon and cantaloupe plants grow. These are vine plants, which means lots of room to grow is needed. Plant seeds 2 feet apart and the rows 6 feet apart. Your local farmers’ markets will be selling varieties that do well here. It is recommended that you water these plants in the morning and water at the base of the plant (not the leaves). Keep moist (1 to 2 inches of water per week) and then cut back the amount of water once the fruit is growing.
Leaf, Bibb, and Romaine types of lettuce grow well in Oklahoma. You can grow them in in a container or in your garden plot. It is getting late to plant lettuce so plant from starter plants not seeds. Plant a few inches apart and water when the leaves look wilted. The lettuce will not do as well when the weather heats up but for now you will have fresh salads. You may be able to extend the life of this cooler weather plant by giving it some shade.
For those new to growing or just looking for ways to improve, the farmers at the markets are always happy to share tips. The Oklahoma State University County Extension Office is also available to answer any questions you have about growing your favorite produce.
Don’t miss planting season, get started today by planting your favorite veggies!