By Trisha Gedon
STILLWATER, Okla. – While much of Oklahoma has dealt with freezing temperatures and slick roads the past several weeks, the crew with Oklahoma State University Agriculture’s television show “Oklahoma Gardening” has been busy preparing for the upcoming season set to premiere Feb. 11 on OETA.
What’s in store for this season? Show host Casey Hentges said in addition to traditional how-to segments, she will debut a series on garden construction and focus on what’s happening at the new OSU student farm with monthly updates.
“We saw a big spike in the interest in gardening over the last three years due to the pandemic, and we’re still seeing those effects at the grocery store,” said Hentges, who is also an OSU Extension associate specialist for horticulture and landscape architecture. “We’re going to look at being more self-reliant and showcase food options other than going to the grocery store.”
Transplants are already growing in the greenhouse for use later in the show. Traditional crops will still be covered, and Hentges will highlight international crops as well as those used in making alcoholic beverages, such as grapes.
“We’ll also be talking with Aaron Essary, OSU Extension’s new grape specialist, and follow the production of grapes,” she said.
Hentges plans to demonstrate a more natural approach to landscaping. She said people always appreciate the beauty of English cottage gardens or Japanese gardens, but they aren’t naturally occurring in Oklahoma.
“Rather than trying to force a particular type of garden, people are gaining a greater appreciation for a more natural approach,” she said. “Prairie gardening has become more popular as people accept it as its own sort of style, and it makes sense in Oklahoma. Gardeners are more aware of the need for planting native plants and creating an ecosystem as opposed to gardening for aesthetics only, so we’ll be addressing the environmental concerns of the butterflies, bees and other pollinators.”
Hentges is in her eighth season of hosting the show and is always looking for new and creative ways to keep “Oklahoma Gardening” fresh for both seasoned and novice gardeners. Viewers buying their first home are looking for landscape and gardening advice, and the next generation of gardeners wants to learn more because they want to follow in their grandparents’ footsteps.
“There’s always someone who is hearing this information for the first time, so the show offers information for them, while at the same time going into greater depth on some subjects for the more advanced gardeners,” she said.
Jessica Riggin, OSU Extension director in Lincoln County, will return for her second season presenting cooking segments and sharing recipes. She will continue her focus on fruit and vegetable consumption and will incorporate some of the lesser-known options available.
“Oklahoma continues to rank near the bottom in the nation for fruit and vegetable consumption. I want to promote them as part of a healthy diet and help viewers look at these foods in a different way,” Riggin said. “Vegetables don’t have to be difficult to prepare, and they are a delicious part of a healthy meal.”
Last season, she focused on stovetop and roasting cooking methods, and she plans to highlight other preparations, such as grilling, as a way to explore new flavors.
“Oklahoma Gardening” airs every Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. on local OETA-TV channels across the state. Viewers who are unable to watch on television can subscribe to the “Oklahoma Gardening” YouTube channel to see full shows or search for specific segments.
The Botanic Garden at OSU is the home of the “Oklahoma Gardening” studio garden and is located west of Stillwater on the north side of Highway 51. The show is produced by OSU Extension, OSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and Agricultural Communications Services.
OSU Extension uses research-based information to help all Oklahomans solve local issues and concerns, promote leadership and manage resources wisely throughout the state’s 77 counties. Most information is available at little to no cost.