Tuesday, June 20, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Explore Edible Landscaping--Its Fun and Productive

Explore Edible Landscaping
Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Q: I don’t have much gardening space and am interested in planting some vegetables in with my flowers. Is there any problem with doing this? Fran, Tulsa
A: There is no problem whatsoever with putting veggies in amongst your ornamentals. In fact, for those with no vegetable garden or who have restricted space, it is an excellent idea. What and where you may plant is limited only by the growing requirements of the veggie and your imagination. Many vegetables not only have attractive fruit, but also interesting colors and designs of their leaves that fit in well with a flower garden.
The process of growing vegetables and herbs in amongst your ornamentals is called “Edible Landscaping” and has become popular with gardeners. A lot has been written about the concept. One of the experts is Rosalind Creasy, who has published a series of books about this type of gardening.
Vegetables can be used effectively, not only in your standard flower bed, but also in raised beds, window boxes and many different types of containers. They can be worked in with your flowers to create a visually pleasing effect.
Plants such as lettuce, cabbage, kale and others come in several colors and can be used as a substitute for ornamental border plants such as vinca, begonia and Joseph’s Coat. Swiss chard, with its bright red stems and veins, could be an attractive addition as an edge or within the flowers.
A mix of different varieties of the same vegetable, such as purple and white cabbage, is one of the many combinations that may be created and used effectively. Other plants to consider are rows of onions and most of the herbs for the bed border.
Tomatoes and colorful peppers do well, especially cherry tomatoes. This adds greenery and the continuous production of red fruit to create a pleasing effect. Tomatoes probably perform better in the flower bed than they do in a conventional vegetable garden. In the flower bed, they are separate from other tomatoes and are less likely to develop disease and pest problems. In addition, tomatoes, which need to be rotated in the vegetable garden to prevent disease build up, can easily be moved from one area to another each year with the flowers.
Other ideas are to plant blueberries, blackberries and raspberries into the landscape. There are some ultra-dwarfed apple, peach, plum and other fruit trees that may be used in place of a shrub. Another idea is to grow a grapevine on a trellis, which works as a decorative plant and fruit producer.
Garden tips
·        Excessive rain can complicate fertilization of vegetables, ornamentals and lawns. If a quick-release fertilizer was applied before the excessive rains, much of the nitrogen may have been washed into deep soil or drain water. Nitrogen, the first of the three numbers on all fertilizer, is water soluble. The other two nutrients — phosphorus and potassium — are not soluble and remained fixed in soil where placed unless the soil particles themselves are washed into drains and streams.
·        Consideration should be made to reapply a nitrogen-only fertilizer if the above situation applies to you. Don’t over fertilize. Too much nitrogen may be worse than too little. Most plants, such as tomatoes, grow tall, spindly and produce few blossoms and fruits when too much nitrogen is used.
·        Also be aware that too much water in the soil may suffocate roots and cause plants to develop yellow leaves, which may fall from the plant. This can easily be wrongly confused with a need for more fertilizer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Controlling Nutsedge in Turfgrass

Controlling Nutsedge (Nutgrass) in Lawns
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Q: What is the best way to control nutgrass? I have several patches of it which are spreading. Stewart, Tulsa.
A: Nutgrass, or more correctly, nutsedge, is one of the most difficult weeds to control, both in the lawn and agriculturally. Because it is a sedge, not a grass or a broadleaf weed, its biological system is such that it does not respond to the herbicides commonly used for other weeds.
There are two types of nutsedge — yellow and purple. We primarily have the yellow variety. This plant can be recognized by its slim grass-like leaves and stems, which are triangular (basis of the adage “sedges have edges”). It also grows more rapidly than most turfgrasses and usually pops up in a lawn 2-3 days after mowing. This weed thrives in hot, full sun and moist soils. Because of the preference for wet soils, our record rains this spring will likely yield a bumper crop.
The weed’s ability to reproduce makes it difficult to control. Although it can spread by underground rhizomes and seeds, the main type of reproduction, and the one that gives it the name “nutsedge,” is the ability to produce a large number of nutlets — hundreds per plant in one growing season. Each nutlet can produce a new plant, and the nutlets may lie dormant for years before sprouting as growing conditions become favorable. This also is the reason that pulling the weed out by hand is frustrating — the nutlets remain and the weed returns.
Nutsedge is introduced into lawns from seeds but more commonly from using mulch or fill soil that is contaminated with the nutlets. It also may enter a lawn or flower bed by contaminated nursery stock.
Control of nutsedge should first begin with prevention. The single most effective preventative measure for all weeds is to have a thick healthy and mowed tall lawn that will compete with all weeds. Also, watering lawns only when needed will prevent overly moist soils in which nutsedge thrives. Another preventative measure is to be selective in all soil imported to your lawn for fill or from nursery stock.
Once nutsedge is established, the best approach to control is the use of an herbicide. Pulling up the nutsedge plants after they have formed nutlets is frustratingly ineffective.
The chemicals recommended for nutsedge, for the most part, cover other sedges. Several herbicides are available to homeowners that are labeled for nutsedge control. They are found in many brands, with the chemicals bentazon, imazaquin, sulfentrazone or halosulfuron being at the top of the list. Of these options, sulfentrazone and halosurfuron are preferred. Both of these are tolerated by our commonly used grasses. Because of the waxy coat of nutsedge, some will need a “spreader sticker” added to the herbicide. This helps the chemical to adhere to the plant’s leaves. Be aware that they will need to be applied twice in a summer, and it may take 2-3 years for complete control.

Garden tips
·        Renovate overgrown strawberry beds after the last harvest. Start by setting your lawnmower on its highest setting and mow off the foliage. Next, thin crowns 12 to 24 inches apart. Apply recommended fertilizer, pre-emergent herbicide if needed and keep watered.
·        White grubs will soon emerge as adult beetles. This group of beetles’ color may vary from green to brown and vary from ¼- to ½-inch long. Watch for high populations that can indicate potential damage from their grubs later in the summer after egg laying.

·        Continue to fertilize warm-season grasses at 1 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Don’t fertilize fescue and other cool-season grasses during the summer. Because nitrogen is soluble in water, much of it may have been lost due to percolation and runoff, if you fertilized before recent rain
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Moles and Gophers

Dealing with Moles and Gophers
Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Q: Something is creating tunnels and piles of soil in my yard. Is it moles or gophers and what should I do? B.L., Broken Arrow
A: There are some basic facts about these pests that will help you sort this out. Moles create superficial tunnels in your lawn that you can easily see and depress with your foot. They sometimes produce small mounds of fresh soil but not usually. Moles dental structure is such that they cannot eat plants or roots. They are not rodents but insectivores and eat only insects and worms. Moles are territorial, and a large lawn with significant damage may have only one to three moles.
Gophers make tunnels deep into the ground that almost never can be seen in the lawn. They make several mounds of fresh soil often over a foot wide shaped like a kidney. Gophers create colonies, perhaps 10-20 gophers, in a large lawn. They can and do eat the roots of plants and may be destructive.
So if you have tunnels you can see easily, you have moles. If there are several mounds of fresh soil, you have gophers.
Control of gophers is outlined in detail in OSU’s fact sheet “Controlling Pocket Gophers,” and good information about moles and control may be found in the University of Arkansas Extension fact sheet, FSA-9095. Read these before you get started.
Moles are a challenge to control. Because of this, many repellent-type products are available, most of which are thought to be ineffective. One exception is castor oil, which may have some short-term repellent activity, but studies about effectiveness have been inconclusive.
Moles are more common in well-tended lawns. Well-watered and fertilized lawns have more earthworms and, therefore, will better support a mole population. Moles’ diet consists mainly of earthworms and not white grubs as once thought. Do not use insecticides labeled for grubs to attempt to control moles.
The most effective way to eliminate moles is to use one of the various traps on the market. Another treatment thought to be effective is poison gel worms. These are similar in texture to the plastic worms used for fishing but contain poison.
Garden tips
·        Bermuda lawns will benefit from up to 2-5 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet in divided applications from now until the end of August. Apply the first application now. Do not fertilize fescue lawns in summer; it will make them susceptible to heat and disease damage. The next recommended fertilization for fescue is in September and October.
·        Remain alert for insect damage. Add spider mites to the list. Foliage of most plants becomes pale and speckled; juniper foliage turns a pale yellowish color. Shake a branch over white paper and watch for tiny specks that crawl. Watch for first-generation fall webworm.
·        Some pests can be hand-picked without using a pesticide. Do not spray if predators such as lady beetles are present. Spraying insecticides early in the morning or late in the day will avoid spraying honeybees and other essential pollinators.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Fertilizing Annual and Perennial Flowers in the Garden

Fertilizing Ornamental Flowers
Brian Jervis: Master Gardener
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Q: How often should I fertilize my flowers and what type of fertilizer should I use? Sue, Tulsa
A: How often to fertilize and what fertilizer to use, of course, depends on the type of soil and the variety of ornamental in your garden.
It is always best to start with a soil test. A test will determine the nutrient content of your soil and serve as a guideline for deciding which fertilizer to use. Instructions for collecting soil samples are in the soil section of the Master Gardeners website, tulsamastergardeners.org.
Generally, most annual plants will benefit from fertilizer during the growing season. Perennials, if mulched regularly, will usually get enough nutrients from the mulch.
As a rule, extra nitrogen fertilizer will be needed by most plants. Nitrogen is used in large amounts by plants and what is not absorbed is often washed deep into the soil.
The other nutrients — phosphorus and potassium — do not migrate in the soil, remaining where applied if not used by plants. Their behavior is such that they leave a residual if a landscape has previously been fertilized. Applying more of these two, especially phosphorus, can be harmful to the environment. A soil test will sort this out.
When deciding on what fertilizer to use, there is a choice between conventional and organic fertilizers. Although the major nutrients in each are exactly the same — plants can’t tell the difference — there are some pros and cons of each type.
With commercial fertilizer, you are aware of the exact amount of each nutrient, it is easier to apply and, overall, cheaper.
Organics are great in that they not only add nutrients but also help to make sandy and clay soils more plant friendly by improving structure. Another advantage of organics is that they also have minor nutrients and beneficial soil organisms not found in most commercial preparations. One of the downsides to organics is they have a lower concentration of the major nutrients and need to be used in larger amounts. This often means that it requires more effort and may be more expensive.
Some of the organic fertilizers with the highest concentration of nitrogen to consider for use are cottonseed meal, blood meal, bat guano, fish meal, fish powder, fish emulsion, soybean meal and milorganite.
A general take home message for fertilizing flowers might be this: Fertilize annuals and perennials at the time of planting with slow-released commercial or high-nitrogen organic fertilizer. In the growing season, perennials can be fertilized once again. Most annuals will benefit from fertilizing with a liquid nitrogen fertilizer or an organic preparation every 2-3 weeks during the summer and while blooming.
The last thing one should do is to develop the “more is better” mindset and use too much fertilizer. Most experts think that there is more harm to plants by over-fertilizing, than not fertilizing at all.

Garden tips

Clean out water garden and prepare for the summer season. Divide and re-pot water garden plants. Begin feeding fish when water temperatures are higher than 50 degrees.

Plant warm-season vegetable crops such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, etc., now.

Fruit trees, especially apples and peaches, must be thinned out for best production. Prune apples 4-6 inches apart and peaches 6-8 inches. This will ensure larger fruit and less damage to limbs. If not thinned, the tree's resources will be used to such an extent that next year’s crop will suffer.

Late May is the best time to control borers in the orchard. Contact OSU Tulsa Master Gardeners for fruit tree spray recommendations.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Master Gardener School Programs are Fun and Very Popular

Bill Sevier: Master Gardener
Master Gardener School Programs are popular
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Q: I teach second grade and would like to have a Master Gardener school program for my students. How do I go about this? N.M., Tulsa
A: These programs are popular, and the demand often exceeds what can be supplied. The programs consist of Master Gardeners going into a classroom and teaching one of the eight different preset presentations.
The average classroom size is about 24 children at the K-1 through fifth-grade level. The Master Gardeners are busy with this program and taught one of these gardening-related programs to 645 different classes this past year. This amounted to teaching 15,592 Tulsa children.
To get started with your request, go to the Master Gardener website (tulsamastergardeners.org) and select “School Programs” on the home page to access a form having information about each program’s content and availability. A school program will then be scheduled, if available.
The set programs presented by Master Gardeners are outlined below.
Insects and Spiders: Friend or Foe — Students are taught the difference between insects and spiders, as well as which of these to avoid.
Seedy Side Show — Teaches about the different types of seeds, what they consist of and how they germinate and form plants. They get to dissect their own seeds.
Six-Legged Super Heroes — Discussion and video about beneficial insects, including pollinators, and why it is important to protect them.
Soil Detectives — Discusses what soil consists of and how it was formed. Students will use a supplied hand lens to inspect the different components of soil.
Something to Sprout About — Informs students about how seeds “sleep” until it is time to germinate. They learn about the different types of sprouts and get to plant and germinate their own seeds from materials supplied by the Master Gardeners.
Tree Time — Students are taught about the parts of a tree, including how to determine its age by counting rings. The importance of trees to our environment is stressed. Comparisons are made between the needs of humans and trees.
Whirling Wings — Teaches how to tell the difference between butterflies and moths and how their behavior is different. The fact that they are not only pretty but also serve as important pollinators is taught. Visual aids of samples of flowers that attract both types of insects are presented.
Worms to the Wise — Students learn about how earthworms are “nature’s plows.” What worms eat and what makes them so valuable to gardeners and farmers is stressed. Students get to observe their own worms from the Master Gardener’s portable worm farm.
As mentioned, these programs are in great demand. They also cost money for supplies. The OSU Tulsa Master Gardeners have no outside source of funding for their volunteer activities and depend on profits from the spring plant sale, garden tour and donations to be able to offer these activities to Tulsa-area schools.
Garden tips
·        Insect alert: Now is the time to be on the lookout for bagworms on juniper and arborvitae and lace bugs on sycamore, pyracantha and azaleas. Contact Tulsa Master Gardeners for control suggestions.

·        Do not work soil if it is too wet. Tilling it while wet will cause damage to the structure, and it will take a long time to recover.

·        Thatch is a layer of dead and living stems, shoots and roots that pile up on top of the soil at the base of lawn grasses. If it is more than ½-inch thick, it should be removed with either a core-aerator or power-rake. Now is the time to de-thatch Bermuda and zoysia. De-thatch fescue, if needed, if the fall.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Moving Plants Outdoors for Summer

Moving Plants Outdoors for Summer
Brian Jervis: Master Gardener
Tuesday, May 16
Q: Is it a good idea to move my houseplants outside for the summer? Should they be repotted? K.S., Tulsa
A: Yes, it is a good idea to move most houseplants outside for summer, but you must respect their individual requirements for temperature and sunlight.
Most houseplants are tolerant of reduced lighting indoors, but they usually originated as outdoor plants. Your plant would like to be outdoors again if the conditions are favorable.
Do not move houseplants outdoors until all danger of frost has cleared and the outdoor temperature is about the same as indoors. When moving plants, they should be placed in shade for a couple of weeks, then gradually moved to full sun or sun/shade, depending on their requirements.
Some plants, such as one of the Chinese evergreen cultivars, cannot tolerate sunshine. They get sunburned and should be located in dappled or full shade. Other plants such as the cacti, bougainvillea, hibiscus, plumeria and others do best in full sun.
Because houseplants usually grow much more rapidly outdoors in summer, they need more water and fertilizer. Depending on the plant, a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks or so should be a good plan. Water requirements during the hot summer may mean watering every day or even twice daily, depending on the plant, the weather and the type of potting soil.
Inspect the plant’s roots when moving outside. If the plant has filled the pot with roots (called being “root-bound”), it grows more slowly and may eventually die. Hints that the plant has this problem are if the plant needs frequent watering or if large numbers of roots come out of the container’s drainage holes. Remove the plant from the pot, and if you see mostly dense roots growing in circles, it probably should be repotted. An exception to this is if the plant looks healthy, and you do not wish for it to grow any faster or taller, keep the plant as is.
Another indication for repotting is if a white crust has formed on the soil. This is an undesirable accumulation of salt residue from fertilizers.
Select a new pot an inch or two larger than the old one. The soil for the new pot should be a commercial potting soil, which will ensure good drainage. Never use soil from your garden; it drains poorly and may carry disease. Before planting, consider making three to four vertical slits in the root-ball of root-bound plants, which have large numbers of circling roots.
Place a coffee filter or fine screen at the bottom of the pot to keep soil from leaking out. It is not recommended that a pile of potting shards or gravel be used on the bottom. Rather than improving drainage, these materials placed over the pot’s drainage holes may actually prevent drainage by producing a “perched water table” zone just above the gravel. This has to do with the physics of water drainage and can be unhealthy for the lower roots.

Garden tips
  • Clean out water garden and divide and repot water garden plants. Begin feeding fish when water temperatures are higher than 50 degrees.
  • Plant warm-season vegetable crops such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes and other warm-season crops now.
  • Fruit trees, especially apples and peaches, must have their fruit thinned for best production. Prune apples 4-6 inches apart and peaches 6-8 inches. This will ensure larger fruit and less damage to limbs. If not thinned, the tree's resources will be used to such an extent that next year’s crop will suffer.
  • Late May is the best time to control borers in the orchard. Contact OSU Tulsa Master Gardeners for fruit tree spray recommendations.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Controlling Weeds in Your Lawn

Controlling Weeds in Your Lawn
Bill Sevier: Master Gardener
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Q: What is the best way to get rid of weeds in my lawn? J.A., Tulsa
A: The most effective way to prevent weeds is to have a green, thick, healthy lawn, which will prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a uniformly thick lawn and have to deal with weeds growing in the thin or bare spots. There is a wide range of tolerances for weeds in the lawn. The purist wants no weeds while others may adhere to the adage “one man’s weed is another man’s wildflower.”
OSU’s lawn maintenance information sheets — one on Bermuda, the other on fescue — are available on the Master Gardener website, tulsamastergardeners.org, in the lawn and garden section. These sheets describe all aspects of lawn care, including weed control, and may contain all the information you need for your lawn care.
In terms of chemical control, there are two approaches — prevention with pre-emergent herbicides and eliminating existing weeds with the post-emergent variety.
Pre-emergent herbicides are best used in the spring to prevent crabgrass and most summer weeds and again in fall to deal with the winter weeds such as henbit, chickweed and annual bluegrass (Poa annua). Pre-emergent herbicides recommended by OSU are listed on the above referenced information sheets. It should be understood that when using these herbicides, you will never get 100 percent prevention, and they will be of no benefit unless the instructions are followed in detail.
Post-emergent herbicides available are based on the type of weed. There are three main botanical weed types — broad leaf, such as dandelion; grassy weeds such as crabgrass, and sedges like yellow nutsedge (nutgrass).
Most broad-leaved weeds are best treated with one of the many brands of herbicides containing a chemical called “2,4-D.” It usually is mixed in with other herbicides to enhance control. The chemicals in this category are mostly derivatives of plant growth hormones and have the greatest effect on growing weeds in spring and fall. After a weed reaches maturity and blooms or produces seeds, their effectiveness is greatly reduced.
Grassy weeds are difficult. The best herbicide for weeds such as mature crabgrass, Dallisgrass, orchard grass and the like has been taken off the market. Herbicides available now for mature crabgrass contain a less effective but useful chemical called quinclorac.
The most common sedge in the lawn is yellow nutsedge. This is the slender weed that pokes its head up above grass two days after mowing. Although some broadleaf herbicides are labeled for nutsedge, they are not effective. Products containing imazaquin (Image), halosulfuron (Sedgehammer) and bentazon (Basagran) and sulfentrazone (many brands) are effective.
Again, suggestions by OSU about which chemicals to use and when are in the lawn maintenance documents from the Master Gardener website mentioned above. Be aware that the chemical names mentioned are found in many brands. Also, remember to always read and follow instructions on the label of each brand.
Garden tips
·        Nutsedge weeds are emerging now. Post-emergent treatments are best applied for the first time this month. Make certain warm-season grasses have completed green-up. Nutsedge requires specific treatment for control; standard broadleaved post-emergent herbicides are not effective. Contact the OSU Tulsa County Master Gardeners for recommendations.
·        Plant summer bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, elephant ear, caladiums and gladiolus.
·        Apples and other fruit need thinning for best production. If apples are not thinned, the crop will be of poorer quality this year and small next year. Thin to one apple every 4 inches.
·        Remember, working wet soil will cause significant damage to the soil structure. Give it time to drain from recent rains, before tilling. Damage from tilling while wet may last for a long time.