Saturday, March 28, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Starting vegetable Sprouts from Seed

Starting vegetable Sprouts from Seed
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Q: Now that I have more time on my hands at home, my kids and I were thinking of starting a vegetable garden. How should I get started? AJ
A: The situation we collectively find our community in is a bit scary, but what better way to social distance ourselves than working out in the garden? And it’s a great way to supplement our food, as well as a fun activity for your kids. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
First, you’ll need to decide what you want to grow. Good vegetables for first-time gardeners are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and bush beans. Potatoes are also a good choice. You can supplement these with some herbs, such as basil and oregano.
Seeds for these are available online if you don’t want to get out, or you could visit one of our local garden centers to pick up what you need. I am guessing that some of our local vendors would be more than willing to bring your order out to your car for you.
Of the crops we mentioned, it’s best to start your seeds for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and the herbs indoors, so you are going to need some type of container to plant your seeds. These can be as simple as used yogurt or butter containers or something more elaborate like the peat pot starters you can get at the store. Whatever you decide to use, it would be good to get some seed-starting soil. Seed-starting soil is much less course and is a great medium for starting new plants.
Next, fill your containers with the seed-starting mix, moisten it, and place a seed in each one. Move your newly planted seeds to a sunny, warm location, and wait. Germination times vary, but with any luck, you should see your plants start to emerge in a few days. Seed germination heating mats can speed up the process, but that may be something you what to think about for this fall or next year.
Be sure to keep your seeds well-watered without drowning them. In these small containers, it is easy to overwater, especially if you are using a container without drainage in the bottom.
The typical day we say you can plant your seedlings outside is April 15. This is historically after the last threat of frost has passed, but in Oklahoma, all options are on the table.
Seed potatoes can be planted now, and bush bean seeds should go in the ground after April 15.
Most gardeners started their seeds a few weeks ago, but better late to the party than never showing up. We have an entire page on our website about growing vegetables with resources that you should find helpful. Just go to and click on the button marked Vegetable Garden Help.
Good luck and happy gardening!
Garden tips

·        All cool-season vegetables, strawberries, asparagus and other small fruit may be planted this month.
·        Established broadleaf weeds can easily be controlled in lawns at this time with post-emergent broadleaf herbicides. These herbicides are most effective in spring and fall when weeds are growing.
·        Cut down dead pine trees as soon as possible. Most of these trees died of pine wilt disease due to a nematode infection. The infection is spread by the pine sawyer beetle, and dead pines are a source of infection carried by these beetles.

Sunday, March 15, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Growing Vegetables in Containers

Growing Vegetables in Containers
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, March 15, 2020

Q: I would love to have a vegetable garden, but we rent our home. Any suggestions? KT
A: This is a dilemma faced by a number of people whether you rent a home or an apartment. Fortunately, there are a number of options that will enable you to grow your own vegetables.
The best solution for your dilemma is container gardening. Almost any kind of container can be used to grow vegetables. The simplest would be a 5-gallon plastic bucket.
Just get a bucket, drill some holes in the bottom to allow for drainage, fill it with garden soil, and you are ready to go.
Buckets are great for tomatoes. There are even some smaller “patio” varieties of tomatoes that can produce all summer without trying to grow 6 feet tall.
You can also grow peppers, bush beans and any number of herbs, such as basil. You could even grow potatoes.
Fabric pots are another container option. These pots are typically made of a felt-like material and come in a variety of sizes. They even have handles on top to ease in moving them around. Many of us grow potatoes in these pots as we can start the potatoes in shallow soil and add soil as they grow. This helps increase your harvest.
Another great thing about containers is that they can be mobile. If you live in an apartment, you can move the container into the sun in the morning and then maybe place them in shade for that late-afternoon sun. Also, spring weather can sometimes be challenging for vegetable gardeners because we are likely to get a hail storm or two.
In case there is news of a hailstorm, you can just move your containers to a protected area. This is a luxury those of us with raised-bed gardens don’t have. These are not the only options, but at least these will get you started.
Garden tips
  • Remove flowers from spring-blooming bulbs after blooming is completed. This will allow the plant to direct its energy into its bulb for next year's blooms, rather than producing seeds.
  • Allow foliage of these bulb plants to die and turn brown naturally before removal. If the leaves are green, they are storing energy for the following year.
  • These bulb's root systems become inactive after blooming and cannot absorb fertilizer. It is best to fertilize them at the time of planting, in the fall or in the spring when their leaves first emerge
  • The Master Gardener Online Plant Sale continues through April 1.

Sunday, March 1, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Oklahoma Proven Plants for 2020

Oklahoma Proven Plants for 2020
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Q: I have a friend who suggested I try some Oklahoma Proven plants. What is he talking about? BC
A: Oklahoma State University has a program called Oklahoma Proven, where plants are tested to see how well they perform in the somewhat unpredictable and oftentimes brutal Oklahoma climate. Each year, a variety of plants are evaluated, and several are selected to become that year’s Oklahoma Proven selections. The winners for 2020 are out. You may or may not be familiar with some of these, but any of them would be great additions to your garden.
The tree for 2020 is the Hornbeam (Carbines species). This tree does great as an understory tree and needs little pruning. It is slow growing and can be used as a tree or a hedge, typically reaching heights of about 20-30 feet. It grows well in full sun to part shade. Plant in a place with well-drained soils.
The shrub this year is the Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). This perennial has evergreen leaves from 2-3 feet in length while the flower stalks can rise up to 5 feet with coral-colored tubular flowers. It’s drought-resistant, and the flowers can attract hummingbirds. This one would be great for xeriscape or low-maintenance gardens.
The perennial for 2020 is the Golden Variegated Sweet Flag (Acorus griminess “Ogon”). This grassy plant is native to Asia and will do well in full sun to part shade but will appreciate some afternoon shade if planted in a full-sun location. Boggy or consistently moist areas are not a problem for this one. The Ogon cultivar is a dwarf variety that should grow to 6-12 inches tall, making it great for a border or an interesting filler plant.
The annual is the Brazilian Verbena (Verbena bonariensis). This plant usually has a 1-foot-tall base of dark green leaves with flower stems of up to 3½ feet. Even though it is technically a tender perennial, in Oklahoma it is considered an annual. If sheltered, it might survive the winter. Even if they don’t, they are self-seeding, so you may be able to enjoy them for years to come. It is heat- and drought-tolerant and has the added bonus of being a great attraction for pollinators.
Oklahoma Proven has been around for 20 years and has compiled a book that can be purchased or downloaded for free. Check under the Hot Topics link on our website if you would like a copy.
Garden tips

  • If you had previous damage to the tips of pine tree limbs, especially non-native pines, it may be diplodia tip blight (a fungus) or Nantucket pine tip moth damage. Both are controlled with pesticides starting this month. Call the Master Gardener office for recommendations.
  • Preemergent herbicide to control crabgrass and other summer weeds should be applied by the middle of March.
  • Divide and replant overcrowded, summer- and fall-blooming perennials. Mow or cut back old liriope (monkey grass) and other ornamental grasses before new growth begins.
  • The Master Gardener online plant sale continues through April 1.

Sunday, February 16, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, February 16, 2020

Q: Each year, I have mixed results with flowers in my garden. Do you have any recommendations for what might work well in our area? AM
A: Success in the garden can sometimes feel so random, especially for new gardeners. On our website, we have several resources to help you make good choices for your garden, and you can always contact our Diagnostic Center with any questions you may have.
But a great resource with appropriate plants for your garden is our annual plant sale. In this sale, we offer varieties that have performed well in our gardens, and we should know, with about 400 Master Gardeners in Tulsa County.
This year, we have more than 250 varieties of plants in our online plant store listed by category to help you make selections that best meet your garden needs. These categories include annuals, perennials, tomatoes, herbs, succulents, stepables, grasses, pollinator plants and new this year — organic pollinator plants.
I am guessing most of you have been to Tulsa’s horticultural extravaganza (and awesome park), Gathering Place. Have you ever walked around Gathering Place, seen a beautiful plant and thought: “I wish I could have something like that in my garden?” Well, now you can. Working in conjunction with the horticulturalists at Gathering Place, we have identified 15 selections in our online plant sale that are part of the ecosystem at Gathering Place. So if you order some of these beauties, you can have a little piece of Gathering Place at home. We are pretty excited.
How does an online plant sale work? Well, the plant sale functions like other online shopping experiences. As you browse through the selections, you can click on a plant that interests you and read about that particular plant. The descriptions will tell you whether it does best in sun or shade or both or grows tall or grows small or just about any other piece of information you may need to make your selection.
Once you have identified the ones you can’t live without, proceed to the online checkout, pay, and this part is done. Then we begin to do the hard part: getting the plants ready for you.
Pick-up is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 16 in the Exchange Center at Expo Square. On this day, you just go to the Exchange Center, tell us who you are, drive around to the pick-up area, and we will load your flowers in your vehicle for you. How easy is that?
Also on that day, we will have a pop-up plant sale where you will be able to shop for additional varieties that would be great additions to your garden, including milkweed for the Monarchs.
All the proceeds from this sale go to help fund our educational programs throughout Tulsa County. To shop, just visit We appreciate your support and look forward to helping you make your garden even more beautiful.
Garden tips
  • Mid-February is a good time to begin pruning and fertilizing trees and small fruits.
  • Now is a good time to cut back your perennial ornamental grasses, such as pampus grass. Cut back to remove the dead grass but avoid damaging new buds and early green growth at the base.
  • Begin planting blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, asparagus and other perennial garden crops this month

Sunday, February 2, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, February 2, 2020
In this article, we typically answer your gardening questions. However, I won’t even pretend that this installment sprang from one of your questions. Instead, it is the result of my getting curious about something, doing some investigating and wanting to share what I learned with you. Who knows? It may even help you win a trivia completion someday.
What topic might cause us to stray from the mission-at-hand? Groundhog Day, of course! So here are some facts that you may or may not know about groundhogs and Groundhog Day.
Did you know the groundhog is also known as the woodchuck, or my new favorite name, whistle pig? That’s right … whistle pig.
These extra-large rodents are mainly brown with strong legs and curved claws, perfect for digging. An adult groundhog can weigh between 6 and 10 pounds and grow to be 16 to 20 inches in length. That is a fairly sizable rodent. Groundhogs are primarily vegetarians that like to look for their food during the day. Spring is mating season and an adult female can give birth to four or five offspring.
In Oklahoma, they can be found along the edges of forests or perhaps near rocky bluffs and ravines. They are primarily in eastern Oklahoma, but have been sighted in Pawnee, Payne, Lincoln, Logan, Okfuskee, Pittsburg and Oklahoma counties.
They are a burrowing animal whose burrows can sometimes reach 30 feet in length. Burrows can have several chambers, including one used as a place to relieve themselves, which helps them to keep their living chambers clean and free of disease. I’m all for that. It is believed that they hibernate in Oklahoma for four to six months.
But how did this tradition of Groundhog Day get started, you might ask? Good question.
Feb. 2 is associated with a Christian tradition called Candlemas. There are deeper historical roots but suffice it to say that Feb. 2 became the day Christians would take their candles to the church to have them blessed. As far as we know, there was no animal associated with this European tradition.
However, German folklore tells us that at some point a ceremony with an animal was introduced and if the animal saw its shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter.
In the original German tradition, a hedgehog was used. However, as Germans migrated to this part of the world, there were no hedgehogs to be found, so the groundhog (aka whistle pig) became the weather prognosticator and central character in one of our more whimsical traditions.
So now you know.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Garden tips
  • Early February through March is the recommended time to plant strawberries. It is important to plant them in full sun and in well-drained soil. There are several types from which to choose. June-bearing varieties do best in our area. They have a single crop usually early May to mid-June. Ever-bearing strawberry is another variety that fruits May to June, a few during summer and again in the fall. The quality and size of this type of strawberry plant may not be as good as June-bearing varieties.

Sunday, January 19, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Planning a New Vegetable Garden

Planning a New Vegetable Garden
Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Q: This year, I am going to plant my first vegetable garden. Any suggestions? EC
A: Congratulations for deciding to take the plunge into growing your own delicious veggies. Your question is more than we can cover in this article, but here are some tips to get you started.
First, you will need to decide what kind of garden you are going to plant, as there are a lot of options.
If you are planning on doing what we call an in-ground garden, your first job will be to clear an area. This typically involves getting a soil tiller to loosen up the soil and get you started on removing the existing grass (no small task). The next step would be to get a soil test (we have instructions on our website at
Without a soil test, you are really flying blind in knowing how to amend your soil. A soil test will tell you the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as your soil pH. These are all important and will make a difference in how successful you are with your garden.
If you are not going to do an in-ground garden, you have a variety of options, the most popular being a raised bed or container garden. Because you are a beginner, we might suggest starting with a container garden. Almost any container can be used for this purpose. Just be sure there are holes in the bottom of your container to let the water drain or your plants will be sunk before you start.
Speaking of water, be sure to consider the proximity of a water source — the closer the better — because you are going to be spending a fair amount of time watering your plants to help them through our Oklahoma summers.
And, of course, you will have to decide what you are going to grow. We suggest growing what you are going to eat. If you only kind of like tomatoes, don’t plant a lot of tomatoes. This seems pretty obvious, but each year, some gardeners seem to be begging people to take some of their abundant tomato crop off their hands. Another vigorous producer is okra. It’s pretty easy to grow, and each plant produces an abundance of okra, so a couple of plants might be all you need for your home garden. You can find information on when to start your plants and which veggies do well in Oklahoma on our website.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? Well don’t be. Our Urban Gardener series of classes will be starting in a few weeks, and these classes can help you become a more successful gardener. The classes are from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays for six weeks starting March 5. Each evening, we will cover different topics, which include how plants grow, soil management, vegetable gardens, pollinator gardens, trees and shrubs.
You can sign up for these classes on our website. If you are interested, don’t delay because these classes typically sell out.
Good luck and happy gardening!
Garden tips
  • Even though there may be adequate moisture in the ground, it is normal for evergreen broad-leaved shrubs to appear “wilted” during extreme cold. This is rapidly reversible after the temperatures warm. This is a way some plants have in dealing with the cold.
  • Try to keep fallen leaves off newly seeded fescue. Fescue is capable of growing roots in winter unless the ground gets extremely cold. A good root system will help fescue to better tolerate the heat next summer. To grow roots, the grass needs sunlight.

Sunday, January 5, 2020 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Resolve to Grow A Better Garden This Year

Resolve to Grow A Better Garden This Year
Tom Ingram: Ask A Master Gardener
Sunday, January 5, 2020

First of all, Happy New Year. It’s a time of new beginnings, a chance to reflect upon the previous year and determine how we can do better this year.
It’s no different for gardeners. Last year, some of what we did worked, and some of what we did didn’t work. Our gardening successes were great fun, whether that was tending beautiful flowers or being the caretaker of delicious fruits and vegetables.
But gardening can be tough. Many things conspire against us, such as the heat, the cold, the rain, the lack of rain and the invasion of insects who think our garden was just for their nutritional enjoyment, etc.
But what about this year? What are we going to do differently? What are our gardening resolutions?
To find out the answer to that question, I polled the Tulsa Master Gardeners to see what their gardening resolutions were for 2020. Here is what they said (in no particular order):
 Do something in the garden every day so that the work doesn’t pile up.
 Don’t buy more plants until the last ones I bought are planted.
 Finally purchase the tools I have been needing.
 Clean and maintain my garden tools better.
 Keep a garden journal from year to year so that I can remember what worked and what didn’t.
 Do some stretches after being down on my knees for an extended time in the garden.
 Actually, have a plan for my garden rather than just buying all the pretty things.
 Try to stay ahead of the weeds.
 Actually, build in “garden time” into my day rather than just squeeze it in.
 Try some new plants rather than just do what I did last year.
 Divide some of my plants and share with friends so they, too, can have a jungle in their yard.
 Get a plan and stick with it.
 Lean more toward organic solutions.
So there you have it. You’re not alone. Surely, there is something, or maybe many things, on this list that resonate with your garden experience.
The Tulsa Master Gardeners not only feel your pain but also want to help you become a better gardener. Here’s some of the ways we can help:
 First of all, you’re reading one of those resources right now: the Ask a Master Gardener article in the Tulsa World. Stay tuned.
 You can also call our Diagnostic Center, drop by or email Master Gardeners from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at the OSU Extension.
 Visit our website at We have an extensive website with an abundance of resources in our Lawn and Garden Help section.
 Attend classes. We teach classes throughout the year, such as our Urban Gardener series, our Lunch & Learn classes at the Tulsa Central Library and our classes at the Mother Road Market.
 Watch the videos. We have a new Garden Talk video podcast with lots of current and timely garden information for you. You can find it on YouTube, Facebook and on our website.
So, here’s to 2020. The year we keep our garden resolutions!
 .Garden tips
  • Ornamental perennial grasses, such as pampas grass, may be cut back to 4-6 inches anytime in winter. However, because of winter attractiveness, most gardeners choose to wait until early spring to cut them back. All of the dead tops of these grasses should be removed by early spring, allowing sun to get to new growth.
  • Liriope or "monkey grass" — which is not a grass but in the lily family — stays green year-round; it also benefits from trimming to 2-3 inches before new growth begins in spring. Liriope and all ornamental grasses will benefit from nitrogen fertilizer in spring when pruned.
  • Prune fruit trees in January, February and March. OSU has a good fact sheet on pruning fruit trees, "Annual Pruning of Fruit Trees."