Saturday, December 26, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Disposal of Christmas Trees--Storing Pecans

Many ways to dispose of Christmas trees

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Q: Will the city of Tulsa pick up my Christmas tree after the holidays? Glenda, Tulsa
A: Trees will be picked up curbside after the holidays on your primary collection day. The trees should be 6 feet long or less or trimmed to 6 feet if need be.
Other more environmentally friendly options for tree disposal are available. All of these options require the initial removing of tinsel and other decorations.
Trees may be recycled into mulch two ways. First, Southwood Landscape and Garden Center, 9025 S. Lewis Ave., and Owasso Tree and Berry Farm will take live-cut trees and grind them for recycling. You need not have bought your tree from these businesses for them to accept it.
Another way to recycle your tree, if you are able, is to take it to the City of Tulsa’s Green Waste Site. It is located at 2100 N. 145th East Ave. and is open seven days a week 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., closing only on city holidays. The service is free with proof of Tulsa residency. At the green waste site, you may also obtain all of the free wood chip mulch you may need. In addition, free firewood is on site.
Trees also make great winter bird sanctuaries in your landscape. They offer a place out of the wind and cold, as well as protecting them from predators. The addition of peanut butter and suet to the limbs is a good energy source for birds and a good project for children.
The smaller limbs and fronds can be removed and be either added to the compost bin or in the garden bed as a mulch, the remaining trunk used as a stake in the garden. Another option for the fisherman is to sink a bundle in a local lake or pond, creating a fish shelter, especially for crappie.

Q: What is the best way to store pecans and what is the storage life? K. S., Tulsa
A: Pecans can be stored and maintain good quality if certain guidelines are followed. They should be harvested as soon as they fall from the tree. If not, they will absorb moisture, begin to deteriorate and become rancid and discolored. Whether shelled or not, they should then be allowed to dry at room temperature with good air circulation for about two weeks.
Pecans should be stored airtight in a solid plastic or glass sealable container or a heavy duty sealable plastic bag. They survive best in a refrigerator and the colder the storage, the longer quality is maintained. If left exposed in the refrigerator, they pick up odors of other foods, which will spoil the taste. Generally, unshelled pecans last a few months longer than shelled ones at any temperature.
Typically, shelled pecans stored at 70 degrees should last 3-4 months, those at 32 degrees 12 months, at 20 degrees 18 months and at 0 degrees for a few years.

Garden tips
§  Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright, indirect light daily. Keep plants away from drafts.
§  Now is a good time to fertilize spring blooming bulb plants such as daffodils. Their leaves are now growing and emerging from the ground and can use extra nitrogen fertilizer. Now and in the fall are the best times to fertilize these plants rather than after blooming. After blooming they go dormant. Most tulips are grown as annuals and do not need fertilizer.
§  Wait to prune fruit and other trees and shrubs trees until late winter and early spring. Don’t prune spring blooming shrubs such as azaleas until after blooming is competed.

Saturday, December 19, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Using and Disposing of Fall Leaves

Fallen leaves are valuable asset to landscape

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Q: What is the best thing to do with leaves if you don’t want to place them in the trash? E.L., Tulsa

A: There are many options for your leaves other than the trash. Placing them at the curbside should be your last choice. Leaves are valuable assets in the landscape; they have significant amounts of nutrients and organic material that are so valuable. Some studies have shown leaves to be composed of up to 1 percent nitrogen, the No. 1 nutrient needed by all plants. This is about as much nitrogen as found in composted cow manures, which are used for an organic source of fertilizer.
Leaves may be mowed into any healthy lawn. Done properly, the leaf particles drop down below the turfgrass canopy. This adds nutrients and organic material to the soil and has no adverse effects on the turfgrass. One study mowed 1 pound of leaves per square yard of lawn (equal to about a 6-inch depth of leaves) for five consecutive years and found no undesirable effects on soil chemistry, amount of thatch or grass diseases.
Adding shredded leaves directly to your garden beds as mulch is another good use for them. They are best if shredded first with a lawnmower. Shredding them reduces their volume at least 10 fold, which produces an excellent mulch. They will decay over the following year, releasing nutrients and organics. Your beds will then be ready for another load of leaf mulch next fall.
One concern that is often raised about the use of leaves in the garden is that the leaves, especially oak leaves, will acidify the soil to excess (or add needed acid to azalea beds). There have been studies done looking at the effect on soil chemistry when a variety of leaf types were used either as mulch or tilled into the soil. As they decay, they had no effect on garden soil acidity, even when used in fairly large volumes. The one exception to this was pine needles, which added acid to the top inch or so of the soil after decay.
Tilled into the soil, shredded leaves are an excellent amendment. They are best added in the fall or early winter. This will give them a chance to begin the breakdown process before spring. Organics that are tilled into soils will loosen clay soils and help sandy soil retain water and nutrients.
Lastly, add the shredded leaves to the compost pile. Because leaves are mostly carbon material, add a little fertilizer for a nitrogen source to aid in the composting process. If you do not have a compost bin, heap them into a pile in an out-of-the-way area, and they will compost.
Any of the options above are much better for you and the environment than adding leaves to the trash.

Garden tips

• All birds need and appreciate clean feeders and unfrozen water on cold days. Place feeders close to protective shelter, if possible.
• Light prunings of evergreens can be used for holiday decorations. Be careful with sap that can mar surfaces.
• With the warmer weather, newly seeded fescue will continue to grow roots and make energy if you keep them free of leaves.
• Continue to control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm- or cool-season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer.

Saturday, December 5, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Keyhole Gardening Technique

Keyhole gardening adds interest, intrigue to landscape

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Q: There was a keyhole garden on display by Master Gardeners at the state fair. Can you explain this? Craig, Tulsa.
A: Unique gardening techniques, such as square-foot gardening and lasagna gardening, interest and intrigue adventuresome gardeners — and keyhole gardening is no exception.
The technique was first made popular in sub-Saharan Africa, where it was recognized to be a method of growing green vegetables with limited water supply. In the U.S., it has been popularized by environmental scientist Deb Tolman, Ph.D. A summary of her suggestions for a keyhole garden with photographs of many different variations may be found at
The basic idea for the structure is simple. Usually it is a circular raised-bed garden 3-4 feet tall and about 6 feet across, with a wedge removed for access. From above, it looks like a keyhole or a pie with a skinny slice removed. In the center of the bed is an upright circular tube structure 3-4 feet tall and 1 foot in diameter, usually made of wire mesh. The height of the bed, the tube and the materials used to construct it have many variations. The outer wall is usually made of stone, wood, plastic or metal.
Often, cardboard is used inside the bed on the sides to prevent leakage and as fill. The bed, all but the center wire tube, may be filled with layers of a variety of organic material such as cardboard, paper, manure, leaves, straw and old potting soil. Thin layers of garden soil are often added between these layers. All of the organics should be watered as added. The top 5-6 inches can be compost, good garden soil or potting soil. This will be used for planting. The top of the bed should slope from the center tube downward to the outside wall to promote drainage.
The center tube, which has been made accessible by the wedged slot in the bed, is used to add alternating layers of green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) garden wastes. This also includes all kitchen scraps except dairy, fats and meats.
The central composting tube is also where water is added to the garden. With irrigation of the tube, the composting process of the organics goes fast, and water and nutrients (compost tea) leak into the surrounding bed. This conserves water and encourages the plants to put down deep roots.
The keyhole garden will allow you to grow many types of vegetables, especially the green leafy ones, using less water and fertilizer in a smaller space. It is versatile and accessible for the physically limited. With little effort, a frame may be constructed on which to place a cooling shade cloth in summer. The same frame can be covered with plastic sheeting as winter approaches, making a cold frame for extending your vegetables’ growing seasons.

Garden tips
§  Proper care will extend the life of Poinsettias through the holiday season and beyond. They need to have the brightest light possible and be kept away from cold windows and heating vents. They prefer a room temperature of 65-75 degrees. They will die or perform poorly with too much or too little water. Feel the soil, and when the top inch or so is dry, water with lukewarm water until water emerges from the bottom of the pot. Discard this water. There is no need for fertilizer.
§  If your roses have not been mulched do so now. This is a good place to use those fall leaves that have been shredded with a mulching mower. Mulch not only will prevent cold damage to those plants that are susceptible, but also will prevent warming of soil on warm winter days, which may promote premature cold-sensitive new growth.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Saving and Storing Seeds

Collecting, storing seeds for future planting

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday October 30, 2015

Q: I would like to collect seeds to plant next year. How is the best way to do this? J. A. Tulsa
A: It is a great idea to collect and store seeds for future use, but not all plant seeds will produce expected outcomes. For satisfactory results, it is important to know what type of plant grew the seeds.
Hybrid plants do not produce seeds that come back true to type. Hybrids are made from a controlled cross between two similar types of plants. The random pollination of hybrids results in plants different from the parent. The seed packet containing the original seeds will inform you if the plant is a hybrid.
Open-pollinated and heirloom plants have stable traits that transfer predictably to the following generations. There may be some slight differences from the parent plant, but these are usually acceptable. An exception to this is when varieties of the same species (such as several varieties of squash) are grown together. They may cross-pollinate, and seeds coming from these plants may produce fruit with traits from each variety of squash.
Collect seeds after they are completely mature and when the seeds or pods become dry and lose color. Let the seeds dry out on the plant as long as possible and then collect seeds only from the healthiest looking plants.
After collecting the seeds or pods separate them from the non-seed material, remove as much of the trash as possible. Then place the seeds on a flat surface, such as a large pan or screen. They should be placed in a well-ventilated area and allowed to dry completely over several days.
At that point, most seeds do well if placed in an air-tight container and stored either in the refrigerator or in the freezer. It varies from plant to plant, but most seeds are viable when stored in the freezer for a few years — some for many years.
Other seeds need a different approach. The “wet-seeded” plants such as tomatoes require a bit more processing. For tomatoes and cucumbers, collect the ripe fruit and mash them into a pulp. Add some water to the point that the mixture can be stirred. Allow to ferment in a warm place, such as the top of the refrigerator, for 2-3 days. It should develop a white matt of fungal growth on the surface. This fermentation removes the outer protective pulp from the seeds.
At that point, add some more water and stir well. Then allow to sit, and the good seeds will drop to the bottom of the container. Separate and dry them and store as above.
Much more information is available online from the Organic Seed Alliance and from the Seed Savers Exchange. Visit their websites if you have an interest in saving seeds from your plants at the end of the season.

Garden tips
§  Keep leaves off of newly seeded fescue to prevent damage to the sprouts. Also, the soil of newly seeded fescue should be kept moist until the sprouts are about 2 inches, then water less often and for longer times to encourage deep root growth of the seedlings.
§  Remove garden debris to prevent many insects and diseases from overwintering in your garden beds.
§  Plant cool-season cover crops like Austrian winter peas, wheat, clover and rye in otherwise fallow garden plots.
§  Cover water gardens with netting to keep out falling leaves.

Saturday, October 24, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Putting flower beds under trees can hurt the tree

Putting flower beds under trees can hurt the tree

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Q: Grass will not grow under a tree in my lawn, and I am planning on putting in a flower bed around the tree. The edging will be bricks, and I need to add some soil. Will this hurt the tree? J.T., Tulsa
A: The trees in our landscape are beautiful and add value and functionality to our homes and usually require little care. However, there are significant issues when attempting to grow a lawn or create a garden bed under their canopies.
Any disturbance to the soil over the roots — either adding or removing soil — may have serious consequences for a tree. OSU, in its fact sheet, “Site Disturbance and Tree Decline,” outlines the hazards to a tree from change of grade. OSU horticulturists feel that adding soil to the root zone of mature trees should not be done.
Even temporary piling up of soil often done during construction of a home may be harmful.
To understand the problems, one must understand what makes up the root system of a tree.
For most mature trees, the large majority of roots are in the top 18 inches of soil, and the tree’s root system often extends out two to three times the distance from the trunk to the drip line. A tree’s root system includes the larger roots, which support the tree, and the smaller roots, which absorb water, nutrients and oxygen (plants get their oxygen from roots, not leaves). The smaller absorptive roots are generally in the top 3-6 inches of soil.
If one adds soil to the area under a tree, as is often done when creating a flower bed, this blocks the flow of oxygen into the upper layers of soil, resulting in injury due to suffocation. It may also promote diseases.
The addition or removal of soil over roots will often cause a tree to go into a gradual decline, a decline which may be fatal over several years. This is manifest by smaller leaves, less linear growth of limb tips, early fall leaf coloration and leaf drop. The decline may then progress to die-back of twigs and then death of larger limbs in the canopy (top) of the tree. Once trees manifest these symptoms, they usually die in a few years.
If a turfgrass with some shade tolerance, such as fescue, will not grow under a tree and a garden bed is desired, shade-tolerant plants and loose mulch may be the answer. When planting something such as a ground cover or other shade-tolerant plants, one should minimize the ground preparation in the tree’s root zones.
Then add a layer of a loose mulch but no more than 3-4 inches. This will allow air to circulate into the soil without posing a risk to your trees.

Garden tips
§  Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens. If they are green but full sized, they will ripen indoors. They do not need to be in sunshine to ripen indoors.
§  The average first frost date (temperature below 32 degrees) for our area is Nov. 3.
§  Use a cold-frame device to plant spinach, lettuce and various other cool-season crops for production most of the winter.
§  Take tropical water garden plants indoors when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees. Also, stop feeding fish in the pond at this water temperature.

Saturday, October 17, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Storing Pesticides

Diluted pesticides should never be kept

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Q: Is it OK to store my unused herbicide in my sprayer? Ted, Tulsa
A: No, once a concentrated pesticide has been diluted, it should not be stored under any circumstance in any type of container. There are good reasons for this.
First, like most people, we tend to forget. The name and type of a chemical in a sprayer after it has been used and set aside may be misremembered. You easily can end up applying a harmful chemical to your vegetable garden, putting those who eat the veggies at risk. Or a possibility of less-severe consequences is killing a desirable ornamental or vegetable plant by spraying an herbicide inappropriately.
Chemical pesticides are stable while in the original container as a concentrate. However, once diluted with water, many pesticides deteriorate — some rapidly — over a few hours. This information is usually not available on the label, and one must assume any diluted pesticide will not be stable.
Pesticides that come already diluted and ready to use are usually mixed in a way that makes them stable but only for the duration listed on the label. If there is no time of best use on the label, discard the mixture after one season.
The work-around to this problem involves planning ahead and mixing only the amount of pesticide you anticipate using. Any left in the sprayer should be applied to the area sprayed originally. One thing that should never be done is to pour the pesticide into the street gutter; this adds toxins directly to our waterways.
Related to this is how to handle pesticides that are old or have lost their label. These should not be used and should be stored in a safe place until the Tulsa M.E.T. has its twice yearly Pesticide Collection Event at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. The next collection event is Nov. 7-8 at the Tulsa Fairgrounds gate No. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All pesticides are accepted and disposed of in a safe manner.
Empty pesticide containers may be recycled but only after rinsing vigorously three times. The rinse water should be applied to the landscape area that received the original spray.
Most of us prefer not to use pesticides, or if we do, use the “soft” organic types that have less risk to you and the environment. There are many ways to avoid, or minimize, pesticide risk. This falls under the heading of IPM, or Integrated Pest Management. This widely used technique encourages the prevention of pests and their damage by managing the ecosystem. This involves careful monitoring of your plants and the correct identification of the insect or disease to decide if any management is needed. If so, it recommends steps that have low impact on the environment and also suggests accepting the fact that some damage due to pests is inevitable but acceptable.

Garden tips

·       Plant container-grown trees and shrubs this month. Fall is generally the best time to plant. At this time, the plants have no energy burden of producing leaves and can concentrate on growing a root system until the soil cools in winter. They are then better prepared for growth the following spring.

·       Check and treat houseplants for insect pests before bringing inside. Look at the roots and re-pot those that are root-bound. Irrigate the soil thoroughly before bringing inside.

·       There is still time to plant radishes and mustard in the fall garden.

Saturday, October 10, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Poison ivy, poison oak share many similarities

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Q: I think I can recognize poison ivy; what does poison oak look like? Do we have it in Oklahoma? How can I identify it? A. G., Tulsa
A: We do have a variety, Atlantic poison oak, in our state, but it is not nearly as common as poison ivy. They share many similarities and both have the capacity to cause severe allergic rashes in about 85 percent of the population.
There is a third plant in the “poison” group called poison sumac. It is rare in Oklahoma and more common to the south and east coastal states.
Some of the keys to identifying poison oak and poison ivy are interchangeable. They both have leaflets of three to a stem. The leaflets and stems are distributed on the plant in an alternating fashion, and they are not opposite each other where they originate. Likewise, the leaf veins are not opposite but alternate where they connect in the center of the leaf.
Of the three leaves, the middle one has a much longer stem than the other two. If leaves have no stems, it is a different plant. The leaf size and shape are variable for poison ivy, but poison oak typically has a shape similar to a white oak, with scalloped edges, and may be 6 or more inches long. Both plants are extremely colorful in the fall.
Poison ivy and poison oak have small off-white flowers, which produce white pea-sized berries. If berries are red, blue or purple, it is not one of these. Each of these plants can grow as a shrub several feet tall. Poison ivy may form a vine but not poison oak. The poison ivy vine may be an inch or more across and almost always has dense hair-like aerial rootlets for attachment to trees. Vines grow straight up a tree. If the vine twines or circles a tree it is not likely poison ivy.
In winter, identification is difficult. If berries are still present, this helps, but an expert is required to identify bare stems. It should be kept in mind that the toxin in these plants, “urushiol”, is present in the stems and fruits of both plants in all seasons and is capable of causing the typical rash.
Master Gardeners are often asked to identify a plant as to whether it is poison ivy. There are several plants that may have three leaves or other characteristics causing confusion with poison ivy and poison oak. Some plants often having three leaves are bladdernut shrub, boxelder tree sprouts, aromatic sumac, skunkbush sumac and wild blackberry. Other plants that may form vines and can be confused with the poisonous ones are Virginia creeper (five leaves), wild grape and Boston and English ivy.

Garden tips
§  Now is a good time to fertilize spring-blooming bulb plants. Use only nitrogen unless a soil test indicates a need for phosphorus and potassium. If you are not sure where the plants are, wait until spring and fertilize when the leaves first emerge. These plants' root systems are inactive from bloom time in spring until the following fall. Fertilizing them at that time will result in waste.
§  Dig and store tender perennials like dahlias and caladiums in a cool, dry location. Cannas and elephant ears can also be dug, but most will survive the winter fine if mulched heavily and in a sheltered area.
§  Plant fall mums and asters and keep them watered during dry conditions. Don’t crowd because they take a couple of years to reach maturity.

Thursday, October 8, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Assisting the elderly with gardening activities

Assisting the elderly with gardening activities

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, October 8, 2015

Q: My mother loves to garden, but due to her age-related problems, she is having difficulties. What can I do to make gardening easier for her? E. C., Tulsa
A: There are several things one can do to assist gardening activities for the elderly. The challenges facing aging gardeners are well-recognized and written about. A recent review from the National Institutes of Health goes into great detail.
Our population, and in many other countries worldwide, is getting older. Along with age there are numerous medical problems which may develop. Some of these problems are physical while others are related to memory, intellectual function and social situations.
All seniors can benefit from gardening activities indoors and outdoors. The fact that these activities are beneficial is the basis for popular horticultural therapy with “therapeutic gardens.”
Studies have suggested that these activities may help maintain independent living, thereby reducing the use and therefore the cost of long-term care facilities. With horticultural therapy activities, there also seems to be significant improvement in general mental status, sense of responsibility, social interaction and over-all stress levels.
Mobility may be improved with activity associated with reduced incidences of falls and related trauma. The age-related pains and discomforts seem to be less related to increased activity.
The issues that older people often have, which may limit gardening participation, are failing vision, reduced manual dexterity, difficulty with stooping and lifting, along with intolerance of heat.
To meet these challenges, some generic suggestions could be helpful.
Garden tools may be painted with a bright color to better enable seniors to locate them. Tools can be modified as to length, shape and covered with rubber sleeves for easier griping.
To deal with difficulties in stooping, consider raised beds a couple of feet high, designed with a place to sit and for wheelchair access, if needed. Also consider vertical gardens or trellis structures, which are easier to reach.
There are several devices to aid in working close to the ground. One of the best is a “garden kneeler,” a low stool with knee pads and elevated handles at each side to assist standing from a kneeling position.
Other helpful ideas are to use seed tapes, which are easier to handle than seeds. Also, selecting plants to stimulate the senses, especially those of touch and smell, may be desirable and helpful for all of us, including seniors.
A common-sense tip for seniors to help deal with the heat is to drink plenty of fluids and, in summer, garden in the morning before 10 or in the afternoon after 2. Also helpful are large gardening hats, long-sleeved shirts, gardening gloves, eye protection and sunscreen.
If you are a senior or if you have a family member or a friend who is a senior, get involved. Get the right tools, use common sense, along with your accumulated wisdom, to get into gardening, be it flowers, vegetables or houseplants.

Garden tips
Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.

Prune trees or shrubs anytime there are dead or diseased limbs. Do not perform routine pruning now. Pruning before winter dormancy may stimulate new growth sensitive to the cold. Fall pruning also removes energy stores needed for winter survival. Prune summer-blooming plants in late winter before spring growth starts and prune spring-blooming plants after blooming is completed.

Continue to replant or establish cool-season lawns like fescue. Mow and neatly edge warm-season grasses before the first killing frost.

Saturday, September 26, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

How and When to Plant a Tree

Consider many factors before planting trees

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Q: Which trees are best planted in fall and which in spring? P.M., Tulsa
A: When you plant a tree, it potentially will be with you the rest of your life, so it is best to make all the correct decisions about the what, when and how part of the process.
Trees and shrubs coming from the nursery are either balled and burlapped, container-grown or have bare roots. They may be deciduous or evergreen.
Fall is by far the best time to plant container-grown, as well as most balled and burlapped trees and shrubs. However, bare-rooted and evergreen plants should be planted in spring. Bare-rooted plants must grow new roots to survive, and new roots are stimulated by buds opening in spring. Evergreen plants lose water in winter and, if planted in fall, do not usually have enough root system to support their water needs.
Trees planted in fall have been shown to outperform those planted in spring by a significant margin. Trees planted then will have fall, a large part of winter and the following spring to develop a more extensive root system in preparation for the following growing season.
When selecting a tree, consider not only the visual appeal, but also the growing requirements (sun or shade, soil type), mature height and spread, and nuisance factors. Some trees have undesirable seed production and pest susceptibilities. Always think of the mature height of the tree if it will be close to power lines or buildings. Another useful suggestion is to get the largest tree you can afford and can plant yourself.
OSU has a fact sheet, F-6414 “Planting Trees and Shrubs,” which has detailed information for a guide. The basics, as outlined in the fact sheet, are:

  1. Look for soil drainage problems and correct them.
  2. Perform a soil test to determine fertility and acidity status.
  3. Dig a hole 2 to 3 times as wide as the root ball, but no deeper than the root ball itself.
  4. In clay soil, plant the tree 2 to 4 inches above grade to help with drainage.
  5. Use no amendments in the backfill soil.
  6. Mulch with 2 to 4 inches of loose organic matter. Do not put plastic under the mulch.
  7. Keep a several-foot-wide grass-free circle around young trees for two years.
  8. Do not prune back the top of the tree or any branches on the trunk unless damaged.
  9. Fertilize trees and shrubs on the soil surface only if needed by soil test. Then use only nutrients needed.
  10. Stake only if needed due to the tree’s structure or if it is on a slope or windy area. Then do so for only one growing season.
  11. Maples, ash and other young trees may sun scald in winter if not wrapped. Wrap trunks in fall and  remove in spring.
Proper selection and planting of trees will add beauty to your landscape, as well as supply shade and shelter for you and the next generation.

Garden tips
§  Begin preparing your outdoor plants for a move indoors. Move houseplants indoors when the outside and indoor temperatures are about the same. For plants in full sun, move to shade. Begin with light and then heavier shade over a week’s time to prepare the plant for the low light indoors. If you move the plant from full sun to a low light indoor situation, the plant may experience “shock”, lose leaves and perform poorly inside.
§  Inspect plants for insects and disease and treat accordingly. In many cases, a few insects can be controlled by hosing down the plant and removing by hand. Another option is to use an insecticidal soap spray. This is effective and safe for you and your plant.
§  Also consider drenching the soil with 2-3 pot volumes of water to help remove insects and residual fertilizer salts.
'Ask a Master Gardener'

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All profits from the book sales go to the Tulsa Master Gardener Foundation, which funds all of its community volunteer activities.To purchase the book, go to

Saturday, September 19, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale, a New Pest

Bark scale insects can infest crapemyrtles

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Q: My crapemyrtle tree has some type of insect on the trunk. They look to be covered with cotton. What is this? T. R., Tulsa

A: Insect pests continue to surprise us. As we learn to deal with the old ones, we are faced with new arrivals. This one comes from crapemyrtle’s region of origin, Asia, and is called crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS). It was first discovered in the U.S. in central Texas in 2004 from where it spread northward.

Master Gardeners are now seeing it regularly in their office. Most of CMBS seems to have been spread by nursery stock and on plants purchased in one area and used in another. The female scales cannot fly.

Like other scales, the life cycle begins with either the female scale or eggs overwintering on the crapemyrtle under loose bark. When the eggs hatch, small mobile “crawlers” are produced, which migrate on the plant and may be spread to other crapemyrtles by wind or birds. These crawlers mature into adults. There may be 2-3 generations produced per year depending on the temperatures.

Once the female is fully developed, she mates and attaches to the stems and trunks of the crapemyrtle where she remains fixed and lays eggs for the next generation. She dies shortly thereafter, but the eggs survive under her covering until they hatch.

As the scales feed, they release a liquid, called “honeydew.” This is similar to the behavior of aphids. The sugars in honeydew may support the growth of a fungus called “sooty mold.” This overgrowth produces large black patches on the bark of the crapemyrtle, which is not significant in terms of the plant’s health.

This pest is easy to identify because it is the only scale insect to infest crapemyrtles. The adult female is usually about 2mm long and has a distinctive gray-white felt-like covering. When one of the females is crushed, a pink blood-like fluid is released.

Treatment strategies for this insect are still being evaluated. One nonchemical approach is to scrub down the trunk of the crapemyrtle with a mild solution of dishwashing soap and water using a long-handled brush to remove scale and sooty mold.

Summer horticultural oils recommended for other scales are not thought to be useful, but using heavier dormant oils applied to the trunks in late winter may be effective.

Systemic insecticides when applied as a drench to the plant’s root zone may offer the best control. The insecticide chemicals shown to be effective are imidacloprid, thiomethoxam and dinotefuran. These generics are sold under several brand names. They should be applied between May and July as it takes a few weeks for the chemicals to be absorbed into the plant’s vascular system and before protection will start.

For more information, go to OSU’s Pest E-alert website for an excellent discussion.

Garden tips

Watch for fall specials at garden centers and nurseries because fall is a great time for planting many ornamentals. Choose spring flowering bulbs as soon as available.

Fertilize established fescue lawns with one pound of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet now and again in November. Do not fertilize Bermuda or zoysia lawns until next spring. Late fertilization of these warm season grasses may promote disease.

Winter broadleaf weeds like dandelion will begin to emerge in late September, which is also the best time to control them with a 2, 4-D type herbicide.

September and early October is garlic planting time with an aim for harvest in June of next year. There are many varieties from which to choose. OSU suggests German Red, Inchilium Red, Silverskin and Spanish Roja for varieties that do well in our are

Saturday, September 12, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Monarch Butterflies Life Cycle

Master Gardener: Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed plants

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Q: I have some milkweed, which has both small eggs and caterpillars of monarchs. How long does it take for the eggs to hatch and the caterpillar to become a butterfly? T.W., Tulsa

A: numbers of monarch butterflies and their dependence on milkweed plants has inspired many people to become actively involved in their support.

The monarch’s life cycle and migration are uniquely amazing. There are two groups of monarchs in the U.S. — Western and Eastern. The Western group remains in California. The larger group of Eastern monarchs overwinter in Mexico and migrate mostly up through the Midwest. They may fly over 3000 miles and as far north as Canada.

The monarch’s migration typically involves four remarkable generations, each of which goes through four stages of development — egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and then adulthood. The time from when the egg is laid to an adult butterfly is about four weeks. All of the development times quoted are dependent on the environment, especially the temperature.

The eastern monarch populations leave their overwintering area in Mexico in February and March, flying northward. They soon mate and deposit eggs on milkweed plants. The eggs hatch in four to five days, and the larvae (caterpillars) eat large amounts of milkweed leaves and mature in about two weeks. At that time, they turn into a pupa.

The pupa hangs upside down using a silk attachment, called a chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar changes into a mature butterfly, which emerges in about 10 days. This adult will be ready to mate in a few days.

A second generation of monarch butterflies is produced on their northward journey in May and June. This generation lives about two to six weeks. They lay eggs and produce a third generation in July and August as they continue to feed on flower nectar and migrate to their summering home in the Midwest or as far north as Canada. This generation, too, lives about two to six weeks and is responsible for producing a fourth generation in September and October.

The fourth generation is unique. They may live for six to eight months. These monarchs migrate back to a warmer climate in either Mexico or California, where they overwinter until the following spring. After overwintering, they start northward and serve as the parents for the next yearly migration cycle in spring.

This is a remarkable story of these beautiful butterflies, which we often take for granted. We can do several things to help lessen their decline, one of which is to plant milkweed. For a list of milkweeds that are native to Oklahoma and the region in the state where found, go to the Master Gardener website and look for “Monarchs and Milkweed” under the “Tips and Techniques” section.

Garden tips

It is time to divide and replant spring-blooming perennials like iris, peonies and daylilies, if needed.

In fall, strawberry plants build up food reserves and form fruit buds for the next year’s crop. They should be fertilized between mid-August and mid-September with a nitrogen fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate at a rate of 1.5 pounds per 100-foot row. Apply 1 inch of water if no rain is expected.

You have all of September to plant cool-season vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce, mustard and radishes and until the middle of September to plant rutabagas, Swiss chard, garlic and turnips
Saturday, September 5, 2015 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Fall Reseeding of Tall Fescue

Fescue lawns benefit from fall reseeding

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, September 5, 2015 1

Q: A large area of my fescue has died and needs to be reseeded. This happened in spite of a lot of rain. Can this be prevented? How do I reseed? Troy, Tulsa

A: The loss of tall fescue turfgrass in summer is a recurring event for most people. It is worse with hot and dry summers but can occur with excessive rain as well. Normally fescue can briefly take standing water, but when the ground is saturated, oxygen is forced out and the roots suffocate. Then along comes the stress of heat, which fescue tolerates poorly. This combination of events can kill fescue. Another threat to fescue comes from a common fungus called “brown patch,” which is destructive.

After this series of events in summer, it is time to reseed in fall, ideally from mid-September through mid-October. Reseeding of fescue can be done either in spring or fall, but the spring-seeded grass usually dies in summer due to the lack of root development. Grasses seeded in fall have a more mature root system to withstand the following summer.

As far as how to reseed, there are several steps involved. Detailed information is available in the Master Gardener’s office in Tulsa or online.

Seed selection is an important decision — both the type of seed and the quality. Remember with seeds you get what you pay for — buy high-quality weed-free seeds. OSU feels there are many good fescue varieties and no one variety is “best.” It recommends using a blend of three or more types of fescues alone or mixed in with bluegrass, another cool-season grass. Mixed with fescue, the two grasses seem to compensate for each other’s weaknesses.

To minimize loss of fescue next summer, obtain the Master Gardeners’ information sheets on lawn care and follow recommendations about watering, fertilization and mowing.

Steps for reseeding fescue Lawns
1. For existing lawns, identify and correct factors causing poor performance. Start with a soil test to see what nutrients and soil acidity corrections may be needed.
2. Make a decision as to what type of seed you wish to plant and purchase beforehand.
3. Buy a “starter” fertilizer, best based on soil test. Use only nutrients needed. Do not use phosphorus containing fertilizer unless a soil test indicates a need.
4. Remove undesirable grasses and weeds
5. Loosen the soil by hand or machine, adding fertilizer and organic compost as needed. This is important, as all soils have a crust which should be broken for seeds to thrive.
6. Sow the proper amount of seed to get good coverage, avoid excess seeding. More is not better.
7. Irrigate as needed to keep top of soil constantly moist until seedlings are 2 inches tall.
8. Irrigate less often and more deeply at 2 inches to establish deep roots.
9. Mow with a sharp bladed mower when 3 inches tall.
10. If needed, control broadleaved weeds with a 2,4-D type herbicide after third mowing.
Garden tips
Fall webworms are now prevalent. These are the dense webs one sees on the limb tips of some trees, especially pecans. The caterpillars remain within the webs to feed on leaves, expanding as new leaves are needed. Control can be as simple as pruning out, if the tree size permits. Insecticides can be helpful, but most people tolerate the infestation, realizing the damage is mostly aesthetic and the tree will survive quite well. If an insecticide is used, consider an organic product called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. It is safe for you, your pets and the environment.

Now is a good time to submit a soil sample to the OSU Extension office for testing. Do this before reseeding fescue or creating a garden bed this fall. Call the Master Gardener office at 918-746-3701 for instructions.

Tall fescue should be mowed at 3 inches and up to 3½ inches if it grows under heavier shade. Don’t fertilize fescue lawns until it cools later this month, then fertilize again in November.