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.