Sunday, November 10, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Southwest Injury to Tree Bark

Southwest Injury to Tree Bark

Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Q: I planted a maple tree a few years ago and now the bark is split. What should I do? EH
A: The damage you are describing is likely what we call Southwest Tree Injury. It’s not called that because the ailment only affects trees in the southwest part of the country, but because it is damage that appears on the southwest side of the tree.
Southwest tree injury occurs during the overwintering of thin barked, oftentimes, freshly planted young trees.
During daylight hours, the winter sun warms the bark which causes it to expand. At night, the cold chills the bark causing it to contract. As this process repeats each day, the bark can be damaged, resulting in a split in the bark. Most trees do not recover from this damage.
You can see trees with this problem all around town, especially in new construction or in parking lots. New young trees are planted in small areas of the parking lot. The heating and cooling of the bark in winter is exaggerated because the tree is typically surrounded by asphalt causing more heat to be generated and reflected onto the bark of the young tree. Southwest tree injury is very common in these situations. The next time you are driving through one of these lots, look at the trees. If they are thin barked trees, they likely will have southwest tree injury.
Certain trees are more susceptible such as cherry, maple, weeping willow, and various fruit trees. However, this problem can be mitigated with a simple strategy.
As we enter the winter season, wrap the trunks of any newly planted thin-barked trees with paper tree wrap. This wrap should not be tight as you want circulation, but you also want it snug enough to remain in place. In the spring, as it begins to warm up, remove the tape. This process should be repeated for at least the first two or three years. After that, the bark should be strong enough to remain unaffected by the changing temperature. Most garden centers should carry this tree wrap.
Once the damage has occurred, there is not much you can do. The tree will try to heal the gap but is rarely successful due to the size of the damage. These gaps will make the tree more vulnerable to disease as the inner layers of the tree are exposed. But the good news is that you can avoid southwest tree injury with a little effort and a roll of inexpensive paper tree wrap.
Garden tips

-         Remove all debris from the vegetable and flower garden to prevent overwintering of various garden pests.
-         Cover water gardens with bird netting to catch dropping leaves. Take tropical water garden plants indoors and stop feeding fish when water temperatures near 50 degrees.
-         Start new garden bed preparations now. Till plenty of organic material into the soil in preparation for spring planting

Sunday, October 27, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Fall Planting of Bulbs and Pansies

Fall Planting
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Q: Winter is so dreary for us gardeners. Any suggestions for something to lift my spirits? CH
A: You are right to some degree. After all the anticipation of spring: the planning, the planting, the waiting, and the fighting off the predators who seem determined to destroy our beauties, many gardeners find themselves with nothing left but memories this time of year. But here are a couple of things you can do to keep your gardener blood pumping through the coming winter.
If you have never planted pansies you are missing out on a true winter beauty. We are fortunate in Tulsa since we have a variety of local growers who produce pansies for our local market. If you are a fan of “local,” pansies can’t be beat. They are also available in a large variety of colors: even an orange and black if you are so inclined (Go Pokes!).
Pansies require no special planting instructions, just loosen the soil, sprinkle in some garden fertilizer and plant: usually about 4-6 inches. It won’t be long before they will start to fill in with beautiful flowers.
Watering is something that can be overlooked during the winter, but your pansies, will still need to be watered from time to time depending on the conditions. With proper care, your pansies should be beautiful throughout the winter and early spring.
One of the main challenges we can experience with pansies is that they tend to really come on strong about the time we need to begin pulling them out to prep our spring garden beds. But if you don’t, you will likely miss some opportunities in the spring when the new shipments of flowers start arriving in the nurseries.
Planting bulbs is something else you can do now, but you’ll have to wait till spring to see the results of your efforts. We plant bulbs in the fall because they need the winter “chill” period to prepare them for spring blooming.
Tulips, gladiolas, and daffodils are great choices and come in a variety of colors. Planting bulbs is pretty simple with the depth of the planting hole depending on the height of the bulb.
First, loosen the soil, then dig a hole about 3 times the height of the bulb. Place the large end of the bulb down in the hole; sprinkle with a little fertilizer, cover, and water in. After that you can pretty much forget about them. Just remember where you planted them so when you start planting your spring flowers, they won’t get disturbed.
Then, sometime in the spring (depending on what you planted) these green shoots will start coming out of the ground alerting you to what is coming.
After they have bloomed and the flowers have disappeared, leave the leaves alone until they turn brown since they will still be helping to store nutrients for the next season.
Nothing like a little winter color and the anticipation of spring flowers to help gardeners get through the winter.

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.
- 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.

Sunday, October 13, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Plant Garlic in Fall, Harvest in Early Summer

Plant Garlic Now

Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Q: I’ve heard that fall is a good time to plant garlic. Is that correct? — MC
A: We love our garlic. Garlic is a common seasoning worldwide and it’s not hard to understand why as the smell of garlic cooking makes almost any meal seem better.
Growing your own garlic is pretty simple. First, you need to select your bulbs. It’s good to start your search early so you can find the largest and firmest bulbs for planting. OSU recommends several varieties: German Red, Spanish Roja, Inchelium Red and Silver Skin.
Now is a good time to plant your garlic. The two most important elements that you will need to consider are sun and soil. An area that receives full sun is best. And the soil needs good drainage. Loose, loamy soil will give you good drainage and allow the bulbs to expand as they grow. Before planting you may want to work an organic nitrogen-rich fertilizer into the soil such as blood meal.
Garlic grows from the individual cloves that make up the garlic bulb. You will want to select the largest outside cloves for planting. If your soil is loose enough, you should be able to just push the clove into the soil, root — or flat — end down. Plant the cloves about two inches deep with the pointy tip up. You should allow 4–6 inches between cloves for good bulb growth.
Unlike many veggies that have specific space requirements, garlic takes up very little space. And it’s not a requirement that you have a veggie patch; garlic can be right at home in the flower garden. After planting, a healthy layer of mulch like straw, leaves or dry grass clippings will help maintain soil temperatures and control weeds.
The fall growing season will produce some small shoots but is primarily for root production. Bulbs will rest over the winter in preparation for a spring growth spurt. During this growth period, additional watering may be indicated if rainfall is not sufficient.
In late June or early July, leaves should start turning yellow brown, indicating it’s time to harvest. Gently dig bulbs from the ground. Bulbs will need to be cured in a dry, shaded area for 4–6 weeks. After drying, carefully remove the stalks leaving the outer skin intact. Carefully stored garlic can last up to several months and it will likely taste better since you grew it yourself!
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 drain to produce leaves and can concentrate on growing a root system until the soil gets cool in winter. They are better prepared for spring growth if planted in the previous fall.
• Check and treat houseplants for insect pests before bringing inside. Look at the roots and repot those which are root-bound. Irrigate the soil thoroughly before bringing inside.

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Milkweed Tussock Moth

Milkweed Tussock Moth

Tom Ingram: Ask A Master Gardener
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Q: I grow milkweed in my garden for the migrating monarchs, but there are some fuzzy caterpillars that are black, orange and white devouring my milkweed. What are they and what should I do about them? MC
A: Monarch butterflies are often in the news. We hear about their dwindling population, and many people are planting a variety of plants to support them on their migration to and from Mexico. Milkweed is the sole source of nutrients for monarch caterpillars. However, what you are describing is another insect whose caterpillars also prefer milkweed: the milkweed tussock moth.
Female milkweed tussock moths lay their eggs in white masses on the underside of milkweed leaves starting in June. When the eggs hatch, they begin feeding and may go unnoticed for a while.
By their third instar (a phase during the developmental process), they become these unique and beautiful fuzzy caterpillars with tufts of black, orange and white. The adult moths are not nearly as stunning, but many of us have been told we were better looking when we were younger so…
If the female moth laid all her eggs in one spot, what starts as a kind of mob feeding thins out as the larger caterpillars spread out and move to other milkweed plants. At the point they are in full tufts mode, they tend to feed alone or in pairs.
Soon, they leave the milkweed plants to form a cocoon in which they pupate. Farther north, there is only one generation per year, but in our area, two generations per year are not unusual.
Bats are the primary predators of moths; however, the milkweed tussock moth tends to be immune from being fed upon by bats because they produce an ultrasonic click from what is called a tymbal organ. Bats recognize this sound and avoid them because they are not interested in a toxic meal. The moths are toxic (like monarchs) because their favorite food (milkweed) contains a poison called cardiac glycosides (cardenolides). Being toxic is a great way to get predators to leave you alone.
The caterpillars are voracious eaters and can decimate your milkweed plants, so, if found, you have a decision to make. Because you said you grow milkweed for the monarchs, you might consider the milkweed tussock moth an unwelcome interloper. Or perhaps you can just embrace the idea that you were growing caterpillar food, which is serving its intended purpose, just not in the way you had planned.
If the live-and-let-live philosophy doesn’t work for you, you will want to remove the milkweed tussock moth larvae. Physical removal would be best as any chemicals you might use could work to the detriment of your monarch sanctuary.
As for me, the photo of the milkweed tussock moth seen here is from my garden. I didn’t enjoy seeing my milkweed disappear before any monarchs found it, but I decided to enjoy and appreciate the milkweed tussock moth’s beauty while hoping they leave something for the monarchs. Maybe you will, too.
You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at
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 1 pound of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 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.
·        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 area.
·        Remember, our Fall Lunch & Learn classes will be starting Tuesday, Sept. 17. You can find more information and topics on our website.

Sunday, September 1, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Fall Is The Time To Reseed Tall Fescue Lawns

Reseeding Tall Fescue Turfgrass
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Q: I understand that fall is the best time to reseed with fescue. However, I am not sure how to do it and what type of seeds to buy. Can you help me? Robert T., Broken Arrow

A: Fescue is called a “cool season” turf grass for a reason. It does not tolerate hot weather well at all. We have just had a big dose of heat, and there are many brown patches in Tulsa’s fescue lawns that need reseeding. The good news is that it is about time to do so. The ideal time for sowing cool-grass lawn seed is from mid-September to mid-October. It is also generally recommended that a soil test be performed before reseeding to determine what nutrient amendments might be needed. Therefore, right now would be a perfect time to do this because there is time to get your soil test results back before time to reseed.
If weeds and/or Bermuda grass are present, spray the planting area with a glyphosate product. Two spray applications will be needed to fully eradicate Bermuda grass. One week later, the dead weeds and grass can then be raked and removed.
If the soil is compacted, it will need to be tilled (either by machine or by hand) to be receptive to the seed. A starter fertilizer, along with any amendments you might wish to use (e.g., organic compost), should be added at the time of tilling.
Read the label directions to sow the proper amount of seed to get good coverage, but avoid excess seeding. More is not better. After sowing, the top of the soil needs to be kept constantly moist (not wet) until seedlings are 2 inches tall. Then, change to less frequent and deeper watering to encourage deep roots. While there are no guarantees, this will help to improve the sustainability of fescue through the hot summer months. The grass should be mowed with a sharp-bladed mower after reaching a height of 3 inches. Another application of a nitrogen fertilizer should be made in November.
One of the common issues in reseeding cool-grass lawns is deciding what type of grass seed should be used. Unfortunately, there is not one that is bulletproof, and no one single fescue variety stands out as the best overall. Each fescue variety, individually, has its own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is recommended that a mixture (two or more species) of fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye grass be used to cope with various diseases. Another appropriate choice is to use one of several mixtures of tall fescue without the other turf grass seeds. Any of these mixtures will perform well and will be better than a single type of fescue alone.
One thing is clear — we live in a difficult area to grow cool-season grasses. Detailed instructions for lawn seeding are available in OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6419, “Establishing a Lawn in Oklahoma.”
Garden tips

• Always follow directions on the labels of synthetic and natural pesticide products. Labels will always list where the product may be used and which pest it is certified to cover. If you do spray pesticides, do it early in the morning or late in the evening after bees have returned to their colony.
• If your tomatoes are too tall and gangling, now is a good time to prune the top of the plants by as much as ⅓ to ½ depending on the plant. This will stimulate new limb growth and new fruit production after it cools.
• Tall fescue should be mowed at 3 inches and up to 3½ inches if it grows under heavier shade. Do not fertilize fescue lawns until it cools in September, then fertilize once again in November. Do not fertilize in the summer.
• 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. You can call the Master Gardener office at 918-746-3701 for instructions.

Sunday, August 18, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

How Best to Water Lawns in Summertime

How To Water Lawns in Summer
Tom Ingram: Ask A Master Gardener
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Q: It’s been so hot outside. How do I know how much I should be watering my lawn? JB
A: Keeping our growing things alive in July and August can be a challenge in Oklahoma. However, there are some general guidelines that can help.
If your lawn is primarily Bermuda (or another warm-season grass), it needs about 1 inch of water per week this time of year, while fescue (or other cool-season grasses) need about double that or 2 inches of water per week.
Whenever we tell someone this, the next question is typically something like, “Then how long do I run my sprinkler to get an inch of water?” The answer to that question necessitates you doing what we call a “simple irrigation audit.”
For a simple irrigation audit, you are going to need nine collection cups, a pen, paper and a calculator (most of us will probably need a calculator). Collection cups can typically be purchased from an irrigation supply store or you can use clean metal cans that might previously have contained tuna, cat food or perhaps tomato paste. You will get the best results if all your collection cups are the same.
If you choose cans, you can use a ruler and a fine-tip permanent marker to mark the outside of the cans in ¼-inch increments. Or you can just measure the collected water by sticking a ruler directly into each collection can.
To collect your measurements, place your nine collection cans about 8 feet apart in something close to a 16-by-16-foot grid. For best results, do this in one sprinkler zone at a time.
Next, let your sprinkler run over your collection grid for 20 minutes. After the collection period is over, measure the amount of water in each of your collection cups, add up the total amount collected (now it’s calculator time), and divide the total by nine because you were using nine collection cans. This will give you an average amount of water your collection grid area received in 20 minutes.
So let’s assume your average measured amount was ½ inch. This means for every 20 minutes your sprinkler system runs, your turf will be receiving a ½ inch of water. If you have Bermuda grass, which needs 1 inch of water per week, you are going to need to water twice that amount, or 40 minutes per week. You can split this up into two watering sessions per week of 20 minutes each.
If you have a fescue lawn, which needs 2 inches of water per week, the math says you would need 80 minutes per week, which can be split up into two watering sessions of 40 minutes each. This would not be a total for your yard, just for that zone. As you can imagine, each zone is going to be a little different, so for complete accuracy, you would need to repeat the process for each zone.
Performing this simple irrigation audit will likely end up saving you money, as most of us overestimate the water needs of our turf and end up “pouring money down the drain.”

Garden tips
·        August is a good month to start more crops in your fall vegetable garden. Bush beans, cucumbers and summer squash can be replanted for another crop. Beets, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, lettuce and other cool-season crops can also be planted at this time.
·        Discontinue deadheading roses by mid-August to help initiate winter hardiness.
·        Irrigated warm-season lawns, such as Bermuda and zoysia, can be fertilized once again; apply 1 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet this month. Do not fertilize these grasses after the end of August. Do not fertilize tall fescue lawns in summer; fertilize in late September after it cools and again in November.
·        Make a note on your calendar that our free Fall Lunch & Learn classes will be starting Sept. 17. You can find more information and topics on our website

Sunday, August 4, 2019 0 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

OSU Tulsa MG Training Program Enrollment Is This Month

OSU Tulsa Master Gardener Program
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener
Sunday, August 4, 2019
A: From time to time, I hear about Tulsa County Master Gardeners. Can you inform me about what they do and how to join that organization? Rhonda B., Tulsa
A: Even though the Tulsa County Master Gardeners have been around since 1983, many in the community are not familiar with our organization, mission and activities. Numbering just more than 400, these Master Gardeners are volunteer educators trained by Oklahoma State University whose mission is to provide OSU Extension research-based horticultural information to local home gardeners and the community.
Education is our primary mission. As such, you will find us around town at various venues, such as the HBA Spring Home & Garden Show, in K-5 classrooms and in senior living centers. As an example of our outreach, in 2018, we were in 87 different schools and 754 classrooms teaching a variety of science-based classes to almost 18,000 elementary school students throughout Tulsa County. Additionally, each year we host an Insect Adventure on the fairgrounds for more than 1,000 elementary school students, helping them gain a respect for the wonderful variety of insects with which we share this planet and the many benefits they provide. On the other end of the age spectrum, we were also in 30 assisted living centers interacting with about 400 seniors to provide a little horticultural therapy, which brightens their day, as well as ours.
Another way we fulfill that mission is by staffing a Horticultural Diagnostic Center at the Tulsa County OSU Extension office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Here, you can find Master Gardeners on hand to answer your questions via phone, email or in person. And while there, located just outside, you will find our beautiful Master Gardener maintained Demonstration Instructional Garden (DIG) containing more than 200 annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.
We also teach a variety of classes in the spring and fall called the “Lunch and Learn” series at the Central Library downtown, as well as yearly Urban Gardener classes at the Extension Office that include topics such as plant biology, soil chemistry, growing fruits and vegetables, lawn care, trees and shrubs, flowers and container gardening.
Other activities include providing educational booths at various festivals around town or, in May, you may have visited one of our homes on the Master Gardener Garden Tour. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity, we make sure these new homeowners don’t just get a house but also a beautifully landscaped yard. In an effort to help beautify Tulsa, the Master Gardeners spend hours planting and maintaining beautiful flowers in planters along Brookside and in the Blue Dome district.
So now that you know what a Tulsa Master Gardener does, are you interested in becoming one yourself? At 1 p.m. Aug. 7 and 10 a.m. Aug. 14, you may attend a presentation at the OSU Extension Office (4116 E. 15th St.) where you can learn about the requirements to become a Tulsa Master Gardener and fill out an application. This enrollment only occurs once a year, so if you have an interest, be sure to attend one of these presentations.
Garden tips

• Water all plants deeply and early in the morning. Most plants need approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Rather than watering daily, water less often and more deeply.
• Fertilization of warm-season grasses can continue if water is present for growth. Do not fertilize Bermuda or zoysia lawns after the end of August. Do not fertilize fescue lawns until it cools off in late September.
• Establishment of warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda and Zoysia, by sodding or sprigging should be completed by the end of July to ensure the least risk of winter kill.
 Mowing heights for cool-season turf grasses should be at 3 inches during hot, dry summer months. Gradually raise mowing height of Bermuda grass lawns from 1½ to 2 inches.
 Cucumbers may be bitter this time of year and vines quit producing. This is due to the heat. If you are able to get the vines through the summer, they will be fertile again after it cools, and the taste of the cucumbers will improve.