January 2012 / Volume 58      

In This Issue
Home and Garden Show
January Lawn and Garden Tips
Winter Vegetable Garden
Use Season Extending Tools to Grow Mid-Winter Lettuce
The Best Soil for Container Planting
Ask A Master Gardener

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

43 degrees 

 

Rainfall total last 30 days:  

0.83 inches

 

4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: www.tulsamastergardeners.org 

Call: 746-3701 from 9-4, M-F 
 
Visit us at 4116 E. 15th Street, Gate 6 at the Fairgrounds

Whether you call or bring samples of plants to the office, trained Master Gardeners will answer your gardening questions with science-based information.
Need More Information?

Click on any of the links below:

Butterflies

All about butterfly gardening in Tulsa County 

How to Take a Soil Test

How to collect a good sample of soil from your lawn or garden and get it tested at the OSU lab.
Understanding Your Soil Test Results
Once you have collected your soil test and gotten the results back, now what? Find out here. 
How to Plant a Tree in Oklahoma Soil
Show and tell.
Fescue Lawn Care
12-month maintenance calendar.
Bermuda Lawn Care
Ditto above.
Trees for Tulsa
A list of 50 recommended trees with descriptions.
Crape Myrtles
A list of over 60, by size and color.
Oklahoma Proven Plants
State horticulturists, nurseries and growers pick favorite plants, shrubs and trees for use in the Oklahoma landscape. See the winners for this year and years past.
Current and historical source of rainfall, air temperatures, soil temps and much more. Click on Bixby station.  

Back Issues  

Past issues of our eNewsletters can be read and downloaded.

Become a Master Gardener

Classes start in September. Register for more information.





 
Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services.
Green Country Home and Garden Show
Just Around the Corner   

The Tulsa County Master Gardeners will be on hand at the 2012 Green Country Home & Garden Show at the Exchange Center at Expo Square January 27-29. Have gardening questions? Stop by our booth and ask a Master Gardener.

January 27 - 29, 2012

Friday: 12 noon - 8 pm

Saturday: 10 am - 8 pm

Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm


January Lawn and Garden Tips

Garden

Lawn

  • Check on supplies of pesticides. Secure a copy of current recommendations and post them in a convenient place. Dilution and quantity tables are also useful.
  • Check that gardening tools and equipment are in good repair-sharpen, paint, and repair mowers, edgers, sprayers,
    and dusters.   
  • A product such as glyphosate, as found in Roundup and other brands, can be used on dormant Bermuda in January and February to kill all weeds which are green. Glyphosate is safe on Bermuda while it is dormant (brown) but will harm any other turfgrass, including Zoysia and tall fescue. Follow labeled directions, use when temperature is above 50 degrees. (HLA-6421)  

Landscape   

  • Don't forget that plants still need water in winter, just not as much. Water lawns, trees, and shrubs, especially broadleaf and narrowleaf evergreens. Double check moisture in protected or raised planters.
  • If you did not treat young pines for tip borers in November, do so before March. (EPP-7645
  • Inspect your irrigation system and replace worn or broken parts.
  • Control overwintering insects on deciduous trees or shrubs with dormant oil sprays applied when the temperature is above 40F in late fall and winter. Do not use "dormant" oils on evergreens. (EPP-7306)  


WinterHow to Have a Vegetable Garden in Winter 

So you want to have a vegetable garden in the winter? It's a tricky proposition, but can be done with a little planning and a few precautions. By following these six basic techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful winter harvest:
  • Select the hardiest vegetables you can find: All members of the Brassica genus are good candidates for a winter garden...including white and red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, brussels sprouts, collards, and kale.
  • Prepare raised beds: A winter garden must be well drained, since any water in the soil could freeze and damage delicate roots. The best way to insure good drainage is to plant winter crops in raised beds.
  • Pay attention to the average first frost (AFF) date for your climate: Set the sowing times of your winter crops so that they'll be 2/3 to 3/4 mature by the first frost. The harvest should then begin about one month after the AFF date.
  • Use mulch to provide insulation against cold: As plants grow closer to maturity, and as the AFF date nears, cover the beds with dry hay and/or leaves.
  • As the weather gets colder, mulch all beds under more material and cover them with plastic: Before the ground freezes, bury your winter beds under a foot of dry hay or leaves. This insulating layer will keep the ground from freezing in the early part of the season. Polyethylene or plastic sheets can also be used to seal in the earth's remaining heat. Insert short sticks into the corners of the beds to hold up the sheets and prevent any foliage from touching them and, possibly, freezing.
  • Harvest from the ends of the beds only: Open up only the ends of the bed and harvest from there. After harvesting, quickly and carefully close the ends by replacing the hay mulch and refitting the poly/plastic on top.
These tips and tricks should help you extend your gardening season through the cold days of winter.

 



ToolsUse Season Extending Tools to Grow Mid-Winter Lettuce 

Semi-hardy crops such as lettuce can be grown through much of the winter with the help of season extenders such as a cold frame, row cover fabric, or a garden cloche. As long as the leaves are protected from any snow, ice, or frost, lettuce can tolerate freezing temperatures and provide an inexpensive, healthy supplement to your winter diet. New seedlings can be started as early as February 15. They can be started indoors, and transplanted to a cold frame, or started in the garden bed with some protection.

A cold frame is a covered, raised vegetable bed. While its primary use is to harden off seedlings, it can also be used to host lettuces and make them available for harvest during the winter months. You can purchase a cold frame from a garden specialty store or make your own from 2" thick scrap lumber. Build a small "box" as you would a raised bed, with a sloped top. Make sure to seal the frame as tightly as possible. The transparent lid of the box can be made from a discarded window, or a polyethylene cover. For best results, situate the box so the slope is facing southward. For more detailed information on building a cold frame click here.

Row cover fabric is a permeable substance that allows light and moisture through while keeping snow and frost out. It is utilized simply by covering the crop with the fabric and securing it with lawn staples. A row tunnel can be formed by creating a frame from 1/2" flexible tubing arched over the bed. Stretch the fabric across the frame and secure with lawn staples to form the tunnel. For more information on building row covers click here.

Cloches have been used for centuries to extend the growing season. A cloche is a glass "bell" placed over the plant to protect it from the elements. A cloche can be as simple as a gallon sized milk carton with the bottom cut out, or as elaborate as a plastic bell with its own ventilating system at the top. These can be made inexpensively from materials salvaged at home, or purchased through specialty garden stores.  



The Best Soil for Container Planting  

Maintaining healthy soil in your garden is of prime importance to raising robust, productive plants. The same is true for the soil in your containers, but there are great differences in the requirements for these two differing environments. Container grown plants, whether they are flowers, herbs or vegetables, need enough light, air, water and nutrients to thrive. Commercial potting soils are specifically formulated to overcome the limitations of gardening in a small amount of soil.

A good potting soil must be able to provide air to the plant's root system by letting water drain away. In pots, water tends to accumulate near the root zone or the bottom of the pot, even with drainage holes in the container. Larger pore spaces, formed by adding pieces of volcanic rock and sand to the potting mix, allow water into the soil, then carry it out the bottom. This lets all those large empty spaces fill with air to supply oxygen to the root system.

However, a good potting mix must also have some ingredients to help retain moisture. This is where organic materials such as peat moss, sphagnum moss or shredded bark, come in. These materials cling to some of the water passing through the soil, helping retain it. You can also add leaf mold or compost to offer a wide range of plant nutrients to the mix. Some potting mixes are now available with a polymer ingredient that helps to retain moisture. Others have a slow-release fertilizer already added.

Good hygienic practices will help tremendously in producing great looking containers. In the fall when you clean up your seasonal containers, empty the soil out and scrub the pots with a bleach solution before storing them for the winter. This will help eliminate any disease or pests from the previous growing season. Then you will be ready to start fresh with new soil when spring arrives.

Recipe for Homemade Potting Soil
Concoct this in your wheelbarrow or garden cart to make a good basic mixture. Blend together 1 gallon each of: 

  • Peat moss
  • Perlite or Vermiculite (improves water retention and aeration)
  • Compost
  • Garden soil 

Mix thoroughly, turning repeatedly with a shovel. Any large chunks can be sifted through a piece of inch hardware screen. While mixing in sand makes the soil lighter, it will also cause it to dry out more quickly, so it must be watered frequently. Add a small amount of water if the mix seems too dry. Since garden soil was added, some gardeners feel the need to pasteurize the mix to kill any potential pathogenic organisms. Pasteurizing the mix is done by placing the soil in a baking pan with a potato embedded in the soil. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. When the potato is cooked, the soil is ready. You will need to use fertilizer to supply more available nutrients.  



  Q&A
Question: Can you tell me how to force Paperwhites?

Answer: Paperwhite narcissus are readily available in most garden stores now and are a great mid-winter pick-me-up! One good cultivar for forcing in named Ziva. They are easy to grow in your home and produce sweet fragrant flowers you will enjoy for several weeks. Paperwhites can be grown in a dish of pebbles, smooth rocks or glass marbles. Take a shallow dish with no drain holes. Fill it half way with the stones. You will need about 7 bulbs in an 8" diameter bowl. Nestle the bulbs down into the rocks with the pointed end up, then fill the rest of the dish with more pebbles. Now add water up to the bottom of the bulbs. This is where the roots will form. Place the dish in a dark place for a few days until the roots form and the bulbs feel tight in the pebbles. As sprouts begin to emerge, move the dish to bright light and enjoy watching the stems and leaves come out. Be sure to maintain the water level and don't let the roots dry out. The plants will be about 16" tall with a pleasing aroma, a sure-cure for the wintertime blues.

 

Question: What are the tiny white insects living in my potted plants?

Answer: They are most likely springtails. According to Barb Ogg, PhD, of Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County, Nebraska, springtails are minute, wingless insects that get their name from their unusual locomotor organ. A springtail 5-6 mm in length can jump 75-100 mm and floating springtails can even jump on water. The usual habitat of springtails is woodland soil, decaying vegetative matter, or on the surface of stagnant water. Because springtails infest decaying organic matter, they can infest soil of potted plants and become a nuisance in greenhouses.

These insects do not cause any real injury. Try to reduce a springtail infestation by eliminating moisture and humidity. If there is an infestation in a greenhouse area, avoid standing pools of water and draining saucers under plants. Over-watering may cause fungi and decaying organic matter; plants should dry out well before rewatering. Repotting plants may help reduce a springtail population. After repotting, use sterile potting soil. Insecticide treatments are probably not necessary although an aerosol insecticide sprayed on the surface of the potted soil might be useful. Use all insecticides as directed and only on plants that can tolerate them. 

   

Click here to send your question to the Tulsa Master Gardeners or see Answers to other Questions on the Web site