April 2014 / Volume 85       

In This Issue
April Lawn and Garden Tips
Compost Contest and Bin Sale
Ask A Master Gardener...

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

53 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

1.88 inches


4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: www.tulsamastergardeners.org 

Call: 918-746-3701 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:


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.
Cool Season Lawn Care (Fescue)
12-month maintenance calendar.
Warm-Season Lawn Care (Bermuda)
Ditto above.
Trees for Tulsa
A list of recommended trees with descriptions.
A list of over 60, by size and color.
Demonstration Garden
Visit our demonstration garden on 
15th Street, open 7 days a week.  
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 each year. Register at our office on 15th Street 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.

April Lawn and Garden Tips     
  • Warm-season veggies to plant this month are most of the beans, tomato, squash, pepper and eggplant.

  • Diseases which may need control this month include cedar-apple rust in apples and crabapples and fire blight bacterial disease in apples, pears, pyracantha and other members of the rosaceae family. Contact the Master Gardeners for recommendations.

  • Bermuda lawns can be fertilized three to five times per season using one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per application. Apply up to one pound per month April through August for a high quality lawn. Thoroughly water in nitrate fertilizers. See the Bermuda Lawn Maintenance Schedule at the end of this calendar.
  • Fertilize tall fescue lawns with one pound of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. this month, if you did not fertilize in March. See the Fescue Lawn Maintenance Schedule at the end of this calendar.
  • Mowing of warm-season lawns can begin now, mowing 1-1/2 to 2 inches tall. Mow tall fescue 2-1/2 inches.  
  • Most bedding plants, summer flowering bulbs, and annual flower seeds can be planted after danger of frost has past. This is usually mid-April in most of Oklahoma. Plant warm season annual after the soil warms into the 60's. Log on to www.mesonet.org for soil temperatures.
  • Let spring flowering bulb foliage remain as long as possible in order to replenish energy store in the bulb for next year. These bulbs are best fertilized either in the fall or in spring when tops first emerge using a nitrogen fertilizer labeled for bulbs.
  • Proper watering of newly planted trees and shrubs often means the difference between success and replacement.
  • Clean out water garden and prepare for season. Divide and repot water garden plants and begin feeding fish when water temperatures are over 50 degrees F.

Tulsa Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale     
If you pre-ordered plants from the Spring Plant Sale, your plants will be available for pick-up on Thursday, April 17. Master Gardeners will be on site to answer your questions, make suggestions and provide information to make your spring planting enjoyable and successful.

Plant Sale on April 17 - If you didn't pre-order, it's not too late. The sale is open to everyone on April 17 from 9:00 am to 7 pm. A wide variety of plants selected just for this one day sale will be available, including natives, proven winners and other hard to find plants. These plants are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. SHOP EARLY, DON'T MISS THIS!

Compost Bin Sale and Compost Contest      
Become the hero of dirt! Win the recognition of every gardener throughout Tulsa.

Saturday, April 26, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Cherry Street Farmers' Market
15th Street between Peoria & Lewis Avenues

There are two ways to enter. Bring your compost to the Tulsa County OSU Extension Service at 4116 East 15th Street on Friday, April 25, from 9 am to 4 pm or bring it the M.e.t. and Tulsa Master Gardeners Booth between 7 am and 9 am on Saturday, April 26.

Submit your compost in the bottom half of a cut-off milk jug with no identifying marks. Include your compost "recipe" on an index card, or fill out the information form at composteverything.net. Judging will begin at 9 am on Saturday, April 26. Winners will be announced at 10 am Trophies and prizes will be awarded to First Place, Second Place, Third Place and to Best Compost Recipe.

Trees will be given away three times each day from the center of the Master Gardener booth. Times will be posted at the booth. We hope to see you there!

Basic Chick Care for Beginners       
If you read last month's article on backyard chickens and have decided you'd like to give them a try, you'll find that caring for chicks is relatively easy. For the first few weeks of their life, chicks simply need a clean brooder, food, water, and warmth. 

Have your brooder assembled and in place before bringing your chicks home. A large plastic bin with handles on either side will work just fine for up to about seven chicks. Set up your nursery in a protected area free from drafts and curious pets. You will also need access to an electric outlet and a surface, such as a table, to secure the heat lamp.

Line the bottom of the bin with some sort of absorbent litter such as peat moss, pine shavings, shredded paper, or coarse sand. Provide a small waterer, feeder, heat lamp, and a protective screen for the top of the bin. Fill the waterer with clean tap water, and the feeder with starter feed only. Do not use layer feed, scratch, or treats at this time.

If you have purchased day old chicks from a hatchery, they will most likely arrive in a small cardboard box. Immediately place them in the prepared bin and introduce each chick to the water by gently pushing his beak into the liquid. They will pick up on swallowing pretty quickly and will soon after find their food. Older chicks purchased locally or from a ranch supply store should have already been introduced to food and water.

Once you are sure your chicks are eating and drinking, place the protective screen cover on top of the bin and turn on the heat lamp. For the first week, keep the lamp at a height that will maintain an even 95 degrees inside the bin. Fix the lamp to one side of the bin allowing the chicks to come and go under the warmth of the lamp as necessary. Each week, raise the lamp to reduce the temperature by five degrees. Repeat this process until the chicks have feathered out and are then ready to be transferred to a coop. 

Monitor your chicks frequently throughout the day. They will periodically sleep, eat, drink, and peep.  A normal, healthy chick is active and relatively quiet. Make sure the waterer and feeder are kept clean and full at all times. Replace soiled litter as needed. Keep the brooder at an even temperature, and your chicks should thrive. 

Spring Prep for Your Water Garden           
Spring is on the horizon and your sleeping pond is ready to awaken, so help your pond or water garden make a healthy and stress-free transition back to life.  Remember that spring is a critical time to ensure you have a healthy and enjoyable pond system for the rest of the year so, before you "fire up" the water garden for its first use, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Pond and Water: The most important task in preparing a pond for the new season is to eliminate any leftover organic residue. If there has been an accumulation of leaves and other debris over the winter, clean the organic matter from the pond bottom with a net or pond vacuum. Note that rotting leaves can actually raise the water acidity. Early spring is a good time to consider a partial water change of up to 50%. Use your pump to partially drain the pond. Before refilling, let the water run a few minutes to flush the pipes.  Add a water conditioner. Check the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. If any of the levels are too high, you should do a partial water change, but do not completely drain and clean your pond as that will actually interfere with algae control and destroy your fragile ecosystem.

Equipment: Pond equipment should have been cleaned and packed away for the winter. If not, then make sure to clean all dirt and debris before restarting or placing in position. If pumps were allowed to run over the winter, they should be removed and cleaned. Check tubing, pumps and filters for obstructions and do a thorough cleaning. Replace UV bulbs, gaskets, and filter material as necessary. Turn on the pump to check that it is running properly and that the pre-filter intake is clean and free from debris. Check for leaks in water lines, streams, pond edges and filter boxes. Turn on the UV sterilizer after the biological filter is working properly and the water starts to turn slightly green.

Ecosystem: If this is a new pond, the best time to start the pond's biological system is right now when pond temperatures are beginning to rise above 50 �F (10 �C). As you run your pond, add beneficial bacteria and barley straw extract to jump start your pond into a healthy ecosystem as well as to prevent algae bloom.

Fish: First, fish need a careful inspection in spring following their winter dormancy. Check for any visual stress. Monitor the water temperature and start feeding your fish when the water temperature reaches a constant 50o F, but not before as Koi have trouble digesting food in colder water. Feed sparingly at first with  a wheat germ-based food until the water temperature reaches 60o F, at which point you can move to your full-season feeding program. Also, this is a good time to add medication as a preventative step, the proper amount of salt, as well as products to replenish vitamins and minerals in the water. Fish that have been kept indoors for the winter will need time to adjust to the pond's water conditions. A sudden change in temperature and pH level can have an adverse effect on the fish. That is why it is important to allow them to acclimatize gradually. Never pour or drop the fish into the pond. Watch them for a few days, as moving them can have a traumatic effect.

Pond Plants: Remove any dead plant matter. Divide and re-pot plants as needed. Fertilize plants to enjoy the maximum amount of growth and bloom in the growing season. Lilies and lotus should be fertilized every 3-4 weeks. Fertilize marginal (shallow water) plants every 5-7 weeks. Add floaters (water hyacinth, water lettuce) after the danger of frost has passed. Finally, add Anacharis to reduce algae growth.
Once you have taken care of these items and your water garden is tuned up, kick back and enjoy it and marvel that Spring is well on its way.

Question: I have holes in my maple tree that I thought were insects, but someone said it might be a woodpecker. How does one tell the difference?

Answer: There are two common causes of pencil-sized round holes in the bark of trees-insect borers and woodpeckers. The characteristic that separates one from the other is the pattern of the holes. The larvae of insect borers, after feeding inside the tree, emerge as adults through exit holes scattered in the bark. The most common woodpecker to drill holes is the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. As the name suggests, most of its diet comes from tree sap. Sapsucker holes are in patterns, usually evenly spaced and either horizontal or vertical. Many tree types can be involved, but maples, pines and birches are most common. Usually the damage is not life-threatening to the tree. However, the trunk or a major limb can be completely girdled, cutting off fluid circulation, killing the tree. All woodpeckers are protected by law, and they cannot be killed. To prevent damage, one can use barriers around the involved parts of the tree, such as burlap, or try to discourage them with noise or one of the commercial repellents. These are marketed to scare birds by sight, noise or used as a local repellent. The use of barriers seems to be the most effective strategy. Cover the area with burlap or wire mesh for several weeks, then remove and see if the bird's habit has been broken.

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