IF WEATHER FORCES US TO CANCEL A MESSAGE WILL BE ON 918-686-7200.
As part of the Muskogee City Wellness Initiative's Gardening Basics seminar on Saturday, horticulturist Sue Gray will be talking about how to grow fruit in your backyard.
Gray was the host of Oklahoma Gardening on public television for over 200 episodes, is responsible for the Horticulture Industries Show, and is the point person for commercial fruit production in Oklahoma. Gray was the 2009 recipient of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service's Distinguished Educator award.
As part of her quest to help everyone grow some of their own food, Gray started a class in Tulsa called Green Acres. Through the program, Gray teaches retirees how to turn their dream of owning 10 acres into a set of reasonable goals. (Call 918-746-3707 or see www.oces.tulsacounty.org/)
If your land is ready to grow, you can add elderberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, grapes, quince, apples or cherries.
In addition to selecting a planting site and knowing which fruit varieties grow here, you need information on pollination, irrigation, weed control, fertilizer, pruning, thinning, spraying and critter control.
Pome Fruits (apple, quince and pear), Stone Fruits (apricot, plum and peach), Brambles (black and raspberry) and Heaths (blueberries) grow here.
Melons are members of the cucumber family and grow on vines. Then there are early, mid, and late season strawberries. Blackberries and sour cherries are easy to grow. Grapes and the stone fruits need the most spraying. Raspberries need mulch.
You can learn about drip irrigation, wind protection, frost, insect, and disease control by attending Saturday.
In addition, OSU Extension can provide copies of helpful Fact Sheets or you can print them from the links provided below.
Strawberries are the top fruit for home gardeners, with one quart of fruit harvested for each 5-foot row. For a family of 4, OSU recommends putting in 125 plants. See OSU Fact Sheet F-6214 at http://bit.ly/7u5Zsu and Fact Sheet HLA-6238 at http://bit.ly/4TyJGo.
Fruit and nut growing information is on Fact Sheet EP-7319 at http://bit.ly/7wKy1H
This fact sheet has charts and photos that guide the home grower from dormancy through harvest.
Pollination is required to have fruit of any kind. OSU Fact Sheet 6229 at http://mastergardener.okstate.edu/factsheets/F-6229web.pdf explains which fruits need two varieties in order to succeed and which ones are self-fertile.
Diseases - Fact Sheet EPP-7641 at http://bit.ly/7EDlsY details common diseases of stone fruits such as peaches, almonds and cherries. Color photos help homeowners identify the problem.
Commercial blackberry, strawberry and blueberry production is covered in Fact Sheet CR-6221 at http://bit.ly/6xTyzp.
Nuts, fruit, bees, and other resources are at Tulsa County Extension site, http://www.oces.tulsacounty.org/h.html.
Blueberries – Sue Gray's article for the Tulsa Master Gardener's Website on growing blueberries is at http://www.tulsamastergardeners.org/fruit/bberryprod.shtml
Oklahoman’s Guide to Growing Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables Handbook, published by Oklahoma State University, is available for $10 at www.hortla.okstate.edu/hortla/materials.htm.
A Kerr Center free on-line library is at www.kerrcenter.com/community_food/index.htm with links to sustainable fruit growing literature from ATTRA plus other resources. Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 918-647-9123.
The Oklahoma Fruit Growers Association publishes the Oklahoma Fruit Review, a quarterly newsletter. For membership contact: Dr. Dean McCraw, OSU Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, 405-744-5405.
More fruit growing information is available at the Missouri State University Libraries, Library of Fruit Science. Go to http://library.missouristate.edu/paulevans/frtlinks.shtml#pometoc
If you plan to come to the free Gardening Basics workshop on Saturday, please call the OSU Extension office at 686-7200 and let them know so there will be enough handouts for everyone.