22 September 2017

Oct 1 - 7 Monarch Watch at Hackberry Flat Center

Join the Wildlife Department Oct. 1-7 to tag monarchs and watch them roost.
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Sept. 22, 2017
Monarch NR

Monarch butterflies will be tagged at Hackberry Flat WMA during their fall migration. (Jena Donnell/ODWC)

Annual Monarch Watch at Hackberry Flat Center

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will host a Monarch Butterfly Watch the first week in October at the Hackberry Flat Center near Frederick.
“We’ll be tagging monarchs in the mornings and watching them go to roost in a stand of soapberry trees in the evenings,” said Melynda Hickman, biologist for the Wildlife Department. The Monarch Butterfly Watch is a free event and registration is not required.

Morning Tagging:  October 1, 2, 3, and 7
After a brief discussion of butterfly basics, monarchs collected from the area will be tagged as a group. Meet at the Hackberry Flat Center by 9 a.m. for this hands-on activity. 

Evening Roost Watch:  October 1, 2, 3, and 6
An open air trailer will take visitors to a longtime monarch roost site within the management area. Meet at the Hackberry Flat Center by 6:30 p.m. Bring a collapsible chair and light jacket for your comfort; activity ends at 8 p.m. 

“Hackberry Flat has so much to offer,” Hickman said. “We’re excited to be able to share this experience with butterfly and wildlife enthusiasts from across the state.”
Both morning and evening activities will be held regardless of weather conditions, but morning tagging activities will be limited to the number of butterflies available at the roost site.
“So many things can affect their migration,” Hickman said. “Changes in wind speeds, wind direction, weather fronts and potential storms can all affect how many butterflies will be at Hackberry Flat during the event.”
Participants can contact Hickman one to two days before their planned arrival to check on the progress of the migration at Hackberry Flat WMA.
To get to Hackberry Flat Center, from the south side of Frederick, take U.S. 183 south for one mile, then go east on Airport Road for three miles. Follow the blacktop road south and continue six miles. Watch for signs to the Center.
Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area offers 7,120-acres of wildlife recreational opportunities. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, along with many conservation-minded partners, restored this legendary wetland, creating a vast mosaic of wetland habitats for prairie waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependent birds. Upland areas of native sunflowers and cultivated fields interspersed with mesquite have become one of the state’s premier dove-hunting destinations. Open for scheduled events, the Hackberry Flat Center offers interpretive guidance for wildlife enthusiasts, students and educators. For more information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Participants of these programs are exempt from needing a Wildlife Conservation Passport or valid hunting or fishing license while on Hackberry Flat WMA.
For more information about this event, or other programs held at Hackberry Flat Center, contact Hickman at melynda.hickman@odwc.ok.gov or by calling (450) 990-4977.

Monarchs Tagged at Hackberry Flat Found in Mexico
“Visitors and school groups tagged 476 monarchs as part of Hackberry Flat Center’s 2016 Monarch Watch,” Hickman said. “This March, three of those tags were found more than 1,200 miles away in the El Rosario Sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico.”
“It’s amazing to know the butterflies we saw in southwestern Oklahoma made it all the way to Mexico,” Hickman said.  
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18 September 2017

Save Seeds Now for Next Year

Gardeners who save seed from their favorite flowers, herbs and vegetables from year to year are ensuring that their garden will please them. The seeds we choose to save are our favorite variety from the best plants, which means that they will be an improvement on the ones purchased.

Of course, money is saved by collecting your own seeds particularly if you usually purchase specialty seeds by mail order and add in the shipping costs.

Over years of saving only the best, the seeds available for the next season’s garden will produce top quality heirloom plants that are acclimated to your weather, water availability and climate, plus GMO-free.
 Save the seeds of plants with the qualities you prefer: Color, disease resistance, when they bear flowers or fruit, insect protection, size, length of storage in vase or basement, texture and yield.

Annuals are the easiest to save. Snip and save the seed heads of zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, petunias, columbine, dill, parsley, lettuce, kale, chard, leeks, etc.  If the seeds you originally purchased were of hybridized plants, the seeds you collect probably will revert back to one of the parents so it is more rewarding to use seeds from non-hybrid varieties.

If there is an annual growing in the garden now that you would like to have again next year because of its height, fruit size, insect resistance or yield, mark it with a tag of some kind so you remember not to cut it for a vase or cook with it.

Seeds that are gathered too early will not be mature enough to produce plants next year. If you are saving vegetable seed, the fruit has to be completely ripe in most cases though slightly immature seeds of beans, tomatoes, and leaf vegetables are often viable.

Fleshy fruit such as cucumber, squash, and pepper should be completely ripe. Tomatoes should be soft, cucumbers yellow and peppers red. On the other hand, once fruit has rotted, the seeds are deteriorated and useless. 

After the seeds are collected they have to be cleaned, sorted, dried and carefully stored.  For home gardeners this process can be done on a clear, dry day sitting outside or at the kitchen table.

Tomato seeds have their own requirements but it is worth the trouble if you have an especially good tomato that you want to grow again. Soak tomato seeds for a few days to ferment them. The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the container and the poor seeds will float to the top. Cucumber seeds can be treated the same way.

Seeds must be completely dry before storing.  After cleaning out the chaff, air-dry the seeds on newspaper for a week or two and change the paper once or twice a week. Large seeds of peas and beans can take 2 weeks to dry thoroughly.

Heat from a light bulb can be applied to the seeds but keep the temperature under 110 F.

Storing seed correctly will keep them alive and inhibit sprouting. Many gardeners keep their saved seed in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. If the seeds are completely dry, many types can be stored in a home freezer.

Store the thoroughly dry seeds in glass jars with tops or in envelopes stored in glass jars.  Mark each envelope or jar with the plant name before storing.

Baby food jars and others with a small rubber gasket are ideal because they keep out moisture that can damage the life of the seeds. Cans with tight lids work just as well as glass containers.

If saving seeds is new to you, start with something you love. Next year you will have your own heirloom plants to enjoy.

10 September 2017

Wingstem or Ironweed is Verbesina

Wingstem or Ironweed is classified as a weed by the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide but we planted it intentionally as a butterfly nectar food for our yard since its flowers are abundant in the fall when there is little else for our flying friends.
Ironweed or Wingstem is Verbesina alternaefolia

One if its other common names is Ironweed and there are several other plants with that common name, including Veronia novemboracensis which has blue-purple flowers in the fall.

Pine Ridge Gardens in NW Arkansas was the source for our original plant. It has taken several years for it to become 12 feet tall and begin to sucker out into the dry bed where it lives.

Since the blossoms are small we find a lot of skippers nectaring on the flowers. Oklahoma's Bina Flower Moth and Aluring Schinia Moth use these plants to raise their caterpillars.

Wingstem, a member of the Aster family, is definitely an American native plant and can be found flourishing in open fields.

Other plant relatives include Yellow Crownbeard (Verbesina helianthoides) and Frostweed or White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica).

As they mature in the fall, the petals of Ironweed flowers pull back or become reflexive.

There are 300 plants in the Crownbeard genus. They all have flowers that resemble miniature sunflowers, no matter which color they are.

These are not front of the garden plants. If you have a part or full sun spot where you can let them go, Ironweeds will thrive, providing nectar for butterflies, a nursery for moths and seeds for a bird-friendly yard.

03 September 2017

Garlic - Buy Your Seeds NOW

Worldwide, 2.5 million acres of garlic are grown to meet the needs of our kitchens and natural health pharmacies. Most of that garlic is grown in Asia, specifically China. CA has the largest growing area in the U.S. It is one of the easiest fall-planted crops you can grow in a kitchen garden.
Garlic can be planted from the seeds of the flower but only under special conditions so most of us just use cloves of garlic as seed. When you buy a head of garlic at the produce stand or farmer’s market, you break it apart into cloves. Each of those cloves has the potential to produce a head of garlic.
Garlic planted now will be harvested next June. You must get going on ordering seed. Most companies run out of stock on varieties.
You can tuck seed (cloves) into any sunny flower or vegetable bed or in a deep container where it will mature over the winter and next spring. We usually plant ours between now and Christmas.
Select seed from recommended garlic varieties to ensure the best crop next summer. Look for the flavor and amount of heat you prefer, of course. Some varieties have small or large heads; some are long keeping cultivars and others are best eaten fresh out of the garden.
For pickle making and roasted garlic we prefer large cloves. The small, flavorful, clove varieties are great to chop for pizza, tacos, salad dressings, stir-fry and soup.
Garlic seed = clove of garlic
  When you order garlic seed, you order not only by size and sharpness or mildness of flavor but also how long the harvested heads will keep.
The Rocambole garlics have the best flavor, according to the experts. Their names include: Carpathian, Killarney Red, Russian Red and Spanish Roja. They do not store well so they are grown for eating in the fall.

Purple Stripe and Glazed Purple Stripe Rocambole varieties store a little longer and have a more intense flavor. Those varieties include: Samarkand, Shatili, Shvelisi and Vekak.
Asian varieties such as Pyongyang and Asian Tempest also store well.
Artichoke garlics resemble what grocery stores call giant garlic, which is a leek or mild onion. Those include: Kettle River Giant, Lorz Italian and Tochliavri.
If you enjoy large clove garlic, try these varieties: Leningrad, Music, Romanian Red, Rosewood, Zemo, Bai Pi Suan, Bogatyr and Siberian.
Creole garlic stores well for many months and growers like the flavor. Varieties include: Burgundy, Creole Red, Manuel Benitee, Pescadero Red, Roja de Castro, and Ajo Roja.
Silverskin varieties store longest. They can be hot rather than complex in flavor, so they are recommended for sauté rather than fresh use. Some of the names include: Locati, Nootka Rose, Rose du Var, S & H Silver, Silver White and Wedam.
The early maturing varieties include the Turbans: Luster, Shandong and Uzbek

Garlic scapes June 2011
Sellers also refer to garlic as hardneck or softneck.  Hardnecks are more cold-hardy and best for northern gardeners. Softnecks grow well in mild climates such as ours, store longer, and braid more easily.
Plant the seeds in prepared soil, in a sunny location. Spacing is 6-8-inches apart, in 10-inch-wide rows. Plant cloves deep enough to cover with an inch of soil. Fertilize lightly with 10-10-10 or an organic equivalent, then water, and mulch. Keep the area completely weed-free and the soil moist to prevent shriveled heads. Fertilize again in the spring.
For more information: Online check out www.wegrowgarlic.com or the book, “The Complete Book of Garlic” by Ted Meredith, 2008, $40, Timber Press (timberpress.com) and $22 at Barnes & Noble (barnesandnoble.com).
You can also go to your local farmers' market and buy a few heads of garlic to plant. Separate each head into cloves. Only plant the largest cloves - they will grow the largest heads.

27 August 2017

Hydrangea Blossom Wreath - how to

Frugal Home Maker
This is such a good idea for a fall wreath. Hydrangea blossoms are in abundance and ready to cut.

The video from Proven Winners shows how to make one using a metal wreath form but you could use foam, grape vines or other materials.

This one minute video shows how -


So many variations are out there on the net! Look up Hydrangea wreath and you'll see one you want to make.

21 August 2017

Native Plants Best for Gardens

Going native is so important to our sustainable environment. Every native plant you add to your slice of Planet Earth makes a difference, even if you only have window boxes. You can start from seed or purchase plants. I've listed reliable plant sources below with links

By the purest and purist’s definition, native plants grew here before European settlers arrived. In contrast, plants brought into our area from other places and hybrid plants are non-natives.

Naturalized plants are those that were brought into the region as non-natives but escaped the cultivated area and thrive as weeds.

Wherever they originated, natives are low-maintenance plants that grow well without much assistance after they become established. The benefits to wildlife and to your appreciation of your gardening experience cannot be measured! 
Do as much native planting in the fall as you possibly can. 
Wild Things Nursery (www.wildthingsnursery.com) in Seminole grows and sells OK native plants. Owners Marilyn and Ken Stewart converted their acreage to a butterfly, moth and pollinator sanctuary. It is filled with native plants where they collect caterpillars (to protect them from birds) and raise them in screened containers.  
MaryAnn King of Pine Ridge Gardens in northwest Arkansas organized her paper and online catalogs into handy ways you can find what you are looking for. Herbaceous perennials; Grasses, Sedges and Rushes; Trees, Shrubs, Vines; Butterflies, Nectar, Seeds, Wetlands, and Xeriscape. 
Pine Ridge Gardens has several open nursery days coming up in Sept and Oct. Click over to see them all.
Also, you can research wildflowers by flower color at http://2bnthewild.com/tnxblue.htm if you are going for a certain color, for example, red to bring hummingbirds.
When starting to add native plants, think in terms diverse plant communities that include trees, vines, fruiting shrubs, grasses and flowers for nectar source.

Native plants for OK landscapes include cacti, ferns, annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs, trees and vines. The complete list is at http://1.usa.gov/10fRIHD and there are photos at www.oknativeplants.org.

If you'd like to see an entire garden of native plants, take a trip to Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesson Kansas. Their native plant sale is Sept 8 - 10. This link will take you to a listing of what will be available. 

If you prefer to start from seed try Missouri Wildflower Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, or check out this list from Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

13 August 2017

Master Gardener Classes Starting - Muskogee

Native Amorpha, Lead Plant
Master Gardener classes are starting in the fall and our extension agent is putting out the word. Re-post for your friends and/or call Mandy for more information.

Mandy Blocker, OSU Extension, Muskogee, wrote: "I am SO excited to be offering a Fall 2017 Muskogee County OSU Extension Master Gardener Class! 

If you or someone you know is interested, please have them come register at the Muskogee County Extension Office or call 918-686-7200 with any questions!  

07 August 2017

New Tropical Hibiscus

Tradewinds Hibiscus Keepsake Plants also known as Aris Keepsake Plants has a new line of tropical HIbiscus. They sent me one as a sample to try in our Zone 7 and it is doing very very well. The photo you see on the right is the plant they sent. 

The new line of Hibiscus has been bred to give us better plant branches and less bud drop than other tropical Hibiscus.
And, in fact, my plant has had zero bud drop. 

Tropical Hibiscus Sunny Wind
The only problem we've had is that the bunnies that live in our yard love this plant's branches and leaves. Now that it's up away from their little teeth it is thriving again.

The compact growing habit of this new Tradewinds line has made it an ideal plant for a decorative pot. Nothing droops, no pruning needed.

Other lovely colors include: Mandarin Wind, Pink Versicolor, Tortuga Wind, Brilliant Red and more. Click on the link above and see them for yourself. Bet you can't have just one!

29 July 2017

Tulsa Botanic Garden

The 170-acre Tulsa Botanic Gardens is located just northwest of downtown Tulsa at 3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive in Osage County. It's filled with lots of plants, walks and water features, plus a children's garden.

The focal point of the garden is the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces that features the Garden Cascade - a six-foot wide water runnel that flows down from the top of the hillside into the lake. In the spring, thousands of bulbs are in bloom and are one of the most impressive in the region. 

Visitors can explore the four levels located in the terraces and enjoy the trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, roses and perennials, while taking in the views of downtown Tulsa.

The Children's Discovery Garden is a favorite spot. The Spring Giant is a 15 ft. stone face that is the focal point of an experience-based learning garden.

This wonderland garden covers 2-acres and includes a Sensory Walk, Art Wall, Tree Fort and lots of hands-on activities.

There's also a Visitor Center to check out and learn more about the history of the gardens and future plans.

We love the Lakeside Promenade that surrounds a seven-acre lake. It's  the main pathway from each garden section, featuring a three-quarter mile pathway surrounded with plants and art.

This link will take you to the calendar of events.

Aug 5 & 6 - Worm Composting
Aug 12 - Astronomy Night
Aug 19 - Honeybee Appreciation Day

There are many more - click over and find out what works for your schedule and interests.

23 July 2017

Dwarf Shrubs talk at Hosta Connection 7/25

Tuesday,  July 25, 2017 in the Tulsa Garden Center Ballroom (Downstairs) , 2435 S. Peoria Ave, Tulsa at 6:30 pm for Hospitality 7:30 pm for Program

We welcome Cherlyn Wilhelm Reeves of Tom's Outdoor Living as our speaker Tuesday.   She will enlighten us on dwarf shrubs you can utilize in your landscape to reduce your trimming tasks as well as using hostas in your landscapes.

You can sign up for hosta clothes to  wear for the plant sale on September 16th, sign up for the fall trip on September 23rd.

https://www.facebook.com/HostaConnection and www.hostaconnectiontulsa.com

Also -
Sue Howard has invited us to Philadelphia to attend the national hosta conference on June 20-23, 2018 (https://www.ahs2018philly.org/).  She says it is a 16 hour drive from Tulsa.  

She would love to see us and show us her garden.  I will have a sign up sheet.  Longwood garden is 15 miles away. If people are interested, I will work up a trip.

17 July 2017

Butterfly Papilion at Honor Heights Park

This is an ideal time to visit the Butterfly Papilion at Honor Heights Park. The days are finally hot enough to get the butterflies going. The Papilion is an open-air butterfly house with 26 native butterfly species, a teaching garden with lots of host and nectar plants, and a new children's garden.

There's plenty of free parking at Honor Heights Park and the Papilion is next to a splash pad, a new playground and a 1/3 mile trail around the pond.

If you enjoy walking there are other trails both surfaced and primitive. Don't miss the stroll through the Arboretum across the park street from the Papilion.

Restrooms available. Accessible for handicapped individuals. Something fun for adults and children.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Hours of Operation
Mon-Sat 10 am-5:00pm, Sun 1:00pm-5:00pm 

$3.00 Adult , $2.00 Child/Student , $2.00 Senior/Military

10 July 2017

Sustainable Worm Healthy Soil = No Till or Low Till

Jo Craven McGinty wrote a worm-affirming article for the Wall Street Journal that was published in the July1-2 2017 weekend edition. Here's a link to the entire article.

Natural Farming
Worms turn 8,000 pounds of earth on an acre of land in two weeks, according to McGinty. The worm tunnels aerate the soil and the castings (poop) fertilize the ground it squirms in. Darwin called worms nature's plows.

A recent study has been completed that concludes plowing kills worms, damages soil fertility, reduces soil's ability to absorb water and diminishes worms' food supply.

It can take up to ten years to repair the damage done to soil by conventional plowing.

Now 34% of US cropland uses no-till farming according to the USDA. Additional benefits include using less fuel and fewer soil improvements.

Did you know that when summer heats up worms move 18-inches down into the soil to protect themselves from the heat? Here's an interesting Purdue U. article about worms.

The University College Dublin conducted similar research and reported similar findings in May, 2017. “What we see is a systematic decline in the earthworm population in the soil after continued ploughing and a significant increase in the abundance of earthworms in less disturbed soil,although some soils would need more than 10 years to show good signs of recovery” says Associate Professor Olaf Schmidt, from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.

02 July 2017

Lilies and Day Lilies

  Both true Lilies and Day Lilies are blooming in abundance right now. What's the difference? It's more than just their names since they are planted, grown, divided and propagated differently.

 The top photo of a Lily in our yard
lily bulb
is a true Lily or Lilium that is grown from a bulb that looks like a garlic bulb.
True flowers are trumpet-shaped, bowl-shaped, funnel-shaped and recurved. They have six petals.

True Lily Propagation
 You can separate lily scales and grow more lilies from them as illustrated in the photo. Or you can dig the mother bulb and separate her bulbils (tiny bulbs surrounding the main, large bulb) to be planted into pots while they grow or plant directly in a prepared bed.

While most true Lilies have their bulbils underground right around the top of the mother bulb,
Tiger Lilies have their bulbils along their stems.
Harvest them and plant them in moist compost until green emerges and then put them into individual pots.
I use clamshell berry containers for the first planting.
Day Lily, Daylily, Hemerocalis

Day Lilies are Hemerocalis and there are over 30,000 of them that are registered and another 10,000 that remain unregistered by hobbyists. Their name comes from the fact that unlike true Lilies with flowers that last a week, Day Lily flowers last a single day. 

 They appear to have 6 petals but they have 3 petals on the top layer and 3 sepals on the bottom layer.  

Day Lily roots are dug and divided in order to keep them from becoming overcrowded, maintain flowering and to increase them in your (and in your friends') garden.
Day Lily Propagation

After digging around the entire clump, lift it, hose it off and begin to separate the many plants within. Each separate division is planted into prepared garden beds.
  The crown of each individual division of the mother plant plant is planted at the same soil level. It's usually recommended that you put a mound of soil in the middle and let the roots dangle lower in the hole so they are spread out for rapid growth.