SPRING IS BEGINNING TO SPRING!
MARCH 2023 / VOLUME 192
MARCH HORTICULTURAL
AND GARDEN TIPS

A variety of topics (Lawn & Turf, Flowers & Vegetables, Trees & Shrubs, and Fruits) are highlighted this month. So, learn about what you should be doing in the month of MARCH by clicking on GARDEN TIPS.
TULSA MASTER GARDENERS
2023 SPRING PLANT SALE
The highly anticipated Tulsa Master Gardener Annual Spring Plant Sale is back again. The online shopping cart is now open, but will close at midnight this coming Sunday, March 12th. But hurry . . . due to the high demand this year, some selections are beginning to sell out. Drive-through plant pick-up is from 7am to 7pm on Thursday, April 13th at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds Exchange Center (enter from Gate 1 on 21st street). All you need to do is navigate yourself to the fairgrounds, stay in your car and get in line. Master Gardeners will greet you and direct you to where you can pick up your plants. You don’t even need to get out of your car. Just pop your trunk and we will place your order in your car for you. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

As for the plants, like last year there are 256 varieties to choose from again this year, and there are some new varieties that you will want to check out. You will find not only quality flats of annuals but also individual pots of annuals, perennials, herbs, milkweed, ornamental grasses, tomatoes and other assorted vegetables. To help you search for exactly what you want, plants can be selected by category (sun, shade, natives, pollinators, fruits & vegetables, grasses, etc.) - a total of 18 different categories. Like last year, this year's event features many native varieties, not to mention some plants that cannot be found anywhere else in Tulsa. However, for some items (such as milkweeds) supplies may be limited. To show our appreciation for early shoppers, plant orders will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. So, be sure to order as soon as you can.

Your Tulsa Master Gardeners are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and, as such, receive no city, state, or federal funding. Public and private donations, contributions, and the Spring Plant Sale helps fund the many horticultural outreach programs in our area. Last year, thanks to you, we hit an all-time high plant sales record and we feel like similar results may occur again this year. We are so proud of and thankful for our patrons!

Before you shop, check out the our BRAND NEW short video describing the plant sale by clicking on MG PLANT SALE.

To start your shopping experience, click on 2023 PLANT SALE.
Happy shopping!

And to learn more about your Tulsa Master Gardeners, the organization, and the community outreach programs in which we participate, click on TULSA MASTER GARDENERS.
Note that this year's Tulsa Master Gardeners Spring Lunch and Learn series is being held at both the downtown library on Tuesdays and at the Hardesty Regional Library on Thursdays.
FROM GREEN COUNTRY MASTER COMPOSTERS
Many home gardeners have renewed or found interest in backyard composting. This composting can be as easy as raking fall’s leaves into a pile behind a garage and letting them decay naturally . . . or building compost bins for larger production. While producing more output, the larger bins do require more space, materials, and tools for producing and maintaining compost. And those tools are the focus of this month’s Compost Connection.

The basic tools for composting are nothing fancy. They include a pitchfork, a shovel, an aeration tool, and compost thermometer. Yard gloves, water hose, wheelbarrow, and other useful tools are also handy but are usually part of homeowners’ regular tool set.

Researching compost, bins, maintenance, and tools is recommended for novice composters. Depending on your sources, you are likely to find differing advice and recommendations including types of tools. You can add to your composting equipment as you gain experience and see what you need.
 
PITCHFORK: The pitchfork is helpful to aerate, blend, and turn composting materials. Get one that feels comfortable in your hands and it will be easier to handle and work. It will get lots of use. Conversely, a heavy or awkward tool will not be helpful in the long run.

SHOVEL: A sharpened shovel will help cut larger pieces into smaller ones (quicker to decompose), turn your pile, and blend / cover new ingredients as added. Remember that there are many shapes and sizes of shovels and pitchforks. Keep comfort in mind.

AERATOR: Aeration is important to keep your compost working. Air (oxygen) helps temperature control, keeps odors down, and moderates moisture. There are many tools and devices to help aerate your compost. It helps create a path for moisture and air. This is different from flipping compost to add new ingredients or to turn when you work in water to compost. 
   
THERMOMETER: A compost thermometer is another basic necessity. The internal temperature of the compost pile should range from 120-160 degrees F. If it’s not hot enough, it won’t kill weed and other seeds that shouldn’t be in the compost. If it’s too hot, it will kill the beneficial fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates that are crucial to the compost process. So, watch the temperature closely by taking readings periodically.

There are many online resources for these tools and YouTube videos of specific brands and types from manual to electric to gas-driven tools.
   
A couple of very handy OSU fact sheets on the subject are:
WEATHERING YOUR GARDEN
Our newest column for the monthly MG e-Newsletter will be focused on weather-related topics, courtesy of Frank Mitchell who spent 30 years as a television meteorologist including KTUL in Tulsa. He is now a member of the 2022 Tulsa Master Gardeners Class.
SPRING'S NEW EQUAL
March is a favorite month for a lot of gardeners. That’s because it contains the first day of spring when we like to get our green thumbs dirty! Spring is the second longest season after summer, but did you know that the first day of spring changes every year? This year, spring springs at 4:24pm on March 20th.

That day is known as the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.
Appropriately, Vernal means “new” and Equinox means “equal”. Our hours of daylight have been growing since the first day of winter. The Vernal Equinox symbolizes when daytime and nighttime are almost equal because the sun’s direct rays are shining down on the equator on their way here peaking on the first day of summer.

There are two reasons why the first day of spring changes from year to year. First, a year is not an even number of days, and neither are the seasons. Second, Earth’s orbit changes its orientation, which causes its axis to constantly point in a different direction. These changes affect the time the earth reaches each location in its orbit around the sun, and the pull of gravity from other planets also affects the location of Earth in its orbit.

When referring to seasons, this is the Astronomical Spring because it’s based on the position of Earth in relation to the sun. However, most people refer to the Meteorological Spring which begins on the 1st of the month. In other words, the Astronomical beginning of spring is March 20th, but the Meteorological beginning of spring is March 1st. Just like how most people will consider the beginning of summer to be June 1st when it’s also June 21st this year. The Astronomical seasons are not in equal length, while the Meteorological seasons are roughly 90 days each. Regardless, it’s time to get dirty!
AND, SPEAKING OF SPRING . . .
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS THIS
COMING WEEKEND, MARCH 12TH
PLANNING AN HERB GARDEN:
EASIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK
Do you like fresh herbs? Do you wish you didn't have to go to the store to buy them? Have you given any thought as to starting your own herb garden? It may be easier than you think.

Some of the most useful plants in the home garden are herbs. The seeds, foliage or flowers are used as spices or flavoring in cooking, medicines, and perfumes. Herbs are annual, perennial, and biennial. Before choosing your plants, consider learning about their lifecycle as well as reseeding and overwintering indoors and/or outdoors.

For information on herb garden options, which herbs should you consider growing, how to get started, and more, click on HERB GARDENING.
START YOUR GARDEN EARLY
WITH SPRING SEEDLINGS
Starting garden plants from seeds indoors can be an enjoyable project for any gardener. It's a relatively inexpensive way to grow a wide variety of plants. And many garden favorites are found in a greater variety of colors, sizes, and growth habits as seeds rather than as started plants.

Seeds are available from many sources, ranging from your local building supply store to garden centers and mail order catalogs. Their prices can vary greatly so it may be worthwhile to do a little shopping around first.

There are two basic systems are used for starting seedlings. Click on SPRING SEEDLINGS to learn what they are.
TO PRUNE OR NOT TO PRUNE:
THAT IS THE QUESTION
Pruning is an essential practice for maintaining the health, growth, and appearance of trees, shrubs, and other plants. However, it is very important to know when to prune, when not to prune, and how to prune properly to avoid causing harm to the plant.

Click on PRUNING for a general guide on pruning with tips and information to help you prune effectively.
USE USDA HARDINESS ZONE
MAPS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
If you’re wondering if those beautiful flowers that you saw on vacation will grow in your garden the USDA Hardiness Zone map is a great tool to help you decide.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service created it as a guide for gardeners and farmers to know what plants are most likely to survive and thrive in their particular growing area. Growing zones determine if a plant grows as an annual or can survive as a perennial in our area.

To learn more about this handy tool click on USDA HARDINESS ZONES.
PLANTS THAT ATTRACT POLLINATORS
Oklahoma is home to a diverse range of plant species that can provide an important food source for bees and other pollinators. The state's unique climate and geography have led to the growth of a wide variety of native plants that can help support local pollinator populations.

A few interesting facts about the importance of helping to maintain our pollinators:

  • About 150 U.S. grown crops rely on pollinators (~30% of our diet)
  • 70% of plants depend on pollinators to assist in their pollination
  • The #1 pollinator is bees
  • Pesticides are a major cause for the decline in pollinators

Click on POLLINATOR PLANTS to explore ten very common plants to grow in Oklahoma to encourage bees and other pollinators.
SIX CRABGRASS MYTH BUSTERS
#1 No prior crabgrass issues = no need for pre-emergent
Crabgrass seeds can be transported great distances, by the wind or by animals. And, weed seeds are viable for a long time in the soil. Best to treat the yard every year.

#2 Thick lawns don't need to be treated
While it is true that thick, healthy lawns are able to shade the soil surface and reduce crabgrass germination, there is no guarantee that the lawn will be able to maintain its lushness throughout spring and summer. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide can serve as an insurance policy on the off chance the yard suddenly loses its luster.

#3 Soil aeration breaks the pre-emergent control barrier
Because pre-emergent herbicides create a barrier in the soil, it is a commonly-held belief that aeration will disrupt this layer. There have been several published research articles that demonstrate no reduction of weed control with spring aeration.

#4 Spot-treating is more effective
The consensus among scientists is that this method is ineffective. It is better to treat the entire yard with a pre-emergent herbicide to create a complete soil barrier.

#5 Post-emergent herbicides are better
Pre-emergent herbicides have very little chance of affecting the established turf and require far fewer applications. Pre-emergent applications are easier to schedule because the products won't degrade if applied early. For the cheaper and easier option for controlling crabgrass, beating it to the punch by putting down a pre-emergent is the preferred method

#6 Pre-emergent must be applied at an exact time
There are several timing factors that people tend to go by, either waiting for a specific month depending on their region or monitoring soil temperatures. Crabgrass starts to germinate when the soil temperature has been above 50 degrees for several days. The most important thing is to remember that it is better to apply early than too late.

Bixby Mesonet indicates Tulsa County's current 2" soil temperature is 52 degrees.

In case you missed last month's article on crabgrass prevention, click on CRABGRASS to get the real scoop about pre-emergents.
HOUSEPLANT INSECTS PESTERING YOU?
SPIDER MITES
Indoor houseplants are a beautiful addition to any home. They can bring life and vibrancy to any space, and they can also have a positive impact on the air quality in your home. However, one downside of indoor plants is that they can attract insects like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects which can all be harmful to your plants.

Fortunately, there are several environmentally safe methods that you can use to prevent or eradicate these pests. Click on HOUSEPLANT INSECTS to find out what seven of these are.
DID YOU KNOW THAT ALLERGY SEASON IS HERE? (duh!)
Well, it's definitely that time of year again . . . spring allergy season. It starts with eastern red cedar, like right now. Soon to follow will be elm, maple, oak, cottonwood, and poplar, just to name a few. Even though the two articles below are for other seasons, both have some good tips on managing this issue, even in the spring.
 

DID YOU KNOW?

Since 1983, the Tulsa Master Gardeners have been serving the public by offering research-based horticultural information to residents of Tulsa and the surrounding area. The Tulsa Master Gardener Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) organization. As such, it receives no city, state or federal funding for its Tulsa community outreach programs. In fact, the Tulsa's Master Gardener programs are self-funded by its own fundraisers, from member donations, and from public donations.

The main Tulsa Master Gardener fundraiser is its Annual Spring Plant Sale that is held each April. Other fundraisers include the Garden Tour and Garage Sale in June. And, one of the most important income sources that sometimes gets overlooked are the personal and corporate donations. These are so important in helping us to meet our financial obligations and we want you to know they are very much appreciated. 

MG Endowment Fund
 
The Tulsa Master Gardeners have been around for over three decades and we plan to be around for many more decades. Furthermore, we are considered one of the top five Master Gardener county programs in the entire nation. We are because of the size of our Foundation membership, the number, diversity and activity level of our various community outreach programs, and our overall financial strength! 
 
So, we are pleased to announce, in partnership with the Tulsa Community Foundation, the Master Gardener Foundation has established an Endowment Fund to ensure our long-term financial strength. Our plans are to build this fund for many years before making any withdrawals from it. Please consider us as you make your annual gift giving as well as longer-term estate planning decisions. Remember, all donations are fully tax deductible! 
 
If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to help fund the long-term success of the Tulsa Master Gardener program, click on  
 
If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to help fund the Tulsa Master Gardener program's annual expenses, click on
 
We thank ALL of you for having been such faithful contributors both in the past and in advance for your future consideration and participation! So proud to be a part of the Tulsa area - such a giving community!

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You can get answers to all of your gardening questions:

TULSA MASTER GARDENERS
4116 East 15th Street Tulsa, OK 74112
918-746-3701
mg@tulsamastergardeners.org