Tulsa Master Gardener’s answers about fall planting, pests, pollinators and more – Tulsa World


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Tulsa Master Gardener's answers about fall planting, pests, pollinators and more

Each week, Tulsa Master Gardeners of the OSU Cooperative Extension Service answers questions about pests, planting and more.You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by the Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th St., or by emailing [email protected] If you are interested in joining Tulsa Master Gardeners, click here for more info.

Dragonflies are helpful mosquito-eaters

Dragonfly eyes have up to 30,000 “facets” and are arranged in a way that gives them almost 360-degree vision. This gives them a huge advantage when hunting for food and one of their favorite foods are mosquitoes.Each dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day. Because of this, dragonflies are sometimes known as “mosquito hawks.” They will also eat gnats, midges, flies and even smaller dragonflies, making them an entirely beneficial insect.Click here to read more

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Fall is the best time to reseed fescue

Fescue is our primary grass for shady areas here in Tulsa. It can work in areas with full sun, but you might not want to pay the water bill that it takes to make that happen.Fall is the best because not only do we have cooler temperatures, but when we reseed in the fall, the grass has the fall, winter and spring to work on a healthy root system that will do its best to help it survive our Oklahoma summers.Click here to read more

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The joys of fall vegetable gardens, and tips on planting garlic

It’s probably too late to start some crops from seed, but there are still a lot of vegetables you can plant, grow and harvest before winter arrives. And there are some that you can grow through the winter.Click here to read more

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Fall means it’s time to plant most trees and shrubs

The first and most important thing that newly planted plants (including trees and shrubs) need to do is develop a healthy root system. The smaller the plant, the quicker this usually happens. But since trees and shrubs are usually larger than the annual and perennial flowers we plant, it takes them longer to develop a root system capable of anchoring and feeding these plants.So, when we plant trees and shrubs in the fall, while the above-ground portion of the plant is dormant, or at least not very active, the tree or shrub is free to concentrate on growing roots.Click here to read more

Photo by IAN MAULE/Tulsa World

Catch mulberry weeds early to stop rapid spread

This weed gets its name because it looks a little like mulberry tree seedlings, but that is where the similarity ends.Mulberry weed is active in the landscape from April through November. Since these weeds can produce two to five generations per year, it’s easy to see how they can take over quickly if left unchecked.Click here to read more

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An easy fix for twig girdlers eating your tree

During late August to early October, adult twig girdler beetles emerge and begin to feed on the tender bark found near the branch ends. Almost as soon as they start to feed, they begin to chew a small V-shaped groove around one of the small branches. This is a process we call girdling.Click here to read more

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Milkweed tussock moth a welcome, cute visitor

I must admit I am always excited to see the milkweed tussock moth on our milkweed, maybe a little too excited. They look like little caterpillar versions of a Shih Tzu, all fluffy and cute… yes, I said cute.Female milkweed tussock moths deposit their eggs during June in white egg masses. These egg masses can be found on the underside of the milkweed leaves.Click here to read more

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Armyworm invasion can be destructive

We call them armyworms, but in reality, they are caterpillars on their way to becoming a moth.These moths will migrate south later this year in search of the warmer climates of the Gulf Coast, Texas or Mexico, only to return to Oklahoma in June next year. Until they leave, they can be quite destructive.Click here to read more

Photo by TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World

Extending your homegrown tomato reserves to Christmas

I know we are a few months from this situation, but in the fall when a freeze threatens your tomato crop, you can harvest all your green tomatoes.Once harvested, wrap each tomato individually in newspaper and store in a cool, dark place with temperatures somewhere around 55 to 60 degrees.Click here to read more

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'Bumper crop' of bagworms this year

In Oklahoma, bagworms are partial to eastern red cedar, arborvitae and other junipers but they will also feed on true cedars, pine, spruce, bald cypress, maple, boxelder, sycamore, willow, black locust and oak.There are 130 plant species in various parts to the U.S. that can play host to bagworms. This year they are so plentiful, you can even find bagworms on roses.Click here to read more

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Plant-zapping spider mites thrive in the summer

To confirm, you can hold a white sheet of paper underneath the infested plant and jiggle the branch a bit to see if any tiny little dark specks appear. Granted, this may cross the line for the more timid gardeners.Spider mites are in the arachnid family making them relatives of spiders, ticks, daddy long-legs and scorpions. The webbing you are seeing can occur in large infestations and serves to protect the mites and their eggs from predators.Click here to read more

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Troubleshooting tomato plant woes

The hot, wet conditions we have been experiencing are perfect for the development of fungal diseases in tomatoes.Brown spots on the blossom end of tomatoes would suggest blossom end rot, but the tomatoes in the photo we received have a different kind of brown spot. This one is indicative of a fungal disease known as buckeye rot.Click here to read more

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Ornamental grasses add interest to garden

If you do need to fill in some holes, consider ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses don’t always make in onto the shopping list.But many of them offer not only a lot of bang for your buck since many of them can get sizable, but they will still be interesting in the winter when many of our plants have lost all their foliage. Here’s some ornamental grasses to consider for your home landscape.Click here to read more

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Slugs can devastate hostas

Slugs seem to love hostas, and unless you know what to look for, they can be difficult to find because their primary feeding time is at night. Oftentimes it is the shiny/slimy trails they leave behind that provide the confirming evidence.Slugs are classified as gastropods, making them more like clams and mussels than typical garden pests. They also vary greatly in size from half an inch to more than 4 inches.Click here to read more

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Ideas for crapemyrtle replacements after deep freeze takes toll

If you want to replace your dead crapemyrtles with new crapemyrtles, now is the perfect time. While most shrubs do best when planted in the fall, crapemyrtles are one of the few that thrive when planted in the summer.If you want to use this opportunity to replace your freeze-damaged plants, there are a variety of options. Let’s talk about a few.Click here to read more

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How much water does my garden need?

Each garden is going to have unique qualities that determine how often it needs to be watered.For example, this time of year, the general recommendation is that tomatoes need between 1 to 2 inches of water per week. But even this recommendation comes with a bit of a disclaimer: The amount will depend on soil type, humidity and temperature.Click here to read more

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Think twice before destroying garden caterpillars

We usually know how to get rid of a garden pest, but should we? Sometimes the answer is yes, but sometimes the answer is maybe not.All caterpillars are on the way to becoming something else. We love the butterflies and moths, but oftentimes don’t feel the same about them while in the caterpillar stage. This means we have to make some choices.Click here to read more

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Preventing, treating powdery mildew

Many plants can be affected by powdery mildew including azalea, crabapple, dogwood, phlox, euonymus, lilac, snapdragon, dahlia, zinnia, crape myrtle, rose, pyracantha, rhododendron, spirea, wisteria, delphinium, oak, English ivy, photinia, blueberry, pecan, cucumber and squash.Unfortunately, there’s a lot of powdery mildew in our area right now due to our wet, relatively cool spring.Powdery mildew becomes apparent when you notice a whitish substance covering leaves of your plant.Click here to read more

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Tomato blossom end rot fact and fiction

Using antacids or eggshells or Epsom salts are not terrible things to do in your garden. They can be natural solutions to a nutrient deficiency in your soil if you have a nutrient deficiency. But they are not preventers of, or solutions for blossom end rot.Blossom end rot is pretty easy to spot, and the symptoms start to show up when the fruits are about half grown. You will first notice a small, tan colored, perhaps water-soaked area near the blossom end of the fruit (the part furthest from the tomato stem).Click here to read more

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What in the world are oak apple galls?

Galls can be kind of hair-like structures on leaves, they can be pouch-like, and others can cause deformities on leaves or stems. There are three groups of insects that cause these galls: aphids, gall midges and gall wasps.With over 50 varieties of gall wasps in North America, there is a high likelihood that your oak apple galls were caused by the gall wasp.Click here to read more

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Did the freeze kill your crapemyrtles?

We love our crapemyrtles and for good reason. They are durable, they grow fast, and you get flowers. This is why you see so many of the shrubs in northeast Oklahoma.But here is the rub. The upper limit of appropriate growing zones for crapemyrtles is Zone 7. We are essentially in Zone 7 so we should be good… right? Not necessarily.Click here to read more

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Take a Master Gardeners tour to get ideas for your own garden

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which plants would work best in your garden, and many of us fall victim to “analysis paralysis” as we overthink the options. Thankfully, we not only have great garden centers in town with people who can help you make good decisions about what to purchase for your garden, but we also have several opportunities to visit individual homeowners’ gardens in local garden tours.This is one of the reasons the Tulsa Master Gardeners have a garden tour each year. It’s one thing to see a plant at the nursery, but it’s quite another to see it fully grown and thriving in an actual garden. The garden tour is also a fundraiser that helps supports our programs throughout the county.Click here to read more

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Here's why you want plenty of worms in your garden

First of all, worms are diggers. To dig, they use a part of their body called the prostomium. The prostomium is kind of like a large upper lip that helps to dig and then move the soil into their mouths. Worms like to dine on decaying organic matter in the soil. After digesting this organic matter, they deposit their nutrient rich excrement (also known as castings) back into the soil.If you’ve ever been to an organic garden center, you will likely find bags of worm castings for sale since these castings make great fertilizer. It is estimated that each worm can produce the equivalent of 1/3 pound of top-grade fertilizer each year, but worm castings are not the only benefit.Click here to read more

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Confine your veggies to a container if space is scarce

While many of our articles on gardening are geared toward people with a yard, there are options for people who live in apartments, so let’s talk about a few.The first option that comes to mind for people living in apartments or perhaps renting a home where you can’t disturb the landscape is container gardens. Even people with lawns should not overlook some of the advantages of growing vegetables in containers.Click here to read more

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Facts about the big cicada buzz of 2021

Oklahoma is home to at least 12 species of cicadas, which include Brood IV, that are of the 17-year cycle variety. However, Brood IV was active in Oklahoma in 1947, 1964, 1981, 1998, 2015 and won’t be back until 2032. Even though it will be a few years until our 17-year brood emerges, the sounds of cicadas will still fill our nighttime summertime air.In Oklahoma, we are most familiar with what is called the Dog-Day Cicada. Dog-Day Cicadas have a life cycle of between 2 and 5 years. The cicada sounds we hear on Oklahoma nights coming from the trees are actually the male cicada singing to attract females.Click here to read more

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'Oklahoma Proven' picks for 2021

Oklahoma State University has a great program called Oklahoma Proven. One of the goals of the Oklahoma Proven program is to help identify plants that are appropriate to grow in Oklahoma’s unique, sometimes extreme weather. Each year they release a new selection of plants that are not only environmentally friendly but have been put through a series of trials to ensure they will do well in Oklahoma landscapes.Yearly Oklahoma Proven selections include a tree, shrub, perennial, and annual. You might be familiar with some of them, but they are always finding new and interesting cultivars to include in their selections. Let’s take a look at this year’s picks.Click here to read more

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Strategies for combating squash plant enemies

There are two main insects that are problematic for squash plants: squash bugs and the squash vine borer.Click here to read more

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Tips to be more successful with the top home garden crop

Let’s talk about a few things you can do to improve your chances for a great crop of tomatoes.The first thing we need to talk about is the type of tomato you want to grow. Tomatoes are broken down into two categories: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes produce a single crop in a year. They are a good choice if you want a large quantity of tomatoes at one time to either can or make into salsa or pasta sauce. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to produce all season long. These are good if you want to have a supply of tomatoes to eat all throughout the growing season.Click here to read more

Photo by TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World

Lure more birds to your yard with these three things

When trying to figure out how to attract birds to your yard, you need to keep in mind the big three: food, water, and shelter.So, the first thing you will need to do to make your landscape more bird friendly is to be sure there is an available food source. The easiest way to do this is to add a bird feeder to your yard. If your interest is in attracting a variety of birds, you should fill your feeder with a seed mix that includes both large and small seeds. If your interest is in attracting certain types of bird such as finches, you will need to get a different type of feeder that is built for thistle.Click here to read more

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Identify and deal with Eastern Tent Caterpillars

These insects are similar to the Fall Web Worms we see each fall, but they manifest differently.One of the main differences you will notice is the webbing. Eastern Tent Caterpillars tend to build their webs where the branches split off the main stem while Fall Web Worms build their webs out at the end of the branches. Knowing this will help you distinguish between the two. And Eastern Ten Caterpillars are out and about in the spring, while Fall Web Worms are more visible in the fall.Click here to read more

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Prolific predators, ladybugs are great for your garden

Ladybugs have to be one of our favorite garden visitors: right up there with butterflies and bees. Technically, ladybugs are called lady beetles or ladybirds although I don’t remember the last time, I heard someone call them ladybirds. Even though there are approximately 450 varieties of lady beetles in North America, the one we are probably most familiar with is the convergent lady beetle aka Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville, but let’s just stick with lady beetle.The good news is that lady beetles are great for your garden since both the adult and grub-stage larvae are voracious predators of other insects. While they have a wide variety of insects they will dine upon, the one we are perhaps most familiar with is the aphid. An adult lady beetle can eat up to 50 aphids a day, which is good due to the rate at which aphids can reproduce.Click here to read more

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Play it safe and wait to plant until after April 15

It’s one question we get thousands of times: “Is it too early to plant vegetable transplants?” It’s a question that usually starts to pop up in mid-February and continues throughout March.If you don’t know, the average last freeze date for us here in northeast Oklahoma is April 15th. Notice it says average, meaning we can have last freezes before this date and afterwards. Let’s look at some weather data from the National Weather Service to help underscore why it best to wait till April 15th.Click here to read more

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Tips to prevent rust disease in trees; why you should steer clear of Bradford pears

It seems like rust disease was everywhere last spring. There are a variety of rust diseases such as cedar-apple rust, Asian pear rust, cedar-hawthorn rust, and cedar-quince rust to name a few. While these diseases are not terribly harmful to their host, they can diminish the vitality of the host plant and reduce production on fruit trees. You mentioned Bradford pear, which is an invasive species, but first let’s talk about rust disease prevention.The funny thing about these rust diseases is that they require two different host plants to prosper. Cedars or junipers are the host during one portion of the life cycle and other plants like Bradford Pears are the host during the other portion of the life cycle. Asian pear rust is the culprit when it comes to Bradford pears.Click here to read more

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Take your garden to the next level for pollinators

While most flowers are good for pollinators, there are several key elements that will help take your flower garden to the next level for pollinators.One of the first things you are going to need to consider when planning your pollinator garden is that you will need nectar and larval food plants for butterflies. Nectar is the liquid flowers produce that serves as the fuel for many pollinators. These are the plants we tend to be familiar with and would include Yarrow, Columbine, Agastache, Aster, False Indigo, Ageratum, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Joe Pye weed and many others.Click here to read more

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Online courses help you dig in to gardening this season

One of the mandates for Tulsa Master Gardeners (the prime directive if you will) is to be a resource of university/research-based information for the people of their home counties. Tulsa County is no exception.Click here to read more

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Why milkweed plants are so important for monarchs

Eastern monarchs are the ones we see in Tulsa. These butterflies pass through our area in the spring on their way north and then again in the fall as they head south to their overwintering site in Mexico. Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects that migrate such great distances.The interesting thing about the monarch migration is that the monarchs that leave Mexico headed north are not the same ones that return in the fall. It is a multigenerational migration pattern that begs many questions like: How do they know where they are going?Click here to read more

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Raised-bed gardening has many benefits

When we are working with the standard in-ground garden, we are limited in that we are forced to use the soil we have. Yes, we can fertilize and add amendments to increase nutrient levels and organic content, but with raised beds, we have the option of starting with a higher-quality soil. This is a particularly good idea if your existing soil leans toward the clay side.Raised beds can be built in just about any shape you can imagine. We do suggest you don’t go over about 4 feet in width. This is because an average adult can usually reach about 2 feet into the garden. That will give you access to your entire garden space without having to walk in it, which contributes to soil compaction. If you have any physical issues, you can make your beds narrower so they will be easier to reach across.Click here to read more

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Get to know your growing zone before buying plants

The United States is divided into growing zones. Each zone is given a reference number. Tulsa County is kind of a 6b to maybe a 7a. I say kind of because each year is different, and some years are more different than others. The farther south you go, the numbers increase.These numbers are reference numbers to identify cold-hardiness zones. For example, if you had purchased a perennial that was rated for a cold-hardiness zone of 7a (which is what we would normally do), this means that your plant is rated to withstand winter temperatures down to -5 degrees.Click here to read more

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Get ready to grow potatoes

Once you have seed potatoes, cut them into about 1¼-inch chunks. Each chunk needs to have at least one “eye” or sprout. If the pieces need to be bigger, so be it. Once you have done this, put these chunks on a tray and let the surface dry out a bit. Be careful not to knock off your sprouts.The traditional day to plant potatoes is St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), but they can actually go in the ground a little earlier or later. To plant, place each tuber about 3 to 5 inches deep and about 10 inches apart. If you are planting rows of potatoes, your rows should be about 36 inches apart. Sprinkle a little nitrogen fertilizer near your plants about four weeks after planting and again a couple of weeks later.Click here to read more

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Digging into the facts on fertilizer to better your garden

The illustration I like to use to help people understand fertilizer is that of a lawn mower. Lawn mowers need gas and oil. The gas gets consumed, but the oil level remains stable … pretty much. If we relate this to the garden, nitrogen is the gas and phosphorus and potassium are the oil.Nitrogen gets consumed by plants and needs to be replenished or your plants run out of gas, so to speak. But as long as phosphorus and potassium levels stay within the preferred limits, you don’t need to supplement them at the same rate as you do nitrogen … we’re talking maybe adding phosphorus and potassium every few years rather than multiple times a year.Click here to read more

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Diversify your garden for pollination success

Squash is a cucurbit, and cucurbits produce flowers that are male and flowers that are female. You can tell the difference because female squash flowers have an ovary below the flower that essentially looks like a very tiny cucumber.The initial batch of flowers a squash plant will produce tends to be male flowers. Female flowers are added later. This could be one reason why your squash had flowers but no fruit.Click here to read more

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Identifying the dreaded rose rosette disease

Diagnosis is critical because there is no cure for rose rosette disease (RRD). Because roses will start to leaf out in a few weeks, let’s talk about how to identify RRD and what to do about it if your roses become infected.Roses with RRD tend to grow branches that are clustered together. This cluster of new-growth branches form the shape of a triangle (or a rosette) aka the witch’s broom. These infected branches can be pretty easy to spot because they really stick out as unique when looking at the overall plant.Click here to read more

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Water conservation saves money, benefits garden

Familiarize yourself with the water needs of your lawn and garden. I have a friend who tells me that up until recently, his neighbor was watering their lawn for about two hours a day, every day. I would hate to think what their water bill is, but I cannot think of a scenario where they would need to water a third-acre lot every day for two hours a day. This is water and money down the drain.Because most of our yards are probably a turf grass of some type, keeping our turf green during the summer is likely a priority. There is nothing wrong with this but know that different types of turf grasses have different water needs.Click here to read more

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Ready to start growing vegetables? Start seeds indoors

There are several plants you can start outside around mid-March: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and onions. If you want to plant these mid-March, you will need to either find plants at a garden store or start your seeds indoors before then. However, many gardeners know vegetable starts can be challenging to find at the beginning of March so you may want to think about starting seeds indoors.Vegetables that can be started from seed and then planted outdoors mid-March include beets, carrots, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips.Typically, your seeds are going to need five to six weeks indoors before they are ready to move outdoors. So if your target is to plant cool-season vegetables in mid-March, then we need to have our seeds ready to start germinating by the first of February.Click here to read more

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Nip improper pruning in the bud

For most of us, pruning is a necessity because proper pruning can enhance growth and blooms of most plants. However, improper pruning can ruin the natural look of a plant, as well as potentially weaken it and make it more susceptible to stress and disease.Pruning should be a process we engage in to improve the health, landscape appropriateness or value of the plant. Essentially, you are removing parts of the plant for the betterment of the plant, flowers or fruits that remain.Click here to read more

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Earth-friendly ways to managing garden pests

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is an environmentally sensitive approach to managing garden pests through a multipractice strategy. With IPM, we try to eliminate the pest problem through management rather than just trying to eliminate the pest. IPM practices include cultural controls, biological controls, mechanical/physical controls and, finally, chemical controls.Before we get into the specifics of IPM, let’s define what we mean when we say “pest.” As gardeners, we tend to throw that term around pretty easily, but technically, a pest is a living organism that can be harmful to humans, our food or our living quarters. But before we get all uppity about it, these living organisms are also just doing what they do, and there are more of them than there are of us, so…Let’s talk about IPM.Click here to read more

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More options for Earth-friendly pest control

We get questions all the time asking what can be done about this insect or that weed, etc. The person asking the question typically wants us to tell them something they can spray to eliminate the problem. I understand, but oftentimes, the simplest approach is the best: hand removal.For example, if you happen to have tomato hornworms devouring your tomatoes, you can just put on your gloves, pick the hornworm off your plant and then dispose of the caterpillars. Simple, to the point, and no other insects were harmed in this procedure. For many smaller insects, a strong stream of water is enough to get them off your plants and out of your hair.Click here to read more

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Keep tropical plants cozy inside during the winter

Indoor plants or houseplants seem like they should be treated the same as those out of doors, but there are some differences that can help ensure your success. The first variable is light.There are very few plants that like dark corners of the house, so light is going to be critical for your houseplants. Your best bet is to find a bright room with sunlight.If you do not have a brightly lit room, you may need to add supplemental light in the form of a grow light. There are a wide variety of these available, so just pick one that best meets your needs.Click here to read more

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Tulsa Master Gardeners answers about planting, pests, pollinators and more

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