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Oklahoma Gardening

Transcript for February 25, 2017

(gentle music)

>>> When you purchase a tree typically it's packaged in one of three ways.

It may come bald in burlap, which means that it has been grown out in the field, dug up out of that field

and the root ball has been wrapped in burlap and then usually it's contained inside of a wire basket

or it might just be wrapped in twine.

This is often referred to as B and B also.

You might buy a containerized tree which means the tree has been grown in a container

and up sized as it needed to be

Now these containers can be either fabric or plastic but they contain a whole root system of that tree.

You may also buy a bear root tree

and these don't come with any packaging other than something, some material to keep the moisture around those roots

but it doesn't come with any soil.

A lot of times when we buy trees online especially in late winter we might get a bear root tree.

Today we have a bear root tree

and this is what we're gonna look at planting.

A lot of times when we talk about bear trees we tend to think about fruit trees.

Now you can buy fruit trees at most nurseries

and those will probably likely be containerized trees.

If you're not finding the correct selection that you're looking for then you might turn to the internet

and again it will come as a bear root tree.

Now there's pros and cons to all of these.

Obviously if you're buying online, you don't want the weight of the soil so that's one of the nice benefits of bear root trees.

We bought some for our new orchard that we're establishing outside of our vegetable garden here.

And when you get this package in the mail,

you wanna make sure you open it right away.

You know how you feel when you've been traveling

and that's not in the cargo hold so we wanna inspect these

and make sure that they don't have any damage to 'em.

If they do you obviously wanna contact your supplier right away.

Now this looks good and everything

and so because they've been out of water for quite a while,

we wanna make sure to rehydrate them before we plant them.

So you wanna soak those roots for about an hour or two prior to planting.

You never wanna soak 'em for more than 24 hours

cause that can cause some damage to 'em.

Now when we plant we're simply gonna start digging our hole,

like I said it's a smaller tree so we don't have to dig quite such a big hole though.

(gentle country music)

Now that we have our tree hole ready for planting,

you can see that this is deep enough and it's just as wide.

We wanna make sure that we try to plant it at the same level that you can see the color change.

Now obviously the roots have been wet but you can see the root flair here and where the stems start right there.

so we're gonna make sure to get it at that same level.

One area you wanna make sure never to bury,

is this graph union right here.

Fruit trees are a lot of times graphed trees and this particular one that we purchased here is Bradley Nectarine tree.

Bradley is actually a selection that's a cross between an Arkansas peach

and an Arkansas nectarine selection.

The Bradley nectarine is known for having attractive firm fruit,

and so that's why we like this cultivar.

However, a lot of times fruit trees, the rootstock might not be as desirable.

In this instance, it is on Lovell rootstock,

which is a little bit more cold hearty,

and also is more tolerant of wet soils,

which is ideal for our Oklahoma clay soils.

So again, this is where the graft is,

and this is the Lovell rootstock, and then above this is the Bradley cultivar,

which will give us that nice produce.

So we wanna make sure not to cover that up ever,

and so we will then just back fill this with our native soil that we've already excavated from this hole,

and that way, the tree goes ahead and gets adjusted to the soil that it will be growing in.

If you put good soil in here,

then it might be that that root system stays in that good soil and doesn't branch out,

whereas we want those roots to really grow out.

So as I said, we want to back fill with native soil,

and sometimes that can be a little chunky or make blocks basically,

and so you wanna break those up with your hands so it's a finer texture to get down in between the roots.

And we don't wanna push too much because we don't wanna break those fragile roots as we're pushing that soil down on top of 'em.

So you wanna make sure to create kind of a well around the tree

so that it creates a reservoir for that water to percolate down over those roots,

and then of course, to help preserve that moisture in the soil,

we're gonna add some mulch around that new tree.

(jaunty music)

And then of course, we always wanna make sure that we label any new plant that we put in here.

You can see we've got quite a tree ring around this established,

and we're gonna put more mulch in here,

but if you're putting this out in your lawn,

you wanna make sure that you have a significant tree ring to protect it from a weedeater or any lawn mower or anything like that.

Now, the last thing that we're gonna do,

and you wanna make sure to read your care instructions that come along with your tree,

because there might be some pruning that you need to do.

In our particular situation here,

this tree has not been topped or anything,

and so we do need to prune it.

Now, I know this looks drastic,

but we actually are gonna wanna cut this back to about 18 to 24 inches,

and that's because as a fruit tree,

you want that branch scaffolding to be much lower.

It'll make maintenance and harvesting of your fruit much easier later on as those branches continue to grow.

Otherwise, they might be up a little bit too high out of your reach.

So, here, we're gonna measure about 18 inches,

which is just right about here,

so we are gonna actually cut off all of this.

We're gonna find a bud,

and there's a bud right there, so we're gonna cut right above that bud.

So now I know we've just taken off half of this tree

and you feel like you've paid for half of this,

but this is really the best situation for this tree and it's important.

Some trees will already come with their top cut,

so it might be shipped to you like this,

and what's gonna happen is all of these small buds are gonna push out

and come out this spring and so you'll have your branching starting at this height here.

This will make for a great tree as it continues to grow.

We will check back on it as we prune it even more 'cause it tends to need a series of pruning each year.

While it might look drastic, this is tough love on a fruit tree

and I promise it'll make for a great orchard in years to come.

(upbeat music)

We've been talking a lot about the importance of watering trees,

especially in the wintertime when we haven't had much rainfall.

Well, I wanna show you a little bit of a tool that might be helpful for you.

You might remember we just recently planted a nectarine tree

and what we have here is called a tree gater.

Now, this is a woven plastic

that we will lay around the base of this tree here,

and this one's the low profile tree gater,

and it's suitable for putting underneath low branching evergreens

or other shrubs, but in this situation, we're gonna use it around our nectarine because the stem's not very strong yet.

What you'll do is you'll fill this up with a hose

and it contains about 15 gallons worth of water.

So, by watering with this,

you'll know exactly how much water you're putting on your tree.

When we're out hand watering,

a lot of times we think we might have been standing there for quite a while

when in reality we haven't been standing out there for that long.

Or, when we're watering,

the water's actually running off,

rather than going down into that tree root ball,

that needs that water.

This allows us to fill it up,

gives it 15 gallons of water,

and we know that it's slowly going to peculate down into that root ball.

You can see here on the back side,

that it has these little valves that allows that water to peculate down into that root zone.

Now this is one style,

there is another style that is more of a tent like style that leans on the trunk of the tree.

And that's more appropriate for larger trees.

It also contains 15 gallons of water, when you fill it up.

And you would want to fill these up about once or twice a week,

depending on the time of the year.

Now this is great for, this time of year when we're not gettin a lot of rainfall.

But I would suggest,

that come spring, you remove these,

because while they are porous when they're filled up with water,

when we have heavy rainfalls, they tend to act like a raincoat,

and they prevent that water from getting down into the ground below it.

So even though we might have gotten rain,

you might think your tree's gotten moisture, it might not have.

So take these off, when the spring rains start coming,

and then put them back on in the summertime.

One of the nice things about the Tent Gator Bag,

is that if you have a very large tree,

you can actually zip multiple bags together,

in order to provide it with more water.

Depending on how often you fill these up,

after they drain out, a lot of times, they'll just be laying there,

which serve as a nice visual reminder for you to water your trees.

(upbeat tranquil music)

I often suggest to people who are thinking about landscaping their yard,

to consider what it looks like in the winter time.

A lot of times we don't give much consideration to our garden in late winter, early spring.

But this is the time that we're so eager to get outside

and see some sort of life and to be reassured that spring is returning.

Hellebore's is a perfect plant for this situation.

You can see here, we have couple,

and they tend to get covered over with a lot of leaf debris about this time.

And so, now is when we come in here,

we're gonna clean up some of this old vegetation.

They're a hearty perennial from zones four to nine,

which means here in Oklahoma,

they will come back every year.

Now you can see that they tend to have leathery leaves,

and so they're almost semi-evergreen,

depending on how cold out winter's got,

these leaves will start to look a little more tattered.

This is what we're gonna remove right now,

just to make room for some of this newer growth underneath here.

Just gonna clean out some of these old leaves,

and also some of this, deciduous leaf that have fallen on top of it.

You can see there's plenty of new growth coming on,

underneath here as well as flowers.

They're a great plant because they come in a range of flower colors,

from maroons to creams to even a green color

and some speckled flowers as well.

Hellebore's are often called Christmas Rose or Linton Rose,

because that kind of covers the span in which they flower,

from Christmas to Easter.

So as this plant progresses throughout the season,

these leaves will get bigger and glossier,

and the flowers, they'll last for about a month,

but eventually they'll turn into a green seed pod.

As those pods mature, they will pop open and release those seeds.

And so a lot of times you'll see some baby seedlings coming up underneath the protection of the parent plant.

Now, Hellebore's do cross pollinate,

so if you have other colored varieties in your garden,

you likely won't receive the same color off of that seedling as the parent plant.

So it'll be a surprise.

You can transplant those seedlings,

and it'll take anywhere from two to four years before they bloom for you.

Now another little trick, is a lot of times,

our weather kind of varies

and so it might be too cold to get out and enjoy these flowers,

and if it is, or you know you're gonna have a heavy rainstorm coming through,

go ahead and trim the flowers off, about an inch down, the stem,

and then just get a nice container of water, a glass, jar of water, and float those in there.

It's a great way to display your flowers,

and all the ranges of colors that they come in.

Now in an arrangement like this, these flowers will last for about a week or two.

But it's a nice way to preserve them before the storm gets em.

Hellebore's they like dappled shade,

and so you can see we have em planted here underneath some deciduous trees,

which is nice, because it allows the sunlight to come through in late winter to get to these plants,

but shelters em from the extreme heat in the summertime.

They also like the woodland garden,

because it tends to have rich, moist soil.

Now, once they are established,

they are fairly a drought tolerant.

So, don't be too concerned if you have a more mature plant,

we've had a dry winter.

Because they do like rich soil,

they do benefit from a side dressing of fertilizer later on in spring

so we'll kinda come back and work that in to the soil.

Hellebores are a great plant and a great reminder that spring is returning

and something to consider for that winter landscape.

(calm music)

While it might not be Saint Patrick's Day yet,

as you prepare to get into the Irish spirit,

it's time to start thinking about planting potatoes in your garden.

Late February to mid-March is a great time to plant potatoes

and you might start seeing what are called seed potatoes showing up in your local nurseries and feed stores

and potatoes we don't typically start out with a true seed.

We start out with something known as a seed potato

and here we've purchased a bag of 'em.

Sometimes, they are sold individually in a crate and they come in different sizes as you can see here.

This particular one is Kennebec and they've already started to sprout there.

Now, if you have some,

this is a Yukon Gold here and you can see the size variation of these seed potatoes as they come in

and if you have a large one like this,

you might wanna think about cutting it up and it also helps to stretch your dollars a little bit more.

Something that's about this size,

you could plant it as is and get one plant but this one,

we can get multiple plants out of it.

Now, in order to cut these up,

you wanna think about where the eyes are

and these little growths right here,

all these little indentions are going to be what are called your eyes

and these will all sprout to make new plants.

So as we cut this up, you wanna think about cutting it into chunks.

You don't want to make slivers or anything like that.

You also don't want to just cut the eyes off

and not leave some of the fleshy tuber underneath it

because this tuber is actually a lot of carbohydrates that help supply energy into these sprouts to grow.

So if you cut these too thin then you're not gonna have that energy for these sprouts to grow.

So we're just really gonna look at maybe quartering this into large chunks.

You can see here we've got a good eye there.

Got another one there.

On this one, we've got a couple here

and then we're gonna cut this one as well

and these pieces all have eyes as well in there.

So these are great quarters.

You wanna cut 'em into about a one and a half ounce to three ounce piece.

So now we can have four potatoes out of that one seed potato.

Now, after you've cut these, they are wet on the inside

so you wanna cure these a little bit and by curing,

what it means is to let them dry out.

So this actually is a nice drying rack in order to do that

and you can see here we have some that we cut a couple of days ago

and they've already started to cure over

and so now they're not wet

and this helps prevent bacteria from getting into this seed potato and causing it to rot before it even has a chance to grow.

It just kinda creates a leathery covering.

It calluses over and so it's more protected in the soil against that bacteria.

Now, that does take a couple of days preparation

and if you don't have time for that,

another option to do is to go ahead and take these cuttings that you have,

get some powdered sulfur or some granular sulfur

and you're gonna shake that sulfur around onto those potatoes

and when you pull 'em out depending on whether you're using a powdered or granular,

it'll stick to the wet side of that potato and basically sulfur's a little bit acidic and so it's gonna kind of reduce the PH around that exposed area

and it'll help protect it a little bit better from any bacteria that it comes in contact with the soil

and so these you can go ahead and plant in the ground directly.

So that's just a little bit of a faster option.

Now, if you're planting these, again, you wanna make sure that there's one to two eyes on each seed potato

and when you plant them,

you wanna plant them about a foot apart and about four to six inches deep.

We are gonna plant ours in a potato tower.

You might have heard about this

and so we're gonna build one and we'll show you how to do that.

This is the potato tower that we'll be planting our seed potatoes in

and the idea behind this is that it will be a little bit easier to harvest the potatoes because instead of digging,

you're just gonna unclip the wire and simply knock the soil off of the potatoes.

The other thing is it's supposedly a nice space saver.

So again, we'll be able to grow several potato plants in this two by two foot space instead of a large planting bed.

Now, in order to make a potato tower,

we've used some rabbit mesh because we have a lot of critters around here and they might try to get in there

and get our potatoes and harvest 'em a little sooner than what we want so we used a finer mesh.

Now, you can use chicken wire or any sort of livestock, hog wire or anything.

It doesn't really matter too much on the size of the mesh.

This is about a five foot piece and we've just folded it over on itself

and we've secured it with zip ties.

You can buy metal loops to kind of tie it together but we've actually found that the zip ties work better

because again when we harvest it,

we'll just be able to cut those zip ties.

Now, after you have a cylinder built,

you're gonna wanna stabilize it to the ground somehow

and we've used rebar here and just zip tied it to the outside

and we'll put another one in on this side.

Now, depending on your soil,

it might depend on which type of rebar you wanna use.

There's a couple of types.

You of course have your regular rebar

and then you have this that has a winged piece on it

and this might be better if you have a looser soil or something

so depending on what your soil is and also what materials you might just have available to you.

Now, we're gonna build two of these.

We have one built

and the reason why we're building two

is 'cause we have several seed potatoes to plant but also we're gonna try two different methods.

One is to put newspaper down at the bottom

and put a couple of inches of soil at the base of it

and we're going to then line the outside of the cage  with some straw.

We've actually brought some straw here that's called chopped straw

and so this will make it a little bit easier versus some of the long straw that you would buy in a regular bale.

As we do this, we'll layer our seed potatoes

and we'll continue to pile more soil on top of it and layer more seed potatoes.

The idea is that each one of those layers of seed potatoes will grow out of the side so the plants will be able to get photosynthesis from the sunlight on the side

and as we continue to pile more soil, we'll have several planting beds of potatoes.

Now, for our other method,

we're going to put one layer of seed potatoes at the bottom,

cover that up with four inches of soil

and we'll let that set and grow for a while before we come back and heal them once again.

So on our traditional method,

we'll only have one layer of potatoes but on our potato tower we'll have several layers of seed potatoes.

We finished our multilayer tower

and now we've just finished our single layer.

You can see there's one layer of soil there

and we put the straw as kind of a barrier around the basket to hold that soil in so really,

the potatoes are buried in soil completely more so than just straw.

Now, we're gonna finish the top with straw to help insulate it

and preserve any moisture

and then we'll just water it in and we'll find out soon which one grows more potatoes.

(calm music)