Becky Emerson Carlberg Shawnee News-Star Weekender July 6 2019 June. Time for the annual Oklahoma Master Gardener State Conference. Hosted by the Master Gardeners of Bryan and Carter counties, the gathering was held at Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) in Durant. I missed the Thursday night social, but no doubt the snacks and wine in […]

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Shawnee News-Star Weekender July 6 2019

Back of Insect Hotel

June. Time for the annual Oklahoma Master Gardener State Conference. Hosted by the Master Gardeners of Bryan and Carter counties, the gathering was held at Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) in Durant.

I missed the Thursdaynight social, but no doubt the snacks and wine in the historic white brick MasseyBuilding kept everybody happy. Next morning began the conference. One hundred seventy-eight Master Gardenersfrom across Oklahoma came.

David Hillock, Oklahoma State Master Gardener Coordinator, welcomed everyone. Camp T.U.R.F. (Tomorrow's Undergrads Realizing the Future) was a success. Our Multi-County Master Gardeners funded Piper Goodson, 8th grader from South Rock Creek School. The Master Gardener program is in its 41st year. Twenty-seven counties currently participate with 7,800 certified Master Gardeners (2018).

Front of Insect Hotel

Andrea Lashley led with 'Insect Hotels'. The SOSU botanysenior wondered what type project could attract pollinators, predators anddecomposers to an area but at the same time be sustainable and educational? An Insect Hotel!

The Bee B&B was constructed near the Biology Building onthe SOSU campus. A brick foundation keeps the hotel high enough off the groundto thwart ants, especially fire ants. Hollow reeds, bamboo and logs drilledwith holes of specific depths were lightly sanded. Edges were left as landing sites. No heat-conductingmetal nor condensation-plagued plastic tubing. The structure receives morningsun and afternoon shade. Its' slanted roof with 2'-3' of soil on top is toppedby moss rose (Portulaca) and watered 1-2 times per week during the summer.

The hotel is filling up fast. Wasps have been seen carrying caterpillarsinto the holes where they lay eggs and ends are plugged with resins andwaxes. The new insects break out lateras evidenced by pin holes.

Horticulture Consultant Steve Upson from the Noble ResearchInstitute was next with 'Sustainable Practices.' Did you know planting in rows is acarryover from tractor plowing? Plant beds are better for cultivating, verticalwalls make interesting gardens, high density planting and pruning increasesefficiency. Make the garden friendly towork in.

Healthy soil should have a loamy texture, depth and structure not like peanut butter caused by over-tilling. The most important practice for good soil health is regular application of organic material.

'Lepidoptera' was presented by Paula Pierce, an educator and Bryan County Master Gardener. The order is broken into 2 huge categories, butterflies and moths. Butterflies and moths have scaled wings. The scales appear as shingles stacked on a roof. Moths spin silk cocoons. The skipper chrysalis is on a thread. Butterflies hatch from a chrysalis made of hardened protein.

Moths. Everythingeats stocky bodied moths. They work thenight shift for pollination. Males have thousands of olfactory senses to detectfemale pheromones miles away. The antennae of moths are threadlike orplumed. At rest moth wings areopen. The large green Luna moth usessonar to disrupt predators. The largestmoth in North America, the Cecropia moth, exists only for reproduction

Skippers are unique robustbutterflies active during the day. Theyhave thin antennae ending in hooks that bend backward and large eyes. Their wings are closed at rest.

Butterflies. Daytime workers with long, thinantennae. Rest with wings maddinglyclosed which makes it tough for photographers.The Hackberry Emperor butterfly only lays eggs on the Hackberry tree"leavesare food for caterpillars. Ditto for theMonarch that exclusively focuses on milkweeds plants.

Statue in Park on the way to Insect Hotel

Some Monarchs liveyear-round in South America. Others use several flyways merging into one throughcentral Texas. Monarch Generation #0 begins in Mexico. #1 usually occurs in Oklahoma. In fall the larger #4 generation makes thetrek to Mexico to overwinter. Males have 2 black spots on the hind wings. The butterflies become immobile at 55 degreesF. In 2013-2014 Monarchs were spread over 45 acres in Mexico, but after asevere cold snap, the coverage dwindled to 2.5 acres.

Plant wildflowers. Plant milkweed. Plant 10 native milkweeds. Feed the caterpillars critical amino acids needed for life. Do not release butterflies at weddings or other events. These butterflies are not familiar with the area, may have diseases and usually die.

The Multi-County Master Gardener display

'Drip Irrigation' by the Director of the BotanicGarden at OSU, Lou Anella, was about conservationof water. Proper design, installationand management solves most problems. The spray system is least efficientbecause the pressure is too high leading to evaporation. The rotator is a bitbetter with streams of water moving through nozzles, but usually set thebeginning of the season and never adjusted. The soaker hose does not regulatewater pressure–lots of water at the front but little at the end. Drip Irrigation is best. Two types: (1) Inline Emitters spaced 18'apart and pressure compensated. (2)Point-Source Emitters with adjustable emitters which allow micro-irrigation from0 to 10 gallons/hr.

The 20th Anniversary Oklahoma Proven PlantSelections for Oklahoma just won the National Horticulture Award. Available on PDF file or hard copy for $10from the Oklahoma State Marketplace.

'Honey Bees', the topic of Master Beekeeper and ownerof 48 hives, Pat Tickel, introduced us to Apis millifera, the westernhoney bee from Europe that came to North America in flowers and fruit trees.

In the US are 4,000 species of native bees. Seven species of honey bees live worldwide. Early bee keepers raided and destroyed bee colonies to get honey. In the 1860s a better bee hive was created for easier management and removal of excess honey so bees did not starve.

In 1946 there were 6million hives. Society and farms changed. Hives decreased to 4.5 million in 2019. 148 million pounds of honey = $100,000,000. US consumption: 700,000,000 pounds/year orone quart/week. Most honey goes into food products. Little is consumed straight out of the jar,except at my house. Watch out for adulteratedhoney. Look on the label for 'Sourceverified.'

Worker bee. Jackie-of-all-trades. All females. Eyes have 7,000 lenses. Pollen baskets on hind legs. Wax glands under the abdomen secrete wax for honeycombs. The hypopharynx glands make royal jelly. The workers convert resin from woody fibers into propolis (wax and resin) to maintain the hive. Honey is regurgitated and put into cells. They will eat six pounds of honey to make one pound of wax. Pollen in a variety of colors is stored in the hive as a protein source. Workers only live 40 days after hatching. A worker during her life may visit 1000 flowers which results in only one teaspoon of honey! A lifetime of work for one bee.

The queen is the largest female with fully developed reproductive organs. The stingless drone is male whose only reason for being is reproduction. They have larger eyes to locate the virgin queen. Drones survive 3-4 months but in fall workers eject them from the hive. No drones will be found in a beehive during winter.

A new queen in spring will launch into breeding flight and may mate with up to 20 drones who have congregated in a drone area away from her hive. After mating the drones die. The queen returns to her own hive and begins to secrete strong pheromones the workers touch then pass along as information throughout the hive. The queen produces 2,000-3,000 eggs per day and may live 3-4 years dependent upon the health of the hive. She only mates once in her life.

The safest time tobe near honeybees is when the bee colony splits and workers are swarming withthe queen. The worker scouts havelocated a new place where the group will live.In preparation, they have engorged themselves on honey. The old colony has the remaining workers whocontinue on and tend virgin queens still growing in cells.

Three thousand-year old edible honey was discovered in thepyramids of Egypt. How? Hydrogen peroxide. When the honeybee collectsnectar, the carb is changed into honey through enzymes and minerals with aminute bit of hydrogen peroxide formed in the process.

Check out the Bee ID Guide:

Sustainable Gardens can be Beautiful

Last, but not least, was Bill Farris of Prairie Wind Nursery,a man passionate about 'Landscaping with Natives.' Bill remembers hefirst won money in Durant at the rodeo and later went to MIT (Murray inTishomingo) where he studied plant science.

Why natives? Builder landscapes are simply sterile. Nativesoffer diversity and interest; edible gardens of berries and food-scaping withsweet potatoes as ground cover. He isnot a purist but looks for plants that will survive and thrive inOklahoma. In the Tallamy study, a nativewhite oak had 478 caterpillars, but only one was found on the Bradford pear. Ittakes 6,000-7,000 caterpillars to raise a fletch of chickadees. Songbird populations are dropping. You still want your non-native Bradford pear?

Bill's Definition of Insanity: Buy new house, install Bermuda grass lawn,water every week, mow twice a week, haul grass to dump. In Edmond water usage in winter is 8 milliongallons. In summer it rises to 20million gallons. Wasting too much wateron lawns.

Nature-scaping. Plant native grass lawns of Blue Grama, Side oats Grama and Buffalo Grasses. Benefits of native turf: Less water, fertilizer, supports pollinators and reduces storm runoff. Bermuda holds water in the top 6 inches which moves laterally, forming hard pan below. The much deeper prairie plant root systems allow water penetration.

The Blue Mistflower blooms late summer. Its nectar feeds Monarchs during their autumnmigration. Swallowtail butterfliesappreciate Cowpen daisy (Golden Crownbeard).Moths lay eggs in the flowers of the Yucca Glauca. The seedpods hold the larvae as they eattheir way out. Natives.

The 2019 conference was amazing. Want to be a Master Gardener?