The Shawnee News-Star Weekender Oct 19th 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg The ham bone had been in the freezer since Easter.  Our little cold snap inspired me to put on a pot of pinto beans to simmer with the ham bone.  Cornbread and collard greens rounded out the warm and filling meal on a cold Friday […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender Oct 19th 2019

The full greenhouse

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The ham bone had been in the freezer since Easter.  Our little cold snap inspired me to put on apot of pinto beans to simmer with the ham bone. Cornbread and collard greens rounded out the warm and filling meal on acold Friday night (Oct 11th). Good thing since I had pulled out, trimmed, repotted and moved plants allday.  Saturday morning the temp droppedto 31 degrees at my house (28 degrees in OKC). The tropicals happily kept warm in the heated greenhouse.  The citrus trees were zipped up in their plasticbubble with heater.  The outdoor plants weatheredthe cold with gusto.

In September, Dr. Yoon Kim, Shawnee feral bee rescuer andbeekeeper, discussed honey bees with the Multi-County Master Gardeners.  He is currently putting together an order forbee packages scheduled for arrival next March. A bee package weighs about 3pounds and contains worker bees (10,000-12,000), a queen bee housed in her owncage and nutritious sugar syrup within an open-screened box.  Each package costs about $130 plus shipping. 

When the package arrives, a hive should be set up and waiting.Online starter beehives are available as well as bee tutorials on how to begin.  Dr. Kim will help those interested in tryingtheir hand at beekeeping.  The MasterGardeners submitted their orders for bee packages last Wednesday.  If you are interested, have questions or wantto add your name to the list, there's still time.  Contact Dr. Kim at 405-432-9352, through,or e-mail at 

'Current Challenges in Horticulture and landscapeArchitecture' Conference was held October 10th in the Wes WatkinsCenter at Oklahoma State University.  Venezuela'slast glacier, the Humboldt, is about to melt away.  Bird species are decreasing.  Have your attention?

Dr. Niels Maness introduced 'Diabetes to Cancer.'   Oklahoma ranks nearly #1 in the three types of diabetes (14% of OK adults).   Maness and his team began their pilot pecan project January 2019 to examine medicinal and nutraceutical values of pecan fruits. Pecan oil is highly mono-unsaturated, heart healthy and fights inflammation.   Oklahoma is in the native pecan range.   Maness's research has demonstrated external application of pecan oil can stop bleeding of wounds and allow faster healing with less infection. It helps that this year's pecan crop may be one of the largest in years.

Another great way to have pecans

Eastern Redcedar (ERC) and cancer therapy is anotherproject.  ERC foliage contains Ptox(podophyllotoxin), used in anti-cancer therapy. Currently the plan is to scale up the processes of extraction,purification and develop a business plan.

Dr. Cheryl Mihalka is a champion of regional gardens.  In 'Native is not Enough', she has observed westruggle to have gardens and yards fit European standards.  We need to pattern our gardens after the locallandscape.  Celebrate where you are.  Ecoregions offer strategies for garden design.  Look at the natural plant communities andarrangement of natural elements.  Observethe grasses, sumacs, redbuds in open areas, rocks, wildflowers and groves oftrees.  Repeat this in your owngarden.  Utilize your space and selectplants without mercy (not necessarily all natives) that will live severalseasons with tonal composition and color. If you must have annuals, put them in pots.  Create a garden with a loose feel andartistic design you will enjoy. 

Dr. Mike Schnelle educated us about 'The Relevance ofPlants' Origins.'  Oklahoma has over3,700 plant species;  the entire US has18,000.  Nativars (cultivars bredspecifically from native species) may not be at all like their parents andpollinators often do not utilize these variants.  The buttonbush normal fruit color is white,but the 'Sugar Shack' nativar has red fruits. 'Magic Fountain' weeping persimmon was a chance sapling that appeared2007 in a nursery in Tennessee with no hybridizing or breeding.  This mutation is on the market.

Trifoliate Orange produces bitter seedy fruits, considered an invasive from China and Korea, but has a silver lining.   The hardy roots support today's US citrus crops.   In the agronomic arena, Camellia sinensis, source of tea, is usually grown in China, India or Sri Lanka.   Artisan tea farms in the US are now sprouting up, and the large-scale commercial Bigelow tea plantation has operated in Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, for years.   The tea plants are descendants of plants from China brought over in the late 1700's.   They grow in sandy soils, receive 52 inches of rainfall /year and love their sub-tropical climate, at least for now.

Linda's hair and I at the conference

Sometimes exotic counterparts perform better in cultivationor not, such as Kudzu, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Chinese Privet.  Out-of-control plant reproduction can belimited by shutting down fertility using Gamma radiation, the market of malecultivars, or employment of chemicals or genetic based techniques to induceextra or fewer genes.  Native plantsthemselves may become problematic if their ecological balance is disturbed. Somuch can't be predicted. 

Dr. Misha Manuchehri explained integrated weedmanagement.  Herbicides take 10 years todevelop, but resistance, safety, nontarget hits and cost often encounter unforeseenproblems.  Plants are adaptive.  The future: application of naturalherbicides, use of tolerant crops and competitive breeding programs.

Dr. Renee McPherson stunned us with her statisticalcollection of weather data, climate change and future predictions.  She explained the external natural causes (Earth'sorbit, sun, comet) and the internal natural causes (oceans, atmosphere, landmasses).  Key Point:  Higher frequency of certain events or trendsindicate climate change.  The 2017Climate Assessment determined human influence is the dominant cause of therapid escalation of greenhouse gases.

Projection 2041-2070: 20-45 days above 95 degrees annuallyincreasing mid-century, summer low temps increase 2.5-6.6 degrees, decrease2-10% precipitation, esp in western OK, 5-35 fewer cold days, last springfreeze 10-25 days earlier.  Unless we adoremessed-up seasons and disturbed food and water supplies, our limited options:lower our energy demands and switch most solid and liquid fuels to electricitygenerated by sustainable carbon sources. Short term (next 100 years): usenuclear energy. Grow hot temperature drought tolerant plants and pest-resistanttrees.  Reduce, recycle, reuse. It'scoming.

Dr. Justin Moss deciphered the OKC and Edmond water resources, politics, pricing and maintenance of irrigation systems.   He couldn't emphasize enough the importance of conservation of water.  

Non GMO heirloom Emmer flour grown in Montana

The final speaker was Dr. Carol Powers with 'GeneticallyModified Organisms.'  What GMOs arenot:  plant breeding programs, crosspollination, chemical mutagenesis or human selection.   GMOs are transgenic crops involving genetransfer that do not naturally occur.  Desiredtraits may be insect and disease tolerance, increased nutrition, shelf-life or enhancedgrowth. The first GMO plant was tobacco in China in 1981.  The US Flavr Savr tomato arrived in 1994followed by squash, soybeans and corn.  Nocommercial GMO wheat currently exists, but the US soybean crop is 90% GMO, corn80% and Canola oil 50%-60%.  If not onboard for GMOs, buy certified organic. The bees agree.

Although honey bees may have originated in Southeast Asia and don't play a part in the wind-pollinated pecan, they need a healthy environment.   These insects are so important in orchards, farms, home gardens, and natural ecosystems. Eighty percent of US crops depend on the little honey bee.   I stood outside to take a picture of the hummingbird feeder swarming with my feral bee colony.   They flew around me, checked out my phone, face and pink hoodie.   These are the progeny of the bees that first colonized my shed more than fifteen years ago. Powerful sweet tooth.   Must be family!

Non GMO Maxmillian sunflower growing near Shawnee