Mid-May 2018 Grower’s Report

Here are several topics of interest to backyard growers, community gardeners and urban farmers for Mid-May planting and planning.

Weather Update:

The weather predictions from the last grower’s report of a warmer May were spot on in accuracy.  Many growers that were unable to get spring plantings in the ground early find that they are now maturing cool weather spring vegetables in hotter than ideal temperatures.   This can affect the flavor of the cool season crops and in some cases induce bolting of the plants into seed production.   An application of mulch or the use of shade fabric or shade micro-climate may buy the grower a few more days of production.

A shade micro-climate exists underneath the lettuce heads due to spacing that is keeping the roots cool. Mulch would have a similar benefit. Shade cloth over the PVC hoops would also be beneficial to shade and cool the lettuce heads to prolong harvest and prevent bolting.

The projections for the rest of May and into June are for warmer than normal temperatures and variable moisture.  That has been evident this week as while heavy rains have been forecast, many locations received none, while some locations have been flooded.   The projections for July and August have been for warmer than normal temperatures and drier than normal precipitation

CORN Agronomic Newsletter. 

Planting Update:

We are at the approximate time for the central Ohio frost free date.  Many growers have taken advantage of the warmer May to start planting of summer vegetable crops.   Soil temperatures in central Ohio as measured by the OARDC research station on 5/15 measured 67 degrees F at both 5 cm and 10 cm depth.  Soil temperature is a better indicator for planting than air temperature as it affects both germination and root growth.  With a 15 day projection for central Ohio of warm weather, it is OK to plant summer vegetables at this time.


Integrated Pest Management Update:

Cucumber beetles have been spotted in central Ohio.  These are likely overwintered adults looking to lay eggs at the base of cucurbit family plants.   Start scouting and prevention measures now.  FACT SHEET – Cucumber Beetles.  The goal is to prevent infestation and support young plants and seedlings.

When working the soil, the grower may encounter weeds or pests that should be removed to prevent future problems.    The grubs and bindweed growth were encountered when planting and were removed.

Grubs from Green June Beetles. These beetles can feed on the roots of desired vegetable, fruit or herb plantings and are also a problem in lawns.

The bindweed was not added to compost as it might continue growth and become a problem in future plantings.

Field Bindweed Management Factsheet

Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide


If you encounter pests, weeds or disease problems feel free to contact the Extension office with your concerns as well as send pictures to assist in identification to email mcdermott.15@osu.edu

Garden Planning Class in Linden on Tuesday May 29th at 6:30

There will be a FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC class on Garden Planning, Methods and Strategies at The Gye Nyame Center in Linden on Tuesday May 29th.  Bring your friends and your questions.  No registration needed.  Contact me with any questions.

Click HERE for a printable Flyer –> Linden ISA Garden Planning Class flyer

Directions to Gye Nyame Place 2830 Cleveland Ave.

Crop Rotation and Vegetable Families

One of the most important components of an Integrated Pest Management program for the backyard grower, community gardener or urban farmer is the use of crop rotation.  This was the topic of the second round of educational training to support the Buckeye ISA program.   Crop rotation means not growing a plant from the same family in the same spot year after year with a targeted goal of at least three years between planting the same family in the same spot.  Since families of vegetables share similar pests and diseases as well as can be affected by weeds in similar ways, rotating different plant families every three years can assist in breaking the life cycle of many of the pests and diseases shared.

Here is a list of vegetable families and some common varieties of vegetables in those families:


  • This is the Nightshade family,  some members are poisonous.
  • Vegetables – Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Potatoes


  • These are the alliums, it is a large family with long roots in agriculture.
  • Vegetables – Onions, Leeks, Chives, Garlic


  • This is a very large family – also called the cruciferous vegetables.
  • Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, mustards, collards, kale, radish, asian greens


  • Lettuce, artichokes
  • This also contains flowering plants such as coneflower, sunflower and dandylion.


  • Beets
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach


  • This is another very old family with many members.
  • Vegetables – winter squash, summer squash, zucchini, cucumber, watermelons and other melon fruit, pumpkins, mouse melon, gourds


  • These are the nitrogen fixing legumes.  The plant does not actually fix nitrogen, it is accomplished via a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria.
  • Vegetables – Peas, beans, soybeans, fava beans


  • This family is vast.  It has many vegetables as well as herbs.  Many members of this family are poisonous.
  • Vegetables – carrot, celery, parsnip, fennel
  • Herbs – parsley, dill, cilantro, chervil


  • This family contains the cereal grains.  This is important if cover crops from this family are used, they need to be factored in for crop rotation as a vegetable family
  • Corn, winter rye, oats


A good way to track your garden year after year is by taking a picture with your phone.  Most smart phones will take high quality pictures that are date and sometimes even location stamped.  Having an accurate record of plantings during the year will assist in future garden planning for crop rotations.

Integrated Pest Management Fact Sheet

Crop Rotation in the Vegetable Garden Fact Sheet







Managing Over-Wintered Rye Cover Crop in Spring

Winter Rye (Secale cereale) is a commonly used cover crop in backyard grower, community garden and urban farming operations.  It is cold hardy and can germinate in as low as 34 degree soil temperatures making it useful to plant after a fall harvest of summer vegetables that last until the frost date.  Once established it can tolerate sub-zero temperatures over the winter to start rapid growth in the spring.


Winter Rye does many things well:

  • Seed is inexpensive and easy to obtain
  • Establishes quickly and easily
  • Suppresses weeds
  • Prevents erosion
  • Can create large amounts of organic matter
  • Assists in suppressing pests
  • Scavenges nitrogen


Winter rye however can present a management challenge as it can regrow depending on what stage of growth it is terminated in and how large it is allowed to get before management methods are implemented.


There are several  different types of management methods that can be used to terminate winter rye.  Each has its place depending on what the need is for the cover crop, what management tools are available,  as well as what is the production plan after the crop has been terminated.  Management Methods:

  • Herbicide
  • Tillage
  • Rolling/Crimping

Herbicides can be used to effectively terminate rye at any stage of growth.  Tillage can have spotty success due to regrowth of clumps if the rye is less than 12 inches tall, and multiple passes may be needed.  Rolling or Crimping is more effective if the rye has gotten about 4 feet tall.  Keep in mind that rye at that stage is very large with woody stems and may be difficult to manage unless the producer has heavy duty equipment.

Rye regrowth after tillage. The rye was tilled 14 days prior at 10 inches tall then followed by rainfall which facilitated regrowth. Will need additional tillage or herbicide application


Rye was terminated in early April at 18 inches tall with herbicide (glyphosate) then compost was added prior to summer vegetables in May


Rye was crimped at four feet tall to terminate growth and left in place, then tomatoes were planted through the rye mulch


Each method of rye termination has benefits and concerns.  A careful consideration needs to be made about what benefits are needed and how that will impact production.  A few things to keep in mind when planning around spring management of winter rye cover crop:

  • Rye suppresses germination of seed after termination due to allelopathy.  It can take up to 3 or 4 weeks for that effect to subside.  Make sure to plan termination if early spring seeding is planned.  Incorporating the residue after termination can speed up breakdown of the rye to allow earlier seeding.
  • The smaller and younger the rye, the more Nitrogen is present.  Older rye with more stems has more Carbon present.  A ration of 25:1 (roughly the same as well made compost) strikes a good balance of preventing nitrogen loss and preventing nitrogen tie up to break down the rye. (Nitrogen Release from Cover Crops – SARE)  While this can be difficult to accurately predict or measure in rye, it occurs when the rye is starting stem elongation but before it gets to the boot stage. (Purdue – Small Grain Growth Stages)
  • The taller the rye gets, the more difficult it gets to manage.  Large scale equipment may be needed. Herbicides such as glyphosate may be less effective the taller the rye gets.

SARE Winter Rye Fact Sheet

Cereal Rye for Cover Cropping in Organic Farming – eXtension

Local Foods Guide Being Revised and Reprinted

The Franklin County Local Foods Guide is being revised and reprinted for the 2018 growing season. If you are a farmer or food producer who sells food products directly to consumers through an on-farm stand, CSA, or other direct-marketing strategy, we would like to list your operation in the guide at no charge.  Community farmer’s markets will also be listed in the guide.  There will be a printed and online version of the guide.

If you would like to be listed in the guide, please contact Mike Hogan at hogan.1@osu.edu.  Listings are due by May 21, 2018.

Onion Planting Choices – Seed vs. Set vs. Plants

Onions are a mainstay in vegetable production at all levels of  backyard growing,  community gardening and urban farming.  A producer has several choices of different forms that onions can be started from including seed, set or transplant.

Onion seed can be purchased from multiple suppliers and onions grow readily and easily from seed.  It is important to note that the onion (Allium) family seed is generally only viable for the year it is purchased and new seed should be purchased each year to ensure satisfactory germination rates.  Seed can be started in the ground early in the spring as well as under lights in a seed start grow station then transplanted in the ground in early spring when the soil is workable.  Seeds should be started under lights about 6-8 weeks prior to the transplant date and please note that onions are notoriously slow to germinate.

A common form of onion varieties that growers use for planting is onion sets.  An onion set is a live dormant onion bulb that was started from seed the previous year.  They are planted in the ground in early spring as soon as the soil is workable.

A third form of onion to plant is a purchased transplant.  These onion plants were grown the the prior year and come in banded bundles of 40-60 plants per bundle.  They are usually planted around early April in central Ohio.  They are a little harder to source than onion sets but generally will come labelled with what onion variety they are.  They may appear to be dried out but they are dormant live plants and need to be planted soon after purchase.


Each of these ways to plant onions can result in a good harvest and should be selected according to the management style and preferred variety of the grower.  The critical component for success is to know what day-length the onion variety is.  Onion size development depends to a great deal on the amount of day light they receive during the growing season.  The amount of day light needed by an onion variety to form a bulb is known as its day-length, and this varies depending upon what part of the country you grow in.  Central Ohio is a long-day onion location as we have a longer period of day light during the growing season as compared to the southern part of the United States.  Long-day onion varieties perform better here compared to short day varieties.  This is important when you make a choice of what form of onion you wish to plant whether it is seed, set or transplant,  that you pick a long-day onion variety.



Be careful when selecting what form of onion you wish to plant that you can verify if it is long-day vs. short-day to maximize production.

Illinois Extension Factsheet on Growing Onions


Weather Update for Late April 2018

To say that this spring has been challenging to producers has been an understatement.  The below normal cold temperatures and above average precipitation has adjusted many production plans and caused growers to delay their planting schedules.

Central Ohio soil temperatures are currently in the mid to low forty degree range.    The 15 day forecast shows a warming by this weekend with temperature outlooks to the mid-sixties as the highs with lows in the mid-forties during this 15 day period.  May is forecast to be slightly warmer than normal with precipitation in the normal to above normal range.

The summer weather predictions are currently for above normal temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation.

C.O.R.N.  Agronomic Newsletter

NWS/NOAA Climate Prediction Center


Food Preservation Class Series in Groveport

I am pleased to assist my OSUE Franklin Co. colleague Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, with marketing of a Food Preservation Series of classes to be held at the Groveport Town Hall from May to September.   Learn the basics of preserving the harvest so you can have food all season.  PRE -REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.  All details are below.

CLICK HERE for a printable flyer of the class series –> Jenny 2018 Groveport series flyer-q9lwvd