April 2020 Growers Report – Central Ohio

Greetings!  I hope you are all staying healthy.  So a couple quick notes before we get into the April 2020 Grower’s Report.   You and your family are supported by me in your growing.  I assist backyard growers, community gardeners, urban farmers in all phases of production.  Send me an email with questions to mcdermott.15@osu.edu  or call to 614-292-7916 and while I cannot come visit,  a picture is a welcome way to show me what the problem is or describe a situation.  Feel free to contact me at any time, I check email seven days a week.

Looking for a positive activity that benefits your health and wellness while you are maintaing social distancing?  Gardening is an outstanding family friendly activity with major health and wellness benefits including a source of fresh, local produce.

I HIGHLY recommend subscribing!  I will be adding digital content as we are keeping social distancing and gardening is a great outdoor activity for health and wellness  BUTTON ON THE RIGHT — >

Also, I have gone through the pages that are linked in the horizontal bar at the top of the website under my lettuce pic and they are all active LINKS AND INFORMATION FOR GROWERS.  Lots of great information there on fact sheets for fruits and veg, season extension, garden planning, etc.  Make sure to take a look up there for lots of information,  all is free and available to the public.

First update is the weather:

While we are still seeing predictions for warm and wet going forward in the three month,  this week has some temperatures in the 30’s overnight.  Depending on your microclimate you may want to cover any seedlings or transplants in the ground.

Row cover is a spun bonded fabric used to provide frost protection but still let air, sunlight and water move through the fabric. It comes in multiple weights with heavier weight fabric providing the most frost protection but letting in the least amount of sunlight.

If you do not have row cover you can cover your seedlings and transplants with a sheet or a tarp.  Just make sure that you prop the cover up off the plants so it does not touch the leaves and then remove it the next morning to allow sun to get to the plants.

CLICK HERE for NWS/NOAA Weather prediction center.   Cool nights until this weekend upcoming.

Second update is the container garden:

My plants are probably OK due to the microclimate in the container garden in terms of extra frost protection.

They are in black pots, next to the house on my driveway.  All of those contribute heat to the area.  I will still likely cover them just to be sure.

The lettuce enjoyed the rain we had over the weekend followed by some great sun.

I need to make sure that with the heavy rain we get that I address the fertility needs of my plantings.  I am working on a container garden post to have ready soon.

Third update is the seed start station:

I have decent germination from my peppers and eggplant and have moved all the lettuce plus the broccoli raab outside into containers after a few days of hardening off the plants to acclimate to the weather.  While checking on my seedlings I noticed this predator on my swiss chard.

A brown marmorated stink bug found its way to my seedlings. No doubt happy to stay inside and still have a meal. It was removed.

Never to early to start your Integrated Pest Management and scouting for parasites and predators.

Next up will be to start more lettuce transplants.  I will use the Seed Start station to put another dozen seeds into soilless mix for transplanting in 3 weeks or so.

Tomatoes will get stared in the next couple days under the lights.

Have you started planting yet?  Feel free to reach out with questions and I can help you get started.

Now is the Time To Start Summer Transplants (plus a spring vegetable garden update)

Looking for a positive activity that benefits your health and wellness while you are maintaing social distancing?  It is time to start planting summer vegetables!

I HIGHLY recommend subscribing!  I will be adding digital content as we are keeping social distancing and gardening is a great outdoor activity for health and wellness  BUTTON ON THE RIGHT — >

I try to get my summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatillos started in the Mid-March to April 1st time period.   I do not rush them into the ground as they like to go into warm soil so my target is about Memorial Day to plant.

I started peppers and eggplant first.  They grow slower initially and I do not have a ton of space under lights right now due to working from home.  The technique is demonstrated in the Seed Starting Video.

My kitchen counter is my new seed starting work area while working from home.

I will start seeds in 4″ and 2.5″ pots and then transplant them in to cell packs later.    They could be started in cells or smaller pots right off the bat, but I have limited space under lights at home.

This four inch pot is gridded with pepper seeds every 3/4th of an inch or so. I will thin as needed but hope to get about a dozen plants out of this small pot when I transplant them into cells.

CLICK HERE to see a Transplanting Video to demonstrate how I will seperate them into individual cells in the next couple of weeks once they germinate and get a little growth.

I lightly covered the planted pots with plastic wrap to maintain humidity since the cells were on a heat mat and that would rapidly dry them out.

I check every day although I do not expect germination any faster than about a week.  I will start my tomatoes and tomatillos in the next few days once I get some space under my lights by putting some more transplants out in my container garden.

Container Garden Update:  From Last Weeks Post on Planting Spring Seeds

I had wrapped up the container garden with double row cover after also adding a layer of bird netting.  I bird netting keeps out the squirrels who would eat all my produce instantaneously.  The row cover was for frost protection as we had some nights in the 20s this past weekend.

I was a little worried about the lettuce, it is cold tolerant but not tremendously hardy. It came through like a champ.


The spinach I was not worried about at all with temperatures in the 20’s. I harvested a bowl about 5 days ago and it looks like it is getting ready for another harvest.

I will replace harvested produce with more transplants that are under the lights right now.  That will free up space to start the tomatoes.

I start a small amount of lettuce for my home garden every two weeks or so in season so that I have a constant stream of lettuce instead of a large harvest all at once.

Hopefully my community garden will get plowed on time this season.  It will depend on the rainfall as wet clay soil cannot be worked without creating problems.  Then I can get more seeds as well as the transplants under the lights in the ground.



Time to Start Some Seeds Outside – Spring Gardening Update

Looking for a positive activity that benefits your health and wellness while you are maintaing social distancing?  It is time to start planting the spring garden!

I HIGHLY recommend subscribing!  I will be adding digital content as we are keeping social distancing and gardening is a great outdoor activity for health and wellness  BUTTON ON THE RIGHT — >

We have a last blast of cold coming this upcoming weekend of the 20-22nd.  After that we have a period of warm, wet, spring weather.  It will be good planting time for a number of spring vegetables and herbs.

The weather predictions for spring indicate we have a warmer and wetter couple more months ahead.  Most spring veggies will handle this just fine with proper fertility.  LINK to Climate Prediction Center.

Did anyone over winter spinach under row cover?  I did not get to plant until Thanksgiving weedend unfortunately, but our mild winter temps assisted.  That was my record late planting. I had to plant in a container as well,  my first time doing that.  I will do a post on the process later.

Picture taken on February 3rd. I popped the row cover off to check and thin on a nice warm day.


Picture taken on March 18th. Good looking spinach and ready to scissor harvest for the next several weeks.

Good things to plant now from seed –>  Spinach, radishes, lettuce, Asian cabbage, green onions, beets, swiss chard, peas.

I planted radishes and carrots in the same container.  I am using containers in my yard as my community garden will not plow until April 1st.  They are also benefitting from the fact that my normally shady yard has not leafed out yet.

Radish seed and carrot seed were planted in the same container. The radish seed sprouted in a few days, the carrots will sprout in a few weeks. I will harvest the radish and then follow with a carrot harvest a month or two later.

My seed starting equipment made the road trip home with me as we both will work remotely.  I have transplants started in lettuce, bok choi, cauliflower, broccoli, swiss chard, and collard greens.

I put romaine transplants and bok choi transplants into the containers yesterday.  They will enjoy the rain and I will start to harvest in about a week with a staggered harvest lasting for a month.

Not much to look at right now. There are 12 seedlings in this container. I will take two to three per week starting in about two weeks.

I had a ton of transplants under the lights that I grew from seed for the school garden project.  That is on hold at this time so I had to find new homes for the plants.  The bok choi was ready to go into the ground.  It is not too late to start spring vegetable transplants.  I will start some summer vegetable like peppers and tomatoes shortly.  CLICK HERE for the Seed Starting Video to get you started. 

This is a healthy root system on a transplant. It is filling the pot but not pot bound. It will do well when planted in the ground.

My growing space is not very large or very beautiful but it gives me a chance to get outside, be productive and provide some fresh produce.

Five containers under row cover with about 14 square feet of growing space. Good to use until I can get into my community garden. Row cover for both frost and squirrel protection.

If you are looking for an outdoor activity that provides positive health and wellness benefits that can be enjoyed while we keep social distance consider getting some seeds or transplants in the ground to take advantage of our warm and wet upcoming spring.

Feel free to contact me with questions or send pics.  You are supported in your growing by Extension.  We are working from home but are still available to assist our client residents via phone (614-292-7916) or email mcdermott.15@osu.edu


Seed Starting Problems to Watch For

This is a follow up to the Seed Starting post that is used to provide educational support to Columbus City Schools teachers growing projects.  Other educators may find this useful as well as anyone who likes to start their own seeds.

We at Extension like to develop content based on feedback to address client concerns.  Two colleagues who had not seed started in the past used the CCS materials kit and the video to start some seeds and then come to ask questions.  Some good learning experiences below.

The LED light panel is going to provide more light to plants in the middle of the flat. That is because light will reach them from all sides. Plants at the edges get less light as they may only get light from one direction. It is wise to move the plants around the flat periodically so that they get equal amounts of light. That keeps the seedlings from getting “leggy.”


This pot was planted too thickly with too many seeds. These plants will not turn out well as they will all compete with each other.


This pot was planted too thickly and then thinned with scissors. You can see that some stem growth occurred after thinning. If you want a sturdy transplant, it is best to plant 2-3 seeds maximum and then thin to one single plant.


This plant grew from a seed planted too close to the side of the pot. It is best to put the seeds closer to the middle when you plant so that you get a root ball that grows in all directions as opposed to a seed with a limited root ball.


Be careful when handling your plants. A plant can handle a damaged leaf or small part of root as it will grow new ones, but if the stem is damaged then the plant will die. This pot needs replanted.


This seedling is showing evidence of nitrogen deficiency. When there is not enough nitrogen, the plants lower leaves will turn yellow as the seedling matures. The correction for this is to fertilize according to the directions on the bottle.


This kale is also showing signs of nitrogen deficiency. If multiple plants are growing in a pot, they will use up the fertility faster. Correct this problem by increasing fertilization.


This pot shows evidence of fungal growth. This commonly happens when you have light and fertilizer on organic matter.

If you have problems in a pot or with a plant in many cases it is best to start a new transplant.  That way you will have a strong, sturdy transplant that has a better chance of growing into a productive vegetable.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions at mcdermott.15@osu.edu