School Garden Week of December 5th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

I have gotten some very valuable feedback from the focus groups last week.  This will be a long email as a result.  First thing to address is that you are supported by me for your growing not only at school but at home as well.  I add more content than just the weekly updates and will be adding content such as events, videos, and supportive articles all year long.  The best way to get that content is to subscribe.  Use the email that you would check and use the most, like your home email.  You will get an email each time I post new stuff.  The button is on the right side —-> if you are on a computer and at the bottom if you are using your phone. 

 

First up a weather report to get us through the week for planning on our season extension:

I see a good time window in the middle of the week to check on the outdoor plants. See the raised bed planting recommendations below.

We had lots of questions about when to harvest.  Since everyone plants a different times it can be difficult to give advice without seeing the plants.  Feel free to email me pics and I will help you with your harvest questions.  Send them to mcdermott.15@osu.edu

There have been great suggestions from the focus groups on things you want to learn about,  keep them coming!  Like more Videos!  I have lots to share:

The hydroponic industry in Ohio is a huge part of our agriculture industry.  If you want to share a kid friendly video of hydroponic crops being grown at OSU as part of teaching then check out the video below from our Extension Today partnership with NBC4 filmed at Howlett Greenhouse:

The Extension Today playlist of kid safe videos about growing, harvesting, preparing and preserving fresh produce has a ton of content.  While all of it is not specific to GTS,  you may find it interesting.  CLICK HERE FOR THE EXTENSION TODAY LIST OF OVER 50 VIDEOS.  Lots of topics,  less than 5 minutes long each.

 

We have been creating videos to support this project and have 4 done so far at our OSU Extension County YouTube channel.  Lots of questions about seed starting under the LED lights.  Check out the video below for a super quick, kid-safe (can show in class to your kiddos) seed starting video using the materials you have for the pilot:

Outside in the raised beds:

I have been getting questions about what can still be planted outside.  We are likely done with planting in the raised beds. (See Below for a potential!)  Many folks have stated that they did not get good germination.  The warmer than normal weather made germination tricky unless the beds were watered daily until sprouting.  The heavy rain we had the other day may cause some delayed germination under cover that we will find when we are able to pop off the covers.  Make sure that when we get to the cold weather you do not uncover your beds on a cold day so that you do not shock your seedlings.  It should be above 45 degrees minimum to pop the top and it is better done around the middle of the day so you can re-cover, and build heat back up for the overnight lows. I do not see many good chances in this weather forecast.  Keep those beds covered tightly so they will maintain a beneficial microenvironment under them.

I know that some of you did not get a chance to plant outside due to many reasons.  While it is unlikely we can plant, there may still be a chance.  When you get your bed set up with soil added, but have no plants,  place the row cover and plastic over the bed to keep the soil warm.  I will be watching to see if we get a tiny planting window and will let you know. We have such a time window this week starting tomorrow.  Plant a little patch of spinach and kale seed outside.  While it may not work, the hope is we get some germination so the kiddos can harvest spinach and kale next week.  Cover tightly with the row cover after to keep the soil warmed. 

 

Inside under LED lights:  

Some folks are just getting started with planting inside under the LED lights. I think that more planting under LED lights can be done, but only if you are able to take the plants home over Christmas break.   If you have questions, please email me, and send me pics as well. Happy to assist.

This is fertilizer for use for under the LED lights, not the hydroponic system. It could be used outdoors in a watering can next spring as well. It is a water soluble vegetable fertilizer.

Here is a pic of the label the fertilizer from the package. Use for fertilizing the plants under the LED’s every two weeks when you bottom water. 1/2 tablespoon fertilizer to 1/2 gallon water.

At the focus groups we sent home some fertilizer to use for potted plants under the LED lights.  I would use the fertilizer this week when you bottom water.  There was a little bit of fertilizer in the seed starting soil, but it gets used up so we need to continue to feed the plants.  Let me know if you have questions regarding fertilizer use.  If you need some contact Katie.  She will have some for the folks attending the last focus group that night.

 

Inside in the Aerogarden:

How did everyone’s hydroponic units do over break?  Hopefully they came through fine and you have had a bunch of growth.  If you are not able to take your Aerogarden home over break, then make sure to plan some time to clean it before you leave on December 20th so it is ready to plant tomatoes when you return after January 4th.  We will want to plant tomatoes immediately on return from break to maximize our chances of a healthy harvest.  If you need materials, contact Katie.  Any questions about your growing come to me.  My email is below.  Aerogarden has great videos in the link below to assist in maintaining their systems.

The Aerogarden website has a tremendous amount of content to assist with maintenance of the units, troubleshooting problems, or how to take care of the plants in the system.  CHECK IT OUT if you are having problems.

Any questions about your growing?  Email me at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

School Garden Week of November 28th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

First up a weather report to get us through the week for planning on our season extension:

There may be a day or two in this weather forecast to get inside the season extension to take a look at the crops. If it gets warm on a day, like 45 to 50 degrees at least, then you can pop the top with your students to see how the plants are doing. Make sure to cover up tightly when done.

 

Looking a little further ahead, it is supposed to stay close to normal temperatures through February with a larger chance of increased precipitation.

There should be enough precipitation that the crops under the row cover will not need watered.

 

Outside in the raised beds:

I have been getting questions about what can still be planted outside.  We are likely done with planting in the raised beds. (See Below for a potential!)  Many folks have stated that they did not get good germination.  The warmer than normal weather made germination tricky unless the beds were watered daily until sprouting.  The heavy rain we had the other day may cause some delayed germination under cover that we will find when we are able to pop off the covers.  Make sure that when we get to the cold weather you do not uncover your beds on a cold day so that you do not shock your seedlings.  It should be above 45 degrees minimum to pop the top and it is better done around the middle of the day so you can re-cover, and build heat back up for the overnight lows. I do not see many good chances in this weather forecast.  Keep those beds covered tightly so they will maintain a beneficial microenvironment under them.

I know that some of you did not get a chance to plant outside due to many reasons.  While it is unlikely we can plant, there may still be a chance.  When you get your bed set up with soil added, but have no plants,  place the row cover and plastic over the bed to keep the soil warm.  I will be watching to see if we get a tiny planting window and will let you know.  It is likely the only day this would work would be tomorrow, Tuesday the 29th, and only if the soil is pre-warmed. 

 

Inside under LED lights:

I think that planting under LED lights can be done, but only if you are able to take the plants home over Christmas break.  Hopefully everyones plants came through the long break ok.  If you have questions, please email me, and send me pics as well.

I keep my bok choy about 4 or so inches under the lights. Up to 6 inches away is OK as well. Those are some pretty powerful lights for growing greens.

 

 

This is bottom watering technique. The pots you have (I have six packs) are placed in an inch or so of water (with fertilizer if needed) for a half hour or so to take up water from the bottom. This fully hydrates all the soil in the pot. After a half an hour or so, take the pots out of the water, drain the water our of the bottom tray and place the spacer tray and pots back in the main tray to drain. As your plants grow,  they may need watered more often.  I need to water mine every three days now.  For the two inch pots, you probably need to water at least 1-2 times per week.

 

Inside in the Aerogarden:

How did everyone’s hydroponic units do over break?  Hopefully they came through fine and you have had a bunch of growth.

The Aerogarden website has a tremendous amount of content to assist with maintenance of the units, troubleshooting problems, or how to take care of the plants in the system.  CHECK IT OUT if you are having problems.

 

 

School Garden Week of November 14th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

First up a weather report to get us through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:

It was 70 degrees just last week but we have cold weather for quite a bit. I do not see a window to pop the top and check plants for a little while.

 

Outside in the raised beds:

I have been getting questions about what can still be planted outside.  We are likely done with planting in the raised beds. (See Below for a potential!)  Many folks have stated that they did not get good germination.  The warmer than normal weather made germination tricky unless the beds were watered daily until sprouting.  The heavy rain we had the other day may cause some delayed germination under cover that we will find when we are able to pop off the covers.  Make sure that when we get to the cold weather you do not uncover your beds on a cold day so that you do not shock your seedlings.  It should be above 45 degrees minimum to pop the top and it is better done around the middle of the day so you can re-cover, and build heat back up for the overnight lows. I do not see many good chances in this weather forecast.  Keep those beds covered tightly so they will maintain a beneficial microenvironment under them.

I know that some of you did not get a chance to plant outside due to many reasons.  While it is unlikely we can plant, there may still be a chance.  When you get your bed set up with soil added, but have no plants,  place the row cover and plastic over the bed to keep the soil warm.  I will be watching to see if we get a tiny planting window and will let you know.  Right now the days after Thanksgiving break look to be close to 50 degrees so if the soil is warm,  we may still plant.  

 

Inside under LED lights:

I think that planting under LED lights can be done, but only if you are able to take the plants home over Christmas break.  With the 9 day break coming up,  if you have plants in your rooms under lights, the ideal situation would be to take them on a little field trip back to your house so you can keep an eye on them.  If you cannot take plants home over the upcoming Thanksgiving break then I recommend that you bottom water them with one to two inches of water in the bottom most tray. Take them out of the top spacer tray,  put them in the bottom tray with 1-2 inches of water.  Leave them in the water in the bottom tray until you return from break. They will slowly take up the water over the break and hopefully if nothing goes wrong, they will be growing and much bigger when you return. Consider adding fertilizer to the water as well due to the long length of time away.  And enjoy the holiday break!!

This is bottom watering technique. The pots you have (I have six packs) are placed in an inch or so of water (with fertilizer if needed) for a half hour or so to take up water from the bottom. This fully hydrates all the soil in the pot. After a half an hour or so, take the pots out of the water, drain the water our of the bottom tray and place the spacer tray and pots back in the main tray to drain.

 

For the upcoming break, I would add even more water to the tray than this. This tray has about a half inch of water, I would add at least one inch to one and a half inch of water for a 9 day break. If you can check the plants over break that would be even better.

 

Inside in the Aerogarden:

With the long holiday break upcoming we are getting questions regarding how to maintain the systems.  Ideally you would take them home with you.  They travel very well.  I place mine in a brownie pan or similar to catch any tiny spills then bring them back the same way.  If you want to leave your units at the schools, I am not sure they can do OK with no water for the 9 day break from 11/19 to 11/27.  I think they would need a mid-break check and water add.  Make sure to add the fertilizer as needed as well.  If you absolutely have to leave them alone for 9 days make sure to add the water to the line,  have the caps secured over the open holes, and have the timer good.  Add fertilizer if it will need added while you are gone.

The Aerogarden website has a tremendous amount of content to assist with maintenance of the units, troubleshooting problems, or how to take care of the plants in the system.  CHECK IT OUT if you are having problems.

As always, if you have questions, feel free to email me at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

School Garden Week of November 7th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

First off.  Winter is Coming!

Make sure that you cover your beds Friday before you leave.  

Outside in the raised beds:

I have been getting questions about what can still be planted outside.  You can still direct seed spinach, kale, and cilantro right now and water daily until you get good germination.  Cover the beds before you leave on Friday.  This is a good week to thin your baby seedlings if they got planted too thick.  Water a few hours before you thin in order to make it easier to pull the extras. Because we have very cold weather coming, if you want to get seeds in the ground,  earlier is better. We will likely not have another chance to plant after Thursday this week.  Make sure that when we get to the cold weather you do not uncover your beds on a cold day so that you do not shock your seedlings.  It should be above 45 degrees minimum to pop the top and it is better done around the middle of the day so you can re-cover, and build heat back up for the overnight lows.

Inside under LED lights:

You can still plant lettuce and bok choi under LED lights for maturation indoors or potential transplanting out under season extension.  Do you have seedling ready to get planted or are getting close?  Check out this video to get you started seed starting:

I planted Bok Choi last week and they were up by the weekend.  I waited until the first true leaves came out then I thinned to one per cell.  I am using 6-packs, but the technique is the same in a 2″ pot.

Water a few hours before so the seedlings slip out easier.

 

Thin to the strongest seedling.

Inside in the Aerogarden:

You can still start lettuce and herbs in the Aerogarden.  The Aerogarden website has a tremendous amount of content to assist with maintenance of the units, troubleshooting problems, or how to take care of the plants in the system.  CHECK IT OUT if you are having problems.

As always, if you have questions, feel free to email me at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

 

School Garden Week of October 31st, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

Happy Halloween.  Here is hoping for a safe and happy trick or treating experience tonight for the kiddoes.

I get lots of questions about the hardiness zones for plants for central Ohio.  The map has recently been updated.  Here is the new USDA Hardiness zone map:

Here is the map magnified to Ohio:

The map is interactive.  If you would like to access the map CLICK HERE.

 

Outside in the raised beds:

I have been getting questions about what can still be planted outside.  You can still direct seed spinach, kale, and cilantro right now and water daily until you get good germination.  Cover the beds before you leave on Friday.  This is a good week to thin your baby seedlings if they got planted too thick.  Water a few hours before you thin in order to make it easier to pull the extras. We had a little rain overnight but are still pretty dry.  Our only chance of rain on the 10-day is next Sunday.  Make sure to keep watering your seedlings or new transplants as needed.  For season extension this week.  You can leave row cover alone covering your plants no problem.  For plastic cover, you may need to uncover this week at some points.  The weekly forecast calls for cloudy, but warm.  If it gets sunny and warm it can overheat.

Inside under LED lights:

You can still plant lettuce and bok choi under LED lights for maturation indoors or potential transplanting out under season extension.  Do you have seedling ready to get planted or are getting close?  Check out this video to get you started seed starting:

Check out this video to get you started transplanting:

Inside in the Aerogarden:

You can still start lettuce and herbs in the Aerogarden.  The Aerogarden website has a tremendous amount of content to assist with maintenance of the units, troubleshooting problems, or how to take care of the plants in the system.  CHECK IT OUT if you are having problems.

You are also welcome to email me with any questions at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

School Garden Week of October 24th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

We have a warm start to the week this week.  I recommend uncovering any beds that have season extension over them.

 

If you have just recently planted or are going to plant in the next couple of days I would make sure to water your baby seedlings.  We do have a chance of rain on Wednesday but we are still pretty dry out there and the 10 day does not have a bunch of rain in the forecast.

Outside in the raised beds:

I have been getting questions about what can still be planted outside.  You can still direct seed spinach, kale, and cilantro right now and water daily until you get good germination. You can keep your raised beds uncovered this week,  we do not have big cold coming.  Cover the beds before you leave on Friday.  This is a good week to thin your baby seedlings if they got planted too thick.  Water a few hours before you thin in order to make it easier to pull the extras.

Inside under LED lights:

You can still plant lettuce and bok choi under LED lights for maturation indoors or potential transplanting out under season extension.  Do you have seedling ready to get planted or are getting close?  Check out this video to get you started:

Inside in the Aerogarden:

You can still start lettuce and herbs in the Aerogarden.  Their website has great care instructions if needed for the seed pod crops.

 

As always, feel free to email me with any questions.   mcdermott.15@osu.edu

School Garden Week of October 17th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

Seeds are coming up!  I had an opportunity to plant with 100 third grade gardeners at Summit Rd. Elementary a couple weeks back and we have some serious germination.

Photo credit: C. Comer

The spinach is coming up which I am happy for as it is a finicky germinator.  The lettuce is coming up thick!

 

Photo credit: C. Comer.

This lettuce is pretty closely planted.  It needs some thinning.  It should be watered a few hours prior and then thinned.   A great job for student gardeners.  I recommend spacing to about 3 inches, which is approximated by the length of an elementary pointer finger for reference for students.  If you paper towel planted, you are spaced already.

If you have not yet direct seeded in the garden you can still plant many things: spinach, kale, lettuce, carrots, bok choi, and cilantro would all do fine planted now.  The soil temperatures at Waterman Farm here on campus, found at this link (plus the other research stations across the state) shows we are at mid-50’s right now, which is fine for cool season planting.

 

 

We have some cold nights coming up.  I recommend that you cover your new plantings outside with row cover or plastic overnight this week.  Row cover should be fine to leave in place during the day but you may need to vent plastic during the day as it may become too hot under it if it gets sunny.  

For indoor planting you can plant lettuce, bok choi, kale, or other leafy greens under the LED lights for potential transplanting or sending home with the students.  For your Aerogarden, you can still start leafy greens and herbs now.  If you get to winter break and you have good growth in your hydroponic systems, the smaller systems can be taken home and plugged in to continue to provide a harvest.  For any questions regarding your school growing feel free to email me at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

 

School Garden Week of October 10th, 2022

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

After our cold snap this past weekend we have a warm start to the week.  Below is the weather prediction for October made on September 30th.

This shows we will likely have normal temperatures and precipitation for the rest of the month.

 

When I look out at the rest of the fall,  it shows a greater chance of warm weather,  which should help our fall planted crops mature faster to get a harvest for the kiddos.

 

Soil temperatures are about 55 degrees in central Ohio right now and will stay that way through the weekend.  That means you can still plant numerous crops in the school garden outdoors this week.  I recommend that you direct seed lettuce, spinach, kale and other leafy brassicas, radishes, bok choy, cilantro, and carrots this week.  If you have some other seed or questions about planting,  send them to me at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

We have a little more time for spinach and kale if you cannot get them in this week.  If you planted last week then keep watering the seeds until you get germination and then once or twice a week based on rainfall.

Indoors under LED lights you can start lettuce, kale, and bok choy for transplanting outdoors later or for an indoor harvest.  If you want a refresher on seed starting check out this super quick and engaging Seed Starting Video.

 

If you have more time and really want a deep dive into Seed Starting,  check out this recorded class webinar.

 

In your Aerogarden or other hydroponic systems, if you have not planted yet you can still start your herbs like your basil now.  They should germinate and get started growing soon.  Make sure to follow the instructions carefully.  CLICK HERE for a link to Aerogarden herb care. 

If you have any questions let me know.  You are supported in your growing.  Email me at mcdermott.15@osu.edu

 

 

High Tunnel Soil Borne Disease Testing

We have numerous high tunnels in Franklin County at both community gardens and urban farms.  USDA ARS (Agricultural Research Service) based in Wooster is now accepting samples for free to test the soil in high tunnels for the presence of soil borne disease.

CLICK HERE for the submission form and more information. –> Soil_submission_form_2022

Questions? Please contact Anna Testen, anna.testen@usda.gov or 330-641-2862.

Composting 101

It is the time of year when Mother Nature provides a bounty of leaves that just need a little time to turn in to compost.  If you are not a composter and want to get started creating your own organic matter soil amendment then check out this recorded webinar that details the basics of Composting 101. You will be glad that you did!