Gardening Year Round Class at Grandview Heights Public Library on Thursday October 10th, 2019

The backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer can keep the harvest going year round through a combination of indoor and outdoor plantings.  Bring your friends and your questions to this free class in partnership with Grandview Heights Public Library.

Click here to view, download, or print the flyer –>  Year Round Gardening GView Lib 2019

Keep the Garden and the Harvest Alive Over Winter – Free Class on the South Side on Thursday October 3rd, 2019

Ohio is a four season growing environment.  Come to this free class to learn how the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer can keep the harvest going as well as build on soil health over winter.

To view, download or print the flyer click here –>  Over Wintered Planting at 1200

What to Plant NOW For Your Fall Garden: Class at The Bronzeville Growers Market on Thursday August 8th @ 4pm.

The backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer in Ohio can harvest all year long in our four season growing environment.  Learn what to plant now for a fall harvest at this class at the Bronzeville Growers Market.  The market is open for fresh produce sales from 3-6 with a class at 4 pm.  The class will be outdoors at the market and participants are encouraged to bring chairs if needed.  Bring your friends and your questions to this free class.

Click HERE to view, download or print the flyer –> Bronzeville Fall Garden Class

Spring Gardening Classes at Bexley Community Gardens in May

There will be two classes held in partnership with City of Bexley Community Gardens to assist the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer.
Bring your friends and your questions to these informational garden walks to discuss how to improve soil health in your plot as well as talk strategies to combat the weeds that can drive you crazy.

Classes are free and open to the public.

Using Cover Crops for Weed Control in Spring

Cover Crops are a valuable tool in the toolbox of the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer.  I planted a mix of cover crop species last fall in my community garden plot to keep the soil alive over the winter, prevent erosion and increase soil organic matter.

Winter rye, forage radish, hairy vetch and crimson clover blend

This species mix, especially the winter rye component, can be challenging to manage in the spring depending on when the soil is worked.  The winter rye will die from mowing or crimping when it is going to seed and nearing maturity, but when tilled young, some of the grass will continue to grow.

The city tilled the garden in late March, some of the cover crops persisted and will continue to grow without further tillage or herbicide application.

The majority of my plot will be used for summer vegetables.  I do not want to leave the ground bare until that point as the cover crops will continue to grow in spaces and weeds will fill in the rest.  I would also lose organic matter and fertility from spring rains.

I rototilled over half of the plot to create a seed bed about 10 days after initial tillage.  This will kill most of the remaining over-wintered cover crops and created a seed bed for planting.

I followed up with a planting of Buckwheat.  Buckwheat is a versatile cover crop that tolerates poor soils, rapidly germinates, weed suppresses, attracts pollinators and when mowed, will rapidly break down prior to the next planted crop.

 

 

I will let the Buckwheat grow until mid-May.  Then I will mow the space which will kill both the cover crop and any annual weed that germinates within the Buckwheat planting.  It will also weaken any perennial weed that is growing.  I will let the residue decompose for a few days and then till and apply plasti-culture mulch in the pathways prior to summer vegetable planting.

 

2019 South Side Spring Gardening Workshops

While these classes are to support the South Side community of The Buckeye ISA, they are free and open to the public so bring your friends and your questions.  Families with children that want to grow their own food may be eligible to enroll in the Buckeye ISA and get materials and educational support.

Click HERE to print the flyer –> 2019 Spring Gardening SS ISA

Central Ohio Grower’s Report and Weather Update for Winter 2019

The next week has a period of intense cold coming to central Ohio.  Grower’s who planted spinach under low tunnels using row cover should make sure that they have a second layer of frost blanket covering the planting and that the row cover is weighted securely against wind shear.

While there is a good chance that a full harvest amount of spinach is present, we have not had a warm enough day to break the micro-climate to check.  Be patient,  there is usually a chance for a significant harvest in February.

 

The period of warm and wet weather we had earlier in winter provided a chance to get good growth on winter cover crops.  If you were unable to get cover crops planted this year, as you make your 2019 planting plan, try to add cover crops into your rotation to keep a living cover on your ground.  It adds organic matter, prevents soil erosion and builds fertility.

A mix of winter rye, forage radish, crimson clover and hairy vetch. This mix is cold hardy and will persist into spring, starting a period of intense growth when the weather warms up.

The winter rye mix will require intensive management in the spring.

 

 

This plot contains a mix of oats and Austrian winter peas. This mix is cold tolerant but not hardy. It should die following the upcoming period of intense cold. The residue will act as a ground cover protecting the soil that will incorporate easily into a seed bed via tillage in spring.

 

Right now is a good time to start seeds if you have a seed start station.  You can start the following:

  • Artichokes –  a tender perennial not generally grown in central Ohio,  this crop can be grown as an annual if started early indoors.
  • Perennial herbs such as thyme and oregano.  The seeds are extremely tiny and take weeks to germinate.
  • Lettuce, cabbage-family – this assumes some risk due to weather pressure.  I will start a small amount now looking to plant outside around late Feb under season extension.  Start another small batch every two weeks for the next month or two to have a steady harvest.
  • Leeks – seed takes awhile to germinate.  Transplants will be ready to go outside in March if started now.

 

Central Ohio Weather Update 

The three month forecast for temperature and precipitation is calling for colder and dryer than normal weather.   There is a 65% of an El Nino weather phenomenon to form in spring.  That will certainly affect backyard growers, community gardeners, and urban farmers in Central Ohio.

 

CLICK HERE for the NWS/NOAA Weather link.

Keep an eye on Growing Franklin for further updates as we progress through the growing season.

 

 

Fall Cover Crops for Soil Health

It is not too late to plant a fall cover crop.  Keeping the ground covered and alive over winter is one of the top soil health priorities for the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer.  The recent spell of warm weather last week has kept soil temperatures fairly high for this time of year.  Soil temperatures in central Ohio were around 63 degrees as of 10/14/18.

Click here for Central Ohio Soil Temperatures

There are several species of cover crops that can still be planted in central Ohio.  What you want to plant depends on what outcome you are looking for.  Cover crops are tools in your soil health toolbox,  you use what is needed for the task and what will accomplish your goals.

 

A seedbed was created via tillage. This tillage can cause a loss of organic matter and disruption of the soil in the root zone but was done to create a seed bed to improve germination of cover crops seed. This is common for a backyard grower, community gardener or urban farmer. In agronomic systems, a no-till drill could be used to minimize soil disturbance.

 

Some cover crops will achieve a modest amount of growth and then will die when winter temperatures go below freezing.  These still provide many soil health benefits, but do not provide as much organic matter in terms of biomass.

 

This cover crop mix contains Austrian winter peas and oats. It is not cold tolerant and will winter kill with deep freezes. It is a good choice for a grower who cannot manage a cover crop with implements or when an early season seedbed is desired for planting. These species could still be planted, but they might not achieve the level of biomass production to justify their expense at this late time in the season.

 

Some cover crops are cold tolerant and will persist through winter’s cold, starting regrowth once temperatures and sunlight increase in early spring.  These have their own management challenges.

 

Species that do well in the cold and will likely over winter include winter rye, crimson clover, hairy vetch, and most brassicas.

 

It is important for the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer to prioritize soil health.  Soil Health = Plant Health = People Health.

 

This mix has excellent biodiversity and will grow over the winter with excellent cold tolerance. It will have management challenges in the spring due to fast regrowth when warmer temperatures return.

 

Planting a cover crop now will increase your soil health, add organic matter, prevent erosion of nutrients and give your 2019 garden a jump start that will pay off with increased fresh, local produce.