Free Gardening Year Round Class at Thompson Library on Wednesday November 20th @ Noon

This class is held in collaboration with OSU Extension Franklin County and University Libraries Thompson Library.  Bring your friends and your questions.

Click here to view, download, or print the flyer –> Thompson Library Gardening Year Round

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

2019 Spring Planting Update for Central Ohio

Our first sunny days in the 50’s and 60’s are here and many backyard growers, community gardeners and urban farmers are looking to get outside to start spring planting.  One important step in this process is to make sure the seed that you are using will have decent germination rates to ensure that you do not start with a crop failure at the beginning.  Check this post on Growing Franklin for vegetable seed viability times. 

Have you soil tested your vegetable garden recently? Making sure that you have enough nutrition present to grow your vegetables is another important step in making sure that you have a productive season.  Contact our office if you wish to purchase a soil test as well as get instructions on how to soil sample.  You may be able to get a free soil test kit from our office if you grow in a community garden or urban farm in the City of Columbus or provide food for those who do live in City limits. (LINK)

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction center has their three month projection for April-May-June for temperature and precipitation.  (LINK)

The three month precipitation prediction calls for a greater than normal chance for increased precipitation.

 

The three month temperature projection calls for a greater chance of warmer than normal conditions.

One very important variable to monitor is soil temperatures.  Since seeds are in primary contact with soil and need that seed-soil contact to germinate, it is more important to monitor soil temperature than air temperature.  Certain seed varieties will need certain temperatures based on what family of vegetable they are in.  Most spring vegetables germinate reliably in cooler soil than summer vegetables.

Currently soil temperatures as monitored by the Columbus Station (Waterman Farm) of the OARDC Weather System are around 40 degrees F at 5 cm and 10 cm soil depth.  (LINK) If you garden in a raised bed, you may have warmer soil than a level garden plot.  This may allow earlier planting than normal.

Make sure that you do not work the soil via tillage if it is too wet, especially with the heavy clay soils common in central Ohio.  This could create a poor growing condition for the entire season if large clumps of compacted soil are created when tilling wet soil.

This community garden was mowed last fall with the residue left on top of the soil. A seed bed was created via tillage a few days ago when the soil was at the right moisture level.

If you have started transplants under grow lights in a seed station, it may be time to transplant them into individual cells.  Check out this video on Growing Franklin that will show how to divide and transplant seedlings into cell packs. 

Good choices for spring vegetables to direct seed into the garden once your soil is above 40 degrees F:

  • Spinach
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cabbage family

Seed potatoes can be planted later this week if the soil is not too wet to work.  If you wish to plant onions but are unsure if you should use seeds vs. sets vs. transplants then click on the Growing Franklin article that goes over the benefits of each type of onion planting.

It will be time to plant transplants in the garden as soon as we get a few more degrees of soil temperature increase.  If you have transplants under the grow lights, it is important that you harden them off for a period to acclimate them to their future outdoor home.  It takes about 3-7 days of gradually introducing transplants to outdoor weather and temperature before they will be adjusted and have success in the ground. Do not forget this step, it is important to do this to minimize transplant shock.

 

 

 

2019 Early Spring Weather Predictions and Planting Guide

Here are the climate map predictions from NOAA/NWS for the period through April.

Prediction for precipitation shows a chance for drier weather through April

 

Temperatures are forecast to be slightly cooler through April

 

What does this mean for the backyard grower, community gardener or urban farmer?  This means a fair chance for some early spring growing and an early harvest, especially when using season extension.  I would not put all my eggs in one basket due to the lower temperature percentage, but the choice of cold tolerant crops may pay off.  If the model would have predicted warmer weather for this period I would have considered a full scale up in spring vegetable planting.  Right now I will sow regular amounts for the season.

 

Those growers who planted spinach under low tunnels using row cover, be mindful of any good chance to break the micro-climate and get a harvest.  The 66 degree Sunday we had recently was just such a day.  Very soon the increased amount of sunlight will cause a surge in rapid growth. 

 

If you have not already started, now is a good time to start seeds of several vegetable varieties under the lights of your seed start station.  If you are using seed that is from a prior year,  Check Out the Seed Viability Post on Growing Franklin.

Seeds that can be started indoors now:

  • Lettuce
  • Brassicas – cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Asian greens, etc
  • Onion family, including leeks
  • Artichokes – get a short season variety

This planting time will have the lettuce ready to go into the ground in early March.  There is a chance of poor weather that may prevent planting.  Still the risk is worth it.  Follow up with serial plantings of lettuce and Asian greens every two weeks for the next two to three months for a continuous harvest.

 

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

2019 Spring Gardening Workshops @ Howard Recreation Center

The first round of workshops to support the Buckeye ISA program to teach families with children how to grow their own food has been approved for release.   All of these classes are free and open to the public so bring your friends and your questions.

Click Here for a PDF of the flyer to download –>  2019 Ag Lit ISA Spring Workshops

Fall Vegetable Planting Update October 2018

For the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer, there is still time to put seeds and plants in the ground.   There are many choices available in vegetables and cover crops to take advantage of the cooler fall harvest weather and utilize the abundant rainfall and still optimal soil temperature, especially if the grower has the ability to utilize season extension.

Vegetables:

Those who followed the Fall Vegetable Planting timeline are harvesting basil, lettuce, radishes, green beans and summer squash now.  Monitor for frost closely and be ready to use season extension to protect tender crops.

There are still some choices to direct seed,  these will need season extension to allow harvest into November and later:

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Asian Greens
  • Carrots
  • Radishes

This arugula was started from seed under grow lights. It will be transplanted outdoors in a week. This was done to allow more time for flea beetles, a major pest of arugula, to finish its life cycle.

 

I still have several lettuce plugs from an earlier project that will be transplanted outside under row cover in a week.

There are several pests to continue to monitor for this time of year.  Slugs will be numerous if organic matter levels are moderate to high.  Deer are a serious threat due to decreasing amounts of fresh forage.  They will consume nearly all fall planted vegetables without protection. The  Cabbage White butterfly can persist in the environment deep into fall and their larvae can eat large amounts of foliage.

Spinach that will be grown overwinter in low tunnels under row cover should be planted withing the next couple weeks from direct seed.  Check out this Growing Franklin post for a documentation of that process. 

 

Cover Crops:

It is important to keep something growing all year long and avoid bare ground.  This is especially critical over winter to avoid loss of fertility and organic matter from erosion.  There are still several choices available including grasses such as rye or oats, legumes such as crimson clover or vetch and brassicas such as forage radishes.  The choice of what to plant depends on what the goal is, what crop will follow and the grower’s ability to manage the crop in the spring.

This past weekend I prepared the area that had previously grown cucurbits into a seedbed.

 

I had used woven plastic landscape fabric as mulch and weed suppression for my winter squash and pumpkins.  This was my first foray into using this method and I was impressed by how effective it was.  The only drawback was that after removal the ground had reverted to its base state as a heavy clay soil.  I think it is imperative that I cover crop following plasticulture to improve soil health going forward.

Note the bindweed seedling that persisted under black heavy weight landscape fabric. The fabric was placed in early June and temperatures were in the 90’s multiple times this season.

There is still time to plant cover crops.  I planted a mix of winter rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover and forage radish.   This mix will require intensive management in spring, but will persist over winter and provide multiple soil health benefits.

 

To find out about cover crops, fall vegetable planting as well as many other topics there will be a class on Fall Garden Projects to Benefit the Spring Garden at Grandview Heights Public Library on Tuesday October 16th, at 7pm.