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. 

 

2018 Fall Vegetable Planting Timeline

It can be an unusual concept for the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer to think about as we have barely started harvest of fresh tomatoes, but now is the time to start planning and planting for production in late summer, through fall and into a winter harvest.

Things to start now: Under the lights

  • Basil – Start from seed under the lights or by direct seeding into the garden.  This will provide the grower with a stream of fresh, tender leaves to use or preserve.
  • Brassicas – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and asian cabbages can be started now under the lights.  Transplant into cell packs after about two weeks in the flats.   They will be ready to transplant into the garden in 6-8 weeks.
  • Lettuce – small amount now,  start more every two weeks until October.

The seed start grow station had been taken offline for a period of three weeks after spring vegetable production. This was done to sterilize the area and break the life cycle of any pests present.

 

Most of the varieties started now are brassicas. They will germinate in 3 days, be ready to be transplanted into individual cells in 2 weeks and be ready to plant in about 6 weeks total. That puts them in the garden in early August with maturation in late September and early October during the cooler weather

 

A small amount of lettuce will be started now.  This lettuce has a good chance to mature in hot weather.   The chance for cooler temperatures in late summer plus the use of shade cloth will attempt to control bitterness or bolting to seed.  There is a good chance of failure to mature an edible product so only a small amount of starts will be attempted now.  More will be started with an every two week timeline.

 

 

Things to Start now – Direct seed in the garden:

 

Things to start in a few weeks – Direct Seed in the Garden

  • Green Beans – if a short maturing variety can be used green beans can be planted up until early August
  • Radish – can plant again 2 weeks after this planting up until September 1st
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce – can be planted on two week rotations until September 1st – 15th.
  • Snap Peas
  • Summer squash – same as with green beans
  • Cucumber – same as with green beans

 

Ohio is a true four season growing environment.  Some of the above may need season extension in order to survive.  We will keep a close watch on the ENSO predictions.   Make sure that you observe crop rotation of families as best as possible.

 

 

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

 

Spring Planting Weather Projection 2018

When I am planning when to start seeds in order to get ready for an upcoming spring or fall planting season.  I take the frost date into account, but then I adjust that date according to the weather projections as that gives me insight into how I can maximize production by using weather data plus season extension.

For example,  the fall frost date in central Ohio is around mid-October.   The fall climate prediction data was for a delayed frost date and a warmer fall.  Once I read about this I planted my fall vegetables using this data in anticipation of a longer fall growing season for summer vegetables.

I planted green beans and zucchini in the first week of August 2017.  Both are about 50-60 day vegetables so they would mature long after the frost date normally, and both do not like frost.

Germination was about a week or so later

Because of the delayed frost date, I was able to enjoy a harvest late into fall and ate green beans and zucchini fresh for Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Picture taken Mid-October. Notice due to delayed planting their are no cucumber beetles or stink bugs infesting the plants.

This year the climate prediction center states that we will continue to have a February with temperature swings and periods of heavy precipitation.

For the growing season the prediction is for a gradual warm up from March through May with a wetter than normal spring.  Summer is looking like the warm up continues with a drier than normal precipitation forecast.

BIG THANKS TO THE C.O.R.N. Agronomic Newsletter for data assist. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK FOR THE CLIMATE DATA FROM NWS/NOAA

 

Make sure you check the prediction models when you are making your plans.  It might save you some time and trouble and might  get you some extra production.

Vegetable Seed Viability

If you are like me you have a box of seed packets,  some open, some not that you have accumulated over the seasons. I am one who sees a new variety of vegetable and feel like I want to try to squeeze that in to see if it grows easy and tastes great.

The problem is that over time these seeds loose their viability and their germination rates decrease.  I hate to waste anything so I end up keeping these seed packets way past their prime, even if I was to thick sow seed.  Most vegetable varieties have a certain amount of years that seed remains viable if stored correctly.   There is not a lot of information based on research out there but I did find a helpful link.

Oregon State Extension Seed Viability Times

I decided to try a simple germination test of three seed varieties.  I  put ten seeds of lettuce, onions, and cucumber in moist paper towel and observed for germination.  I  had always read that allium spp did not last year to year and was curious if true.

While this is not the most overly scientific test in the world, I found my results pretty spot on to the germination times listed.

I had 100% from the cukes, about 70% from the lettuce and none of the onion seeds germinated at all.

 

Make sure you store seeds in a cool and dry place.  Now is the time of year to sort them,  see what is viable and make a plan for what you will need to purchase.  Seed starting time is rapidly approaching.