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.
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.
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 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.
Come visit the Small Farm Conference and Trade Show at OSU South Centers in Piketon on March 29th and 30th. A wide variety of educational tracks will be offered. See the class listings below. This is a great opportunity for the urban farmer or producer to learn about a number of topics related to production.
Click the image below to enlarge.
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
Who can get their soil tested?
Community Gardens and Urban Farms in the City of Columbus or community gardens or farms that provide food to City of Columbus residents.
Click Here to print a copy of the flyer –> GardenSoilTesting
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is important for the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer to prioritize soil health. Soil Health = Plant Health = People Health.
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.