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.

 

Small Farm Conference and Trade Show in Piketon on March 29th and 30th

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.

 

CLICK HERE for registration details, event brochure and details of class listing. 

 

 

 

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 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.

Free Horse Manure for Pick Up

Free Horse Manure Available for Pick Up
The Columbus Police Department has a supply of horse manure available free of charge for urban farmers and community gardens.  The manure must be picked up at the Columbus Police Mounted Unit at 2609 McKinley Ave. near Valleyview on the near west side of Columbus.  The manure is available seven days a week from 8 am to 4 pm without an appointment or notice.
Upon entering the facility, turn right and drive back to where the 30 yard container is located.  A staff member is on duty at the facility and can help open the container door if necessary.  Be sure to close the container door when you are through loading.  You will need to bring shovels, and containers (or a truck) to load and haul the manure yourself.

The debris is fresh manure with hay and straw from the stalls after mucking added to the top. Lower levels may be more composted. The door is heavy and tricky to use, get assistance from staff to open and close the door if needed.

Questions: Contact Mike at hogan.1@osu.edu