From Across the Field – Thinking Ahead

Thank goodness the ice held off long enough for us to have a great turnout for the 2019 edition of Northwest Ohio Crops Day. We had right at 100 total attendees, an increase from last year. I certainly appreciate the support of both vendors and producers who helped make the event the success as we continue to improve the quality of service and improve the knowledge base of producers in the area. Go ahead mark the Friday of the first full week in February for next year’s event.

Next on the docket is our Northwest Ohio Small Farms Conference and Tradeshow where there will be a day full of session covering farm management, horticulture, livestock, specialty crops and youth education. That event will be held at Northwest State Community College on March 16. Call the office if you would like more information.

I don’t know about you but I am getting tired of winter. The good news is spring is only five weeks away. This past weekend I was in southern Ohio and it was quite evident that the livestock are about fed up with winter too. The swings in temperature are especially hard on them. Cattle don’t perform as well when they are muddy or forced to walk on hard, frozen ground. On the flip side the ewes that my brother has are lambing it is hard to keep things nice and dry in the barn when there is snow on the ground.

That’s enough about winter, I really would like to start talking about spring activities. One question I get this time of year, “Is it too early to be talking about planting flowers?” The answer is no! There are a number of popular tender garden annuals that can easily be started from seed in your home. Some need as much as 12 weeks to develop (which takes us to May), so they can be started soon. These include wax (or fibrous-rooted) begonias, geraniums, heliotrope, pansies and violas.

Almost any shallow container or flat with drainage holes can be used to germinate seeds. Use a soilless mix, since garden soil can harbor diseases that attack young seedlings. Keep the medium moist at all times by misting the soil, or placing the container in a tray of water allowing “capillary” action. The seeds do not need light to germinate, but light quality is critical once germination has taken place. Once the seedlings have developed 3-4 true leaves, they can be moved to individual containers or cell packs, and benefit from light fertilizer applications. I’ll end this week with a quote from Alfred A. Monapert: “Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” Have a great week.

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