Charting Hemlocks at Ash Cave


Ash Cave is one of the trails inside of Hocking Hills State Park, one of the crown jewels of the State of Ohio.  Recently I partnered with Ohio Department of Natural Resources naturalists, Hocking College foresters, Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District foresters and Federal Natural Resources conservationists, under the direction of Extension Forestry Specialist, Dave Apsley, to start to chart the Hocking Hills region’s hemlocks by diameter class.

The research will be used to combat the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid invasive pest to hopefully stop it before it devastates these beautiful trees and leaves large bare spots in our beautiful county.

Extension will continue to partner with these smart and dedicated individuals, but it will take a massive amount of work and resources with everyone at the county, state and federal level to prevent the spread of this pest.

We were able to chart 1309 Hemlock trees in only a 17 acre small plot that is the hollow of Ash Cave where the trail winds to the falls.  There is still much work to be done.  The total area of Hocking Hills State Park is much larger and is still only a small part of the county.

Converting an Old farm to a New farm

I met Nick Green on my very first day as the new Ag and Natural Resources Extension Educator.

He walked into the Extension office and wanted to know everything we new about growing hops.  He had a plan to convert part of his families 3rd generation into a Hops farm, eventually going for Organic Certification.    Green Farm3

I personally knew some about growing hops, but since I also have all the resources of Ohio State Extension behind me we were able to provide Nick and his father Greg with a ton of information to help him get started on the right path and try to eliminate as many right off the bat problems as we could.  A 3.1 acre piece of pasture was plowed, then disked, then limed and then a cover crop was planted.  The spot they have chosen to plant is easily one of the prettiest pieces of ground in Hocking County.

Green Farm2

I am excited to follow the progress of this small farm startup.  The Green’s are smart, motivated, and are going about this the right way.  Extension support will be there for any help they need and I will keep you updated as thing progress.

Ohio State South Center Hops website is a great place to start learning.  They also have a tour of the onsite hops farm every First Friday of the month.

Ohio State University is also hosting a Hops and Malting Barley Conference in February in Wooster for this very rapid growth industry.


Now that is a mushroom

Local resident Russell Jenkins stopped in with this mushroom that he found in his yard. By his estimation it weighed between three and three and a half pounds and was 8″ x 8″ x 7″ in size.

mushroom1          Note the coffee maker for scale.


Unfortunately my knowledge of edible vs poisonous mushrooms was not accurate enough to advise whether to eat this or not.  I did promise Russell however someday I will be an expert.  Learning about foraging for edible wild mushrooms is on my to do list for someday.

Do you want to learn about such things?  Make sure you have become an expert before you try or you might regret it. The mushroom Russell brought in could very well be edible, but like most mushrooms there is a close relative of it that is poison.

Some helpful Links

Ohio Mushroom Society

White Puffball Mushroom

OSU Extension Wild Mushroom Factsheet

A walk in the woods

Local resident Cheryl Todd called me recently because she had some questions about some of the trees on her 1+ acre of paradise here in Hocking county.  I brought along Rob Meyer, HSWCD forestry technician, a guy who knows his trees, and on a beautiful fall day we headed north on 664 in my truck.

From L to R:

Pic 1: Emerald Ash Borer damage on an Ash tree.  A major problem in Ohio, present in all 88 counties. You can see the characteristic lesion present in the bark when the larval form of the borer emerges after feeding.

Pic 2: Canker on a red Maple tree.  This tree had multiple lesions, but the top looked great and it was fully leafed out.

Pic 3. Elm tree.  Elms are not long lived trees.  This one had a stark beauty with no bark present among the rest of the forest. It died naturally for its species.

The forest around Cheryl’s house had tremendous diversity with cherry, oak, maple, hickory, ash, elm, walnut, sycamore and poplar trees noted.  No major unexpected problems were detected.  If you have any tree questions let us know.   Thanks for letting us take a look around.

Jewel Weed vs. Poison Ivy

I recently received an email with a picture from Hocking resident John Yorde.  He has a plant on his land that he wanted identified as he had heard it might be a treatment for poison ivy.  The plant in question is Jewel Weed,  and it does have a reputation as an alternative cure for itchy rashes.



Here is some more fun information about Jewel Weed from the National Park Service  Thanks for the question and pic John.

Farm Science Review

When I was a student in Veterinary school I remember my professors mentioning that it would be a good idea for us to attend the Farm Science Review.  As we were extraordinarily busy and they did not give us any time off for attendance, I never actually made it out there.  I have driven by the Molly Caren Agricultural Center  on I70 many times and was curious to see what the hype was about when I started this job and learned that I was going to get a chance to attend.

Without an ounce of exaggeration I can state that the Farm Science Review is the most incredible thing in the world.  Picture the Ohio State Fair mixed with the Midwest Veterinary Conference on high doses of Bovine Growth Hormone.  I will attend every year from here on out.

The pictures can tell the story.  Acres of tractors, displays of hundreds of years of farm equipment, test plots of various types of crops, and every single type of food you could possibly imagine.  As my old professors used to say.  I highly recomment you attend the Review.

Creating a Wildflower garden

A local resident, Bill Bussel, contacted me recently about starting conversion of some of his extensive backyard lawn into a wildflower garden.  A wildflower garden is important as a means of providing habitat for pollenators, birds, butterflies, as well as improving the general biodiversity.  A bonus is that it will be less for Bill to mow.

bussel1Here is the before picture. Note the vegetable garden as well as forest. Both of these will contribute as well as benefit from the wildflowers.

The first step in any planting project will be amending the soil prior to planting.  This holds true regardless of this being for a lawn, garden, specialty crop or wildflower patch.

The sod will be removed and organic matter will be added with a target for spring planting.

Pollenator habitat seed packets can be found here

It will be fun to follow this project.  If you have a project in mind and would like help from OSU extension feel free to contact me