The Urban Farm – fall harvest has started

The Urban Farm is now actually a farm.   The paperwork has been processed and we have gotten permission to proceed through the Ohio Senior Farmer’s Market voucher program.  Harvest started on some herbs from our own beds with some fresh fruit from the Chesterhill produce auction.  Sam will come up with some recipes based on what we have to sell seasonally.  We have apples, seckel pears and an assortment of fresh herbs including rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano right now.   I am thinking pork chops with sage and apples myself.


While there is only one more week left in the voucher program,  these are also available for sale to the public.  Stop by The Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen but do not dawdle,  once they are gone, they are gone.  Each box costs 5 dollars.  To order a box as well as some other great produce deals CLICK HERE FOR THE ORDER FORM FROM THE KITCHEN


Phase II of The Urban Farm at Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen

Yesterday was the ground breaking day to get some raised beds built and filled so that we could get cover crops in the ground anticipating rain this week and using the last little bit of nice weather for germination.   I had prepared the site a couple weeks prior with some glyphosate.   The area we are using to plant had some seriously potent weeds.


The plan was to get six raised beds,  4′ x 12′ by 8″ tall placed in this area with 3 foot paths between them.   We had received a donation of lumber from an amazing local partner, Mike’s Lumber LLC on 93N, of all the wood to construct the planting beds.  Huge thanks to Mike!!

Our original orientation would be north-south, but we had some last minute questions about property lines, so we placed the beds on an east-west orientation in case we had to move row two.


Next we laid cardboard on the pathways and the bottom of the raised beds.  Thick cardboard for the paths,  thin stuff that will break down by next year in the beds.  We put landscape fabric on top of the paths, and then spread wood chips on top of the fabric.  Weeds are a real concern to me and if I get a chance to minimize them I will.  A good start on weed control will minimize them potentially for years. Huge thanks to Athens-Hocking Waste Recyclers for a load of wood chips for the pathways.

Then once the beds were ready a cover crop mix of rye, vetch and clover was planted and watered in.  The cover crop will help the compost we filled the beds with become more bio-active and be ready for spring planting.  I am hoping that we get the second row filled and cover cropped as well.  We were waiting on permission to plant from the neighbors and thankfully got that permission shortly after this part of Phase II was done.



A huge thanks to the work crew: Sam, Brad, Bob and Robert from HAPCAP.   We also had two sponsors contribute materials that Sam and I want to recognize for their generous donations:

  • Mike’s Lumber LLC
  • Athens-Hocking Waste Recyclers
The Phase II work crew.

The Phase II work crew.

Save The Date! Update on the Veterinary Feed Directive Wednesday January 11th, 7pm

Changes will soon occur to hundreds of antimicrobial applications for livestock by the end of the year.   These changes will add the need for Veterinary oversight on how medically important antibiotics can be used in food and water in livestock.

A presentation on the basics of what the Veterinary Feed Directive rules will be going forward and how it will impact local producers will be held at the Youth Center at the Hocking County Fairgrounds on Wednesday January 11th at 7pm.


My take on Fall Lawn Care

Everyone has chores they like(tolerate)  and chores they hate.  For instance I do not mind hand washing dishes, but hate to empty the dishwasher.  That is weird, I know.   One chore I despise is raking leaves.  You can rake leaves for two hours at my house and come back later and see no grass visible.  Hate. It.

So about five years ago or so, I decided to experiment with using my lawn mower to mulch the leaves in place, with the hope that if I get the particle size down small enough, they would finish breaking down over the winter into some much needed organic matter.   I always do a fall application of fertilizer(and you should too,  it is the best time to do so) and so I would be adding a nitrogen(fertilizer) with a carbon(leaves)

And it worked pretty good.  I do not need my yard pristine.  Just mostly green with weeds at a minimum.

So it is getting to that time of year.  Here is my backyard:


Buckeye leaves right now. It leafs out first and drops them first

Sometimes to get the leaves into little bits you need to run over them more than once.  Not a problem for me, I like to mow more than I like to rake:

After three mower passes. Still see some brown. It will be all done by spring.

After three mower passes. Still see some brown. It will be all gone by spring.

Leaves are an outstanding organic matter supplement.  They have twice the nutrient content of manure per pound.  In the Columbus Dispatch Home and Garden section, on Sunday October 3rd, 2016,  they quoted Purdue Extension four year leaf mulch test results with applying shredded maple leaves to lawns:

  • no negative effect on turf visual quality, color or growth, soil pH, or the likelihood of developing weeds.
  • research suggested that mulched leaves might reduce dandelions!


I still have to follow with fertilizer.  As I stated,  if you only fertilize your lawn  once per year, best to make it in fall.  That is because my lawn, made up of perennial grasses, is in the process of sending energy to the root mass to be able to overwinter for a strong spring emergence.  Putting some organic matter plus fertilizer down will help tremendously with that.

The fertilizer basics:


Nutrient breakdown is 28-0-3.  (N-P-K).  28% Nitrogen, 0% Phosphorus, 3% Potassium.  The phosphorus is removed due to the harmful algal blooms affecting the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.  A good batch of Nitrogen to help the grass build up energy in the roots to survive winter and come on strong in spring.

The active herbicide ingredient is 2,4 D.   Good against broadleaf weeds, with minimal toxicity to pollinators.  Good for fall use when the weeds are sending energy to the roots to survive the winter.  I send a little herbicide down to the roots of the weeds to kill weeds and eliminate competition to the grass.

I do not use a pesticide by choice.  Your lawn may or may not need that control.  I need the bugs to help break down my organic matter and I enjoy lightning bugs, earthworms and pollinators  so I do not apply a pesticide component.


I am five years into this process and it has been pretty successful.  I have a decent looking lawn that tolerates deep shade with a minimum of work and cost.  Just have to remember to run the gas out of the mower and clean and sharpen the blade before winter.


CLICK HERE for a factsheet on controlling lawn weeds from Georgia Extension.


Fall Project Updates

As we progress through fall and the growing season slowly comes to an end I thought I would give an update on several projects that I have been working on over the last few months.

First up is the Children’s Educational Garden here at the fairgrounds:

The garden is still doing great.  Tons of cherry tomatoes and peppers still.  Some shell beans left from the green bean bushes.  Parsley and onions as well.   Feel free to come down to the fairgrounds and help yourself, especially if your tomatoes are done as we have lots.

In a few weeks when frost has killed most of the leftover summer veggies we will plant cover crops in the raised beds.  It is the same blend as last year which turned out great.  Rye, clover and vetch from Walnut Creek Seeds.

72.5% Winter Cereal Rye 12% Crimson clover 11.9% Hairy Vetch

72.5% Winter Cereal Rye
12% Crimson clover
11.9% Hairy Vetch


Next up is The Urban Farm:

The perennial herb garden is doing great.  We finally got some rain and it has cooled off.



The site we have selected for the raised beds could not be much better.  South face, full sun, aligns east to west. Perfect.




Last update is the accessible raised beds from the What a Waste project.  The veggies did great and they got a major harvest.  Fall is definitely a great time to grow vegetables.



I will have a bigger update on The Urban Farm at Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen in a few weeks.


Food Plots and Habitat Improvement to Benefit Wildlife

During the recent Farm Science Review I was given the opportunity to speak at the Gwynne Conservation Area on a topic of my choosing.  The guidelines were that it had to be Natural Resources focused as that is what that area deals with.  I have been doing some Food Plot stuff here in county so it seemed natural to pick that topic for the Gwynne.

Here is an overhead view of where I will plant.  Not a bad spot, not a great spot.  It has water although you cannot see it, but Deer Creek runs right behind it and a pond is right in front.  It has some trees but no good mast trees and not enough soft edges.  Site selection of plots is paramount, and cover is as important as food.  As the saying goes “they will visit if there is food, they will stay if there is cover”


I will plant in the spot that has birdhouses

So here is the spot I will get to use.  It was a weed choked wasteland, but was burnt down with glyphosate and lightly tilled.




And a  wild game seed mix was broadcast by hand on to the top of the soil.  Not a bad seed choice by variety: some rye, triticale, clover, oats and forage rape(a brassica).  That is cold hardy with nitrogen fixing, protein and some cereal grains.  Deer and Turkey will love it.



This was done around August 1st.  Then it basically got hot and forgot to rain for weeks.  When I would go back to look at the plot I would see dry seed getting gobbled up by birds.   A soil test was done but was misplaced and turned in only a week before the Review.  No biggie,  I did not have the funds to fertilize, was more interested in seeing what the soil looked like.

Here is the soil test.



Yikes that is a crazy soil test.  Totally different than what I see in Hocking.  High pH with increased calcium and magnesium.  Not a ton of fertility and a low organic matter percentage.  Basically we planted in poor soil, did not fertilize, did not use herbicides and planted at the wrong time.  I basically did everything wrong.  And it showed.


Too bad deer and turkey don’t love foxtail, thistle, milkweed and wild parsnip.   I did see some cool stuff in there though, like the Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed.


And the Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the wild parsnip(they like everything in that family of plants – celery, parsley, carrots, dill, etc..)



It was a successful class as I used this opportunity to show what NOT to do and quite honestly that can be just as effective.  Next year I think I will do it a little differently.  Maybe do half correct and half incorrect, I have the incorrect part down pat.

Let me know if you want to incorporate a wildlife plot on your land.  It is probably too late to get going planting from scratch, but not too late to plan and do site evaluation.  In fact fall is the perfect time for that.