Introducing Butterfly Ridge

Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center is a 5 acre slice of the Hocking Hills being developed as a habitat for the butterflies of south eastern Ohio.   I met the folks who are developing this project during while working on the event at the container garden at Hocking Valley Community Hospital.


I had an opportunity to tour the grounds this past week and it looks like it will become a nice asset to our county.   The developing grounds will be 5 acres of trails that wind through planted habitat of native butterfly pollinator and forage species as well as wooded mature hardwood forest.


A nature/educational center is almost complete to allow meeting space and educational programming.

I am looking forward to their completion and opening, targeting July of 2017.   We will be partnering together for some educational programming on butterfly and pollinator topics.

Tomato Planting Time

I took the opportunity to plant tomatoes at two different locations that I help maintain here in Hocking.   My target date for tomato planting is usually around Memorial Day.   That avoids almost any chance of a late frost as well as allows the critical soil warming tomatoes need.  Tomato plants will stop uptake of nutrients from their roots if temps are too low.   That is also why I told folks to hold off planting in April even though we had some great weather.   The past week had very high temps for most of the week(perfect to warm soil), then moderate temps with rain for the ten days following.  Perfect to plant and then have a good source of water for the new transplants.

First up was the Children’s Educational Garden here at the fairgrounds.  Here is the spot:

Four raised beds filled with compost. Great sun exposure, up against chain link fence.

Last year I planted a couple cherry tomatoes and then trellised them along the fence.  It worked great.  I tied the vines horizontally in a modified espalier technique.  It allowed tremendous production and I was able to keep the vines at kid level so they could easily harvest.

Building on that I started seedlings for six different colors of cherry tomato in my seed start grow station.  That will give us way more that can possibly be eaten but I was looking for a colorful effect.   I am a little worried about following tomatoes with tomatoes in back to back years and not following correct rotation.  I will only be able to do an every other year rotate.  I do heavily mulch and we reapply compost.  I will keep a close eye for disease.  Cherry tomatoes have shown they can out grow the blight so I am not super worried.

L -> R: White, Red, Chocolate, Orange, Green and Yellow.

The mulch is mission critical.  It smothers weeds, keeps the soil cool(not cold), prevents moisture loss as well as provides a barrier to the fungal spores in the soil that splash on the leaves and cause most of the tomato diseases.  That is why I had to wait until the soil warmed.  The mulch would have slowed warm up.


Next up The Urban Farm:

We are planning to use 2 of our 6 beds in tomatoes.  One of each of the two different growing media.  I want to see how they do in comparison.  The trellis method here is different.  I am using cattle panel that are zip tied into a steep triangle.  This will allow easy harvest and the panel will last years.

dark soil is a mark of lots of organic matter.

Tomatoes are one of the only plants that should be buried deeper than where they were growing in their container.  This is because they will grow roots off the stem below the ground which makes a stronger plant. I pinched off the lower branches and leaves and planted them in 10 inch deep holes.  Then comes the mulch.  I put about 3-4 inches deep hay around the plants.  I will add more as the plants grow.

14 plants per bed, 28 tomatoes total.

The asphalt next to the right side bed will keep the heat in.  This might hurt the plant in high summer heat.  I put cherry tomatoes in that bed as they do less blossom drop due to heat.  Now I just need to get my home plants in.

Butterfly Garden at Hocking Valley Community Hospital

I was able to participate in a fun event at HVCH this past Friday.   The containers from last years container vegetable garden were planted with a mix of plants that are specific attractors to butterflies, either for nectar or forage.   Rick Webb from Webb’s Perennials kindly donated the plants,  Thanks Rick!

The butterfly knowledge was provided by Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center which is located in Hocking Hills.  They have some land they are developing with plant species specific to butterflies and other pollinators.

Here is my favorite species of butterfly

It was a fun event.  The plan will be release of butterflies over the season into the protected courtyard so they can eat and then lay eggs.  Then after the caterpillars hatch they have forage to eat to mature into butterflies to continue on their journey.  The courtyard is a pleasant place for patients and staff to relax and this will make it even better.

I am looking forward to helping care for the butterfly garden this season and you will see me there periodically.  I also look forward to partnering with Butterfly Ridge to host programs at their center to provide educational programming later this summer.  I will let you all know about that once we get the details finalized.