Vegetable Gardening at Peer House

On of my more favorite job activities is to help get a vegetable garden up and running.  It can be backyard, urban farm or community gardening but I really enjoy the process as well as it is one of my areas of specialization –> Local Food Production.  I always say the best local food is the food you grow yourself.

I was referred by a colleague to Laura Nadeau, Site Lead, at Hocking County Peer House in Logan, a part of Integrated Service.  Laura besides being site lead is the resident chef, den mother, gardener and overall saint who keeps Peer House moving and she asked  if I would come over to help them get a vegetable garden plan going.  They grow vegetables that can be used in the food service , right up my alley.

First thing is that they have some great spots to grow flowers and vegetables.  Two nice half sun beds in the front and a perfect full sun, south exposure spot in the back yard off the deck.  So we made a plan.

Laura sourced some flowers and seeds(and started some transplants herself) and with some volunteer and resident help we got the beds planted.

This bed got flowers, the other front bed got roma tomatoes, the back beds are mixed veggies


You should see it now!  Harvest is on for tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and cucumbers with peppers and pumpkins on the way.


They even won an award for it.

A garden spot does not need to be large to be productive.  Contact me if  you have a space you wish to garden in and I will help you get started on the path to creating your own local food.

Fall Planted Vegetables

Have you checked the Fall Vegetable Planting Timeline to make sure you are maximizing garden productivity?  The NOAA/NWS projected fall of 2017 will have a delayed freeze risk of 1-2 weeks.  That gives the potential for a longer harvest into the fall.   You still have time to plant a bunch of seed.

I started some lettuce under the lights of my Seed Start Grow Station last week.

Four Season Marvel variety. Red leaf, cold hardy, very tasty

I will put these into The Urban Farm in a few weeks.  I will start more seeds in about 2 weeks or so.  Lettuce is frost tolerant and fairly cold hardy.  With row cover we will harvest until Thanksgiving easy.


In the Children’s Educational Garden here at the fairgrounds, harvest is in full swing with the cherry tomato vertical garden providing a colorful medley.  My favorites are the white and purple cherries.


I seeded bush green beans that have about a 50 day maturity from seed.


The zucchini is also up and I hope to start harvesting by end of september.


Fall is one of the best times to grow.  Maximize your production by getting some seed in the ground now so you have vegetables to enjoy later on.

All day gardening event at Bishop Educational Garden – Sept 9th, 2017

On Saturday September 9, 2017, the Hocking County Master Gardeners (MGV), in conjunction with the Hocking County Soil and Water Conservation District, are offering a day of fun, education and training entitled Secrets in Our Garden. “Our Garden” is Bishop’s Educational Garden located at 13200 Little Cola Road, Rockbridge, Ohio.

Attendees can select from ten different workshops including: Tree Identification, Invasive Plants, Pollinators, Container Gardening, Edible Landscapes, and more. The keynote speaker will be Julie Zickefoose, writer, artist and naturalist who will be presenting, Creating a Haven for your Wildlife and Yourself. Kris Cline, of the newly opened, Butterfly Ridge Conservation Center, and Rick Webb from Webb’s Perennials will be on hand to speak.

Registration includes five CEUs(for MGV), lunch and snacks; the cost is $30 for MGVs and $35 for non-members. The registration deadline is August 15. For more information, you may send an email to, call the OSU Extension Office in Hocking County at 740-385-3222, or visit the Hocking County Master Gardeners Events Page on Facebook.


Click Here to Print Brochure  –> Secrets in Our Garden (4)-1hdtrf3

The Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour at The Urban Farm on August 8th.

There will be a free open to the public tour of The Urban Farm at Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen on Tuesday August 8th at 6:30 pm as part of The Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour as well as a celebration of Ohio Local Foods week.


Come visit The Urban Farm to see our process.  Bring your friends and your questions and hear about our current plans for produce production and plans for expansion in 2018.


Fall Vegetable Planting Timeline

Fall is a great time to harvest vegetables.  The weather is cooler,  the bugs not as bad, you still have some sunlight and the rain is a little more regular than summer.  To have a fall vegetable harvest you need to do a little planning to time your harvest to the frost date.  Our frost free date in Hocking is around the middle of October.  As of July 9th, we have around a little under 100 days of growing left.  Honestly that means you can still grow almost anything.

Start right now:

  • Asian cabbage, heading cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower – under the lights would be best.  I will start mine shortly in my Seed Start Grow Station.  Starting them indoors avoids high summer heat on fragile cabbage family transplants.  They will go out around Labor Day.  They do not mind cool weather and are improved by a touch of frost.

Lettuce and Asian cabbages are great plants to start with when you are learning to start seeds. They germinate rapidly and reliably and take to transplanting very well.

  • Feel free to start some lettuce indoors now as well.   A dozen heads of lettuce to start, and then repeat that every two weeks for the next month or two.  You might lose some if August is blazing or you might have homegrown lettuce to go with your BLT.
  •  Plant another row of green beans as well as start another few zucchini/yellow squash plants.  You have plenty of time to mature them,  trust me.
  • Direct seed some green onions and carrots now.  These will be tricky because they both take weeks to germinate as well as do not like to break through a hard dry soil crust.  They both tolerate cold later on and you get a harvest into October or November. 

  • If you did not do potatoes early on and you have some space go ahead and plant seed potatoes.  They will be buried under soil and mulch and you will have some in fall. 
  • Hold off a little bit for sugar snap peas, maybe another two weeks,  then start them as well.
  • You can direct seed another round of cucumbers now.  Then you have some to go with your lettuce and tomatoes for a nice fall salad.
  • Hold off about 3-4 weeks before you start radishes and beets.  They both grow pretty fast and taste way better when they mature in the fall.
  • Direct seed another round of Basil right now.  Then you have some later in the season that you are not having to cut all the time to keep in under control

Just a few ideas to get you started.  Mix in some row cover on some of the veggies and you can have a harvest that easily lasts to Thanksgiving.


Start Scouting for Harlequin Bug

Hocking County had a serious problem last growing season with Harlequin bug damage on crucifers.  Any plant that was not monitored with hand picking or treated with insecticide was severely damaged up to complete loss of product.  I have not seen this pest up in Columbus where I garden although I am sure it is on its way.  It is normally a southern pest but has been moving north with the temperatures like all the rest of the bugs. When I did the garden walk at The Logan Community garden last year I noticed that all the brussel sprouts had been chewed to bits by this guy:

August 2016 pic

Scouting started in mid-May with the first bugs noted at The Urban Farm on June 13th.

Feeding damage from the bugs is noted on the leaf in the form of white stippling. Large holes were caused by feeding of Cabbage White larvae

Hand picking was used to remove the several bugs noted instead of insecticide to allow harvest of the remaining broccoli.  The planting beds will be rotated out of broccoli within the next couple weeks and no other cruciferous vegetables will be planted until August, but scouting will continue.

In your gardens, especially if you have a long season brassica like brussel sprouts, you will need to do extensive hand picking as well as monitor for egg cases.  Consider using an insecticide as well.  More pics and treatment options in the links below.

Harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica) –>  Profile: Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Factsheet: University of Maryland

OSU Vegnet photo identification

Weed Control Using Cover Crops – Winter Rye

I hate weeds.   In most gardens they are a nuisance.  In my community garden they are overwhelming.  I garden in an extremely old Victory Garden remnant that might be the oldest community garden in Ohio.

That means the weeds have been there for so long they have naturalized to the place and the seed bank it unreal.  Last year I put a third of it in Sorghum X Sudangrass as an experiment to see how well it would help smother weeds.   I did not see a decrease in weed germination after that but I did find the ground easier to work this year in that spot.  The plow does spread the soil around so that did not help with weeds.

Here is what I have to deal with.  This is the next door plot.  The owner has not done any work yet.

cocklebur, bindweed, thistle, lamb’s quarters, morning glory, smartweed, ragweed, etc…….

It is all about two feet tall and going to seed.  Here is a better picture to give you an idea of the weeds.

I tilled residue under after mowing last week to make a seedbed.

Normally I would have planted buckwheat in this spot, just like what was done at the Logan Community Garden last year, but I had some winter rye left over from last year and that is what I used.

One patch of thistle in the middle of this pic needs dug out. I will mow the rye to keep it from going to seed through the season.

The rye cover crop will smother weeds and add organic matter to the soil.  It will be much easier to manage and frequent mowing will eliminate annual weeds as well.


Vertical Gardening Experiments

One of the best ways to increase harvest as well as maximize garden space is to grow upward.  Fencing, trellis material, bamboo poles, etc all have a small ground footprint but allow plants to use the vertical instead of just the horizontal.  In the various gardens here in Hocking I have some small experiments going on that I wanted to share.  Hopefully these give you some ideas to take home.

First up is The Urban Farm:

One of my favorite trellis items is cattle panel.  It is not expensive,  will last longer than me, and I am not sure I can break it.  I cut a 16 foot length in half.  I can do a four foot high trellis 8 foot long or an 8 foot high trellis four foot long.  Here is a couple ideas.  The trellis is zip tied at the top in a steep triangle shape.

Sugar snap peas almost completely covering the cattle panel. I thick plant pea seed way past recommendations. This is possible because I know the compost medium I planted in has some serious fertility to handle the nutrient need

Same concept with tomatoes. Can reach through the panel to harvest tomatoes easily. Will bear a ton of weight without any problems. Clip the zip ties at the end of the season to store the panel.

Next up is Bishop Educational Gardens:

If you missed last week’s Edible Landscaping – Beauty and the Feast workshop you did not get a chance to see the amazingly cool raised beds constructed by a relative of our Hocking County volunteer superstar Andy J.

Seriously. Raised beds made from hardwood facings from logging. Genius. Why did I not think of that?

It is tough to tell from this pic but there are three tiers of height. From L to R, eggplant and peppers, tomatoes, then planted pole beans. This will grow up to be a wall of colors, shapes, and textures that are edible. It is a one side view when standing on the road at the left. The trellis will be bamboo poles sourced from the grounds.


Last up is The Children’s Garden at the fairgrounds:

I showed you recently how I am doing tomatoes planted with espalier technique on chain link fence.  That will be dynamite I am hoping.  My other vertical experiments are with pole beans using two types of support; one living and one telephone.

Pole beans, var. Christmas Lima, from my friend Sarolin from saved seed here in Logan. They will be able to grow up the telephone pole support wire freely. I am curious to see how high they get.

This is a sunflower plant. I planted pole beans around the base of the plant. They will have a symbiotic relationship. The beans will use the flower as support while providing nutrition to the flower from nitrogen fixing.

I have two support wires for the telephone pole in front of my office to use. This one is getting seeded with pole black beans from Hocking County saved seed from my gardener/chicken friend Beth M.

Lastly. This is a mouse melon plant. It produces grape sized fruit that look like watermelon. This plant is in the ground by the telephone support wire that have the lima beans. This plant will also benefit from nitrogen fixing from the pole beans.

Hopefully you get some ideas to use in your garden.  The trellis/support will allow me to use limited space for maximum harvest over the course of the season.