Fall Planting Milkweed Seeds

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer


Can you believe it’s almost November? I seem to sound like a “broken record” each month, complaining that the days just flew by!

The rain and wind continue to knock down the leaves and now the Cottonwood leaves are creating a heavy mat on the grass. Those leaves are the toughest to deal with as far as I am concerned! And now walking down by the creek has become quite tricky because of all the black walnuts on the ground!

November is a great time to plant milkweed seeds according to Tony Gomez (monarchbutterflygarden.net). It’s too warm for the ground to be frozen, but too cold for seeds to sprout before winter sets in. Remember that perennial milkweed seeds need cold stratification, so why not let winter take care of that naturally! Exposing seeds to cool temperatures before the warmer temps of spring will cause them to break their dormancy, coaxing out your new spring seedlings.

The 10 simple steps to fall planning milkweed seeds include:

  1. Put your seeds into a small bowl and bring out to the planting area.
  2. Clear away any mulch or rocks from the area which could potentially block the growth of a small seedling.
  3. Water the area thoroughly and let it saturate the soil.
  4. Put on garden gloves and stick your index finger in the dirt up to your first knuckle.
  5. Repeat this process for each seed you are planting.
  6. Place a seed in each hole.
  7. Cover the seeds with the already-moist soil.
  8. Mark your seed area with sturdy plant labels.
  9. Do you have squirrels? You might want to consider putting down chicken wire to deter squirrels or other pesky critters from digging up your new milkweed patch.
  10. Relax for the winter!

I am still hoping to get some small trees planted before the ground freezes, but I might have to do it in the rain! We all complained about the hot humid weather and how it kept us from working in our gardens. Now that the cooler weather is here, I would love for it to stop raining long enough for me to finish my October “to-do list”. How about you?

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the garden seminar on Thursday, November 15at the Mt. Orab campus of Southern State Community College. Doug Dyer, OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer, will talk about Poison Hemlock and other invasive weeds. Remember that all seminars are free and open to the public and are held in Room 208 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The wind is howling, and the leaves are blowing! It’s a great day to stay inside and plan next year’s gardens!

Cover Crops Can Provide Added Benefit

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator

October 29, 2018

Cover crops are a frequently discussed topic among agriculturalists of both livestock and crop production. Primarily used to manage soil erosion and soil quality, cover crops can provide added benefit to many farming operations. While cover crops are not always a traditional crop that is planted with the intention to be harvested, they can provide other benefits which may result in higher profits by improving the soil.

Cover crops have been used for centuries, but have made a comeback in popularity due to environmental and ecological efforts, according to Alan Sundermeier, an Ohio State University Extension Educator. Benefits of cover crops include improvements to soil quality, erosion control, fertility improvements, suppression of weeds, and insect control. Cover crops can be planted as soon as the previous crop has been harvested or consumed. For instance, once a field of soybeans has been harvested in September, wheat could be planted immediately following.

There are a variety of plants that serve well as cover crops. These plants include hairy vetch, alfalfa, clovers, rye, oats, wheat, and forage turnips. Sundermeier said, “a combination of two or more types of cover crops may be beneficial for quick establishment and improved nutrient utilization.”

Dr. Jim Linnie, a Highland County grass-fed beef producer, has utilized cover crops on his farm to extend the grazing season and improve the soil quality. Linnie no-tilled his cover crop seed into his existing perennial pastures after his cattle had grazed the pasture to a low height. He used a combination of forage oats, nitro radish, purple top turnip, rape, and hairy vetch. Linnie said his cattle will enjoy this “salad bar” in November and December.

Cover crops planted in Dr. James Linnie’s pasture near Hillsboro, Ohio. Photo credit: Dr. James Linnie. 

As you consider cover crops for your farming operation, think about the use of the land and how long the fields or pastures are green. Fields that experience longer periods of growing seasons can be healthier due to added nutrients, enhanced soil biology, and improved organic matter in the soil. Linnie partnered with Peter Donovan of the Soil Carbon Coalition to study how many days his pasture had a green growing season. The Soil Carbon Coalition utilizes Google Earth Engine’s catalog of satellite imagery to detect the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), which is an indicator of the activity of photosynthesis or the presence of green vegetation.

The Soil Carbon Coalition has an interactive map of the Little Miami watershed, which includes portions of Highland County, available to view on their website. If you are interested in seeing the impact of cover crops from a local perspective, check out the map at https://soilcarboncoalition.org/html/LittleMiami.html. For more information about cover crops and how to incorporate them into your farming operation, contact the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.


Upcoming Events:

 The Global Climate Change Update with Dr. Thomas Blaine from The Ohio State University will be held on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, from 6: 30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. The program will be held at the Brown County Fairgrounds, Rhonemus Hall. The cost to attend is free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, contact James Morris at morris.1677@osu.eduor at the Brown County Extension Office at 937-378-6716.

The next Highland County Monthly Extension Program will be held on December 10, 2018, at 10:00 A.M. at the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Hillsboro, Ohio. More details will be coming soon, please save the date and plan to attend.