Steamy July Days

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

Margaret Roach, one of my favorite garden bloggers, describes this month by saying, “July always starts out as “Throw in the Trowel month” for me, as in: “I give up!” I want to throw in the trowel; mow the whole place down or turn it under (think: bulldozer)”.

As I gaze out the windows in the sunroom, I see at least 3 kinds of grasses growing up among the daylilies, swamp milkweed, and a few other brave perennials in the flower bed in front of my raised vegetable garden beds. It was actually “weed free” a month ago, but thanks to the spectacular rains and heat, the grasses are winning the battle! I just must remind myself that it will be ok, that the weeds can be pulled, and the mulch can be spread. Remember, we garden because we love it. I will repeat that over and over in the next few weeks.

The vegetable garden took another hit this week. The cabbages have the centers eaten out of them, and the leaves on the cucumber vines are being trimmed. I have been researching different ways to prevent future damage, but I think the first thing I will do is put out the wildlife camera and correctly identify the culprits!

One of my favorite plants in the landscape is considered a weed by some people. Common Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) is in the Snapdragon (Scrophulariacceae) family and is a biennial. It forms a velvety-leaved basal rosette the first year and an erect flowering stem the year following.

Stan Tekiela lists Mullein’s characteristics in his Wildflowers of Ohio Field Guide as:

Height: 2 to 6 feet

Flower: Club-like spike, 1 to 2 feet long, of many small yellow flowers, ¾ – 1” wide, packed along the stalk; each flower has 5 petals that open only a few at a time, from the top down

Leaf: Large basal leaves, 12 to 15” long, with thick covering of stiff hairs, velvety to touch; upper leaves are stalkless and clasp main stem at alternate intervals; leaves progressively smaller towards top of stalk

Bloom: Summer, fall

Cycle/Origin: Biennial, non-native

Habitat: Dry, sun, fields, along roads and disturbed areas

Range: Naturalized throughout the state

Tekiela shares that Common Mullein is a European import known for its very soft, flannel-like leaves, hence its other common name, the Flannel Plant. Its dried stems stand well into winter. It is said the Romans dipped its dried flower stalks in animal tallow to use as torches. Victorian women rubbed the leaves on their cheeks, slightly irritating their skin, to add a dash of blush. Early settlers and American Indians placed the soft woolly leaves in footwear for warmth and comfort.

Start looking around to see if you have this interesting plant in your landscape! Common Mullein is a great plant and can look nice with many of our native plants like Compass plant, Cup Plant, and Joe-Pye Weed.

Remember, “The only difference between a flower and a weed is judgement!”

Good Luck to Ohio State Fair Participants

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator

July 24, 2019

The 2019 Ohio State Fair will be held from July 24 to August 4, 2019. Over the course of the fair over 100 Highland County youth will be competing at the State Fair.

Last year I made a short video highlighting a few of the Highland County participants I saw competing at the State Fair. I am hoping to create another short video again this year, so if you are competing at the Ohio State Fair on July 24, 25, or 30, send me an email to, let me know what you will be showing and when, and I will try to come see your show and include you in the video. If you will be showing on another day at the State Fair, email me a short video of you showing.

During the rush of spring planting this year, I assisted the Ohio State University Precision Planting Team to create a virtual reality experience for the State Fair. This VR experience highlights the advanced technology used by agricultural producers in the tractor and how farmers are partnering with researchers to improve water quality, sustainability, and efficiency in their farming operations. This VR experience will be shown everyday at the Ohio State Fair this year in the Nationwide Donahey Land + Living Building in the technology exhibit.

So if you will be participating at the Ohio State Fair, stop by the Nationwide Donahey Land + Living Building to explore a variety of agriculture-based career opportunities. Best of luck to all participants and be safe traveling to the fair. For more information about any of the Extension programs, contact the OSU Extension office at 937-393-1918.

Upcoming Events:
Leadership Highland applications will be accepted through July 29, 2019. Applications can be obtained through the Ohio State University Extension, Highland County website or by visiting the office. For more information about the Leadership Highland program, contact Brooke Beam at 937-393-1918.

Germinate International Film Fest will be held on August 16 & 17, 2019. Tickets are available now through the Ohio State University Extension Office. The Germinate International Film Fest has over 70 films and photography exhibits for attendees to view.