This Week on the Southern Ohio Farm Show

This week’s episode of the Southern Ohio Farm Show featured a weather update by OSU Extension Climatologist, Dr. Aaron Wilson, the EIDL program, an interview with Dr. Michael Para of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center about COVID-19, gardening with Faye Mahaffey, a meat science cooking demonstration, and a special segment about Mother’s Day.  If you were unable to view the show, it is also posted on our Facebook and YouTube pages. It will also be broadcasted on the Hillsboro and Greenfield local access channels.

The next broadcast of the Southern Ohio Farm Show will be held on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at 10 AM via Zoom. You can register for the program via:

Next week’s episode will include topics on pesticide container recycling and forages with guest speakers of Tony Nye and Christine Gelley. If you do not have a computer or a smart phone, you are still able to listen to the program using the call-in option. Call the OSU Extension Office at 937-393-1918 for more information about the call-in number.

Garden Planning – Dream Big!

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

Rain, Snow, Frigid Temperatures and then a spike to 50 degrees – welcome to Ohio. Are you thinking about involving some young gardeners this year?  You still have a chance to design your home garden to match your family’s personalities and needs. Give your children a voice in your garden’s design and plantings to help generate interest and a lifelong passion for nature. It will also create memories and teach cooperation, patience, and responsibility. Brainstorm together and don’t be afraid to use your imagination!

Get out your old magazines, seed catalogs and art materials. Start by creating poster board size version of the garden. Label structures and identify desired flowers and plants. This is your family’s time to “Dream Big” as you share visions of a perfect garden. Young children might request castles, waterfalls or other water features. Be sure to listen to all ideas and take notes. There might be a possibility of creating a smaller or alternative version of those ideas!

When it comes to implementing ideas and making an official plan, you may need to scale it down. Have you chosen your site? Be sure to place the garden/play area where you can see it from your kitchen window or other rooms you spend a lot of time in. Look up and down. Before you dig, be aware of any power lines, pipes, septic systems, or other existing limitations. Consider where there is the most sunlight and the most shade; you will need to choose plants accordingly.

Now you need draw a model of your garden space. Sketch the shape onto graph paper, trying to keep it to a scale using one square equal to one foot. Add paths or any permanent structures that exit in your space. Next draw any structures you’d like to include. The last step will be choosing plants that best accommodate your design, space and budget.

No space for a castle, moat, or climbing rock? Here are a few ideas that could generate excitement and joy in your garden! 1) Plan a sunflower house by planting sunflowers in a square to form a “room”, 2) Using five or more poles or large branches bound at the top and grow gourds, beans, cucumbers or miniature pumpkins, 3) Create a tunnel: insert 8-foot poles every 3 feet along both sides of a path; lash horizontal poles at 2-, 4-, and 6-foot heights; and then plant and train vines along this corridor, 4) Use a simple platform to create a stage or gathering place for kids’ outdoor lunches,  5) instead of a water feature, create a shallow bird bath, 6) arrange 4-5 tree stumps at varying heights (not too tall) for children to step across or move throughout the yard, or 7) use a shallow children’s pool as a circular raised garden bed and then try planting in unique shapes and patterns!

Remember to consider your plants needs: Sunlight, Access, Spacing and Water. Do your research!

One of my favorite garden bloggers, “Gardenista” summed up how I feel about involving children in the garden. She says, “If you’ve ever watched a child pull a fresh carrot from the ground and eat it, you will know what sheer surprise and delight look like. There are countless benefits to children when they help plant and grow fruits and vegetables. Some favorites: gaining an interest in eating vegetables, appreciating where their food comes from, increasing focus and attention, teaching delayed gratification, disconnecting from technology, and creating future stewards of the land. Let’s give thanks this year to children everywhere who get dirty, try a spicy radish for the first time, and watch a ladybug meander up their arm.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our garden seminar on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at the Mt. Orab Campus of Southern State Community College. Christine Tailer will be talking about Starting Seeds with Float Beds. All seminars are free and open to the public and start at 7:00 p.m. in Room 208. Remember, if the Mt. Orab campus is closed due to bad weather, the seminar is cancelled.

It’s time to start planning your garden! Spring is around the corner!

Garden Ideas for November

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

As I walked around our 5 acres this weekend, I realized that I was already making my “wish list” for next spring. My goal is to have a spark of fall color in a few more places. Trees, shrubs, perennials can all provide fall interest in your landscape. I am trying stay positive about the weeds that appeared during my surgery and recovery time. Isn’t that one of the best traits of a gardener? Ever being the optimist? “Next year I will win the battle of the weeds and mulch earlier” will be my mantra next spring.

Ornamental grasses offer fall and winter color and movement in the landscape. I leave the seed heads for the birds to enjoy through the winter and cut all grasses back in early spring. Japanese Blood grass is an easy way to add a splash of red to your wind garden. It is not aggressive (at least where I have it planted) and only reaches 12 to 14 inches in height. Pampas grass is a stretch for my zone, but mine seems to be thriving in its protected location. A suggested alternative for Pampas grass is Karl Foerster.  Don’t forget about our native grasses! I am slowly replacing the Miscanthus (considered invasive) with Big and Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Prairie Dropseed and Switch grass.

Autumn sedum and Joe Pye Weed are also beautiful in the fall and winter. The snow-covered seed heads also provide winter treats for the birds.

The Ginkgo trees have put on a spectacular show of color this year! Did you know that the Ginkgo tree is the sole surviving species from an ancient family of trees that flourished millions of years ago?

I have discovered a few books that will help me with my plans for more fall color in my landscape. 8 Months of Color written by Janet Macunovich provides the reader with an easy way to choose plants by week of peak bloom, color and height.  The plants listed are for USDA hardiness zones 4, 5, 6 and 7. Tracy Disabato-Aust has written a “must have” for all busy gardeners. Her book, 50 High-Impact, Low-Care GardenPlants proves that low-maintenance doesn’t mean low-interest.

Pam Bennett, co-author of Garden-Pedia: An A-To-Z Guide to Gardening Terms, and contributing writer for the magazine, Ohio Gardener, suggests some gardening tasks for November that include: 1) Clean and sharpen tools and lawn mower 2) Plant amaryllis and paperwhites for holiday bloom 3) Cut fresh greens from your evergreens to be used for holiday decorations and 4) Consider purchasing a balled and burlapped living Christmas tree. If you do this, dig the hole for the tree before the ground freezes.

The Bald Cypress tree we planted close to the “deer path” has been surrounded with snow fence to keep rubbing bucks at bay. We have 3 Norway spruce that seem to be the victims each year as the deer travel through our property. Thankfully they haven’t started on any new trees…..yet!

We hope you will join us at our garden seminar on Thursday, November 21. 2019 at the Mt. Orab. James Morris, OSUE Brown County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, will talk about the use of Herbicides in your landscape, reading labels and following label directions. Remember that all seminars are free and open to the public and are held in Room 208 from7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Have you started making your list for next year? Look around and see what spots need more color!

Milkweed Seed Pod Collection

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

Have you noticed more Milkweed plants along the roadsides? This is great news for the Monarch Butterflies and Caterpillars since the Monarchs depend on milkweeds as host plants. The butterflies deposit eggs on milkweed plants, which then provide nutrition for the caterpillar phase of the butterfly’s life cycle.

My Common milkweed, Sullivant’s milkweed, Swamp milkweed and Butterfly-weed plants have been stripped of all their leaves by the hungry Monarch caterpillars. In past years the Milkweed plants in the front yard have been the only “dining area” for Monarch caterpillars, but this year all my milkweed plants have been devoured!

Are you wondering what to do with all your milkweed pods? If you aren’t going to plant them, your county Soil and Water Conservation District office will take them. The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is calling on Ohioans for a second year of Milkweed pod collections. This project started in 2015 and since then volunteers have collected approximately 5000 gallons of Common milkweed seed pods, totaling over 22 million seeds! During September and October, everyone is encouraged to collect milkweed pods from established plants and drop them off at the nearest pod collection station. Brown County SWCD’s office is located at 706 S. Main St. in Georgetown and will serve as the collection station for Brown County. The container will be located outside the USDA Service Center at the 706 S. Main St. address.

Please make sure that before you collect seed, you become familiar with the Common milkweed plant to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed.

To collect the seed pods from a milkweed plant, it is best to pick them when they are dry, gray, or brown in color. The pods should be mature, but not open when collected. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked. Try to avoid collecting the red and black milkweed beetles, since they will damage the seeds!

It is best to collect pods into paper bags. Plastic bags collect unwanted moisture. Put the date and county collected on the bag when you turn them in. Keep the pods in a cool, dry area until you can deliver them to the nearest collection site.

All milkweed pods collected during this time will be processed by the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) partners and all of the seed collected will be used to establish new plantings and create additional habitat for the Monarch butterfly throughout Ohio.

If you have questions regarding milkweed pod collection, please contact Marci Lininger at or Lori Stevenson at

Do you have a Common Milkweed patch in your yard? You might want to start one and I promise that you will be glad that you did!

Interested in extending your growing season? Plan to attend our first garden seminar on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at the Mt. Orab Campus of Southern State Community College. Deb Garner, OSUE Clermont County Master Gardener Volunteer, will talk about WinterGardening. The seminar will be held in Room 208 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Remember that all garden seminars are free and open to the public.

Chicory and Chiggers

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

My husband and I love to take long drives in the surrounding areas to check the crops. The soaring temperatures have certainly put stress on everything, and we all are hoping for cooler weather and some rain. (I know, can you believe I am wishing for rain now?) I continue to water my tomatoes, cucumbers and squash every other day. The plants in the perennial bed are looking very thirsty. I try not to look their way as I carry water to the petunias planted close by.

We headed to town early this morning and we noticed the familiar bloom of the Chicory plant lining both sides of the road. When I arrived home, I headed to my favorite wildflower reference book, Wildflowers of Ohio, written by Stan Tekiela. My husband quickly commented, “Wildflower? Isn’t that a weed?” Tekiela’s information for Chicory (Cichorium intybus) includes:

Family: Aster (Asteraccae)

Height: 1-4 Feet

Flower: Stalkless sky blue flowers, 11/4 inches wide, each with up to 20 petals (ray flowers); flowers sparsely populate a tall stem and close by early afternoon; petals (ray flower) are square-tipped and fringed; color ranges from white to pink, depending upon age and location

Leaf: long, toothed basal leaves, 3-6 inches long, similar to dandelion leaves; stem leaves are oblong and much smaller, ½-1 inch long, lack teeth and clasp the stem

Bloom: summer, fall

Cycle/Origin: perennial, non-native

Habitat: dry, sun, along roads, open fields

Range: throughout

Also known as Blue Sailor or Ragged Sailor, its few flowers open one at a time and last only one day. This European import, believed to come from Eurasia, was brought to the United States to be cultivated for its long taproot, which can be roasted and ground as a coffee substitute or additive. Its edible leaves, like dandelion leaves, are high in vitamins and minerals, but taste quite bitter. Have you tried Chicory “coffee”? I have to admit that it is not at the top of my list to try!

I’m sure some of you are wondering how Chiggers fit into this story. We stopped at the farm to check on the barn painters. I walked around looking at their progress and of course I was walking in a weedy area. I am basically a chigger “magnet”, and we needed to head home to clean up ASAP. In a recent Ohio State University Extension’s edition of Buckeye Yard and Garden, it was shared that there is probably no creature on earth that can cause as much torment for its size than the tiny chigger. Tiny six-legged chigger larvae attack campers, hikers, bird watchers, berry pickers, fisherman, picnickers, and homeowners in low, damp areas where vegetation is rank such as woodlands, berry patches, orchards, along lakes and streams, and even in driers places where vegetation is low such as lawns, golf courses, and parks.

Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow into the skin. Instead, they stay on the surface of the skin and crawl to the base of a hair follicle to feed. Once settled, the larva injects the skin with digestive fluids using its piercing, sucking mouthparts (capitulum), and then they ingest the resulting “cell puree”. Some people are highly sensitive to the chigger’s feeding activity, and their skin will swell and surround the larva. This often kills the chigger, and the dead larva found within the swollen skin gives rise to the misconception that chiggers burrow into the skin.

Chiggers are usually associated with spring and early summer; however, they can undergo three generations per year in warm climates. To avoid being the victim of chiggers, avoid walking through brushy areas or wear long white pants with the socks pulled over the pant legs (quite the fashion statement, don’t you think?). Insect repellents such as DEET can help to ward off chiggers. Apply repellent to both the skin and clothing, especially to clothing openings at cuffs, neck, waistband and upper edges of socks. Follow all directions carefully. It takes several hours for the chiggers to settle, so bathing immediately after hiking in weedy areas can significantly reduce the number of bites. Calamine lotion and similar products will help to reduce itching and the risk for subsequent skin infections.

Insecticides can be sprayed to control chiggers. For the best results, target areas where chiggers are most likely to converge, such as fence rows and garden edges where shrubbery is dense. Before using anypesticide, always read the label and follow directions and safety precautions.

The bottom line for me and other chigger “magnets” is to be pro-active and use a repellent before you head out to enjoy the outdoors!


Tomatoes in the Home Garden

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

Brown County OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer

Leaf spot diseases of tomatoes enjoy the warm, humid weather that most of us experience in Ohio. Many of these leaf spot diseases can mimic each other in their early stages of development.

If you have access to a computer, I highly recommend visiting the Ohioline website to look at Fact Sheet HYG-1624-10. Authors, Gary Gao, Brad Bergefurd, and Bob Precheur provide readers with a fantastic list of suggested tomato cultivars to use in the home garden. Information on:  Climate requirement, Site Requirements, Sunlight Requirements, Fertilization, Disease Resistance, Establishing the Plants, Plant Spacing, Supporting Tomato Plants, Growing Tomatoes in Containers, Watering Tomato Plants, Mulching, Diseases, Insects, Weed Control, Harvest and Storage, and Special Problems with Tomatoes, will help the home gardener increase their harvest.

I have received some phone calls and there are loads of photos on Facebook about spots on tomato leaves, so I am hoping this information will help gardeners determine what may be affecting their tomato plants. Proper diagnosis will help one select the most appropriate management for each disease.

*Early Blight– This is a fungal disease that can infect all above ground parts of the tomato plant. The symptoms usually begin on the leaves and start out as small necrotic (brown) spots that expand rapidly and eventually grow together, usually from the bottom of the plant, up. There is usually a small yellow halo surrounding the necrotic region. These symptoms eventually form a bull’s-eye appearance and cause leaf defoliation. Fruit symptoms include concentric rings of dead tissue, also giving the lesion a bull’s-eye appearance, these spots become large and eventually will cause fruit drop. This disease overwinters on infected plant material in the soil and seed. An OSU Extension Fact Sheet on “Early Blight of Potato and Tomato” can be found at:

*Late Blight– This is a fungal disease that infects quickly and can infect all above ground parts of the tomato plant. Rapid fungal development is usually enhanced by humidity and rainfall. This disease creates brown, water-soaked, or greasy lesions on stems, leaves, and fruit. Management of this disease is very important. An OSU Extension Fact Sheet on “Late Blight of Potato and Tomato” can be found at:

*Septoria Leaf Spot– Septoria is a fungal disease of tomatoes that affects the foliage. In some cases, the disease can be so severe that it defoliates the entire plant in a growing season causing little to no fruit production. This disease produces lesions that are usually brown, circular, and small with a yellow halo. Fungal fruiting bodies known as pycnidia can be seen usually in the middle of the mature lesion as tiny, black dots. Septoria starts on the lower leaves and works its way up the plant. Sanitation is key in managing this disease. An OSU Extension Fact Sheet on “Septoria Leaf Spot of Tomato” can be found at:

By now you know that the Mahaffey household loves their tomatoes. My husband wants me to hang a water-proof saltshaker on the Texas Tomato Cages so he can salt as he grazes in the tomato patch. Not a bad idea, really.

I found a great quote from Lewis Grizzard that says, “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home-grown tomato.”

Here’s hoping for a long and bountiful tomato season!

Gardening in 2019 at the Ohio Veterans Home

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteers meet monthly during the growing season with an enthusiastic group of Veteran Gardeners at the Ohio Veterans Home at Georgetown, Ohio. Large raised beds in the courtyard are accessible to gardeners that have limited movement capabilities. We help amend the soil, till, plant, mulch, or complete any other jobs as needed by the Veteran gardeners. Most of all we look forward to making new gardening friends as the summer growing season progresses.

We met in March with twelve Ohio Veterans Home residents that were ready to talk about planting their raised bed gardens. We like to take time to interview each gardener to find out how long they have been interested in gardening, who taught them how to garden, what is their favorite vegetable to plant and eat, and what benefits they gain from gardening.

Most of the Veteran gardeners started gardening with their parents or grandparents when they were youngsters. Some gardeners simply taught themselves through trial and error. Several Veterans didn’t become interested in gardening until they became residents. Stories were shared about the family working together in the garden raising all the food they would eat.

When asked what are the benefits they gained from gardening, the answers included: 1) Feel good inside, 2) Gives a sense of accomplishment, 3) Exercise, 4) Fresh air, 5) Doing something productive, 6) Getting away from the TV, 7) Keeps them busy, 8) Being able to eat what you grow, 9) Doing something with your own two hands, 10) Helps make them healthier, 11) Watching the miracle of Nature, and 12) It beats lying around in bed.

When I looked around the room on that March day, the room was alive with conversation about growing tomatoes, how to keep weeds out of the garden, tips for growing the best carrots or corn, and the simple love of gardening.

What is the favorite vegetable to plant? The most popular answer was tomatoes. One Veteran gardener told me that for every cherry tomato he stood and ate in the garden, he had to toss one to his old hound dog who was eagerly awaiting his favorite treat from the garden!

What is your favorite vegetable to eat? The answers included: tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, onions and peppers. One gardener said his favorite was that first “mess” of green beans, with potatoes and a ham hock! I must admit that I was hungry after that comment.

One of our favorite discussions with the Veteran Gardeners is the string bean versus the string-less bean. I don’t care what you say about how good those string beans are, I can’t stand that string!

We shared stories about our biggest tomato harvest and one of the Veteran Gardeners shared that he had won first place at the Brown County Fair with his prized zucchini!

One of our Master Gardener Volunteers, Susan Barber, will be starting tomato plants again this year for the Ohio Veterans Home gardeners. She has been donating her plants and time for 9 years.

We started working with the Veteran Gardeners in 2010. There were 8 gardeners that year, and since then we have averaged about 13 gardeners a year.

We meet on the third Tuesday of the growing season (rain or shine). Working with these Veteran Gardeners provides opportunities for education and conversations. Gardens are planted and cared for; friendships are formed, and spirits are raised.