Upcycled garden tools

Gardening is an activity for all ages, abilities, spaces, and backgrounds. While it’s enjoyable to dream about all the seeds, plants, and tools that could be purchased for the garden, there are just as many options that can be saved, reused, or shared. These examples are certainly not exhaustive. Use this as a starting point to decide on your best upcycled tools for the family garden. Check here for other ideas for reusing over recycling from NC State Extension.



















































































2020 Garden Call-In Show

As COVID-19 shut down early springtime opportunities to meet in person, OSU Extension Lucas County is fortunate to partner with other community organizations to offer information and support to gardeners. The Ebeid Institute, Urban Agriculture Alliance of Lucas County, and The Arts Commission are offering monthly garden call-in shows along with OSU Extension, Lucas.

The call-in show is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1:00 pm. Please follow these steps to join the call. Dial 1-512-626-6799. Enter 942-8492-0361. Press #. See below for the flyers and themes of upcoming and previous monthly calls.

For any questions about “how-to” garden (or about the Garden Call-In Show) please email lucascountymastergardener@gmail.com or call the Horticulture Hotline at 419-578-6783 (Monday and Wednesday 10 am – 1 pm)

To share this information with others: go.osu.edu/gardencall

Lucas Co Hort Hotline

August 11th – Fall Victory Gardening








Victory Gardens – Let’s Grow Ohio #OhioVictoryGardens  u.osu.edu/OhioVictoryGardens/

July 14th – Fall Vegetable Gardening







Visit here for charts on dates to plant fall vegetable seeds

June 9th – Gardening as a Self-Care Practice








Gardening As Self Care Practice – Handout

Gardening as a Self-Care Practice, Live Smart Ohio Blog Post (06/18/20)

Gardening as a Self-Care Practice, Ohio State Buckeye Wellness,  30 minute webinar (04/08/21)

May 12, 2020







Guide to Growing Your Own Food, 2020 by Urban Agriculture Alliance (UAA) of Lucas County

Garden Call-in Show, May Call In agenda, 2020








Guidance for Community Gardens, COVID-19


Flower Power 2020

Experienced vegetable gardeners who start their own seeds indoors plant in February, depending on the type of plant. Depending on the gardener’s space and needs, they very likely may not use all of the seeds in the packet. What to do with the extra seeds? Some seeds can be saved for a few years, under ideal conditions. Early this spring, when Ohio started practicing social distancing, my friend shared that she had delivered extra seeds to her community’s little free library. What a great idea!

Here’s a springtime tip for novice gardeners. You are NOT behind schedule if you did not start your own seetomato seedlingsdlings months ago. We are so fortunate to have farmers and greenhouses in the area that can sell us beautiful seedlings for herbs, tomatoes, peppers, greens, etc. now that it is time to plant outside because the threat of frost is over. This year, because of the stay-at-home orders, I did start my own tomato seeds indoors. It is pretty exciting how a tiny little seed sprouts underground, in the dark and then grows into a plant. It’s almost like magic but it’s science!

This year I’m following my friend’s lead to share some seeds. In my example, it will be flower seeds. While respecting social distancing, I’m going to distribute some extra seeds from my seed packets.  There’s no way I would ever use the hundreds of seeds in a packet in my small growing space.  Just in case you don’t find any seeds at your neighborhood little free library, you should be able to find these seed packets at most local grocery or hardware stores that sell seeds. The following flowers are all bright, beautiful, and fairly easy to grow. Most of them are edible and most of them can grow in a container, a corner of the vegetable garden, or landscaped area of the yard. Below are photos and a link to an Extension document that will give more details on each plant.

  • Calendula is also known as a Pot Marigold. It can grow in the ground or a container. The leaves are edible. You can sprinkle the petals on top of your favorite food dishes.




  • Nasturtium the leaves and flowers add a peppery taste to your dish. They can be tossed in with salads. I think the plant is a little wild and whimsical.



  • Sunflowers come in all varieties. The most common packets of sunflower seeds at the store are for the large ones. If you have a packet of seeds for any tall or Mammoth sunflowers, these will not grow well in a container. For a container plant, you’ll need to look for dwarf varieties (although these are not as common at the stores. I’ve ordered my seeds online before). Obviously the seeds are edible for people and also well-loved by wildlife.

  • The Zinnia is not edible but it packs a punch in a homegrown bouquet. One year, my son came home from school with a cup of soil and a small plant. Somewhere between his lesson and home, either the label was lost or he forgot what they planted in class. Without knowing what it was, we transplanted it from the cup into the side yard and waited to see what it was. The tall pink zinnia plant is such a happy memory for me that I love to plant them now every year.

Since most young children were not in school at the end of this year and didn’t arrive home with an unlabeled seedling, I’m going to try to get seeds to children in my little corner of the world. I’d love to hear your garden plans and see photos this summer! Feel free to email powers-barker.1@osu.edu or follow our county office on Facebook at The Ohio State University Extension Lucas County.  Happy Spring!




An Introduction to Seed Saving for the Home Gardener https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2750e/

Edible Flowers https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/edible-flowers-7-237/

Growing Sunflowers in the Home Garden


How to Grow Calendula https://extension.unh.edu/resource/how-grow-calendula-calendula-officinalis

Little Free Library https://littlefreelibrary.org/

Nasturtium https://web.extension.illinois.edu/herbs/nasturtium.cfm

Planning for the Garden https://wayne.osu.edu/sites/wayne/files/imce/Program_Pages/ANR/Garden/Planning%20and%20Planting%20%20the%20Garden.pdf

Zinnia https://pddc.wisc.edu/2015/08/20/zinnias/

Ten Tips for Gardening with Children

  1. Start small. It’s OK to dream big and start small. Whether you grow in containers, in a school or community garden or in your front or back yard, make the best choices for you and your family’s growing space, interest and goals.
  2. Learn about plants. If you are new to gardening, or it’s been a few years, review some basic plant science. At the very minimum, all plants need light (sun), water (approximately an inch a week from rain or supplied by the gardener) and nutrients (from a healthy soil). For your benefit, learn about the plants you would like to grow, including knowing potential challenges and possible solutions. Know your local resources like the Horticulture Hotline for Lucas County. Keep safety in mind. This is always important but especially with young children who are inclined to “explore” by putting things in their mouth.
  1. Keep it simple! You don’t have to be an expert on gardening. Just like doing other new things with children, you get to learn together. If they have a question, talk it through and discover the answer. Use the resources listed above, children’s books and youth garden websites
  2. Decide on plants. What plants to grow? Gardens are as diverse as the people who grow them! You can grow whatever will work in your space and your kitchen. When gardening with youth, consider growing some radishes, sunflowers, cherry tomatoes and mini-gourds. Why? Radishes grow fast. Even if you or your kiddos don’t love radishes, they are one of the first vegetables to harvest. Sunflowers are bright and tall (or chose a small variety for smaller spaces) and edible! Miniatures like cherry tomatoes (for an easy snack) and mini-gourds (for fall decoration and crafts) are fun because they grow plentiful and are just the right size for smaller hands.
  3. Up-cycle household items for garden tools and supplies. Use kid-sized tools for planting and digging. Even spoons will work well when held in small hands. Before sending common household items to the recycling center, consider up-cycling them into garden tools. An empty milk jug can become a watering can or cut into a scoop for garden soil. Plastic knives can be used as plant labels and stuck in the ground.
  4. Keep chore time short. Make a game of weeding, or limit to five minutes. Watering (or water play) is usually the fun part of gardening, especially in the hot summer!
  5. Let them play. Follow their lead. If they’d rather play in the soil or look at bugs than pull weeds, it’s OK. They are still learning while playing.
  6. Let them have growing space. Give children their own spot or container to garden and let them grow their own way. A preschooler may want to plant and re-plant, dig and explore similar to a sandbox. Include containers with pebbles, sticks, seeds, small tools, and other garden-related items to explore. Set up a Mud Kitchen with bowls, buckets and plastic kitchen tools. For elementary-aged children, take a 4-H garden project or use a small space to create a miniature garden such as fairy garden or dinosaur garden.  In large garden spaces, create a play space by planting a Sunflower House and Beanpole Tepee. It is helpful to mulch wide paths to define the walking and playing space from the garden growing area. Add benches or straw bales for seating.
  7. Enjoy! Enjoy yourself and your fresh produce. It’s a great time to explore and learn together, reconnect with nature, observe daily changes and growth and prepare new recipes.
  8. Share your garden story and share your extra produce. Use social media to post your garden pictures, sneak a zucchini on your neighbor’s porch on August 8th and consider donating extra produce to a local emergency food pantry.


Celebrate the summer bounty of Ohio local foods

These resources are shared as part of a 2019 Your Plan 4 Health webinar  presented by OSU Extension Educators, Melissa J. Rupp and Patrice Powers-Barker. Melissa works in the Fulton County office and Patrice works in the Lucas County office. Need to connect with your local Ohio State University Extension office?  Here’s the list for each county.

tabletop of fresh summer vegetables

Resources shared in the webinar:

Recipe ideas for seasonal, local produce (mentioned in webinar):

The following sites have recipes that are user-friendly for all ages:

Utah State University Extension asks, ” Have you ever wanted to be a person who could walk into the kitchen, look in the pantry and refrigerator, and create a delicious meal out of what you have on hand?” They share a “create” series such as: Create an Omelet, Create a Sandwich or Wrap or Create a Pizza. Check out all their suggestions.

Planting A Fall Vegetable Garden

Planting a fall vegetable garden is a great way to extend the growing season and enjoy some cool weather crops after the heat of the summer fades away. Some vegetables love cooler weather!

It’s important to know about the average number of days to harvest for each crop,  the cold temperature tolerance of vegetables, and the average anticipated date of the first frost in your area (around October 15th for Northwest Ohio). If you have questions from an online presentation, please contact Amy Stone stone.91@osu.edu or Patrice Powers-Barker powers-barker.1@osu.edu  (information updated summer 2020 – thanks going out to Pam Bennett and Carri Jagger for their assistance on garden content).

Fall Vegetable Garden Charts

The following charts give general information on when to plant vegetable seeds for a fall garden harvest in Ohio:

PowerPoint Slides for 2020 Fall Vegetable Garden lesson

OSU Extension Resources related to gardening and vegetables:

Additional Resources

The following blogs and factsheets are from neighboring states and share additional information about fall vegetable gardens. Note for Ohio growers, the seasonal calendar dates will be different for different growing zones so take that into consideration when reading recommended planting and harvesting dates from other areas.


Cool Season Crops, (2020), Seed Savers Exchange, Retrieved from https://www.seedsavers.org/cool-season-plants

Durham, R., Strang, J., Williams, M., Wright, S., Bessin, R., Lee, B., Pfeufer, E. (2019). Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky. Retrieved from http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf

Gardening in small spaces, bulletin #2761, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2761e/

Jonael. (2017). Growing fresh cilantro in your garden or small farm. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and University of Florida. Retrieved 06/23/20 from http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/hardeeco/2017/10/26/growing-fresh-cilantro-garden-small-farm/

Lerner, R. (2020). Versatile vegetables for fall gardening. Purdue Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/yardandgarden/versatile-vegetables-for-fall-gardening/

Lilley, J., (2017 April 20). Succession planting. University of Maine Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/cumberland/2017/04/20/succession-planting/

Planning for the garden. (no date). Ohio State University Extension, Excerpted from OSU Extension Bulletin 287 Home Vegetable Gardening, (1991, out of print) Utzinger, Brooks and Wittmeyer. Retrieved from https://wayne.osu.edu/sites/wayne/files/imce/Program_Pages/ANR/Garden/Planning%20and%20Planting%20%20the%20Garden.pdf

Ulry, L. (2019). Growing with the seasons. 4-H 692. Ohio State University Extension. https://extensionpubs.osu.edu/growing-with-the-seasons/

Voyle, G. (2012).  Fall vegetable crops for your garden. Michigan State University Extension. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/E3172_-_Fall_Vegetable_Plants_for_your_Garden.pdf

When to Plant Vegetables: The Garden Planting Calendar (2020). The National Garden Association. Retrieved from https://garden.org/apps/calendar/

Ohio Local Foods and “Dining In” on FCS Day, 2018

Welcome supporters of Ohio local foods and families eating together.

This page is designed as a starting point for information for OSU Extension to promote both Dining In Day on December 3rd and Ohio Local Foods. A few of these resources are dated from previous years but the content that is useful for 2018 is noted on this page.

OSU Extension Local Foods Signature Program (retired)

Because the program is retired, there is some dated information on the website but it also has lots of great resources for current projects. The following links are all part of the Local Foods website but this will highlight how they might be useful in 2018.

Adding A Youth Flavor to Extension’s Signature Programs

The 4 lessons on local foods were designed by 4-H youth as a resource for other older 4-H members to facilitate learning activities with their clubs and communities. This is also helpful for OSU Extension staff as an introduction to the topic of local foods. The introduction to this set of 4 lessons includes a few Frequently Asked Questions about Local Foods.

Description of Local Foods Week (note, this is from August 2017)  “Even during wintertime, Ohio local food is available, whether it is fresh produce grown with season extenders or crops that can be held for long periods of time in cold/cool storage as well as baked, canned, frozen and dried foods”.

How do you identify and find local foods? Ohio Local Food Directories  

Please note that all the links might not be up to date but there should be some good leads. “Just like there is no one definition for “local,” there is no one best way to search out local foods. Local foods are available for purchase at businesses like grocery stores and restaurants or purchased directly from growers at farmers’ markets, auctions, farm stands or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). This summary of online local food directories is not an exhaustive list but it is a starting point for Ohio consumers to locate favorite local foods. No endorsement is intended for products listed, nor is criticism meant for products not listed.  This summary lists the titles of the online directories in alphabetical order.”

Farm to Health Resources

Includes Farm to Health Series Cards with a focus on different Ohio produce with information and a recipe (note: carrots includes Carrots, Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes, all crops that could be sourced locally during the wintertime). In addition, check out the Placemats on local foods that can be printed for the family table. All of the placemats focus on local foods but the one titled “Seasonality” shows a calendar of all 12 months and some foods that are local and available during that time of year. This might be useful for a December event like Dine In Day.

2015 Dine In Blog Post on Live Smart Ohio (and short background on Ellen Swallow Richards)

“Thank you Ellen Swallow Richards: You have reminded our modern families that science is valuable, history is fascinating and family wellness is meaningful.”

 2018 Dine In and Local Foods Questions

  • What foods are local to your area? Remember, there is no one definition for “local” in regards to food. What food connections are in your community, whether it’s directly in your county or state or region?
  • Who are potential community partners in relation to local foods and “Dining In” on Family and Consumer Sciences Day? Local farmers market? Stores that sell local foods? Emergency food pantries that are helping families put meals on the tables?
  • Who are community and individual leaders who grows and raises local foods?  Who grows a vegetable garden or farm? Who does home food preservation? Who raises livestock to freeze, dry or can? Can they help spread the word about Dine In Day?
  • Who are your colleagues who can help promote Ohio Local Foods and Dining In? ANR, 4-H, CD colleagues. Community partners like Farmers Bureau, schools, FFA, 4-H clubs, FCS teachers and FCCLA
  • What local foods do you dine on?

Connecting to Nature for Health and Wellness

Summer 2017:  On Reynolds Road, Toledo, OH I drove past a bill board from the US Forest Service and Ad Council with the title “Every Neighborhood has a Naturehood” The photo on the board shows a city skyline in the background with a river, bridge, trees and adult and child hiking in the foreground.

From their website: “More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities, but fortunately, families don’t have to leave the city to take their kids on an adventure to the forest. According to research done by Euro RSCG, 88 percent of children today say they like being in nature, and 79 percent wish they could spend more time there. Additionally, children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.”

My colleagues have written a nice collection of blog posts like Get Unplugged. Get into Nature. and Can Green Places Make a Difference in our Health?


Weeds in the Parking Lot

My Facebook post on June 13, 2017: My reminder for the day: even the weeds serve an important role and (most) often it’s important to look past the mess to the blessings. This picture has the hidden blessing …. at this time of year when work is really busy, it’s really hot outside and lots of things in my life need “weeded” I pulled into one of our community sites and thought about how overgrown and ugly the landscaped island looked. When I parked I saw a bright yellow finch and then his less bright counterpart. In the middle of the city, in the middle of the parking lot … 2 finches enjoying the thistle. And then I found a lucky penny in the lot!

How do we best promote this connection to nature with the youth in Toledo? Fortunately, we have nice city parks and Metroparks as well as summer youth programs with community gardens and youth activities. For me, it’s important to remind the youth of our connection with nature, whether the program topic is gardening, eating healthy or overall health and wellness. It might be a small message but I try to use activities and reminders to get outside. I realize that a squirrel or grasshopper might not seem as exciting as the elephants or polar bears at the zoo but I’d like the kiddos to be aware of their natural surroundings and appreciate the antics of the wildlife around them.

A few resources that have influenced my youth summer programs:

  • Four, sea-life, calm down activities by an occupational therapist in Australia. My favorite (and the kids’ favorite) is the Puffer Fish Puff.
  • An old poem (I can’t find a current copy to link) “Be Like the Animals” by Mabel Watts. It was published by the American Heart Association Scholastic Program and it names a lot of different animals and their movements. We have the students act out the movements such as “dance like a poodle, or crawl like a crab …”   This would possibly be a good time to introduce youth to yoga moves that have names and actions that reflect animals and nature.
  • Dr. Hazel Harrison does a nice job of helping youth (and adults) understand the brain and what it means to “flip our lid”
  • The book, Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Lauren Alderfer.
  • Although this is called an “anger catcher” it could be useful for lots of “big” emotions
  • Dr. Dan Siegel Wheel of Awareness
  • More specific to connecting with nature, my colleagues and I designed a one page handout of “wildlife” that might be seen in urban areas of Northwest Ohio as a scavenger hunt for the youth we work with. Please email powers-barker.1@osu.edu for more information on that handout.

Connecting With Nature Summer 2017




Lucas County Celebrates The International Year of the Pulses


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has named 2016 as The Year of the Pulses. Key Messages:

  • Pulses are highly nutritious
  • Pulses are economically accessible and contribute to food security at all levels
  • Pulses have important health benefits
  • Pulses foster sustainable agriculture and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Pulses promote biodiversity

Great! Right? Do you know what a pulse is? (We’re talking about a food, not the heart rate). Even if you’ve never used the title “pulse” before, you are probably familiar with dried beans, peas and lentils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shares a one page Surprising Facts About Pulses You Might Not Know

So, how and why do we celebrate this #IYP2016 in our Northwest Ohio county? Although there might not currently be a lot of pulses grown in our county, they can grow here. From a community nutrition point of view, we value the nutrition, health benefits, accessibility and affordability of pulses. From an agriculture point of view, they promote biodiversity and from a social point of view, the diversity of pulses and recipes make them a valuable food item to many individuals and families.

To promote the value of pulses in our community we used the following poster about pulses in 2016: Pulse Poster, Lucas County

pulse Lucas Co 2016

We are so appreciative of our Master Gardener Volunteers! This summer they staffed the “pulse guessing game” at the Lucas County Fair and they featured pulses at their annual picnic. Can you guess the pulses in this picture?

guess the pulses game

For those interested in learning more about cooking with pulses, including the steps to take from dry seed to final product, a really helpful recipe book used by our Lucas County SNAP-Ed program is titled, The Bold and Beautiful Book of Bean Recipes by the Washington State Department of Health. The recipes are easy, tasty, healthy and low-cost!

2016 articles written by Ohio State University Extension professionals:

International Year of What? by Jenny Lobb, January 28, 2016

From International Celebration to Personal Favorites by Patrice Powers-Barker, February 16, 2016

Do You Eat Pulses? by Patrice Powers-Barker, The Sojourners Truth Newspaper, volume 37, no 1 (page 7)

Healthy Learning

Looking for fast, easy tips to encourage youth in their testing?

test day for students

Test day for students






Healthy Learning:Brain Breaks OSU Extension handout


Additional Brain Break Resources:

Eat Smart Move More Classroom Energizers (elementary school, middle school and afterschool)

ABC For Fitness A-B-C For Fitness™ stands for “Activity Bursts in the Classroom.”

American Heart Association In School Activity Breaks

Action for Healthy Kids

A set of twenty-one physical activity cards by Alliance for a Healthier Generation are ready to print with instructions for a variety of easy tasks to act out. A few of the tasks require a ball for students to complete the physical activity but most of them can be acted out without any props.

An online resource, GoNoodle is for teachers as well as parents. Anyone can create a free GoNoodle account and link to clips that lead youth in a variety of healthy activity games.

Infographic: Active Kids Learn Better


Water infused with fresh mint

Water infused with fresh mint





Water Infused with Ohio Produce OSU Extension handout


Additional Test Taking Resources:
“Test Anxiety!” Live Smart Ohio blog post