Here’s the RIGHT way to mulch around your trees once it dries out!!  

The general recommendations for the proper use of hardwood mulch around trees is for the  mulch rings to be as large in diameter as practical and mulch depths were no more than 2 – 3 inches.  Mulch that found its way onto the tree trunks was pulled away from the trunk flare.

When It’s Done Wrong …Volcano mulch does not kill trees outright; if it did, people wouldn’t do it.  Instead, it produces subtle, long-term, ill-effects.  Although bark mulch may at first appear light and airy, it will ultimately compact as it degrades to interfere with oxygen reaching tree root cells.  Trees respond by growing roots into the mulch; however, the roots can become exposed as the mulch further degrades.

The slopes of mulch volcanoes cause roots to turn; they can’t grow into thin air!  Eventually these roots encircle the tree trunk and merge with the stem tissue.  As these errant roots increase girth, they gradually girdle the trunk and restrict vascular flow.  Thus, they are known as “stem girdling roots.”

As the mulch decomposes and dries out, it will eventually start to repel water; it becomes hydrophobic.  You can observe the hydrophobicity of dry organic matter when you try to moisten a bag of dry peat moss.  Of course, water repellency ultimately causes roots that have grown into the mulch to dehydrate.

The deleterious nature of volcano mulch is not immediately apparent.  Moisture starvation and vascular strangulation can ultimately kill a tree; however, along the way they produce tree stress.  This can induce trees to drop their defenses against infestations by opportunistic insect pests such as native borers or infections by plant pathogens.  Of course, pests and diseases get blamed if trees succumb, not the volcano mulch that made the trees susceptible in the first place.

Have No Fear, When a Honey Bee Swarm is Near!

Honey bee swarms are common this time of year. They often go unnoticed because swarms do not stick around for very long, usually one to three days at most. A honey bee swarm is a natural process of one hive splitting into two. As a honey bee colony grows within a hive, it becomes crowded. The bees instinctively begin to nurture a new queen while preparing for the current queen to leave.   

Once she is ready, the existing queen leaves the hive in search of a new location for her colony.  She takes hundreds to thousands of worker bees (all female) and some drones (all male) with her, and together, these form a swarm.  Worker bees that are good at foraging for food Continue reading

Extension Educator position to be filled

OSU Extension in Fairfield County is looking for any interested individuals who might be interested in applying for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator position. To apply, go to the job search site: Then choose “Search all Ohio State Job Openings” or “Current Employees Apply Here.”  Please share this information with anyone who may be interested in the Fairfield County Ag & Natural Resources Extension Educator position.  For more information, contact Shannon Carter, Area Leader, Fairfield, Hocking and Licking Counties at

Registration for 4-H Camp in Fairfield County is open

Fairfield County 4-H will camp locally via Day Camps at Alley Park for 2021. This decision was made based on communication with Fairfield County 4-H Families, Advisors, Camp Counselors, and Adult Camp Staff with camping preference, safety, and logistics in mind for the current situation. This applies to Cloverbud Camp on June 5,2021. Junior Camp is for youth ages 8-10 and will be held on June 29 thru July 1.  Intermediate camp is for youth ages 11-14 and will be held June 15-17.   Fairfield County 4-H camp is open to all 4-H youth which include the ChickQuest Program and those in Community Clubs. Registration for Cloverbud, Junior, and Intermediate 4-H Camps is NOW OPEN!!! Sign up online at:

Deadline for Pesticide/Fertilizer REcertification is July 1

For those with Private Pesticide or Fertilizer certifications that expire in 2021, note the deadline for acquiring REcertification credit was extended until July 1. With that in mind, there are two alternatives for acquiring that credit before the extended deadline.

The first is a self-paced on-line REcertification opportunity. The course fees for pesticide REcertification will be a total of $35 for Private, and $15 per credit hour for Commercial applicators. Fertilizer will cost $15. Once enrolled participants may work at their own pace logging in and out as frequently as they choose until they have gained their necessary credits. More information and registration details may be found on our On-line Recertification page at:

A second more traditional face-to-face opportunity is presently in the planning stages. This program will occur in June and likely will be held as a daytime session on a local farm. Details will be announced as planting season nears completion. Call Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County (740-653-5419) for more information


Thinking about trying Food Preservation this year?

Food Preservation Basics Webinar Series offered

Join us for these free webinars hosted by Ohio State University Extension. The first half hour will consist of a lesson on the below topics, followed by 30 minutes of open question and answer time. You are welcome to register for just one or all of them. Register for these programs at:

Tuesdays from 4 – 5PM

May 4 Jars and Lids

May 18 Water Bath Canning

June 1 Pressure Canning

June 15 Freezing

June 29 Drying a great time to divide your perennials!!

Spring is a great time to divide many of our favorite herbaceous garden perennials. The plants are small, easy to handle and they have the entire growing season to get re-established in your garden. But how do you know how often to divide perennials. The term “perennial” literally means to last or exist for a long time and to be enduring or continually recurring. A perennial plant re-grows year after year from the same root. Some perennial plants are very long-lived like an oak tree which others are short-lived like some of the newer coneflower cultivars.

Dividing perennials or “division” is a form of propagation: you are creating multiple plants from a single plant. Some plants like Heuchera, coral bells, are very easy to divide. The plant crowns are right at the surface of the soil and small plants, called ‘offsets’, develop from the larger main plant. Other plants like Hosta and ornamental grasses have dense roots that require a sharp knife, garden fork, or even  an axe to cut apart.

One large Hosta can be divided into 6 or 8 new plants!!

Division also promotes plant health and can rejuvenate a plant. A perennial should be divided when it dies out in the middle (the oldest part) of the plant, produces smaller flowers or leaves, and blooms less.  Dividing perennials is also a good idea if plants have become crowded as it increases air and light around plants which can increase blooming as well as reduce disease and insects pests.