Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
April 2022 Volume 7 Number 3
Upcoming Events
Sunday, April 10, 2022, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Ages 13 to 17 can join Summit Metro Parks and discover the fascinating world of trees! Learn how to identify common species, which varieties different animals prefer for food and homes and how some use chemical warfare to ward off competition and predators. We'll be planting trees, so please dress for a mess and wear sturdy footwear. Meet at the main entrance at the Goodyear Heights Metro Park Lodge 2077 Newton St., Akron. ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED AND BEGINS 4/1: 330-865-8065. 
Friday, April 22, 2022, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Please join the Summit County Master Gardener Volunteers for a group discussion about your garden. We will meet at the Springfield Community Center, 2491 Canfield Road, Akron, OH 44312. This program is free to the public. No registration required.
Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 7:00 PM
Join the Summit County Master Gardeners for Meet Me in the Garden. This event offers free presentation every fourth Wednesday of the month, January - July in 2022.  Future meetings will be held at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, 1828 Smith Rd., Akron when feasible.
Friday, April 29, 2022, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Summit Metro Parks wants to help you get ready for spring by learning more about container gardening, including the best containers to use, ideal locations to plant and which plants to grow. Participants can share ideas to help create a unique space and plant a container to take home with you. Meet at Sherman Shelter, 5000 Hametown Road, Norton. ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED AND BEGINS 4/20/22: 330-865-8065. 
 More learning opportunities:
·        Summit County Master Gardeners on Facebook
·        Follow Summit County Master Gardeners on Instagram with our user name osusummitmgv 
·        Submit questions to Master Gardener Volunteers at Ask a Master Gardener
·        Find fact sheets and garden information at OhioLine Yard and Garden 
·        Let's Grow Akron, Seasonal Cooking Workshops

Interested in starting a vegetable garden?
Let's Grow Akron and OSU Extension have created this resource sheet to help you get started. Click here. The Summit County Master Gardener Volunteers have provided additional info. Click here.
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Apply fertilizer based on soil test recommendations
  • Prune back old perennial growth before new growth has started
  • Plant tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds indoors early in the month
  • Begin cleaning up the garden and preparing the soil for future planting as soon as the soil is workable. But WORKABLE is the key! Your soil should not be too wet (or too dry). If you work the soil when it is too wet, you will damage the structure and can end up with concrete. To test your soil's moisture, dig down a bit and take a handful of soil and squeeze it. If the soil remains in a tight ball when you release your grip, it is too wet, if it crumbles when you release your grip or when you poke it gently, it is dry enough to work.
  • Harvest radishes, spinach, lettuce, beets and asparagus as they become ready
  • Continue succession planting of onions, beets, lettuce, spinach and carrots
  • Appreciate the awakening spring garden!
Free Coffee Chats
Summit County Master Gardeners will be conducting a series of free Coffee Chats during the 2022 gardening season the Springfield Community Center located at 2491 Canfield Road, Akron 44312. 
Upcoming Chats are:
Friday, April 8, 2022 from 9:00-10:00 a.m.
Raised Beds: What they are, Why you might want some, How to build them, Where to put them, and What to plant in them. Please join us as Master Gardener Geoff Kennedy shares his experience with raised bed gardening.

The Coffee Chat programs are Free to the public: no registration necessary.

Masks are required by the venue for those that are not vaccinated.
Vegetables for shade?
We have all heard it before. Vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. And generally speaking, the more sun the better. That is because fruits and roots require a lot of energy to produce. And plants get that energy from the sun. For the plant, and for the gardener, sun = sugar. But not all gardeners have that much sun. Are they doomed to a vegetable-less existence? Maybe not!

First some definitions. According to the Penn State Extension:
  • Full sun is six or more hours of direct sunlight per day. This doesn't need to be continuous, for example there could be four hours in the morning, shade midday, and three or four hours of sun in the afternoon. It must be direct, full sun.
  • Partial sun is between four and six hours of sun a day.
  • Partial shade is two to four hours of sun per day.
  • Shade, in gardening terms, means less than two hours of sunlight a day.
You may come across the terms light shade, moderate shade, and heavy shade. They may be characterized as follows:
  • Light shade sites receive partially filtered sun, such as that found under open canopied trees like honeylocust and birch, where there is an ever-moving pattern of sun and shade. You may see light shade referred to as dappled shade or intermittent shade.
  • Moderate shade occurs with mostly reflected light, such as at the floor of a hardwood forest.
  • Heavy or dense shade is a site with no direct sunlight, such as at the base of a north-facing wall or below dense evergreen trees. It is important to note that all plants need some light to survive

Unfortunately, not all sources use the same terminology. Some use light shade instead of partial sun. For our purposes, we will focus on plants that you can grow in 4-6 hours of sun per day.

Based on a variety of extension sources some vegetables can TOLERATE partial sun or light shade. The key word here is tolerate, because the plants will be less vigorous when grown in light shade rather than full sunlight. The plants may be leggy and the leaves may be smaller or thinner. But they will still be tasty even though their growth is not as vigorous. The list includes lettuce, spinach, arugula, endive, cress, radicchio, Swiss chard, collards, kale, mustard greens, radishes, green onions, parsley, beets, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, rhubarb, carrots and turnips. Lettuce, spinach and radishes may actually benefit from shade during the heat of the summer.

Note that none of these crops are grown for their fruit. Fruit production just requires too much light.

The motto of both Lawrence University and the vegetable gardener is Light, more light. But if you have a shady spot in your garden give some of these shade tolerant vegetables a try.
Still trying to decide which varieties to plant?
Then you might want to browse Cornell's Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners. It's a citizen science program that allows gardeners visit the site and report what varieties perform well – and not so well – in their gardens. You can just browse, but why not create a profile and share your observations as well?
A tip for getting New Zealand Spinach to germinate
New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides) is not really a spinach but is a member of the carpetweed family. It is a warm weather crop grown as a spinach substitute during the summer. It has a flavor that has been described as "very similar to but milder than that of common spinach." If you have grown it before, you know that germination can take a long time and can be uneven. The “seeds” are actually fruits that contain several seeds. The usual recommendation is to soak seed 24 hours before planting to speed germination. But you might also try pre-sprouting. Fold your "seeds" in a wet paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Put the bag in a warm spot, like on top of the refrigerator. Check your seeds every few days, and when you see the first roots starting to emerge plant them about 1/4" deep in potting mix. Plant them out after all danger of frost has passed. For more tips on growing NZ Spinach, see the Cornell Growing Guide.
Be on the lookout for
Pests. It may seem early, but our little friends will soon be waking up. Two of the keys to Integrated Pest Management are forecasting and scouting. Forecasting is having an idea about the life cycle of the pest, to that you know when to look for it. And scouting is just that, spending time in the garden looking for evidence of pest activity. You can download a Timetable from the University of Wisconsin on when to expect pest damage by clicking HERE. Just remember that Wisconsin warms up later than we do, so factor that into your scouting.

Pollinators. Bees are waking up, and they need food. In addition to honey bees there are bumble bees and a number of native solitary bees, like mason bees. Mason bees are small solitary bees that nest in hollow twigs. They are great pollinators. But they need nectar and pollen early in the season, so leave a few dandelions for them. One bite in every three we eat needs an animal for pollination. And these include essentials like COFFEE and CHOCOLATE! And bees are some of the best pollinators.
For more information check out the Ohio Bee ID Guide.
Quick tips
Seed radishes and beets along with your lettuce. The shallow-rooted lettuce will grow near the soil's surface while the radishes and beets will push down into the soil. These root crops will naturally break up the soil, adding air and water space. Plant roots will provide a place for necessary soil microbes to live. Place onion sets among your greens for the same effect. If your greens die back or bolt, you can reseed another crop while allowing the root crop to fully mature.

If you are gardening with a child, write the child's name or initials in the soil. Have the child use their fingers to write their name or initial be making a shallow furrow about 3 fingers wide. Then sprinkle radish or carrot seeds in the furrow, cover lightly and water in. Soon the child will get to see their name magically appear in the garden. 
Beet and Swiss chard "seeds" are actually clusters of seeds. So sow them sparingly, one at each spacing, and then thin them to a single plant when they emerge. Also, if you have heavy soil, cover the seeds with a light potting mix to make it easier for the seeds to break through. 
Save egg cartons and use them to start some seeds. Just be sure to poke some drainage holes in each compartment.
A little bit about growing Herbs
Herbs are very popular. They are also easy to grow. There are so many different varieties of herbs, and some of them do require special conditions for best growth. So be sure to read your seed packets or plant labels for the specific herbs you want to grow.

But there are some general rules. Most annual and perennial herbs grow best in six to eight hours of full sun. And herbs will grow in any good garden soil. Herbs grow best when soils have adequate organic matter. Although many of the herbs will live in poor ground, for the healthiest plants and best harvest, they need good soil to thrive. Most herbs like a soil pH of 6.3 to 6.8 

Good drainage is also critical especially with many of the perennial herbs. But timely watering is also a key to producing good herbs. Many of the perennial type of herbs, once they become established, can tolerate soils that may tend to dry out between watering. Annual type herbs tend to do better when watering is done regularly. This will allow the herbs to produce abundant leaf growth that is high in flavor oils. Mulch helps to conserve soil moisture and also reduce weed growth.

Herbs don’t like to be fed too much. Over-fertilization tends to produce lots of foliage that is poor in flavor. But too little fertilizer can severely limit new growth and can lead to to insect and disease problems. Balance is the key. Stop fertilizing perennial plants in early fall to avoid having tender new growth going into winter. And perennial herbs will need time to build up their reserves before winter so try not to harvest any later than a month or so before the first expected fall frost (mid-October).

The high concentration of essential oils in healthy, actively growing herbs repels most insects. The best defense against pests is preventative. Inspect plants before you buy them, use seed from a reputable source, space plants properly, and remove weak or infested growth. Scouting for pests is a good way to catch problems early. Aphids can be a problem in crowded conditions with rapidly growing, tender plants. Just wash them off with a hose. Parsley and dill can sometimes be afflicted by Parsley Worm... 

which is actually the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly!

So our advice is to just plant enough to share!
Some helpful links:

Submit questions online to be answered by Master Gardener Volunteers at  Ask a Master Gardener
OhioLine Yard and Garden provides fact sheets and information on a variety of gardening topics. 
The Michigan State Tip Sheets,and the Cornell Growing Guides also offer lots of gardening information that is suitable for Ohio gardens.

Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine provides timely information about Ohio growing conditions, pest, disease, and cultural problems. BYGL is updated weekly between April and October.