Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
March 2019 Volume 7 Number 3
Upcoming Events

March 12 and 26, 2019
Summit County Master Gardeners and the Vegetable Gardening Practicum Committee will be conducting a series of free Coffee Chats during the 2019 gardening season the Lakefront Community Center located at 2491 Canfield Road, Akron 44312. Join the discussion at 9 am.  Upcoming chats are:
March 12 – “Seed Starting” with Lee Paulson  March 26 – “Waking up the Garden in Spring ” (A group discussion with Master Gardeners). All are welcome. Coffee will be provided.

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Join Crown Point Ecology Center for their  Local to Global Dinner SeriesA Taste of Slovakia, the presentation and light dinner will be prepared and presented by Kamila Kollarova Burgess, a native of Slovakia who came to America to study in 2001.Crown Point is located at 3220 Ira Rd., Akron, OH 44333. The price is $45/per person. Seating is limited, so make your reservation early. Reservations can be made by calling 330-668-8992, Ext. 106 with your credit card, or by sending a check to Crown Point Ecology Center, P.O. Box 484, Bath, OH 44210. To learn more about Crown Point, please visit our website at  www.crownointecology.org 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Countryside Local Food Swaps are gatherings of cooks, bakers, brewers, growers, and general DIYers; they bring homemade and homegrown items to swap via silent auction style bidding. Visit the  Countryside Local Food Swap page to learn more about the swaps and get answers to frequently asked questions
Wednesday, March 27, 2019                       
Wolcott Lilac Garden, presented by Dr. Robert Zavodny, President, International Lilac Society. Please join the Summit County Master Gardener's Meet Me In The Garden committee for our free gardening programs at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, 1828 Smith Rd., Akron. Programs are the 4th Wednesday of the month and start at 7:00 pm. 

Countryside Conservancy with a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the State of Ohio, and the United States Department of Agriculture under the provisions of the specialty crop block grant provides webinars, visit their  Classes & Events page.

Were you looking for something to do?
  • When the soil temperature reaches 40 degrees F, plant all cold crops (peas, lettuces, spinach, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc). This could be around the middle of the month, or by the end of March at the latest. 
  • Seeds for any herbs should be started indoors
  • If weather conditions allow, apply granular fertilizer and composted manure and work into garden soil if the soil is not too wet 
  • Do some weeding 
  • When soil thaws, have garden soil tested, if needed
  • Place last-minute seed and nursery orders
  • Prepare a supply list for the garden including fertilizer, tools, transplants, materials for staking and mulch
  • Clean and ready tools
  • Celebrate the first day of spring - March 20th! 
The Master Gardener Hotline is OPEN for the season
You can call our Horticulture Hotline to ask a garden-related question and get advice from our experts.
Just call 330-928-GROW (4769) 
Hotline Hours: Tuesday: 9:00 am - noon, March through October
You can also get Master Gardener advice online anytime by submitting questions at   Ask a Master Gardener
The Extension Office has Soil test Kits
The Summit County Extension Office has soil test kits for sale. The tests are $14 and are performed by Penn State. You can stop in the office at 1100 Graham Road Circle in Stow Ohio (East of the Red Lobster) Monday from 1:00 - 4:30; Tuesday, Thursday or Friday from 8:30 - 4:30. (The office is not open to the public on Wednesdays) 
Seed Sharing
Many gardeners like to harvest and save their own seed from year to year. It is also fun to share seeds. But you do not need to harvest your own seed to share some. According to the Colorado State University Extension Service "all vegetable and flower seeds will store on a shelf at room temperature for at least one year without significant loss of germination." And with proper storage you can save them even longer. Just think the opposite of what they need to germinate--save seeds in a cool dry environment. For more information check out this fact sheet on  Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds.

Many packets contain way more seed than you can use yourself, so sharing is an easy way to try something new and let someone else try a variety that has worked for you. 

Another option is the Seed Sharing Library at the Main Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. This project makes locally appropriate heirloom seeds available to local gardeners, community volunteers, children and library patrons. The Seed Sharing Library is located in the Science and Technology Department. In addition to the seeds themselves, there are binders with information about the seeds from the seed packets and rating as to degree of difficulty, as well as books and other resources related to seed saving. 

So sort through your left over seeds and see if you have some seeds to share, and then find someone to share them with.
2018 Survey Results on Herbs
For several years we have done an online survey on topics of interest to Community and home gardeners. The 2018 survey asked about herbs. We had 74 respondents. 89% of them grew at least some herbs. Growing herbs in pots was most popular, while many people incorporated them in the vegetable garden or landscape. It looks like a lot of people did a combination of those. In terms of popularity, Basil led the Top Ten, and was grown by all but 7 of the people who grew herbs. The rest of the Top Ten, in order of popularity, were: Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme, Mint, Sage, Common Chives, Oregano, Lavender, and Dill. A good number of people also grew Cilantro, Garlic Chives, Lemon Balm, Fennel, and Tarragon. Only a few people grew Chamomile, Savory, and Chervil, but 13% of the folks grew something that was not on the list! These included Lemon Verbena, Stevia, Borage, Thai Basil, and Ginseng. The VAST majority of respondents grew their herbs for cooking. Most people used both fresh and preserved herbs, though a good number only used them fresh. Air-drying was the most popular method of preserving herbs, with freezing coming in a strong second. Not surprisingly based on what people grew, Basil was most listed as the Favorite Herb, followed by Parsley, Rosemary, and Lavender.

So if you don't grow herbs, give some of our Top Ten herbs a try. And if you do grow herbs, why not pick something new off the list to try!
Some Garden Apps
Pamela Bennett is the state Master Gardener Coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. She recently offered a list of apps that she finds useful:
Armitage's Greatest Garden Plants
All of Purdue University's Dr. Apps (Annual, Perennial, Tomato, Tree, and more)
Great Lakes Early Detection Network
Virginia tech Tree ID
Dirr's Tree and Shrub Finder
Midwest Ornamental Grasses
Plant Families
Fields Area Measure (measure the size of a garden to determine how much mulch, topsoil or other amendments you need)

So if you love apps, try some of these out.
Be on the lookout for Tetanus
Tetanus also known as lockjaw. According to the Centers for Disease Control "all adults should get a tetanus vaccination every 10 years." The CDC explains that
Tetanus lives in the soil and enters the body through breaks in the skin. Because gardeners use sharp tools, dig in the dirt, and handle plants with sharp points, they are particularly prone to tetanus infections. Before you start gardening this season, make sure your tetanus/diphtheria (Td) vaccination is up to date.  
For more CDC recommendations click on Gardening Health and Safety Tips
Quick tips
Some of the best crops to grow in spring or fall are broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peas, radishes, Swiss chard and spinach. All of these vegetables are somewhat cold tolerant and can extend the life of your garden beyond summer.

Very small seeds can be mixed with a bit of sand before sowing. This not only makes them easier to sow, but also prevents them from being sown too thickly.
If you get plants in nursery trays that have an open lattice bottom, turn the trays upside down and put them over areas you have just seeded. They will keep out birds and digging mammals until the plants are strong enough to take care of themselves.

If you forgot to clean off our tools last fall, now is the time to catch up. First remove all the dirt. If there is any rust a flexible sanding sponge will make short work of it. Sharpen if necessary. And remember to wear gloves when working with sharp tools to protect your hands from cuts and scrapes.
A little bit about growing Peas
Peas, one of spring's first sweet treats! Growing peas is quite easy and requires minimal space to be successful. 

They were originally cultivated for their dried seeds, being a legume, they have a lot of protein which made them a great winter staple. Thomas Jefferson grew thirty different types at his gardens in Monticello! 

Being a cool weather crop, peas are best planted at the beginning of spring or in the fall. In Ohio peas are best planted 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost date. The last average frost date for Akron is around 5/21. If you want to get the peas in the ground at the right time, around April 16th would be a good target date, depending of course on the weather.

For a fall planting, sow seeds 60 days before the first fall frost. In Akron that date is around 10/4. If you want a successful fall crop you would need to sow the seeds around August 4th. 

Most pea varieties will need to be staked, trellised or some other sort of creative solution to hold them up. Some can get quite tall. 

Don't forget, pea shoots can be eaten! When they are picked young you can add them to soups and in salads. As the season goes the flavor of the pea shoots become richer and you can mix them with some garlic and oil and sauté them for a side dish. 

If you want to save pea seeds for the next season it is quite easy. All you have to do is let an heirloom or open pollinated variety dry on the plants. Once dried you can thresh them or individually open the seed pods. Bring inside and let dry a little more, and then store. You can store them in envelopes, plastic bags or jars. Peas can last 4 to 5 years if properly stored. 

For more information see the  Michigan State Tip Sheet, or the  Cornell Growing Guide
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.