Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
October 2019 Volume 7 Number 10
Upcoming Events
Friday October 4, 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: October 4th
 will be  Leaf Casting or Hypertufa by Nancy Clark. All are welcome. Coffee will be provided.
 
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Join the Summit Food coalition for their third annual Savor the Summit Local Food Hero Celebration and fundraiser. They will honor Erin Molnar, Director of Food Programs at Countryside, with the 2019 Liam Murray Local Food Hero award during a brief program. You can look forward to a pie raffle, a wine pull, and a smattering of local snacks catered by Nosh Eatery in Hudson, emphasizing local, seasonal fare.
Tickets to the event are $45 if purchased before Sept. 20, 2019, and $55 after that. Additionally, VIP tickets are available for $75 and will include a signature cocktail and souvenir glass. Purchase your tickets here . Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Fundraiser will take place from 5:30 PM  7:30 PM at the Trailhead Event Space.

Tuesday, October 15, 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. Countryside Local Food Swaps are held on the third Tuesday of each month, starting at 7 pm (Be sure to register and confirm the date and location as these occasionally do change), at various locations in the Akron  area.   Visit the   Countryside Local Food Swap page  to learn more about the swaps and get answers to frequently asked questions. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019
Good Gardens is a FREE educational program for community gardeners and home
gardeners alike. Join local experts to learn about a variety of topics. While you’re there,
check out the community garden for inspiration!
All programs are on the third Thursday of the month from April to October,
6 – 7:30 p.m. in the Goodyear Heights Lodge West Room: 2077 Newton Street, Akron. The October program will be  Good Gardens: Annual Seed Swap
   
Anytime
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.
Seed Swap
There will be a Seed Swap at 6:pm on October 17 at Summit Metro Parks Goodyear Heights Lodge, 20177 Newton St., Akron. This program is part of the Good Garden Series associated with the Goodyear Heights Community Garden.

So, as you are harvesting or planting please consider saving some seeds for our upcoming seed swap.  Then, mark your calendars for October 17th, come at 6:00 pm and swap your seeds with others! 

Saved seeds should be labelled with variety name and packed in small quantities if possible.  
When will it frost?
With such a beautiful end of September it might seem like the answer might be never. But frost is coming! The Midwest Regional Climate Center’s Vegetation Impact Program  compiles tables on freeze dates based on historical information. These tables give probabilities that certain temperatures will occur after certain dates. 

There is a
  • 10% chance it will frost by October 1 - 10,
  • a 50% chance it will frost by October 11 - 20, and
  • a 90% chance it will frost by November 21 - 30.
Based on data from 1981-2010, The earliest first freeze was October 1-10 and the latest first freeze was November 1-10.
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Watch for first frost warnings (average date is 10/18)
  • Complete final harvest of tender crops when cold temps become frequent.  Partially ripe tomatoes can be picked and ripened indoors.
  • Harvest gourds when stems begin to brown and dry.  Cure at 70-80 degrees for 2-4 weeks in a dry well-ventilated location.
  • Harvest pumpkins and winter squash when rind is hard and fully colored.  Store in a cool place until ready to use.
  • After the first frost, harvest parsnips and Brussel sprouts.
  • After a killing frost, do a final garden clean-up, adding plant material to compost pile.
  • Soil can be prepared for spring planting.  Plant a cover crop, if planned.
  • Before the ground freezes, plant rhubarb, garlic and shallots.
  • Evaluate your garden and make notes to help plan next year's effort.
  • Carve your Halloween Jack-O-Lantern!!
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 234.226.6639 
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
 
Fall vegetable storage
Many Fall vegetables will store for a surprisingly long time if kept in the proper conditions. Here are some examples:

Cold, moist storage
(32 to 40 degrees F, 90 to 95% relative humidity)
 *Beets 2-3 months
*Carrots 2-3 months or overwintered in garden
*Parsnips 2-3 months or overwintered in garden
*Irish Potato 2-4 months. Avoid light, high humidity and good ventilation
*Turnips 2-3 months or overwintered in garden
*Cabbage - 2 months
*Chinese cabbage - 2 months
 
Cool, dry storage
(32 to 55 degrees F, 50 to 60 % relative humidity)
*Onions and Garlic 6-7 months - cure before storage - needs good ventilation
Warm, dry storage  
(55 to 60 degrees F, 60 to 70 % relative humidity)
*Pumpkins and winter squash 2-6 months depending on variety - needs good air circulation

Basements are generally cool and dry. If storing vegetables in basements, provide your vegetables with some ventilation. Be sure they are protected from rodents.
Home refrigerators are generally cold and dry (40°F and 50-60% relative humidity). Putting vegetables in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator will provide cold and moist conditions, but only for a moderate amount of time. (Unperforated plastic bags often create too humid conditions that lead to condensation and growth of mold or bacteria.)
 
Fruits and vegetables should always be stored separately. Fruits release ethylene, which speeds the ripening process of vegetables. Fruits are also very susceptible to picking up the taste of nearby vegetables. 

For more detailed information you can check out the  University of Minnesota's Harvesting and storing home garden vegetables.
Don't compost those green tomatoes
Make salsa.  Tomatillos are not the only thing you can use to make a green salsa, green tomatoes will work too.  Roughly chop 2 large green tomatoes, one onion, and one seeded jalapeno, and roast them on a foil covered cookie sheet for one hour at 350.  Let them cool, then dump them in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Coarsely process everything, and enjoy.
Freezing raw ripe tomatoes
It is possible to quickly freeze raw tomatoes without blanching them first. Tomatoes may be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or puréed. Frozen tomatoes are best used in cooked foods such as soups, sauces and stews as they become mushy when they're thawed.

Select firm, ripe tomatoes for freezing, discard any that are spoiled.Tomatoes should be washed before freezing. Wet each tomato with water, rub its surface, rinse it with running water, and dry it with a paper towel. Cut away the stem scar and surrounding area and discard it. Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze. (Tomatoes do not need to be blanched before freezing.) Once frozen, transfer the tomatoes from the cookie sheets into freezer bags or other containers. Seal tightly.
To use the frozen tomatoes, remove them from the freezer a few at a time or all at once. To peel, just run a frozen tomato under warm water in the kitchen sink. Its skin will slip off easily.

For more information check out Freezing Raw Tomatoes from the University of Nebraska.
Be on the lookout for winter annual weeds
As you and the garden start winding down for the year the last thing you probably want to think about is weeding. And it is easy to overlook those harmless little weeds that are showing up. But those may be winter annual weeds. 
 
Winter annual weeds germinate in the fall and grow slowly throughout the winter. They begin rapid growth when temperatures rise in the late winter and can take over your spring garden if left to their own devices. They flower early in the spring, then set seeds and die, leaving the seeds for next fall.
 
Chickweed, hairy bittercress, henbit, purple deadnettle, and shepherd's purse are all winter annual weeds. Hairy Bittercress uses what botanists call balistic seed dispersal, meaning it shoot the seeds out. It shoots seed from 2-4 FEET! And touch can trigger the seed to shoot, so if you are weeding in the spring you might get a face full of seeds! 
 
The trick for dealing with winter annual weeds is the same as with most other weeds, get 'em when they are small, and NEVER let them go to seed.
 
So do yourself, and your garden, a favor this fall, and pull those winter annual weeds.  
Quick tips
Slicing an onion does not seem like rocket science, but how you do it can make a difference, according to Cooks's Illustrated. The layers of plant cells in an onion run from the root to the stem. So when you cut them cross-wise you separate those layers into small pieces that soften and break down when cooked. Just what you want to puree in smooth soups or sauces. When you cut your onions pole to pole, however, you preserve the cell's structure. That means that the pieces will maintain their shape when cooked. Perfect for onion soup or caramelized onions for hot dogs or sausages.

Now is the best time to add garden beds for several reasons. Not only to let them settle in over the winter and to do the work when the soil was not too wet and the weather not too hot. But also because if now, at the end of the season, when you are worn out, you think you need more beds, you probably do!

According to the University of Minnesota, research has shown that for the average consumer washing produce with tap water is just as effective as washing produce with any produce wash solutions that are on the market.  (Not to mention cheaper, too.)

Leave winter squash on the vine until the stem shrivels. Pick after the vines have dried but before the first frost. The skins should be hard enough to resist the pressure of your thumbnail. Leave about 4" of stem on each squash. 

Speaking of winter squash, large ones like Blue Hubbard can be hard to cut up. The skins are hard and the squash is hard to steady. Cooks Illustrated suggests a different approach. Put the squash in a clean kitchen trash bag and drop it from shoulder height onto a sidewalk or driveway. The squash should break into manageable pieces to get you started.
A little bit about growing Garlic
Fall is the time to plant garlic.  Plant from about the time of first fall frost to early November. If your soil is loose and well-prepared, you can plant in very early spring, but fall plantings usually yield more.  Garlic comes in 2 types, soft neck (which you can braid) and stiff neck. Stiff neck is more winter hardy and may be better for fall planting, which is recommended since spring planting yields small bulbs. Plant the individual cloves 1-2 inches deep, 4-6 inches apart, with the point up. Plant large cloves for larger bulbs. Smaller cloves may be planted closer together and harvested for garlic greens. Do not use supermarket garlic, since it may have diseases, may have been treated to prevent sprouting, and may not be suited to our climate. Garlic likes a good sandy-loam soil rich in organic matter with ample nutrients. Mulch well with straw or chopped leaves after planting. In spring be sure to keep your garlic well weeded and if it is dry, apply 1 inch of water per week. If flower stalks (scapes) appear in the spring, remove them for best bulb size. 

Garlic is ready to harvest when the tops yellow and begin to droop-usually mid-July to August. Dig the bulbs carefully (rather than pulling out by the stems) and place them in a shady spot for a few days to dry. After the bulbs have dried, the tops and roots can be removed with shears to within an inch of the bulbs, but the bulbs should be spread out in a dry spot to fully cure. It is essential that the garlic be well cured before going into storage.

As a side note, OhioLine notes that "When garlic is used in canning pickles, a blue-purple pigment often develops under acidic conditions. This situation is often seen in canned products when the garlic is immature or overdried. This does not affect the taste or edibility of the product."

For more information see new Ohioline Fact Sheet Growing Garlic in the Garden or 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.