Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
January 2021 Volume 9 Number 1
Online Programs
The State Master Gardener Coordinator for Ohio presented a series of webinars last spring and summer on a variety of topics. If you are interested in seeing what they were and watching some, or all, of them, click HERE.

For some of the webinars the Summit County Master Gardeners have hosted, click HERE.

The United States Botanic Garden is sharing virtual tours, online programs (including weekly online yoga and cooking demos), plant spotlight stories, at-home activities for kids and families including coloring pages and lesson plans, videos, and more. As the Garden celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, it's also sharing photos and stories from its deeply-rooted history. Check out all they have going on HERE.
Save the dates for the 7th Annual Let's Get Growing Program
Join us on February 6 and February 13, 2021 from 9 am to noon each day for Let's Get Growing on Zoom! We will have presentations on Seed Starting, Container Fruit, Ethnic Vegetables, Seed Saving, and Vegetables for Storage. This event is FREE, but registration is required.
You will get a separate email in January with a link to register.
Sign up for the Living Landscape Speaker Series
Join fellow gardeners and nature enthusiasts as we learn to transform our landscapes for beauty and nature. The Living Landscape Speaker Series is co-sponsored by the OSU Department of Entomology and Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Garden, with support from NIFA IPM Pollinator Health grant and the Manitou Fund.
The Series includes
Doug Tallamy: Restoring Nature's Relationships at Home
January 15th@10AM 
 Marne Titchenell: Enhancing Your Landscape for Birds and Other Wildlife
January 22nd@1PM
Deb Knapke: Eco-Conscious Gardening: From Concept to Design
January 29th@10AM 
Rick Darke: Dynamic Design and The Art of Observation
February 6th 10AM - 11:30AM

Find full program descriptions and the link to register HERE.
Plan to join us for these Master Gardener Events
SCMG Winter Series
Wednesday, January 6, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, February 3, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, February 17, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 3, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 17, 6:30 p.m.

Meet Me in the Garden
Wednesday, January 27, 7:00 p.m.
Ohio's Forests: Ecology and Management

Wednesday, February 24, 7:00 p.m.
Wellness in the Garden

Wednesday, March 24, 7:00 p.m.
Phenology: Using Nature's Calendar to Predict Plant Bloom and Insect Activity

As a subscriber to our Newsletter you will get an e-invitation to all these events or you can register on our WEBSITE!
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Order gardening and seed catalogs to look through for ideas and/or order seeds, equipment and supplies.
  • Sort through seeds you have left from last year and test them for viability (place 10 seeds between 2 layers of moist paper towels, put in a sealed plastic bag, keep paper dampened, but not too wet, if less than 1/2 the seeds sprout - buy new ones)
  • Now is a great time to review last year's garden and do a little garden planning.
  • Relax and dream of the coming summer season!
The Master Gardener Hotline is Closed for the season
You can call our Horticulture Hotline to ask a garden-related question and get advice from our experts.
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
Seed Catalogs
Studies show that many plants are blooming or leafing out earlier than they did many years ago. It seems that the same phenomenon is happening with seed catalogs. They used to arrive after Christmas, along with the tax forms from the IRS. But now they start arriving before Thanksgiving! If you have not gotten on the mailing lists for at least a couple of seed catalogs, you are missing out. Good seed catalogs are great sources of information, whether you buy the seeds or not. They not only offer descriptions of new and different varieties and cultivars of familiar vegetables you may want to try, but they may also inspire you to grow crops you have never tried before. 

Even better, good seed catalogs offer a wealth of growing information. And, they are fun to look at when the garden is covered with snow.  

The Summit County Master Gardeners operate under the auspices of the Ohio State University Extension, and as such we are prohibited from offering anything that might be construed as an endorsement of any product or place of business. That means that we cannot say things like "Johnny's Selected Seeds and Territorial Seed catalogs have really good cultural information;" or that the "Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed catalog has unusual photographs and 1500 heirloom seed varieties."  Instead, you need to talk to your fellow gardeners and get ideas from them on catalogs that they like.  After all, community gardening is 90% community and 10% gardening.  

And, if you want to cut down on the stuff in your mailbox, most seed companies have online catalogs and resources.  
Seed Saving
There are two types of seed saving. One is to collect seeds from plants you grow, process them as necessary, and use them the following year. Because plants depend on wind and insects for pollination, you may or may not get what you expect, which can be part of the fun. A second way is to plant only the seeds you need and save the rest for the following year. 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." By storing them correctly you seeds can last even longer. Store seeds in the opposite conditions from those needed for germination--cool, dry and dark. Iowa State University offers the following viability for properly stored seed:
Seed Type Years
Asparagus 3
Beans 3
Beets 4
Broccoli 5
Cabbage 5
Carrots 3
Cauliflower 5
Corn 2
Cucumbers 5
Lettuce 5
Seed Type Years
Muskmelons 5
Onions 1
Peas 3
Peppers 2
Pumpkins 4
Radishes 5
Spinach 5
Squash 4
Tomatoes 4
Watermelons 4
Now is a great time to sort your seeds from last year, to determine what you have, and what you need. If you are unsure about seed viability, it is easy to check. Just put 10 seeds on a dampened paper towel, fold the towel over the seeds, slide the towel into a plastic bag, and put the bag in a warm spot, like on top of the fridge. Check every few days to see if they are sprouting. By using 10 seeds, it is easy to determine the percentage of germination, 5 is 50%, 8 is 80%! 

Not only will you be saving seed, you will be saving money as well.
Speaking about saving money, resolve this year to minimize food waste...
According to the New York times, globally, we throw out about 1.3 billion tons of food a year, or a third of all the food that we grow. But in wealthy countries, especially in the United States and Canada, around 40 percent of wasted food is thrown out by consumers. The United States as a whole wastes more than $160 billion in food a year.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, which tracks food loss, dairy products account for the largest share of food wasted, about $91 billion.
Whether it is that carton of yogurt that hid in the back of the fridge or the jar of pickles you forgot you had, food that you throw away because it has passed its "use by" date costs you money. So what to do? Well, like most things, there's an app for that. The magazine The Week notes that FoodKeeper makes it easy to look up the shelf life of foods, in case you’re unsure how long that corned beef will last in the freezer. Created by the USDA, the app also has a calendar function that can provide alerts. And
NoWaste creates an inventory of the contents of your fridge, freezer, and pantry so expiration dates never slip by. So make this one of your New Year's resolutions: to reduce food waste and save money.
Be on the lookout for
Frost Heave. Freezing and thawing can push perennial plants up out of the ground. When we get warm spells check your plants and carefully push any that have heaved back into the ground.
Quick tips
Arrange your seed packets, whether new or old, into "when to plant" stacks--early, mid season, and late. That will help you stay organized and on schedule.

A small, lightweight toboggan type plastic sled makes a great holder/carrier for plants started in individual pots. It is also a great spot to do your potting up, since it will help contain the soil as you fill your pots. 

Start a garden journal. A spiral notebook is all it takes. Use it make notes of varieties you are interested in, planting dates, crop rotations, things that grew well, things that didn't. By keeping a journal from year to year you will soon have a great resource suited to your particular gardening tastes and style. 

You can also pick up one of the free calendars offered by stores and businesses and use it to track your seed starting and planting dates, weather information, and anticipated and actual harvest dates.
A little bit about growing Microgreens
What are microgreens? According to the University of Illinois Extension
Microgreens are seedlings grown to fully expanded cotyledons or one true leaf. Unlike sprouts, which are typically grown in the dark without soil, microgreens are grown with light in a soil mix. Sprouts are consumed entirely-- leaves, stem, and roots; only the stems and leaves of microgreens are eaten.

The great thing about microgreens is that, while they are VERY expensive in the store, they are easy to grow at home, especially in the winter. And microgrees are good for you, too. The University of Idaho Extension notes that 
Researchers with the USDA and University of Maryland found in examining 25 varieties of microgreens that the nutrient levels were typically 4 to 6 times higher than in the mature leaves of the same vegetable plants. 

You can grow microgreens in small containers on just about any windowsill, they don't even need lots of sunlight because they are only growing for a couple of weeks. A south facing window is best, but east or west will also work. 
Start with a shallow tray or container, and then add an inch or two of a soilless potting mix. Seed starting mix is fine if you have it. Then sprinkle the seeds over the top and cover lightly with your soilless mix. Mixed lettuces are good, as are a combination of arugula, kale, chard and brocolli. A Mesclun mix is great. You can find special microgreen seed mixes made up, but if you have some leftover seed from last year you can make your own mix. This is a great way to give microgreens a try.

Illinois Extension suggests you should 
Plant the seeds in a single layer very close together but not touching. An eighth of an inch for tiny seeds to a quarter of an inch apart for larger seeds is a good distance.
Water the seeds, being careful not to wash them away. A spray bottle may be a good tool to prevent washing the seeds out of place. If your tray does not have drainage holes, be very careful not to overwater.
Place your planted tray in a sunny spot and water as needed. You may cover the tray with a plastic cover to conserve moisture, but be cautious as direct sun through a cover may trap enough heat to kill the emerging seedlings.
Once the seedlings start to emerge you should remove the humidity cover. And it is helpful to place a small fan on very low near the greens to provide air circulation and help prevent disease.

The University of California Master Gardeners note that 
Microgreens are intentionally harvested when they're very young, often under two inches tall-ten or less days after seeds are sown! Use scissors to clip clusters just above the soil line right after the first set of true leaves form. True leaves follow the initial, simple-looking seed leaves and resemble the leaves of the mature plant.

They also observe that 
Unlike Mesclun or baby greens, you will not have additional harvests from a planting of microgreens. Because the plants don't have much time to develop and you're snipping off everything except the very bottom of the stem, the plant cannot generate new growth. You can plant another crop immediately after harvest by scattering fresh seed and covering it with soil. You don't need to remove the old roots; they are good sources of organic matter.

Idaho Extension notes that 
The quick turn around time between "crops" on your window sill is another advantage of microgreens. In most cases you can reuse the container and potting soil just as it is for the next crop.

For more information see Growing Microgreens and  Microgreens.
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.