Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
March 2021 Volume 9 Number 3
Upcoming Events
March 3 and 17, 2021
Summit County Master Gardeners are hosting a Winter Educational Series the first and third Wednesday in February and March. March 3rd will be Kokedama: Demonstrating a Japanese Art Form presented by Master Gardener Heidi Schwarzinger. March 17 will be Demonstrating Bonsai Techniques in a Home Setting presented by Master Gardener Greg Cloyd. All classes are being held at 6:30 PM. Click the title to register.

March 24, 2019
Summit County Master Gardeners' Meet Me in the Garden educational series will be offered via Zoom the 4th Wednesday of the Month at 6:30 PM. Join them in March for Phenology: Using Nature’s Calendar to Predict Plant Bloom & Insect Activity presented by Presented by Denise Ellsworth, Program Director Pollinator Education, OSU Dept. of Entomology/Extension. Click the title for registration.

Past 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.
Follow us on Instagram!
Check us out at @osusummitmgv for timely plant tips and program information.
Want to go Native?
The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, Ohio has having its annual Native Plant Sale online, starting April 1 (no fooling). The also are offering virtual nature programs. Of you are interested check them out be clicking HERE.
Participate in a Vegetable Garden Seed Trial!
Ohio State Extension is looking for people excited about growing vegetables in their home gardens and then letting them know what they think in the Second Annual Home Garden Vegetable Trial. Youth and adults are welcomed to participate. Each trial contains two varieties that you will grow side by side to compare throughout the season. You can select multiple trials. For each trial you will get:
• seed for two varieties
• Row markets
• A garden layout plan to prepare your rows or beds
• Growing information specific to the crop species you selected, including planting date, plant spacing, nutrient requirements, etc.
• an evaluation sheet
The Vegetable Trial is open for registration through March 15, while supplies last. Last year they had 121 participants from 33 counties. The Trial website is u.osu.edu/brown.6000/vegetable-trials/2021-trials/ and contains complete information about the trial. Participants can go directly to the registration site go.osu.edu/veggies2021 to place their order. The cost is $3 / trial and participants can select up to 5 trials.
Free Partners for Pollinators Authors Speaker Series
Welcome Spring! Authors Speaker Series
Join us daily, March 22 – 26 at 10AM EASTERN. The programs are Free, but you must register! 

Monday, March 22
Tuesday, March 23
Wednesday, March 24
Thursday, March 25
Friday, March 26

For more details and to register click HERE.
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 19th! 
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 234.226.6930 
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 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 at the Science & Technology desk on the first floor of Main Library. 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.
Use Sterile Soil to start your seeds
Garden soil is a living ecosystem, and "sterile soil" is the last thing we want in the garden. It is a different story, however, when it comes to starting seeds indoors or even outdoors in trays or pots. to get your seedlings off to the best start you want a sterile "soilless medium". Garden soil is too heavy For starting seeds indoors, and it may harbor pests, weed seeds and diseases. It also may not drain as well as we would like. You can buy special seed starting mix, which is very light and fine, but a nice regular potting mix is also suitable for starting vegetables. Soilless mixes are usually based on peat. If you are concerned about the sustainability of peat products, you can look for mixes based on other materials, like coconut coir. Or you can make your own. This may or may not save you money, but it can be fun to do and it will allow you to customize your mix to what you are growing. If you want to try, you should start with a recipe. The University of Florida has some in their Homemade Potting Mix article, and so does Penn State in their Homemade Potting Media article.
Has your garlic started to sprout? But not in a good way?
Under ideal conditions (read commercial storage) softneck garlic, which stores longer than hardneck, can be held for up to 9 months, and hardneck varieties up to 6 months. In the kitchen, storage time is much shorter. Even at 60 degrees and in a well ventilated, dry, dark spot you can expect 3 to 5 months. After that your garlic may start to sprout. So what does that mean? Well, as in most of life, there is good news, and there is bad news. In Garlic: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy the University of California notes that while neither sprouting nor shriveling is harmful, "both are an indication that the garlic is no longer at its peak quality". With sprouting the clove is trying to grow, and that prompts chemical changes. The folks at Cook's Illustrated note that one of these changes is that the clove uses the sugar it has stored to grow the sprouts, so that the clove itself tastes more intense and less sweet. The sprouts, however, don't taste harsh. Despite these changes, the folks at Cook's concluded that unless the dish calls for LOTS of garlic, the more pronounced flavor was not noticeable.
Safe water for seeds and plants
Are you worried about using chlorinated water to start seeds or water your plants? According to Dr. Margaret (Peg) McMahon, Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at Ohio State "the amount of chlorine in municipal water supplies is not enough to affect seed germination and other stages of plant growth and development. In fact, because it can help inhibit bacterial and fungal activity it may actually be beneficial."

Rainwater, however is a different issue. Water collected in a rain-barrel can contain bacteria including fecal matter, from animals that fly over, land on, or climb on the roof. It can also contain chemical residues from the roof itself..

Dr. Mike Dietz, Assistant Extension Educator at UConn with expertise in water management recommends “not using roof water on anything leafy that you are going to eat directly. It would be OK to water soil/plants where there is no direct contact”. This is consistent with recommendations from other experts who suggest applying the water directly to the soil and avoiding contact with above-ground plant parts. An ideal set-up would be to hook up a drip irrigation system to your rain barrel(s). Pressure will be improved when they are full and if they are elevated. A full rain barrel can be pretty heavy, at about 500 lbs. for a 55 gallon unit, so make sure they are on a solid and stable base such as concrete blocks.
If possible, and this is done in larger collection systems automatically, don’t collect the ‘first flush’ of water off the roof. This would be the first few gallons. In a ¼” rainfall as much as 150 gallons can be collected from a 1000 ft2 roof surface (3). The first water to run off tends to have higher concentrations of any contaminants because of them building up on the roof since the previous rainfall event.

Another more practical way to minimize risk of pathogen/bacterial contamination is to treat the collected water with bleach. Rutgers University recommends treating 55 gallons of water by adding one ounce of unscented household chlorine bleach to the barrel once a month (or more often if rain is frequent). Allow this to stand for 24 hours before using the water for irrigation so the bleach can dissipate.
Apply collected water in the morning. Wait until leaves dry in the sun before harvesting. Best practice is to utilize drip irrigation to minimize risk of the water coming in contact with the foliage or fruit.

Thoroughly wash all harvested produce. In addition, you should always thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water after they are in contact with collected water.

In summary, there are risks to using collected rain water for irrigation of food crops. If rain collected water is used to water vegetables it should not be applied to the plant foliage or fruit but on the soil directly and stop using rain barrel water as harvest approaches.
Some Garden Apps
Pamela Bennett is the state Master Gardener Coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. She 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 Radishes
According to an article in Cook's Illustrated magazine, in ancient Greece there was a vegetable so revered that "pure-gold replicas were offered to Apollo, god of sun, light, music, poetry, prophecy and more. It wasn't beets, which were cast in silver, or turnips, which were cast in lead. It was RADISHES!! Radishes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There are the round red Cherry Belles and Scarlet Globes that spring to mind when we first think of radishes, but there are also longer French Breakfast which are red with a white tip, Icicle which is also longer and all white. There is the multi-colored mix of Easter Egg and the magenta Plum Purple or Purple Ninja. There is Watermelon, which is pink-red inside with a white and green outside, kind of like--a watermelon, huge Daikon (up to 18" long and 3" in diameter), and Round Black Spanish which are winter radishes.
Radishes are quick to mature, often ready to harvest in 3 to 6 weeks. Most radishes like cool weather. Plant seeds in early spring, as soon as soil can be worked and soil temperature is between 40˚ F and 75˚ F. Plant seeds 1/4' - 1/2" deep about 3 - 4 inches apart. Sow in short rows or in blocks because radishes go from perfect to pithy and woody fairly quickly. So plant a small batch every week until mid-May to keep the harvest coming. Plantings can be tucked in among seedlings of larger and later plants, and the radishes will be out of the way before those plants need the room. For winter radishes sow them in midsummer as you would for fall turnips.

Like any root crop radishes like loose, well-drained soil with good fertility. Provide consistent moisture and keep the beds free of weeds. You can use row covers to prevent insect damage from flea beetles and cabbage maggot. Keep an eye on your crop and start harvesting small radishes when they are about an inch in diameter, or even smaller for baby radishes. After harvesting remove the leaves for storage, as they will pull moisture from the roots, but don't throw them in the compost. Radish leaves can be added to salads or sauteed.

Although we usually consider radishes as something added to salads or included in a relish tray, they are good cooked as well. Cooking deactivates the enzymes which give radishes their sharp taste. They can be braised, steamed, sauteed, roasted or boiled. Purdue has some tips HERE.
For more information see the Michigan State Tip Sheet, the Illinois Growing Guide (including some recipes) 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.