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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2011

FROM PLANT TO PLATE

OSU Extension open year round

BY BARBARA NORTHRUP
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

There was a time when fall was my favorite time of the year. I loved the colors, the bite of chill in the air, and the perfect temperatures.

But spring and summer have taken over as my favorites, when trees show their array of blossoms, the first Lenten Rose peeks up from the winter soil, and all of those seed catalogs are just waiting to get us hooked once again on gardening.

This is our final column for the year, and I, along with the other contributors -- Amy Stone, Patrice Powers-Baker, and Lee Richter -- would like to thank all of you for your support this year.

We have received many phone calls regarding issues we have published. Tomatoes, peppers, and soil tests all ranked high on information requests. Between torrential rains, and high heat indexes, many of our gardens certainly were stressed this year. Hopefully we were able to take some of the stress away from you by providing answers to your questions.

When we were first approached to submit these articles by The Blade, I submitted information from our "From Plant to Plate" OSU Extension Lucas County signature program. As everyone knows, "local foods" have become popular across the country. We are proud of our presence in Lucas County, working with both community gardens, and you, the backyard gardener.

While you might not be seeing our articles weekly this fall and winter, OSU Extension Lucas County will continue to answer your questions on gardening, nutrition, Dining with Diabetes, and our 4-H programs. Our horticulture hotline is available all year long on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The Ohio State University always is within reach by visiting ohioline.osu.edu. Check out the FactSheets for Yard & Garden, Food, Youth, Family, Home & the Environment, plus more. Within each of those categories you will find information on specific vegetables, food preservation, budget management, and even stain removal tips. All information is research-based, so it's a source you always can trust.

Take time now to think about what you would do differently in your garden. Write things down in a journal while they're fresh in your mind, and then when the February doldrums hit, bring the journal out and start reviewing all of those seed catalogs you've received in the mail. Maybe next spring you would like to start your own seedlings for your vegetables, or try a new variety. It's yet another way to help cut your costs for growing your own food.

While your own gardens might be ready for "bed", visit your local farmers' markets to extend the season.

It's not too late to start preserving for the winter months. Visit some of the local orchards and try some new apple recipes. Some markets are open year-round offering their own preserved fruits and vegetables. Just because the ground is frozen, and you're not working in the garden, doesn't mean you can't enjoy that taste of summer throughout the year.

If you have been canning, freezing, or even drying your vegetables to savor over the winter, reflect back on your hard labors. There is nothing quite like dried heirloom tomatoes to enjoy on your favorite bruschetta, or pizza recipe in January, or a "fresh" peach cobbler during the holidays.

Be proud of your accomplishments, be aware of the challenges we faced together, be adventurous in trying something new, and be empowered with knowledge from OSU Extension.



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