Saving The OTR Homegrown Lettuce

We are Seed Savers At OTR Homegrown and our specialty crop has been breeding an OTR Homegrown Leaf Lettuce.

Seed saving is an important part of the food process. Without seeds, there is no food. At OTR Homegrown we have been saving our leaf lettuce seed every season for 6 seasons now.

As stated in a previous article about this strain, The leaf lettuce varieties I started with was the Heirloom Leaf Lettuce Collection from Seeds Savers Exchange. Every season it is grown and the seeds are saved the more the strain acclimates to the downtown Cincinnati urban environment (which is different than that of the suburban environment).

Saving Two Year Old Lettuce Seed.

My wife loves me and it takes a special woman to love an urban gardener. Or any gardener for that type. FOr the many reasons I say that I give you one real good reason in this tray of two year old lettuce I had stashed somewhere in a bag in the garage.
bolted two year old leaf lettuce

Two summers ago a season ended with so much lettuce seed that some got stashed into a bag and stored to work at during the winter months. It will be interesting to find the germination rates of this two year old seed.
Lettuce seed

To get the lettuce seed from the lettuce stalk I now first cut the top of the plant that has seeds off from the stock when harvesting the lettuce seed in the garden. In this bag though the whole plant, including the roots were stacked together en masse. I leave all that in the field.

First, I cut the seeds away from the stems using scissors. I put the seed pods and small stems into a wire strainer (siv), the lettuce seed is smaller than the small holes between the small wire sieve.

Lettuce Seed
Pushing hard rubbing and crushing the organic material into the sieve breaks open all of the lettuce pods containing the lettuce seed. Running them through the strainer several times ensures I get all of the lettuce seed and gets rid of the stems. Leaving the rest helps you see where you plant if you plant in soil. If you need to access the seed without organic matter further strain then use fans to blow away the other organic material, or your seed, into separate piles. Be cautious doing this to not scatter a mess of your seeds in an errant wind.

My organic gardening guru, Geri Guidetti taught me using seed envelopes for seed packages. That is cool for the seed as the paper package allows the seeds to literally “Breath”, which she says seeds need to do. But we use jars now as Josh found out the hard way with an intern spilling juice on a bag o’ seed~ ;( womp.
So a jar like this will go to Josh over at Name of urban greens. Though a jar made from…
lettuce seed in a jar

Saving This Years OTR Homegrown Lettuce Seed.

2014 Lettuce Seed
A story in itself as everything is, I am lucky to have harvested my seed this year. Thanks to the fact that the lettuce seed pods will dry onto the seed and stay there, they did not all fall off.

Urban Gardens Fight Blight.

Left to their own empty urban lots become weed ladened garbage dumps. Gardens in their stead not only provide food but look tended and cared for. An overgrown abandoned lot not only makes a whole street look bad but also has a way of growing and spreading like a virus. People start throwing junk in their, the junk gets larger, a mattress gets thrown in (pic)…

OTR Homegrown is using basic mulching techniques to keep the streetside clear of overgrown weeds that become a breeding ground of garbage, empty bottles, glass and possibly needles.

Then another group as of yet unknown came in and cleared the garbage from the street 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Cardboard and pulled weeds.

Soon to come, straw.

This will keep the weeds from growing up all summer, yet preserve the grounds ability to soak up rain water and allow the soil to continue to get better until this spot finds a gardener.

Barred Owls Singing Sexy near Owl’s Nest Park

Owl’s Nest Park is appropriately named. Those of us who live near the #Cincinnati park know, there is a relatively large population of owls that live in the vicinity. Tonight, March 27, I captured the songs of the Barred Owls mating calls. They have been in mating for around 3 weeks. I think I even heard an owl orgasim. Unfortunately that is not captured here. I guess the male owl petered out. Listed to Barred Owl’s Mating in Scarborough Park #Cincinnati.
You should have headphones for this, recorded with voice recorder app.

The Pleasant Street Pickup!

Hey engaged people who care, who shine light, who give a darn if a child falls on glass and gets cut or if someone rolls over glass and pops their tire; this message is for you.

What: The Pleasant St. Pick Up

Where: Pleasant St. Between Liberty + Green

When: Saturday March 1st 10:00 AM

What to Bring:  Gloves, Hat, Long Pants, Long Sleeves, Clothes that can get dirty, Boots or strong shoes if your have them, Trash pick up tools if your have them, strong garbage bags, rakes. water, and smiles.

OTR Homegrown is one of the only tenants on Pleasant St between Liberty and Green in Over The Rhine.  Because very few people live on the street our block becomes trashed on a regular basis.  We spend a lot of time cleaning the street but over the Winter when we were not there the street accumulated OTRash!   This is just one block South of Findlay Market; many people bring their children down our street on their way to the Market.

This clean up is not for the faint of heart.  It is really bad.  There is a lot of broken glass and bottles angled in the dirt, and trash and clothes scattered throughout the block.

We care about our block, the kids that play on the street could get hurt or stuck with a needle.  We care about our community, if people are going to fix the houses then we do not want them seeing the street trashed like this.

We care about the people in our community, people coming into the neighborhood to spend money create jobs and support locally owned businesses.  People do not come into trashed neighborhoods.

Come Together.


Red-Shouldered Hawks in Cincinnati

The most common Hawk in the U.S.

The Red-Shouldered Hawk (corrected) lives in Cincinnati.  Often you can spot them on top of light posts along highways, or hear their screeches while walking in neighborhoods, although Mockingbirds make a pretty convincing hawk sound.
Redtail Hawk

In urban regions, small wooded areas serve as breeding habitats for our native bird populations to prosper.  Green spaces such as watersheds, waterways, parks, wooded lots, State parks, bird sanctuaries, and nature preserves act as breeding grounds and space for a number of animals to thrive including chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, deer, and especially birds.

Redtail Hawk Cincinnati Ohio

Here our Native Red-Shouldered Hawk takes off after being perched atop the neighbor’s high powered radio antenna where seconds earlier two Red-Shouldered Hawks perched moments before I got there, one flew off.  These two pictures are of the same Red-Shouldered Hawk taking off of the radio antenna.

Common birds in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.

Among the many species and types of birds that live in Cincinnati, Oh. are:

The blue and white Mockingbird

Three species of woodpecker.

Red-Shouldered hawk:

Barred Owl:


Blue Jays:

This Guy??

blue-pecker-finch-like-bird blue-woodpecker-home-dexter-windown

Can you #namethisbird

Urban Barred Owls in Cincinnati

For two years my baby’s mama and I would hear the call of a Barred Owl, one of several owls that inhabit Ohio.  But despite our attempts we never saw one.

The Barred Owl pictured lives near an urban bird sanctuary in Walnut Hills, very close to Owl’s Nest Park on Madison Ave.  There are Redtail Hawks, Deer, Chipmunks, Rabbits, Mice, Squirrels, Woodpeckers, in the woods along the Ohio River.

Today a predator stood just outside our window in the hallow of a tree cut down with disease; a perfectly covered hallow on three sides providing shelter from attack while looking in our window.   A squirrel teamed up with a highly vocal bird and they screamed a warning out to all.  Their bark continuous, their warning a siren that did not go off.

Enjoy The Pictures.   owl-sun-tree-med owl pan-owl-tree- profile-sun-owl-2 Profile-owl-2014-jan-tree sun-profile-owl owl-looking-around owl-sun-best-4 Owl-Dexter-home-2014 owl-awake-open-eyes-night sun-owl-best-beak- owl-sun-best-focus

Michelle Dillingham Featured on OTR-POD.

Michelle Dillingham is a founding member of OTR Homegrown. This week she is featured on OTR-POD. Check out the Podcast here:

“OTR-POD sits down with Michelle Dillingham. Michelle tells her story of growing up in a progressive house in Boston. Her father was a beatnik poet who’s artistic expression reflected Boston politics in the 50…’s and 60’s. Her mother loved the arts and education. Michelle had a calling for social service and now for public service. We talk about life, art, whole foods, ghosts, and her amazing son. I hope you enjoy.”

Thank you.

Vertical Squash Trellises

Pumpkins defy logic in that they are so big that it’s hard to imagine them hanging from fences; but these squash in fact are Super Climbers who seem to love growing vertically.