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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

March 29, 2023 - 8:58am --

Spring is finally here (well, kinda of). The first day of Spring is past us and the outside temperature is slowly warming up!  It almost time to start planting our vegetable gardens for the year. If you are new to gardening, I’ve listed some tips and tricks to help you be successful this year.

First, think about what kind of garden you want. In-ground gardens are a little more difficult to get started. You have to eradicate the perennial weeds before you plant or else, they will grow back, and they will compete against your vegetable plants for water, space and nutrients. Getting rid of the perennial weeds is quite simple. This can be done by tilling up the area 3-4 times every 2-3 weeks with a hand tiller or walk behind rototiller. Another technique is called mulching. This is when you put down a piece of heavy thick plastic. This technique will eradicate the plants that are under the tarp by preventing them to get light. It is recommended that the plastic stay on for 6-8 weeks for it to be successful. Before removing the plastic check to make sure the sod had been completely killed. You can even leave the plastic on the ground and plant your plants through it just as long as they are planted into the soil.

If you don't have healthy soil, try raised beds

Raised beds are another alternative if you do not an in-ground garden. Raised beds are elevated frames that work well if you do not have the best soil. Filling the raised bed is simple by mixing compost and topsoil together. You do not want to do just topsoil because it compacts and makes it hard for the plants to root. The mix of compost and topsoil help keep the ground softer and easier to work.

Determining the best place to out your garden can be a hard decision because there are many factors that need to be put into play.

  • You should try and choose a spot that gets full sun because most vegetables require full sun to grow and produce. Full sun is when the plants get at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Avoid areas that are low and could possibly hold extra water. Plant roots need to be able to dry out between each water session because their roots require oxygen. When you have healthy roots, you have healthy plants because roots are the heart of the plant. Consider an area with good drainage.
  • Pick an area that is convent to a water source.


Test your soil pH before planting. There are local companies that can do that for you. Please contact

your Extension Office for more information. Soil pH is the measure of the soil’s acidity or alkalinity. Most plants grow the best between 4.5 to 8.0. Soil pH is important because how acidic or alkaline the soil is determining what plant nutrients are available to the plant roots. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are able to be absorbed by the plants when the pH of the soil is correct.

Knowing the pH helps to determine fertilization plan

Now that you know your soil pH you can determine your fertilization plan. Fertilize in the spring for vegetable crops. Gently work into the soil a granular fertilizer around the plants. Always be careful when fertilizing because too much fertilizer can be harmful.

        Irrigating your plants is also important especially during a drought. Most vegetable plants grow best when they receive around an inch of rainfall each week. Always remember, your plants that you plant into the soil do not need watered as much as plants in pots. Soil holds water better than potting soil. You can overwater plants that are planted in the ground.


Shelby Tedrow is an OSU 4-H & AgNR Program Assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.