CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Spring Garden Preparation is Important

Download a transcript of this video (in process)


Winter in Ohio may be unpredictable,
but you can still plan ahead for a great spring garden!

Start planning now to set yourself up for a successful growing season this year in your home garden. There are several things you can do even while the winter winds are blowing and it seems less than fun to be digging in the dirt. Check out Tim McDermott’s tips for getting started with your garden now.

There are four top things you can do now to help your garden as soon as spring is here to stay.

  • Decide where to place your garden. Location, location, location... The best garden spot is in full sun, which is usually in a south-facing location. You can grow your fruits and vegies directly in the ground, in a raised bed, or in a variety of containers.
  • Get your garden supplies now. We're talking seeds, cell packs, soil and/or soilless mix, tools, gloves, sun hat. Some favorite seed varieties can be hard to find, so it pays to start searching for your seed early.
  • Test your soil for existing and needed fertilizer. Getting test results from a professional lab helps you get the soil prepped for ideal growing conditions.
  • Think about starting seed indoors while the weather is still iffy outside. Lettuce, broccoli, onions, kale, and radishes are all good vegies to getlettuce in two stages started inside. When it’s time to take your seeds and seedlings outside, plant according to soil temperature, not air temperature – because the soil surrounding the seeds directly impacts germination and plant growth rate.

Check out these virtual webinars to learn some more easy tips as you get started growing your own fresh, healthy produce. Tim McDermott hosting this Spring Garden Planning Virtual Event during the pandemic; and his advice is timely any time. The video is 47 minutes long.

Seed Starting Virtual Event: You can grow almost anything you want when you know a few tips and tricks! Check out this video that details a seed starting kit to help get you started; it's worth the 38 minutes of your time!

radish clumpIt's never too early to start thinking about you're going to make with your garden harvest! Inradishes in a line this case  think radishes! Check out Tim and Jenny's demo of an easy recipe for Spicy Pickled Radishes.


We have several free fact sheets available on Ohioline that can help you with spring garden and proper soil preparation!

Finding a soil test facility near you… Soil tests are available for gardens, home lawns, farm fields, and commercial horticulture operations. Samples are usually analyzed for water pH, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. A soil test report includes the chemical analysis of the soil along with lime and fertilizer recommendations for the crop specified. Analysis is done at a non-biased university soil testing laboratory. To get a soil test kit, contact the Extension office in your county and ask about soil testing. Not sure how to reach us? Visit to get the address, phone number, and direct link to your county office.

Why should I test my soil  and for what? Soil tests provide more helpful information on soils than any other resource. Testing is an inexpensive way to maintain good plant health in lawns and landscapes, and to maximize productivity of vegetable gardens and fruit crops. Soil test results pinpoint plant nutrient needs and soil test lab recommendations guide fertilizer applications so just the right amount is used.

Curious about just what IS soil – and what's what underneath your plants and your grass? Do a little homework while the weather is still warming up and read about Soil Terminology and Definitions. This overview is a great primer on terms and concepts used by gardeners, farmers, and others in the ag industry. There's even more to it, if you want to read on about Understanding Soil Microbes and Nutrient Recycling.

And then there's composting....the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. It's also a practical and convenient way to handle yard trimmings that improves your soil, protects the environment, and can save you money. Learn how Composting at Home can be a pretty handy way to "feed" whatever you're growing in your garden or planter boxes, as well as the trees and shrubs in your lawn.

Food safety is also important as you plant, tend, and harvest fruits and vegies in your garden. Some of the things to consider to help reduce risk of contaminating vegies and fruits in your garden are location, soil amendments, water, animals, and tools. Our Food Safety in Gardens fact sheet provides some excellent advice about how to minimize potential food safety issues as you grow some tasty things in your garden. And if we get an overabundance of rain this spring and summer, you can also minimize Food Safety and Garden Flooding issues.

Learn more about growing your own seasonal fruits and vegies via our experts at Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine -- Seasonal Fruits and Veggies Shine: Three Cheers for Locally Grown Produce.

Sanja Ilic ( serves as an Extension state specialist based in the Ohio State College of Education and Human Ecology, focusing on food safety. In fact, she wrote the gardening food safety fact sheets we just mentioned above. Sanja works to promote food safety among consumers, food handlers, and populations at risk. Her research investigates novel interventions to control and eliminate foodborne pathogens to improve consumer health and wellness. She also coordinates some of her efforts with many of our family and consumer sciences professionals throughout the state.