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Pottawatomie County OSU Extension

Vegetable Gardens for 2020

Here are some tips for the vegetable garden for 2020

Welcome to the season of vegetable gardening!

A new outlook in 2020:  

For gardeners, this is a great opportunity to plan your vegetable gardens and plan to plant enough to share with your family and neighbors!  Share your knowledge or learn something new.

It may be a year to bring back the Victory Garden. Learn about some really neat garden history for our country at this link:  https://www.history.com/news/americas-patriotic-victory-gardens .

Look at your planting dates in the Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide OSU Fact Sheet  http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1092/HLA-6004web.pdf

•             Cool season gardens are in progress already.  

•             Prepare beds and soil for April. (scroll down) Use some spaces where you may normally plant annual flowers for veggies.  Note heights and space needed. Leafy greens, radish, beets, kale, and cabbage will stay low growing during the early season.  Green beans will fit that space after mid-April, providing some bloom, and fresh green beans!

•             Our frost-free date in central Oklahoma is April 15 for warm season veggies. Wait until it's time, chilled plants will be slow to take off and slow to produce. 'Harden off' plants on your porch, if purchasing early.  The little packs do dry out quickly, but don’t overwater.

•             Don't plant everything at once! Space your plantings in two week intervals to stagger the harvest. Great for Lettuce, spinach, radishes, herbs--like chives, cilantro. Consider just how many radishes can you eat in a week, as well as the shelf life of what you are planting.

•             Utilize containers, if you have poor soils, limited space, or poor drainage. Select varieties for smaller spaces.

Plant Bush tomatoes, Bush beans, Compact squash. Or go vertical with a trellis or tomato cage for peas or pole beans, train cucumbers to trellis, etc.  Use the square foot gardening template for containers = spacing for seeds.  Google search:  square foot gardening chart.

•             Full sun for best production.

Get outside and enjoy the springtime. Gardening has so many benefits! Exercise, sunshine, local food production, stress relief, and mental well-being.


Establishing a new vegetable garden site:  

From community gardens to homeowners to 4-H garden projects, consider these things when choosing a new place for a garden site: 

1              Sun exposure – select a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Southern exposures are ideal for greatest sun incidence.

2              Soil – well-drained soils such as sandy loam provide ideal conditions for growing vegetables. Soil pH near 6.6 is optimal. Avoid steep slopes where erosion will be a problem.

3              Air flow – avoid low-lying areas as these tend to collect cold air which slows germination and plant development in spring.

4              Avoid placing a vegetable garden near walnut trees. Walnuts exude a substance called juglone

                from their roots which is allelopathic, meaning it can kill other plants. Tomatoes and other solanaceous plants are highly sensitive to juglone.

5              Water – Plants will need water! Make sure the site is situated near a water supply.

Removing Vegetation – It is important to start with a clean slate when preparing a new garden bed. And this means removing existing vegetation and controlling weeds. Usually, this is a chore for the summer prior to planting. There are several methods available to kill off vegetation. The most common method is to apply an herbicide, but there are other non-chemical methods such as solarization and smothering.

Solarization is a simple technique that captures radiant heat energy from the sun and uses that heat to kill seedlings and weed seeds, as well as some soil-borne disease organisms. To smother weeds cover the soil with black plastic or several layers of newspaper. Carpet or boards have also been used for smothering.

Solarization can be combined with other control methods. For example, an herbicide may be used to make the initial kill, then solarize to control subsequent seedlings and kill seeds in the soil. Solarization can also be combined with the application of soil amendments and fertilizers. In fact, solarization can speed up decomposition of organic matter, releasing soluble nutrients into the soil.

Whatever method is used, it is ideal to control perennial weeds before establishing a new garden. It will be much easier to manage them before you have the area planted with vegetables.

Soil preparation – Once the vegetation is removed, till the soil to loosen it. This is a good time to add manure or other organic material. To preserve soil structure, avoid tilling when the soil is too wet. To determine if the soil is too moist for tilling, grab a handful of soil and squeeze it slightly. If it sticks together in a ball it is too wet. If it crumbles easily it is ready.

How to Collect Soil for Testing – Soil tests should be included as part of garden preparation. It is easier to amend soils and add nutrients before planting, rather than after. Soil tests collect information on soil nutrients and pH.  Extension Leaflet L-249 contains detailed information on collecting soil samples. See link below:


 County Extension offices are still accepting soil and forage samples.  Pottawatomie County has a drop box system set up at the door, as our office is closed to the public.  Call to see what is being done in your area.  (Subject to change)


“More vegetable garden content is on the way soon” 


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