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To the victor goes the bounty

The victory garden — a World War II-era home staple when fresh produce was precious and hard to come by —is back, thanks to long weeks of isolation, reduced access to grocery stores and our uncanny ability to escape boredom.

A garden can be as big or small as you want. You can grow in pots, window boxes, in the ground, even indoors. It’s a stress reliever, a source of pride and accomplishment, fun for children and a low-cost way to add fruits and vegetables to your table.

Whether this year’s garden will be your first or your latest, turn to the experts at OSU Extension for resources and advice. Patrice Powers-Barker and Amy Stone, both Extension educators in Lucas County, got us started.

Light will be the No. 1 factor in determining which plants succeed. Fruits and vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of full sun each day.
Ideally, you can test the pH of your soil for clues about which nutrients it needs. If that’s not possible, Stone says, try compost. “It enriches a sandy soil and breaks up clay soil,” she says.
Consider radishes, Powers-Barker says. They grow quickly and easily — about as close to instant garden gratification as you can get.
Herbs such as basil and dill are other good options for beginning gardeners. They can grow in the ground or in containers.
Know the rules of your homeowners association or apartment complex. Some have restrictions on landscapes.
Cherry tomatoes are an easy win and fun for children. The plants grow quickly and produce frequently.

More tips and tricks from Ohio State University Extension

While in-person learning opportunities are temporarily suspended because of COVID-19, OSU Extension offers loads of resources online and through its publishing arm. Here are several ways to keep learning and keep your garden growing.

How to garden in Ohio

Ohio Farm Bureau harvest calendar
See at a glance when specific fruits and vegetables mature in Ohio.

Ohio Vegetable Gardening bulletin
Find detailed information about evaluating soil and light conditions as well as tables telling you exactly when to sow, how to plant and how to estimate yields for a few dozen vegetables.

Ohio State University Extension Ohioline
This is a huge, well-organized collection of fact sheets, including dozens about growing and preserving food.

When you have a question 

Ask a Master Gardener Volunteer
Use this email form to connect with a master gardener volunteer in your county.

Buy the book
OSU Extension Publications stocks several books that would be helpful resources for the home gardener, including Grow Your Own Vegetables, Growing Together, Canning and Freezing, How Does Your Garden Grow? and Growing With the Seasons.