Potager Dream – Garden Location

A series of articles presented by Candy Horton, OSU Extension Clermont County, Master Gardener Volunteer

In duplicating a French Potager Garden there are several things that I must consider.  The potager garden is a garden that is created to provide food, medicine, enjoyment, and beauty all year round.  They are considered an extension of the home, inviting me to come and explore all the different “rooms “in it and to see the vegetable garden, medicinal or herb garden, the orchard, and nut trees.  I would find flower beds of all sorts, most likely a water feature, or a maze.   To top all of those things off, architectural elements such as statues, arbors, and sitting spaces are all along the pathway.

With all of this in mind, my first consideration has to be the location of my garden.  This will determine how successful my garden will be.  If I have several acres then I will be able to have the garden as large or as small as I would like it to be and have several options for location.  If I have a smaller plot, then I might be limited in the size and where I can build my garden.  The next thing when considering a site is the soil quality, and for most vegetables, fruits, and flowers, I will need a spot that is well-drained with fertile soil.  How do I know what the soil quality is? I will take samples of the soil to my local extension office for testing.  The importance of knowing the soil quality tells me what I can easily grow in my garden and what I need to do to amend the soil for healthy plant growth.   For me, healthy soil means healthy plants, which in turn, through the produce means better-tasting fruits and vegetables and a healthier me.  I will need to remember that healthy soil will be different for flowers than it will be for vegetables or even fruits.  I will need to let my extension office know to test for everything that I want to grow.  They all need something different and the soil test is what gives me that knowledge.

The next thing that I need to think about in deciding my spot is how level is the space.  I want an area that is south or southeastern-oriented and mostly level with a slight bit of sloping.  A little bit of sloping will drain away excess water and helps to dry my garden faster.  Too much of a slope will cause erosion and could wash away my garden.  A slight bit of sloping can also help the heavy colder air to flow away from my garden affecting how quickly my garden warms up. The quicker my garden warms up, the earlier I can start planting.  Sunlight is another important factor in my garden.  At a minimum, I need 6 hours of direct sunlight.  This is very crucial for the colder months if I am trying to harvest plants during those months.  The most optimal amount of sunlight is between 8 and 10 hours of direct sunlight per day.  My sun-loving plants may need a bit more during the summer months and the cool-loving plants might appreciate less.  The last thing I want to think about when deciding my garden location is where my water source is located at.  How far away that is determines if I am using a watering system of some sort, or if I am carrying bucket loads of water to help my plants survive.

I find that in order to locate the perfect spot, I need to observe my garden at different times of the day, different times of the month, and different times of the year.   This allows me to see what is happening in my garden all year long and to journal that knowledge to be able to make the best decision possible all year long.  The next question in my Potager Dream is how to plan my garden.

Invasive Plants: ID, Removal and What’s Next

Want to know more about the identification and removal of invasive plants?  Join us on October 26th to work on your id skills and learn more about removal.  We will also tackle some of the questions about ‘after the invasives are gone.

Registration is open here.  We hope to see you there.  Register early – space is limited.

Brown and Clermont Counties New Master Gardener Volunteer Training

The Master Gardener Program provides intensive training in horticulture to interested gardeners who then volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities for Ohio residents through their local Ohio State University Extension county office.

What is the Master Gardener Program?       

Working with county Extension personnel, Master Gardeners provide such educational services to their communities as answering gardening questions from the public; conducting plant clinics; gardening activities with children, senior citizens, or disabled persons; beautifying the community; developing community or demonstration gardens; and other horticulture activities.

How do I know if I’d make a good Master Gardener?

You could qualify to become a Master Gardener, if:

  • You want to learn more about plants and gardening.
  • You are eager to participate in a practical and intensive training program.
  • You enjoy sharing your knowledge with others.
  • You have the time to attend training and serve your community as a volunteer educator.

How do I become a Master Gardener?

To become a Master Gardener, you must:

  • Be accepted into the Master Gardener program by completing the volunteer application. Registration and application can be found at https://go.osu.edu/2022newmgvtraining  Please complete your registration and application by October 4, 2022. More information will be emailed directly to you upon completion of online registration.
  • Complete the formal training provided by The Ohio State University Extension. The training is approximately 50 hours and participants must pass all quizzes and examinations with a cumulative average of 70% or better.
  • Complete 50 hours of volunteer time on projects pre-approved by the Master Gardener coordinator. This volunteer time must be finished within one calendar year after their formal training.

Is there a cost for the training?

The 2022 class costs $200 plus the cost of a required background check. If paying by check, make checks out to Ohio State University Extension. Background checks can be done upon acceptance into MGV class.

When is the next training?  Beginning October 18 and ending November 17, classes will be held every Tuesday and Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. Hour lunch break. 1p.m. –  4:00 p.m. You will be required to attend all the classes listed in order to complete the required 50 hours of training.

Where will classes be hosted? Training will be offered in-person Tuesdays in Brown County and Thursdays in Clermont County, rotating between the sites for the series.

Dates of:

October 18, orientation 9-Noon

October 25 & 27

November 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, & 17

I already received my Master Gardener Volunteer training.  Can I join a different county association?

Yes, if you are a member in good standing with another state or county association, you can switch your membership to a different county’s association.

There are additional criteria for transferring from out of state. Contact your local extension office for those details.

How do I continue as an active Master Gardener?

To stay active, you must do the following every year:

  • Pay your local association dues.
  • Complete 20 hours of volunteer time on pre-approved Master Gardener projects.
  • Complete 10 hours of pre-approved training in horticulture. Training opportunities will be provided locally but are also available at state and national conferences.

Contact Information


Plant Trials Day, August 25, 2022, 8:00am-6:00pm

This Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s upcoming Plant Trials Day Symposium will be epic. Seven great talks by a truly amazing group of speakers, including legendary plant explorer, author and founder of Heronswood Nursery, Dan Hinkley; world-renowned plantsman, author, and Director of the Yorkshire Arboretum, John Grimshaw; author Marianne Wilburn; past President of Perennial Plant Association and Gardener at the Ripley Garden at the National Mall, Janet Draper; and Scott Beuerlein from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Registration is now open for both in-person seating and virtual live streaming. A link to a recording will be available to all registrants and viewable through October 15. This excellent program will be in high demand. We encourage you to register as soon as you can.

CEUs are approved for: ASLA (7), APLD (5.5), ISA (6), OGIA (1), PGMS (1). For student discounts, sponsorships, or handicapped parking, please contact scott.beuerlein@cincinnatizoo.org.

Event Info & Tickets


88th Secrest Arboretum Diagnostic Workshop

Learn about horticultural, plant pathological, and entomological problems and opportunities. Time will be spent looking at insect and disease samples from the arboretum.

Speakers include Joe Boggs, OSU Entomology; Jim Chatfield, OSU Emeritus; Paul Snyder, OSU, Secrest Arboretum; Denise Ellsworth, OSU Entomology; Dan Herms, Research VP, Davey Tree Expert Co.

CE credits are available.

Event information

Registration Information

Straw Bale Gardening is Back!

Last year the Clermont County Master Gardener Volunteers were able to donate 275 lbs. of produce to the community from the straw bale garden at the Clermont County fairground.  This year we have increased the number of bales and have added some new crops and different varieties of vegetables.  Some of the new additions are acorn squash, pie pumpkins, blue potatoes, peanuts, gourds, Roma, Korean long, early doll, bush, celebrity, and big beef tomatoes.

One of the raised beds will not have straw bales but will trial two varieties of green beans and cucumbers this growing season.  The varieties were selected by the Athens County, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences-Extension, The Ohio State University.

The Speedway and Raider cucumber varieties will grow side by side to compare throughout the growing season. The same is true for Savannah and Aldrin green bean varieties.

The following information and data will be collected and submitted in the fall to the agricultural program to assist home gardeners in Ohio to select the best vegetables for their home gardens:

  • Soil type
  • Fertilizer used
  • Date planted
  • Date first harvested
  • Factors that may have prevented a good crop
    • Human error ( timing, watering, and site location)
    • Insects or diseases
    • Wildlife issues
    • Weather

A comparison  of the  2 varieties of cucumbers and green beans will be based on

  • Germinated best
  • Had healthier plants
  • Produced first
  • Produced higher yields
  • Had more attractive fruits/plants
  • Tasted better

The Clermont County Master Gardener Volunteers will keep you informed of the progress and recommend which cucumber and green bean varieties rank the highest comparing the above factors.

Presently, the cucumbers have a net over them to prevent cucumber beetles and squash bugs from infesting the early plants.  After rabbits have nibbled on the green beans, a 2-foot fence was constructed around the bed.  A mixture of egg and cayenne was applied to the leaves to ward off deer.  We will let you know if this is effective.

Straw Bale and other Gardens at the Fairground

It was a hot week, and the plants appreciated the heavy rain on Tuesday.  In the straw bales, the cucumber beetles have discovered the pumpkins and squash.  NEEM oil was applied and the following day the number of bugs had decreased.  The application is only good until the next rain.  The marigolds planted with the cucumbers seem to have deterred this pest.

There are green tomatoes hanging on the Early Girl and Early Doll plants.  Summer squashes are growing quickly, and some are about 3 inches long. Pepperoncini peppers are the only pepper plants with peppers. We were busy removing suckers off the tomatoes and trimming leaves resting on the soil.  Twine, hair clips, and string were used to tie plants to stakes.

Outside the 4-H Hall, the Master Gardener Volunteers have 2 additional gardens.  The Sensory Garden is for children to explore using taste, smell, and sight.  There is a birdhouse, birdbath, and chimes.  Some of the plants include basil, stevia, apple mint, eyeball plant, sunflowers, hens, and chicks-just to mention a few.

The Container Garden has a variety of peppers and tomatoes tied to a metal fence plus a variety of herbs-oregano, thyme, and borage.  The first planting of pickler cucumbers didn’t come up in one container.  Maybe the seeds were too old but with new seeds and a replant, the new cucumbers have emerged.

You are welcome to visit these gardens at any time.

Early Doll Tomato in straw bale Straight Neck squash in straw bale Container Garden Sensory Garden

Cincinnati Nature Center Garden Tour

Saturday June 25

9:00 AM  –  5:00 PM

This event is open to adults as well as children 13 years and older (with an adult).
Visit more than a dozen magnificent private gardens which incorporate native plants in unique and creative ways.
The Garden Tour booklet grants you entrance into the gardens between 9 am and 5 pm.
Garden locations include Columbia Tusculum, Hyde Park, Norwood, Clifton, Avondale, Indian Hill, and Montgomery.
The Garden Tour is presented by: TryPineStraw.com – A Cincinnati Pine Mulch LLC Company.
Tickets are $40 per person.
Please contact Pamela Tierney with additional questions at (513) 965-3354.
By registering below, you agree to the following:
Pet Policy for Programs/Events: For the comfort and safety of all guests, no pets are allowed at programs or events. Service animals specifically trained to aid a person with a disability are welcome. Therapy animals, whose function is to provide comfort or emotional support, do not qualify as service animals. For more information about pets on our grounds, please see our pet policies on our website.
Cancellation Policy: This is a fundraiser to support our mission; tickets are nonrefundable. All events continue, rain or shine.
Covid-19 Policies: Cincinnati Nature Center will run advertised programs using consideration of recommendations made by the CDC and local health agencies. Current Covid-19 protocols can be found online on our website. Cincinnati Nature Center may update the status or format of programs and events based on Covid-19 conditions at the time of the program. In the event that Cincinnati Nature Center cancels a program, full refunds will be issued.
Media Release: All participants (18 and older) associated with this transaction grant permission to Cincinnati Nature Center to utilize images, likenesses, actions, or statements in any form taken during a visit to the Nature Center or virtual presentation for the purpose of promoting the Nature Center in perpetuity.
Important Information for All Program Registrants: Please retain your order number or print off/save an electronic copy of the email acknowledgment as a receipt. Garden Tour booklets will be mailed to those who purchase tickets by midnight on June 14. For those who purchase tickets between June 15 and June 24, Garden Tour booklets may be picked up any time after June 15 at the entrance gatehouse of Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods location (4949 Tealtown Rd., Milford, OH 45150) before beginning the tour.
Thank you for your support of Cincinnati Nature Center!

Contacting 811 before gardening – is it necessary?

For many, the excitement of the gardening season is on the horizon. New fences, landscaping, and plans for fruit and vegetable gardens are underway. As shovels and trowels are taken out of storage it’s important to make sure gardeners are protecting themselves and the buried assets supplying energy to their neighbors and community. A quick, free-to-call 811 allows utility operators to inform gardeners if there are utilities in the project area. Even non-invasive digging methods can cause damage.

Some utilities may only be located a few inches underground. Erosion and terrain modifications can change utility depth over time, and utilities don’t always run in a straight line. Utility locators have a duty to identify if a gas, water, electric, or telephone line is in your digging area. Don’t take the risk, contact 811 and make sure your gardening fun isn’t interrupted.

April is National Safe Digging Month and a great time to share safe digging messages like this one!