Potager Article #13

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

The weather has been so lovely the past few days that getting out into the garden has been fun. So much can be done right now that will help speed things along as it gets warmer. I checked my radishes, and the frigid temperatures did not benefit them. So I know that this fall, I will need to either get a heavier frost fabric or put several layers over that bed or both when the temperatures drop that low. For now, I will clean out that bed and get ready to start planting new seeds, as the temperatures are slated to be warmer over the next week. This will help me determine how early I can start planting seeds and see how they do.

The other project I have in the potager garden is to start laying out the new garden section with the stock tank pond, insect hotels, and sitting area. This shouldn’t take very long, and I should be able to move quickly through this section. I’m hoping I can get started on the third and last area before the end of the summer; we will see.

The last project I’m working on is to start seeds for the plants I will be planting all around the garden.   I want to start some pepper plants, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I will also plant some annual flowers in pots in the section I have already finished. I’m going to be using two methods. I had heard about one from one of our other Master Gardeners but have never tried. It’s using opaque milk jugs to start seeds outside. Depending on the seeds that you are starting will depend on when you start the seeds. Once you plant the seeds, leave the lid off, set the jug outside, and leave it until it is warm enough to plant the plants. There are several different flower seeds that I can plant in February and March, but there are more that I can plant using this method over the next few weeks and months. I have a link below for you to check out this method.

The other method I will use again this year is to start seeds indoors using seed starting kits that you can buy at the local box store or garden centers and grow lights.   I have tested my leftover seeds from last year to see my viability rate. Depending on the seeds, my seeds are about 75% or a little more. Each seed pack has a date that tells me when the seeds were packed for sale. The two packs I’m looking at as I write this were packed in 2022. It’s not too bad for a two-year-old. When I look at the seed pack, it tells me when I should start the seeds if I want to start indoors. It will also tell me when to sow the seeds directly in the garden. It also tells me what the seeds need to grow into healthy plants. The seed pack that I’m looking at tells me that I need to start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost.

The way that I find out what my last spring frost or the first fall frost is is to go online and Google first/last frost. Numerous calculators will pull up, and I can then enter my zip code into the calculator. This year, I discovered that this should be around April 19th. I should be about 90% safe to start planting plants and seeds outside around this time. Several of my seed packs have instructions that tell me that I can start planting seeds as soon as the soil is workable, and when the soil temperatures reach about 50 degrees, my seeds should start growing.   I have purchased an inexpensive meat thermometer from the dollar store to start checking the soil temperatures so that I can have another way to know when I can start putting out seeds. I have copied a couple of links below that I found very useful.


WINTER SOWING in MILK JUGS.pdf (osu.edu)

Seed Starting | Growing Franklin (osu.edu)

Frost Dates: First and last frost dates by zipcode – Garden.org

WINTER SOWING in MILK JUGS.pdf (osu.edu)

Seed Starting | Growing Franklin (osu.edu)

Potager Article #11

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

This last week, I spent a bit of time in the garden, checking the plants in the cold frame and the radishes and measuring out the next phase of this project. I have been able to harvest radishes through December 17th. Because the temperatures have been as mild as they have been, the radishes are still growing but are now taking longer to get to the size for harvesting. I was concerned about the seeds that I had planted around December 1st. However, they are growing very slowly, and I’m hopeful they will grow to full maturity for harvesting. I may need to add a second layer of the frost covering with the temperatures getting colder.

Dr. Timothy McDermott of The Ohio State Extension in Franklin County says that for ordinary winter harvesting, I need to have my seeds planted by the end of September to harvest during this time frame. I will implement that next year; my goal is to see how far into the winter I can go with planting seeds to have crops to harvest. I also want to see what the seeds will do if anything when the days start getting longer, and the soil starts warming up. That way, I will know what I can plant in the fall for early spring harvests, what will work, and how late I can plant seeds. If I don’t try, how do I know?

I have also started planning the next phase of my garden. The first section is 16′ wide by about 30′ long, and the only thing left to do in that space is to finish putting down mulch and adding pots for flowers and maybe some dwarf blueberry bushes. I will be working on the middle or central section of the Potager Garden next. In a historical Potager Garden, the garden would be divided into four equal sections, with a single path running horizontally and one running vertically through the garden’s center. In the middle of the garden, where both paths meet, there would be a water feature; looking from above, the paths would make a cross with the water feature in the center of the cross. This design represented many religious beliefs and ideologies. This would also have a seating area for guests to enjoy the water feature, nature, and the garden’s quiet. In my garden, I will be placing another cold frame along the back of the garden. Two insect hotels will be on either side of the cold frame to invite good insects into the garden. I will build an in-ground worm farm, a stock tank pond, and two types of seating to invite people into the garden. The space will be smaller than the two outer sections because I want to have as much growing space as possible and a place to sit, rest, and enjoy the garden.

The first thing to be done in the center section is to lay down broken-down cardboard boxes and add mulch. This will kill off any weeds and will decompose back into the soil. I put newspaper and mulch in the pathways in the first section, which is lovely. It holds more moisture in the soil. It doesn’t get muddy during the rain, allowing me to work in the beds and cold frames whenever possible. The second things I will be adding in as soon as possible are the insect hotels. I want them in place to be available for the new season insects as spring arrives. I have lots of materials in the yard that I am gathering for them; it’s now a matter of putting them together. The next project will be the worm farm. This is another form of composting that will add beneficial elements to the soil. I have read many articles about having a worm farm in my garage and have hesitated a lot. I recently found some articles about worm farms that are kept in the ground that allow the worms not only to compost most of your food waste but also to move out into your soil and add benefits to it directly. The most significant element of this section will be the stock tank pond and seating area. But until then, I wish you all a Happy New Year and best wishes for you and your families.

Potager Articile #10

It has been a busy two months in my potager garden.  Even as difficult as this year has been, I’m so excited about these next few months.  My goal with this potager garden is that it will truly be a year round garden with crops being harvested every month.   As little as it seems that I was able to accomplish this year, I’m seeing my garden come alive more and more every day.  My garden is not slowing down at all!  In fact it feels just like its early spring and I’m rushing to get seeds in the ground before it’s “too late”.   I continue to harvest and plant onion sets, today I planted my first set of onion seeds, and I will be planting green beans tomorrow.  The idea is that by planting the seeds now, the seeds will start growing their root base and then as the spring temperatures and light grows longer; I will have a late spring harvest of onions and beans.  I will plant again in the spring for a summer harvest and then plant again late summer for a fall harvest as well.   I will then plant again in the fall, starting the process all over.  These crops do not need to be covered with a frost blanket or row cover but I will put about a 2 inch layer of leaf mulch over them so that the nutrients will be carried down into the soil over the winter,  giving the soil a much needed supplement.

I am continuing to grow radishes in my raised feeder bed and I will continue to plant seeds as long as the soil is workable and the plants continue to grow.  I want to see how long into the winter I can go and the plants continue to grow, when they start to slow down and if they start growing again in the spring.  For this bed, I have a new row cover that is not as tall as last year and the fabric is made of material that is made for the winter months.  What I’m hoping to see is continual growth throughout the winter with very little interruption.

The cold frame that I built didn’t work out like I expected and I decided to purchase an inexpensive one so that I didn’t have a lot invested if I decide not to use them.   I will have it together and lettuce planted in it before the end of this week.   My thoughts are that the cold frame will provide a warmer soil temperature for the lettuce and spinach that I want to plant in it, giving me a better outcome.   I will need to get a thermometer to put into the cold frame as they can get overheated and burn your plants.

I have one other bed that I will be using this winter.  I will put a row cover over this one because I’m going to try cabbage and carrots in this bed.  These two crops are considered cold weather crops and should do well.  I have saved several milk jugs and will be using them along with the row cover for the cabbages to see if this brings the soil to a temperature that will encourage the cabbages to continue growing over the winter.  In his book; “Four-Season Harvest”, Mr. Elliot Coleman says that with every layer of cover you put over the plants it changes the growing zone by one layer.  For me,  being in zone 6, by using the row cover it should change the climate inside of the row cover to a zone 7 and if I use the milk jug over the individual cabbages, that should take the climate within the milk jug to a zone 8.  He recommends not using more than two layers as any more layers will reduce the light too much and the plants won’t grow at all. I can’t wait to try this and see what happens.

The last crop that I am currently harvesting right now is the leaves from the trees in my yard.  I will gather them up, mulch them, spread them over the flower beds, and fill the compost bin for next fall.  The leaves that I gathered in the spring are now deep brown, nutrient rich mulch that I’m putting over the vegetable beds.  For so long I have pictured this garden in my mind that it is tough to step back in this moment and see how far it’s come.  Yes, there’s a long way to go before it looks exactly like what’s in my mind, however, it’s a start and it’s working.


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

MGV Demonstration Garden Summary 8/10 – 8/12


The last three days have been cool for August. We got 1.5” of rain on Wednesday night and the following days were in the mid to low 80s. I didn’t need to water because of the rain and cool temperatures. Plus, rain is forecasted for later today. I picked up trash around all the gardens (probably left over from the county fair) and weeded a little. Weeds are pretty minimal this year. Lasagna mulching the paths around the beds was a great idea!


I harvested 7.4 LBS of Mariana Paste Tomatoes, 3 LBS of Blue Lake Pole Beans and 3.5 LBS of Early Jalapeños. Tomatoes and peppers are coming in strong and will probably need a big harvest next week. The potato foliage is starting to brown, which hopefully means that we will be able to harvest soon. Dumping out the laundry baskets and finding them full of potatoes should be fun.

I ran into Becky from the SNAP-Ed Program and she was headed over to make salsa with residents of the senior center. She was very excited that she was able to get most of her ingredients from our garden!



Problems and Pests

Most of the tomato plants in a garden are showing signs of early blight. The Mariana tomato plants appear to be the worst, but are still producing a lot of fruit.


There were all stages of squash bugs on the Golden Glory Summer Squash plants. I manually removed some by knocking them into a cup of soapy water, but squash bugs tend to be an ongoing battle.

There is also evidence of animal activity in the garden. There appeared to be bite marks in some of the fruit. I had to cull 4 Super Beef Steak tomatoes and one 3 LBS Liberty Squash which had bite marks out of them. (Please note my use of terminology from our recent GAP training. LOL.)


The Strike Green Beans had evidence of insect damage on the leaves, but I didn’t see any insects. Both trial green beans fruit appear very spotty, especially when compared to the pole beans. Many of the issues facing the garden seem to be related to the wet summer we are having.


The iron weed is coming into bloom in the sensory garden and looks fabulous! I saw a black swallowtail fluttering nearby.

The herb garden also looks amazing! It provided me with all sorts of inspiration for something at my own house.


Overall the garden seems to be producing really well. Hopefully we will get a few good sunny days soon to dry things out.


Happy Gardening,

Johanna, OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Clermont County

Potager Article #9

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

Over the past couple of months while dealing with a knee injury and surgery I have been reflecting on my garden project. I thought I would be in a much different place with this project than I am. I had some unrealistic expectations considering my situation but also in how my situation has changed over the past few years. Because of my situation I need to change my decision-making process.

Let me share what I mean and what I have had to reconsider. I have had a vegetable garden in the location I have chosen for the potager garden for years. During that time, we always had cats and dogs and there was lots of help in working in the garden. With becoming an empty nester and my knee injury, I have been hindered in how much I could do so the garden is not as far along as I had pictured it to be. The compost bins are working well. I have the leaves decomposing in the first bin and what I have in there, I will be moving into the bed that will be sitting fallow over the winter, making room for this fall’s leaves. The animal feeder that I was using for lettuce, carrots, radishes, and spinach worked great too. The plans were to plant seeds every other week and continue the planting and harvesting process all year round. The problem that showed up was that there was not enough room for all the plants using the continual process as often as I had planned. I think that if I were to plant only one type of plant and plant the seeds in the spacing that they need, I will not have to thin out seedlings and I would be able to plant enough rows to continually plant and harvest without any issues. I will be able to put hoops and plastic over that bed to continue the growing season throughout the rest of the year and into the next.

The bed that I planted my onions in has been doing well and I have been able to continually harvest onions all throughout the season. I will be planting more this week and into the fall. I am clearing another bed to get the garlic in by the end of September. The tomatoes and peppers that I have planted have not done well and that is where the cats and dogs come into consideration. For the past two years I have really loved watching the bunnies playing and scampering around in my yard, I did not even connect that they would love to eat my plants, nor did I consider the moles that are setting up house in my yard. In all the years that we have lived here, we have never had to contend with these issues because we have always had barn cats and my Yorkie. They both loved to hunt and dig in the yard which drove me crazy, but I now realize served a greater good for my gardens. This new issue will change how I plan my garden and what I will need to do to protect it from the animals that I share this garden with.

Another issue that I realized that I must overcome is my own thought process. I would get frustrated with something and realize that I am still thinking in seasonal planting timelines. With the year-round garden method, you are always planting and harvesting something all year long. It is more a matter of how you are managing the planting, harvesting, and caring for the plants that are different. For example, with it now being August, I need to start looking at what I want to harvest all winter. What I need to do to protect those crops through the winter and how they will grow during that time. For example, lettuce, I will need to make sure to have row covers over those beds with plastic that can handle snow and winter temperatures. I also need to get them planted soon so that they will have plenty of time to get a good root base before it gets cold. I also need to take into consideration that it will take the plants longer to get to the point that it can be harvested during the cold winter months. And the last thing that I realize that I must work on is the idea that nothing in the garden is a failure. It is more of a lesson learned.

Master Gardener Volunteers Diagnostic Workshop

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

OSUE Butler CO., 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton, Ohio 45011

9 AM to 4 PM

Registration Flyer


6 CE Credits available to MGVs

RSVP to OSUE Butler CO. by September 4, 2023

Join other MGVs who love to learn and hone your diagnostic skills at the same time! The class includes individual presentations in the morning focusing on a review of basic entomology and plant pathology. Learn about the diagnostic process and then practice in the afternoon. Test your skills with hands-on samples that provide an opportunity for learning more about the diagnostic process. All Ask a Master Gardener volunteers receive free registration, but you must register. Contact the sponsor and let them know you are an AaMGV. Each county in attendance will receive 10 hand lenses to take back to their county office.

Instructors: Pam Bennett, Carrie Brown, Ann Chanon, Carrie Jagger, Ashley Kulhanek, and Curtis Young

Horticulture Education at the Clermont County Fair

Join the OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers during the Clermont County Fair July 23-29, 2023 in Owensville, OH. These volunteers will be volunteering their time and talents to educate the community and assist the Ag Society.

As you visit the Floral Hall, stop by the MGV display to “Ask a Master Gardener” your gardening questions. Participate in the basket drawing which will be given away on Saturday. Learn the difference between bees, wasp, and flies. Then take the challenge to identify the animal tracks that you may find around your home or garden.

MG volunteers will be helping with intake in the Floral Hall for those displays and competitions for horticulture and floriculture. They will also be preparing the centerpieces for the VIP Tent hosted before the Friday evening concert.

We welcome the community to participate in our in-person Horticulture Education Series on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Brochure


  • Diagnostic Weeds Identification Walk
    • Take a walk through the MGV demonstration garden and surrounding area as you learn to identify specific weeds from a Master Gardener Volunteer.
  • LOCATION: Demonstration garden east side of grounds behind the Boy Scout Cabin
    • Kandy Riley, OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Clermont County


  • Vegetable Trials and Preserving the Harvest
    • Learn about the vegetable trials that are established in the demonstration garden, zucchini, cucumber, tomato, and green beans. You may even be able to sample as you learn about Preserving the Harvest.
  • LOCATION: Demonstration garden east side of grounds behind the Boy Scout Cabin
    • Susan Givler, OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Clermont County
    • Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Family Consumer Science Educator Clermont County

FRIDAY, JULY 28, 11:30AM

  • Spot the Spotted Lanternfly!
    • Join us to learn more about the non-native insect, the Spotted Lanternfly. This insect has made it way to Southwest Ohio. Learn how to identify, report, and remove to protect our grapes and more.
  • LOCATION: 4-H Hall stage area
    • Deb Garner, OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Clermont County

Want more information about becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer? MGV Brochure

Want to be added to our MGV interest list for future training opportunities? Interest Survey

Want to be added to the Extension weekly email to receive updates and upcoming extension programs? Subscribe Here

Garden Notes from June 11-13

The last three days have been cooler. We got 1.5” of rain on Sunday and the following 2 days were 64 degrees when I was there at 10:00 am.

I didn’t need to water because of the rain. The beds were still moist Tuesday morning and rain was forecasted for tonight. I saw no insect activity, but there seemed to be evidence of previous munching on the green beans for the vegetable trials. However, new growth looked good.

I noticed that the squash for the vegetable trials had white on its leaves. After conferring with Susan, we think it’s just the natural coloring of those varieties and not powdery mildew.

Everything else in the garden looks good. I tied some of the tomatoes to their stakes. They must have grown a lot lately and were laying across the soil.

There aren’t too many weeds yet, mostly just small crab grass.

On Tuesday while I was weeding in the Sensory Garden, a woman approached me and asked about the garden and specifically this plant.

There was no marker that I could find for this plant, but after some detective work on my phone we decided it was yellow loosestrife. Was I right? I also told her about the vegetable demonstration garden and I met her back there. She spent some time looking through the garden while I weeded. She really seemed to enjoy the garden. I told her to come back and see how it does, and to follow along in the Extension’s newsletter.

Overall the garden looks good! I was really impressed by the creative decision to use laundry baskets for growing potatoes!

Happy Gardening,


OSU Extension Clermont County, Master Gardener Volunteer

Potager Article #8

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

I am really intrigued by the idea of companion planting in my potager garden so I thought I would dig deeper into the subject. When looking at the research for companion planting it leans more towards historical journals for data. There is information regarding companion planting dating back hundreds of years. The consensus seems to be that there is truth to the system, but it really depends on variables. It cannot be said that it will work every time in every situation. Science does support companion planting, but I will need to trial and error ideas to see what works for me. The University of Minnesota Extension has a good article titled “Companion Planting in Home Gardens” in which they talk about the benefits of companion gardening. It saves space, assists in soil health and the plants give mutual support to each other. One of the suggestions for saving space is that by “planting short season crops in the same location as later maturing crops is a way to conserve space and grow multiple successions of plants in the same space.”  Examples that they give are to plant lettuce or spinach in my bed and then later transplanting tomatoes or peppers into that same bed once I harvested the others. I could see this working for me if I were to plant the short, seasoned crops, then the later maturing crops and then plant a second set of the short season crops later in the season, especially if I used cool season crops for the first planting.

An interesting perspective on companion planting from the University of West Virginia Extension recommends that I not plant “onions and beans together as onions stunt the growth of beans.”   They also talk about planting vegetables and flowers together to attract pollinators and repel harmful insects. In their article titled “Companion Planting they give a list of plants, along with their companion plants and plants that I should not plant near them. It is remarkably interesting and begs to be given a try. Other benefits of companion planting that they talk about include Nitrogen Fixation, Pest Control and Trapping, Flavor Enhancement, Level Interaction, Plant Sheltering and Crop Rotation. Nitrogen Fixation happens when plants add nitrogen back into the soil such as beans do. Then there’s Pest Control and trapping, this is when plants will repel bad insects from the garden and attract good insects. Marigolds are said to be such plants. Basil is said to enhance flavors of peppers and tomatoes when planted nearby. Level Interaction and Plant Sheltering is when corn acts as a trellis for pole beans or provides shade for squash and the squash in return deters raccoons from eating the corn cobs. Crop rotation is when I will move my plants around to help the soil with different benefits from the plants growing in that space. By understanding these processes, I can use the placement of plants in the garden to amend my soil, protect crops and attract beneficial insects into the garden.

Another element of companion planting is the use of herbs in the garden. Usually in planting a vegetable garden, I do not think of having herbs in and among the vegetables. They are usually in pots or in their own garden, but using herbs add another layer of protection and benefits to my garden. For example, the herb Anise is related to caraway and dill plants. It is good to use around plants like cabbage and cauliflower because its smell camouflages its companions to hide them from the pests that love to eat them. They also are host to predatory wasps that love to feed on aphids.

The last area of companion planting that I am going to try is to add in perennials and annual flowers into the garden. Bachelor Buttons are a good addition because it is one of the earliest flowers to bloom, attracting beneficial insects. Geraniums are known to repel cabbage worms and Japanese beetles and Marigolds are known for repelling different harmful insects. By using all these elements of companion gardening I think that my vegetables will be healthier, more flavorful, color, and interest in my garden.