Grow great vegetables with beginner gardening webinar series

URBANA, Ill. – The spring of 2020 saw a surge of gardeners taking up the trowel for the first time to try their hand at growing vegetables. This year come prepared with Growing Great Vegetables, a seven-week webinar series covering the basics of starting a vegetable garden start to finish led by University of Illinois Extension horticulture experts.

Whether growers have several acres or a patio with room for a few containers, now is the time to start planning for a successful garden. Growing Great Vegetables will offer participants the opportunity to learn from and engage with professional gardeners, receive emails with helpful research-based hints and tips and access to four additional monthly sessions for ongoing support throughout the growing season.

Sessions will be 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays from January 26 to March 9. Each class covers a different topic and will consist of a live 50-minute Zoom webinar presentation by Illinois Extension horticulture educators followed by a Q&A. Extension horticulture educators Jennifer Fishburn, Ken Johnson, Ryan Pankau and Sarah Vogel, and local foods and small farms educator Katie Parker will present this series.

January 26 - Where will you Garden?: Build a garden using whatever space you have. Learn about traditional garden plots, raised beds, salad tables, container gardening, growing vertically and more.

February 2 - Seed and Plant Choices: Planning, design and layout are key elements to successful gardening. Learn about hardiness zones, frost and freeze dates, how to order plants or seeds from a garden catalog or locally, reading and selecting seed packets and starting plants from seed.

February 9 - Preparing the Garden and Care: Soil plays an important role in growing a vegetable garden. IThis session will cover how to make vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, squash and more flourish while keeping pests at bay.n session three, Extension local foods and small farms educators will cover soil testing and amendments, fertilizer, manures, mulch, watering and weeding and gardening tools.

February 16 - Cool Season Vegetables: Cool-season crops can be grown in spring or fall, each with its own characteristics and potential issues. Learn about growing and harvesting cool-season vegetables including how to manage common insect pests.

February 23 - Warm Season Vegetables: Warm season crops grow during the hottest part of the year. This session will cover how to make vegetables such as lettuces, tomatoes, carrots and more flourish while keeping pests at bay.

March 2 - Diseases and Disorders: New and experienced growers alike are challenged by vegetable plant diseases and disorders of vegetable plants. Learn about diseases and wildlife pests and how to prevent and handle them.

March 9 - Attracting Pollinators and Controlling Pests: Increasing vegetable production in a garden can be as easy as making it more appealing to pollinators such as butterflies, bees, beetles and moths. Learn methods for attracting pollinators as well as how to control unwelcome insects.

There will also be four additional monthly sessions to provide ongoing support throughout the growing season. Topics include Cool Season Plants on May 6, Harvesting and Using Produce on June 10, Tomatoes and Peppers on July 1 and Planting a Fall Garden on August 5.

Register for the series by January 21 at The cost to participate is $10. Sessions will be recorded and made available to registered participants if they are unable to attend live. For more information, Contact Ken Johnson at

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Ken Johnson at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs.

WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.