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Plant seeds for success with beginner vegetable gardening workshop

URBANA, Ill. – Whether you have a multi-row backyard vegetable plot or a patio with room for a few containers, now is the time to start planning for a successful gardening season. Over the past several years, there has been a surge of gardeners taking up the trowel for the first time to try their hand at growing fresh produce at home.

Dig in with confidence this spring with Growing Great Vegetables, a five-week webinar series starting February 15 that will cover how to grow a vegetable garden from seed to harvest. Participants will check in during a weekly workshop covering a new topic, engage with University of Illinois Extension horticulture experts, and receive emails with even more research-based tips and factsheets.

Growing Great Vegetables will be 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays from February 15 to March 15. Sign up by February 9 at The cost to participate is $10. Sessions will be recorded and made available to registered participants if they cannot attend live.

  • February 15 - 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. This session will also cover watering, weeding, and garden tools.
  • February 22 - Seed and Plant Choices: Planning, design, and layout are key elements to a successful garden. 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. Explore the importance of soil health and learn about soil testing and amendments such as fertilizer and manures.
  • March 1 - Cool Season Vegetables: Cool-season crops can be grown in spring or fall, each with its own characteristics and potential issues. Learn how to grow and harvest cool-season vegetables as well as how to manage common insect pests.
  • March 8 - Warm Season Vegetables: Warm season crops grow in the hottest part of the year. This session will cover how to make vegetables such as lettuces, tomatoes, carrots, and more flourish.
  • March 15 - Insects and Diseases: New and experienced growers alike are challenged by insect pests as well as plant diseases or disorders. Learn about insects, diseases, and wildlife pests and how to prevent and handle them. Then, learn how a vegetable garden can be set up to be more appealing to beneficial insect pollinators such as butterflies, bees, beetles, and moths.

Series presenters include Illinois Extension horticulture educators Jennifer Fishburn, Ken Johnson, and Sarah Vogel, and local foods and small farms educators Erin Harper and Katie Parker. 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.