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How to Plant Vegetables in Northern Ohio

By Joy Brown ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tomatoes, peppers and many other vegetables grow well in northern Ohio.
vegetables image by Mladenov from Fotolia.com

Northern Ohio experiences four seasons and lies in USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6, making it suitable for growing many vegetable varieties. Zone 5 encompasses most of the region, while zone 6 blankets a sliver along the Lake Erie shore and islands, and a spot to the northeast near Cleveland. Both cool- and warm-season vegetables are planted in this part of the Buckeye State, bringing variety and abundance to farmers' markets and dinner tables each year.


Choose a plot that receives full sun. Pick north-facing slopes of hills in northeast Ohio.

Purchase a soil test kit from a soil testing lab recommended by Ohio State University county extension agents. Scoop a soil sample from the plot one year before planting, and send it to the lab for testing.

Amend the soil as necessary according to vegetable variety growing requirements, lab results and extension agent suggestions. Purchase aged compost, lime or other material at gardening centers. Mix these elements into the existing soil before planting.

Consider constructing raised beds, which eliminate soil amendment needs and allow for the soil to warm faster. Plant smaller vegetable varieties in five-gallon containers on porches, balconies and rooftops in Columbus, Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland and other cities where yard space is limited or nonexistent.

Select from 40 types of vegetables that grow well in northern Ohio by researching plant growing requirements. Choose cool-season plants to grow in the spring and fall, warm-season varieties that grow when there is no danger of frost, or a combination of both.

Buy seeds of plants that grow well in northern Ohio if sowed directly into the ground, such as zucchini and beans. Purchase the seedlings of certain varieties that do better if growth has already started, such as tomatoes and peppers.


Plant cool-season crops around St. Patrick’s Day in zones 5 and 6, and up to six weeks before October 1 in zone 5 and October 15 in zone 6. Plant warm-season crops in zone 5 on or after May 30 and zone 6 on or after May 15.

Dig holes with a trowel and place the seeds in them according to the depth recommended for each variety. Cover the seeds and tamp the soil down to remove air pockets. Water the seeds and keep the soil moist, but not wet.

Plant the transplants at the same soil depth as they grew in their containers. Plant tomato seedlings deeper then they grew in cell packets or pots by covering them with soil up to the first set of leaves because roots will develop along the stem. Place supports, such as bean stakes and tomato cages, near seeds for plants to grow on and through, and to protect plants from northern Ohio wind.

Have buckets, sheets or other protective materials on hand in case a frost occurs after or before the predicted dates, which happens periodically in Ohio. Monitor weather forecasts detailing Canadian fronts that influence Ohio’s weather.

Monitor maturing plants for diseases and pests, especially those being grown during northern Ohio’s humid summers.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden plot in full sun
  • Soil test kit
  • Aged compost
  • Vegetable seeds and seedlings
  • Trowel
  • Watering can
  • Stakes and cages
  • Buckets and sheets


  • Plant hybrid vegetable varieties that are disease-resistant.
  • Consider the mature size of vegetables when deciding where to plant them, in relation to each other and the plot size.

About the Author


Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and www.thecourier.com in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.