By Amy Leap / Pocono Record Writer

You spent the winter evenings snuggled up in your favorite chair scouring the seed catalogs and planning your vegetable garden.

Now, it’s time to get ready to put your plan in action, so when Mother Nature sends the cold nights packing, you can get busy planting your garden.

One key to any successful vegetable garden is careful planning, said Amy Korman, Ph.D., a Northampton County Penn State Extension educator.

New gardens

If planning a new garden, you need to mark the outline of the size garden you want, and then turn the soil, by rototilling or with a shovel, depending on how hard the earth is where you plan to plant. Then mix in compost to enrich the soil and make it easier to dig in and plant as well as help hold in the moisture, she said.

Helpful gardening resources

When choosing a spot for your vegetables, plan carefully. All plants have specific light requirements, from full sun to full shade. Failing to meet their specific needs can cause problems.

“Most vegetables require at least six hours of sunlight, so keep that in consideration when you are choosing where to plant,” Korman said.

The elements of the terrain where you plan to grow your vegetables can impact how your plants grow. This includes buildings, other existing vegetation, as well as exposure to wind, she said.

Once you have decided on where the best growing area is, you need to do some homework to find out the length of the growing season in your district. Also, if possible find out what the average rainfall is in your area, Korman said.

“Over the next several months, Penn State Extension has many events scheduled for the home gardener, including one on straw bale gardening in May,” she said, and added you can find the list of events at

Before choosing plants that thrive in your area’s weather conditions, Korman advised checking the soil conditions where you will plant. “The only way to know is to have the soil tested at your local garden center or extension office,” she said.

Existing gardens

If you have an existing garden, “this is the time for good spring garden maintenance. This includes turning compost, cutting…