Gardening in Michigan 101 

When is the most impossible time to plant flowers? When you haven’t botany.

Jokes aside, what could be more local than growing food in your kitchen or backyard? Whether you’re new to gardening or have been doing it for years, it comes down to three major components : Planning, Soil, and Seeds. Then of course, dealing with the maintenance, pests, and harvest, but, you can worry about that later in the season. Getting started can be the most challenging part of any new project, so here are some helpful tips to begin gardening in Michigan:

Start with a Garden Plan

How much space do you have to grow food? Where do you have sunlight? Whether you only have room for a few container plants or you have raised beds, it is satisfying to grow your own food or herbs. If you’re just beginning to garden, we recommend starting small and growing from there.  This helpful resource from the MSU Extension Master Gardener program walks you through the steps of creating a Smart vegetable garden.

Plants that grow well in small spaces or containers:

  • Mint, Basil, and other herbs
  • Nasturtiums 
  • Cherry tomatoes 

Most importantly, pick plants that you’re excited about that can grow in the space you have.

Good Soil

The quality of your harvest is directly related to the quality of your soil. Reach out to your local landscaping or garden supply for some quality soil and compost. Keep in mind that different plants grow best in certain types of soil and acidity levels, so you may want to get your soil tested before planting.

Another helpful resources from MSUE Master Gardener

Seeds or Seedlings 

Once you’ve made your plan and got the right soil, you can finally get to the fun part: planting! Choose plants that are suitable for your climate, soil, and sunlight. Some plants are suitable to sow directly in the soil once spring arrives. There are Michigan seed companies that are committed to preserving heritage varieties, such as Nature and Nurture Seeds and the Ann Arbor Seed Company. Depending on your patience, you can also purchase seedlings a little additional security in the success of your own garden. Plus, you can support your local farmer and get growing tips from them in the process.

Here are a few easy to grow options:

  • Radishes 
  • Herbs: Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Mint 
  • Flowers: Zinnia, Gomphrena, Nasturtiums
  • Greens: spinach, kale, chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucamelons a.k.a. Mexican Sour Gherkins
  • Peas
  • Zucchini

Starting a garden may feel like a daunting task, but it’s rewarding work!

Emma Beauchamp is the former Editor in Chief for Taste the Local Difference.

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