Backyard Gardening

My kitchen table is covered in plants. They’re waiting to be planted in the garden outside. However, looking out the window towards the garden, all I can see is snow clinging to the grass. The cold temperatures and snow flurries are a sign of the stubborn Michigan winter refusing to give up…

Luckily, we prepared for that unwelcome Spring freeze. We heeded the advice of grandparents and great-grandparents—not planting anything outside until “after Armistice day” or “June 8th” depending on whom you asked.

So, while we can’t plant outside, we can prepare for that elusive planting day. Reference books, grid paper, seed packs, and flats of seedlings have been taking over my living room for weeks. The garden map is drawn, soil is tilled, and the planting schedule is set. Our biggest challenge yet to face: deer.

Year after year, the deer end up jumping the fence and feasting on our veggies—kale and zucchini seem to be their favorites. We’re using the extra time at home this year to extend our fence upward, hopefully keeping out hooved friends out.

Growing your own food takes a lot of work: prep work, planting, watering, endless weeding, and harvesting. Like everything in life, there are ups and downs; just as you think you have your weeds under control, you get a potato bug infestation. But, like everything in life, the hard work you put in, makes the result that much sweeter. Nothing tastes better than food fresh from the garden, the product of your hard work, dirty hands, and sunburned body.

If you’re a beginner gardener looking where to start, the easiest (in my opinion) veggies to grow are zucchini and tomatoes—okay, those might be a fruit. It’s okay to start small, you don’t need to be a full-on farmer your first season. And if you don’t have a thumb green enough to start plants from seeds, you can always pick up some starter plants and cross your fingers for good weather.

-Emily