Although the temps in Metro Detroit allow a buffer for you to start your garden, why not take advantage of the growing season and maximize your growing potential? Planting a bunch of veggies all at once and harvesting them the same way is fun if you are an amateur gardener but what if you want to get serious? If you plant the correct vegetable at the correct time, you can garden from spring to after frost.
I have had a garden in Metro Detroit for three years now and have picked up a few tips each year. I am definitely not a professional but my garden in year three is putting out quite a bit of produce. My family has been eating salad and spinach almost every night for a month. We have also enjoyed grazing on peas and a few meals of fresh red beets. The peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, green beans are next!
If a garden that produces from spring to fall sounds good to you, check out my gardening schedule.
The day you can get a shovel in the ground is the day you should be starting your garden if you want to maximize your potential. Once the frost lifts, the cool veggie plants can go in the ground. You can start peas, brussel sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, kale, radishes during this time frame. Try to stagger your planting by at least a week to space out the harvest.
Once the cool weather plants are in the ground, you have a bit of time to wait. You are now waiting for the threat of frost to be gone. During these couple of weeks, prepare your other areas to be ready for planting. If you want to push your luck, you can try planting green beans, squash, cucumbers about a week early.
Do not plant everything at once though! You could be burned by a frost and have to start from scratch. This happened to me this year. I only had about ten percent of what I wanted to plant started though so it wasn't a big deal. For me, the risk of losing a few plants does not outweigh the reward of harvesting a week earlier most years.
After the threat of frost is clear, you can plant the next wave of crops. Tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, peppers, sunflowers, winter squash, spaghetti squash, basil, cilantro, dill... the list goes on. All of these veggies can be started from seed in Michigan except tomatoes and peppers.
After these plants are in the ground, you should already be harvesting some of the cool season plants like lettuce and radishes. Following those two are peas and broccoli. The cool season veggies should produce until at least early July if you keep them watered.
Once the early season crops start to wane, you should be starting to harvest the next wave. By early July, a Metro Detroit gardener should be starting to get tomatoes, green beans and summer squash/ cucumbers. By August, everything should be producing.
This is not the time to stop though! Another round of cool season crops can be planted where the old crops where. Keep in mind that you should always rotate crops to help minimize pests and disease. Do not plant lettuce where the early spring lettuce was.... you get the point.
Early to mid September is when your garden starts to get fun. Your tomatoes, peppers and maybe green beans will still be producing as well as your next wave of cool crops. On top of that, the winter squash, spaghetti squash, brussel sprouts that you planted earlier will start to produce.
This is a great time of year! There is no reason to be going to the supermarket in mid September until early November unless you are domesticated and need to buy meat. You should be eating like a king until at least the first frost.
Do not let frost stop your party though! Some crops can make it through until almost christmas. Kale and turnips taste better after a frost. Carrots, brussel sprouts and lettuce (if protected at night) can make it until the new year as well.
As you can see, if you are planting a bunch of veggies on memorial day and calling it good you are missing out. By sticking to a schedule, you can produce enough food for a family for a full year on very little land.