It’s Not Too Early to Plan Your West Michigan Garden

One of the best parts about January and February is daydreaming about what your garden will look like in the summer. The seed catalogs tempt you with beautiful and delicious-looking photos. But how to turn the dreams into reality?

I had a very small garden last year, which was mostly tomatoes and cucumbers. This year, though, I hope to expand. As a novice gardener I’ve been looking for places to take classes. So far it looks like most of them don’t start until April-ish, although GRCC is offering a “Root Camp” the third Wednesday of each month. Although their website says there are no seats left, I’ve been told they will be opening some more slots.

Why do you want to garden?

The biggest question to contemplate over the next few months is why are you gardening in the first place? If you just want to grow some thing to grow something, choose easy-to-grow items like tomatoes and zucchini. If you want to eat from your garden, you’ll want to figure out what you hope to harvest and in what amounts. It’s a guess as every year will produce a bit different yield, but you don’t want to end up with one pepper and a bazillion zucchini. Do your research. Since I’m part of a CSA, most of my day to day eating vegetables are covered. I am planning to plant things I either don’t get enough of or want to freeze or can.

What is your budget?

Seeds are very inexpensive, and so very very tempting in the catalogs. But you’ll want to do some math. I happen to have poor soil, so most of my plantings need to be in raised beds. I have a handy husband who is great at building them, but I still need to factor in the cost of lumber and bags of soil, which add up quickly. Oh and there is the fencing to keep the bunnies out.

How much time do you want to spend each week with upkeep?

Again, as tempting as the catalog photos are, you’ll want to be realistic. Some plants, like tomatoes and zucchini, just require watering. Others require staking and weeding and all of that. Keep that in mind as you plan your garden.

Map Our Your Garden

One of the coolest tools I’ve found so far is the GrowVeg Garden Planner. It allows you to map out your garden beds, add the vegetables you want to grow, and it tells you how many seeds you need and when to plant them! Check it out: (affiliate link)

Online Garden Planning Tool

What is your advice for beginner gardeners?

5 thoughts on “It’s Not Too Early to Plan Your West Michigan Garden

  1. I’m so glad to have the CSA so that I can play in my garden rather than trying to actually get anything useful out of it. Last year the strawberries spread over the entire plot I had, so while I don’t have much room to play now, the consolation prize isn’t all that bad.

    I think one other thing to consider about gardening is whether to do heirloom seeds, or buy from the big companies, many of which are linked to Monsanto and could be GMO seeds. There are pros & cons to each, but these days seems worth figuring into the equation. I’ve also found that with my bad soil, I do better if I buy seedlings from the heirloom guy at the farmers market rather than starting from seed.

  2. I’ve found raised beds to help with my poor soil. I try to buy my seeds from organic companies like Highmowing. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I’ve discovered that in the long run heirlooms do better than hybrids. It’s an exercise in trial and error, finding the heirloom that will do great in your location. Once you do find that perfect heirloom, you’ve got a winner. You can learn to save the seeds and pass them on to your friends and family, save money over the years, have the reassurance that you are growing a healthier chemical and GMO-free crop, and the independence to grow food from seed that you can provide for yourself.

  4. @wendy,
    I can’t change too much where I am now, so I’m stuck with what I’ve got. Besides, with all we get from our CSA, production isn’t my main goal. Mostly I just love to watch plants go through their growing cycle. They amaze me, pests & all. I also like watching certain “weeds” (which I consider wildflowers) grow. They can hold some amazing surprises if you actually keep an eye on them and let them do their thing!

Whaddaya think?