Food security is one of the hottest topics as folks survey empty shelves at the grocery store and the closing of farmer’s markets. As far as buying our frozen organic blueberries, don’t panic. We literally have tons in a warehouse freezer and will continue to sell them at the farm or through online sales.
But what about fresh produce from your back yard? Seed companies report exploding sales as people jump to grow food at home. As a life-long gardener, I am thrilled to see this development and over the past few weeks, friends and customers have asked me questions about what to plant in their gardens. While a few vegetables are tricky to cultivate, most are easily grown.
But my yard is so shady. Then choose plants that only need several hours of sunlight to develop vs. those needing a full day of sun. Think kale, lettuce, carrots, Bok Choy, cabbage, beets, spinach and radishes. Some of these crops such as spinach need cooler temperatures, so I grow them in the spring and fall. Even now, we are eating spinach and kale that over wintered without any protection.
My yard is so small. Instead of petunias in front of your house, plant a row of green beans because they like plenty of sun and heat. Years ago, the best sunny spot at my parent’s home for heat loving plants was under a small ornamental tree in the front yard, so my mother grew muskmelons in that location instead of flowers. None of the neighbors complained about the melon plants, instead everyone watched the tiny green orbs turn into fragrant melons. As you stroll around your yard, ponder where you could tuck a few seeds.
Perhaps you could grow tomatoes in the strip of earth by your house. The warmth from your home will protect the tomato and pepper plants from a late spring freeze or early fall frost. Or choose varieties of tomatoes bred to grow in containers and set them by the back stoop. My nephew and his artistic wife live in Chicago and reap produce from their potted plants.
If you are adventurous, some seed companies sell large bags so families can grow potatoes in the plastic-coated sack. If your children have never dug for potatoes, this is a fun way to introduce them to the treasure buried beneath a potato plant. Or plant dwarf fruit trees in pots or tiny blueberry plants such as Top Hat so your kids can pick a few berries to sprinkle on their granola.
It’s snowing here in Michigan, so who knows when the soil will be warm enough to germinate bean seeds or ready to receive tomato plants. But now is the time to plan and dream about walking out your door and picking peas. If anyone has questions about gardening, feel free to contact me through our webpage or through our Facebook page. Let’s grow healthy food!