There's something about getting your hands a little dirty and working hard to turn a tiny seed that you can barely see into fresh and tasty vegetables that just gives you a sense of satisfaction. Some may find that gardening can be a difficult task, but don't fret it! The entire process is trial and error, so just try to enjoy it and have fun with it. The best part is that when you need something delicious to eat or can't think of what to make for dinner, you have your own personal produce section right at your fingertips! 

When you first start out, a plan is very important. You'll want to figure out where, what, and when you will plant. Depending on where you live, certain plants will have a better chance at growth than others. Finding a growing calendar for the zone you live in will be a good first step to find out what months are the best for growing different vegetables. I recommend the Burpee website. The state of Michigan is in zones 4, 5, and 6. 

What you Will Need

Gathering some tools and supplies will get that garden growing in no time! First see what you have laying around before you rush off to the store. Always start off simple and if you need more specific tools in the future then go and get them. Basic gardening requires some gloves, a shovel, some seeds, fertile soil, a water source, a tomato cage and maybe a fence for the sides to keep the pests out. Based on my gardening experience, squirrels and rabbits love to munch on the lettuce and carrots. 

Sydney Maranville

Month by Month Plan

Late March to First Week of April:

Lettuce, kale, radishes, spinach, and green onions are usually okay to start planting around this time. Guidance on how deep and far apart to plant can be found on the back of your seed packets. 

In General...

Lettuce: 12 inches apart and 1/4 inch deep

Kale: 18 inches apart and 1/4 inch deep 

Radishes: 6 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep

Spinach: 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep

Green Onions: 12 inches apart and 1/4 inch deep

After Last Frost (Around April 15th):

Carrots, peas, and broccoli are best planted around this time. The weather can always be uncertain at times though, so be prepared to cover with towels if you get more frost. 

Carrots: 12 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep

Peas: 1 1/2 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep

Broccoli: 16 inches apart and 1/4 inch deep

Mid to End of April:

As I said before, gardening is trial and error, so if your lettuce and broccoli are not showing any sign of growth, you are better off getting some starter plants at the garden center. 

Mid May:

Zucchini, bell peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes love the heat, so when it starts to feel like summer, you better get these these seeds in the ground. 

Zucchini: 36 inches apart and 1 inch deep

Bell Peppers: 12 to 18 inches apart and 1/4 inch deep

Strawberries: 18 to 24 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep

Tomatoes: 30 to 48 inches apart and 1/8 inch deep

As the plants start to grow taller, you will want to keep the tomatoes, bell peppers, and peas up with tomato cages. If the vegetables look like they are overcrowding, you can always thin them out. In general, keep pulling the weeds out, make sure the area gets plenty of sunshine, and keep the soil evenly moist. Dedicate lots of your time towards the garden and care for it well.

Preparing for Eating

Sydney Maranville

Lettuce: Crunchy and sweet lettuce is delicious served as a garden, ceasar, chef, or taco salad or is just as good placed on your favorite sandwich. 

Kale: Vitamin rich and perfectly curled kale is as delicious as it is healthy in a smoothie with a little vanilla almond milk, some honey, yogurt, banana, and blueberries. It's also tasty in salads, soups, and stir-fries. 

Spinach: This veggie is so full of flavor and nutrients and is perfect for a salad on a warm day, blended into your morning smoothie, or wilted in scrambled eggs or some pasta. 

Radishes: These crisp and red bulbs can be roasted or sliced thin and put on a salad.

Green Onions: Big bunches of this veggie are perfect for slicing up and garnishing your salad, stir fry, Thai food, chili, or even your eggs. 

Carrots: They are tasty and bright orange spears of goodness that are just as delicious raw as they are cooked. They can be shredded for carrot cake, chopped up for a salad or chicken noodle soup or thrown into stir fry. 

Peas: These are crisp, crunchy and sweet. They are yummy eaten right from the garden, put into stir fry, salad, or pasta, or steamed and served as a side dish. 

Broccoli: These florets have a very earthy, sweet and somewhat bitter flavor. This veggie is incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking. My personal 2 favorites are beef with broccoli stir fry from America's Test Kitchen cookbook and Rachel Ray's pasta with trees. It can also be cut up and tossed into a salad, or steamed to have as a side dish with some fish or chicken. 

Green Peppers: Peppers are so crunchy and yummy, but some are sweeter than others. The green pepper is actually the least ripe and the most bitter but still has amazing flavor. It can be chopped up and put into salads, eggs, turkey tetrazzini, chili, tomato sauce or shrimp creole. They can also be served as stuffed peppers. Sometimes I cut them into strips and eat them raw with some ranch dressing.

Tomatoes: These gushy and sweet fruits come in all shapes and sizes but all have extraordinary flavor. My family always makes a big batch of tomato sauce with them, but they are also good sliced up and served with a big slices of mozzarella, basil, and some balsamic vinegar which you may know as the classic caprese salad. Don't stop there though. Put some on your salads, in your chili or pasta, or lay some fresh pieces on a BLT. 

Strawberries: This fruit is definitely in my top 5. The sugary sweet bursts of flavor they have are beyond delicious. Every year I like to make a batch of strawberry jam which is actually quite simple. All you need is some pectin, sugar, and lemon juice along with your strawberries. They are also yummy in smoothies, fruit salad, on strawberry shortcake, on waffles, or on cakes. Lets be honest though, it's definitely hard to resist the temptation to eat a handful when you go out to check on your garden. 

There's nothing better than to have a fresh source of veggies and fruits for your kitchen and to share with neighbors. Gardening not only helps the earth, but also gives you a rewarding and relaxing hobby to practice for a lifetime.