Prepare Your Southern Michigan Garden for Planting in May

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Did you know that March is the perfect time to prepare your southern Michigan garden for planting?  What you do in the early spring will pay dividends for your summertime garden.

So, how do you prepare your southern Michigan garden for springtime planning?  We’re glad that you asked.

A pollinator bee enjoys a break in a beautiful yellow, orange, and pink flower.Start with Your Gardening Goals

Think about what your ideal garden would look like.  Would it be a rainbow sea of flowers?  Perhaps a purple-themed paradise?  Or a pollinator-friendly garden?  Or a celebration of native Michigan flowers?  How about rows of tasty veggies?  What are your goals for your garden?

Form a Gardening Plan

Decide on what you will plant and where you will plant it.  This garden plan will help you see what is realistic for your space and your budget.  

Research plants’ needs and consider the following when planning your garden:

  • What plants tolerate shade
  • What plants need lots of sunlight
  • How much water the plant needs
  • If a plant attracts or repels pests
  • If plants can be together or if they must be separate

Part of what you plant and where you plant it is dependent on your garden’s:

  • Sun exposure
  • Soil quality
  • Water availability
  • Available room

Your garden’s constraints and your desired plants’ needs will help you decide what plants are best for your garden.  They will also help you in your site selections for your plants.

Keep in mind that you can change some aspects of your garden.  You can improve the soil, set up a watering system, use grow lights, add structures to protect plants, and clear rocks or plants to make space for new plants.

Test Your Soil

Michigan soil is clay heavy, which can make flower and vegetable growing difficult.  Testing your soil will show whether your soil is ready for gardening or if it may need a little help.

Consider creating your own soil blend.  Mix perlite (or vermiculite), compost, and peat moss in equal parts.  This will create a soil that drains well and is nutrient rich. If you are hesitant to make your own soil blend, then you can purchase soil or get expert guidance from a trusted garden center or greenhouse.

Decide If You Want a Vegetable Garden or Pollinator Garden

Vegetable Garden

Most vegetable gardens need at least ten hours of sunlight each day.  So, southern- or western-facing spots are usually best for vegetable gardens. Make sure that your garden site is close to your house so that you’ll give it extra attention.  Also, your garden should be close to your water source.  You don’t want to have to buy an extra long hose or carry buckets back and forth between your water spout and your vegetable garden.  Believe us.  You’ll thank us later.

Pollinator Garden

Pollinator gardens attract and support pollinators such as butterflies, bees, moths, other beneficial insects, and hummingbirds.  Pollinator gardens are both ecologically important and great for attracting pollinators to your vegetable garden.  However, if you don’t want to grow vegetables, then you can always plant a pollinator garden simply to help the environment and earn cosmic brownie points.

Some native Michigan flowering plants that are good for pollinators are wild strawberry, angelica, Culver’s root, meadowsweet, coneflower, lobelia, Riddell’s goldenrod, cup plant, and aster.

March Gardening To-Do List

We love a good checklist.  So, here’s a checklist to help you prepare your southern Michigan garden for planting in May.

  1. List your gardening goals.
  2. Form a gardening plan.
  3. Research plants’ sun, water, and soil needs.
  4. Map out where you want your flowers, vegetable garden, and/or pollinator garden.
  5. Test your soil.
  6. Prepare your front landscaping beds for flowers.
  7. Prepare sites for your gardening needs.
  8. Add nutrient-rich soil, if necessary.
  9. Purchase your seeds.

Colorful maroon, green, and yellow Swiss chard growing in Southern Michigan.When to Plant Your Vegetable Garden in Southern Michigan

Gardening in Michigan can be tricky with our frost dates.  However, we recommend planting your vegetable garden after the 50% probability frost date.  You can use this frost-free date table to find what date works best for your location.

If you’re an eager beaver and can’t wait to plant your vegetable garden, then consider planting cool-season vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, and peas.  Also, take the temperature of the soil (yes, we’re serious).  Some seeds will not germinate in soil that is colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  However, beets, swiss chard, celery, carrots, radishes, and broccoli seeds will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  They’re brave souls.

Try New Things

Seize the day and try new seeds and plants!  Are there new vegetables that you want to try?  New flowers you want to explore?

Your only constraint is your imagination!  Well, that and space, sun exposure, watering requirements, and soil acidity . . .  But mostly your imagination.

Visit us here at Schwartz’s Greenhouse!

We are super passionate about gardening and flowers (seriously, meet us and you’ll understand).  So, we want to do whatever we can to make your garden dreams happen.  Whether you’re interested in our expert gardening knowledge, award-winning flowers, garden supplies, or flattering green uniforms, we’re here and we’d love to help you.  

We’re Michigan proud, and we want to make everyone else green with envy over your Michigan garden.

Our opening day is mid-April.  Follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when we open for the season.