Why now is the perfect time to start a produce garden

You may think planting season is over, but now is the perfect time to plant some fall crops

We are at the height of summer, and many of you probably think planting season is over, but that is not the case according to Keep Growing Detroit. Now is actually the perfect time to plant some crops for the late fall harvest, and they have all the things you need to get started.

Nestled near the tall buildings of Detroit, in the heart of Eastern Market, is the Keep Growing Detroit farm.

“We’re an organization that is trying to promote Detroit into becoming a food sovereign city,” explains Sterling Bowman-Randall, their Growing Support Coordinator. “That would look like the majority of fruits and vegetables that are consumed by Detroiters, are grown by Detroiters here in the city.”

At the farm, they grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to sell at their stand in Eastern Market called Grown in Detroit, as well as distribute amongst the community. The grounds also serve as their home base, an area to teach and store their materials.

The main way they help Detroiters, though, is through their Garden Resource Program. The program, which costs $15/year for a family, and $30 for a community or school garden, gives members access to their tools, concrete resources like wood chips and compost, learning resources, and their three main distributions of plants and seeds.

“We have a large amount of plants and seeds that we give out,” says Bowman-Randall. “Each distribution is tailored to the climate at the time.”

So they have a spring, summer, and fall distribution. The fall distribution is set for the end of July and focuses on cold-hearty crops like collards, kale, radishes, arugula, fennel, scallions, and more.

“The farmers really like to grow their food during the fall time because it is a lot easier on the plants and a lot easier on the farmers as well,” says Akello Karamoko, the Farm Manager.

According to them, all you need to get started is your own backyard. Karamoko recommends that you give yourself a lot of patience and understanding, as you will make some mistakes as you get started, but that it can be very rewarding.

Besides planting fall crops, now is also a time for maintenance. Like pruning your tomatoes. Karamoko says you should pinch off the suckers of the tomato vine, typically found at the crux of a branching vine, as well as any early tomatoes to encourage the plant to grow bigger before it starts bearing lots of fruit. This way you get a higher yield when it comes time to harvest.

So whether you want to grow your own food, or purchase theirs at Eastern Market, Keep Growing Detroit is there to help you eat local.

If you want to join their Garden Resouce Program, sign up by July 15th so you can get your fall distribution on July 18th. This program is only for Detroit residents, but other community members can still take their educational programming, volunteer, and shop their food at Grown in Detroit in Eastern Market.

About the Author:

Michelle Oliver is a multimedia Journalist for the 10 a.m. lifestyle show, "Live in the D." She is known as "the food girl" because of her two popular food franchises, Dine in the D and Find Your Fix. Michelle also covers stories on homegrown businesses, style, and other fun things happening in the D.