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It’s Not Too Late to Start an Urban Garden. Here’s How.

Detroit’s expert gardeners on what to plant in late September

A closeup of leafy greens Stock Detroit

Every year Keep Growing Detroit hosts an urban garden tour of some of the city’s central, west, and east side gardens. This year, a group of eager growers, newbies, and wanna-be growers took that tour and learned what and how to grow.

Lindsay Pielack is co-director of Keep Growing Detroit, whose goal is to have the majority of fruits and vegetables grown in Detroit by Detroiters. The tour host shows residents just how to get started in the garden.

“We have so many resources available for gardeners to get going whatever time of year. A big part of what I do is to help residents provide technical assistance, as well as educational training around ‘how to garden safely’ and to get the best yields,” Pielack says.

The group asked these gardeners, one representing each side of town: central, west side, and the east side of Detroit. “Is it too late to grow anything now at the end of September? Here’s what the group learned:

Keep Growing Detroit (Central Detroit)

KGD’s approach engages beginner gardeners, to connect them to community leaders and food entrepreneurs while operating programs that support a network of more than 1,000 local urban gardens. “There’s one thing to teach people how to garden and make sure people know that these resources are available but we also have to create programs and events that bring the opportunities to the people that need them,” Pielack says. KGD also operates a 1.5-acre urban farm and teaching facility in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market district.

KDG Farms is headquarters and where half of the Garden Resource Program classes and workshops happen. It’s also a great place to see where the Motown Music garlic seeds are grown. Urban garden workshops are hosted and where growers of all ages practice and hone their skills. “Every two weeks we include a list of all of our classes and classes are also a great way to meet other growers to get tips and tricks on growing and what to grow in what season,” says Pielack. Also, new gardeners have access to about 20 to 25 other gardeners who will help them in their personal gardening journey. “When you’re ready, we’re here to help you get started,” Pielack says. 1850 Erskine, Eastern Market, Detroit

D’Oasis Urban Garden and Meditation Retreat (West)

Shutterstock

This group advocates for perennials that return every year including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, a fig tree, and Siberian kiwi vines that all grow on its property. “There are plenty of options to grow short-season fall crops,’ says Stephanie Phillips, founder of D’Oasis. “Carrots, radishes, kale, spinach, beets, and other root crops take about 30 days to harvest and sugar snap peas take about 45 days, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.” 19311 Lindsay Street, Detroit

Georgia Street Community Collective (East)

A man holds a live chicken
Mark Covington founded Georgia Street Community Collective
Gerard + Belevender

Georgia Street Community Collective started from a vision that Mark Covington had while cleaning trash from abandoned lots near his grandmother’s home. That vision has since grown into a community movement. With a board of directors, mission statement, and active members, this collective is serious about its community gardens. “You can start with spinach, lettuce, and seeds in the baby greens family,” says Covington. “You won’t see big leaves but you can also build a cold frame with plastic over it to try to keep the crops as warm as you can. Kinda like a ‘hoop house,’ but smaller.” 8902 Vinton, Detroit

As for planting now? “No it’s not too late to drop some seed, even in September,” Covington says.

There’s no excuse, let’s get growing.

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