Gardening Up North


For over 20 years, I have battled sand, drought, cold, bugs, and weeds to grow a vegetable garden up here in Northern Michigan. Some years, when the deer ate all my tender new shoots or the first frost came in August, I vowed to never grow a garden again.

But fresh dirt calls to me. Each year, it holds the promise of another spring, another growing season, another chance. From the seed catalogs that arrive in the dead of winter—just when I need to see a burst of color—to the flats of seedlings I sprout indoors in the early spring, to the first warm afternoon I can finally get outside and see what’s there, it’s like being with an old friend. From April through September, I can count on having broken nails, sore knees, and a stiff back. But the rewards are great.

I spend my early mornings in the garden, sipping my coffee while I work. I have hauled manure—truckloads of it. I have spent an entire afternoon trying to start an old rototiller. I have rushed home on a cold night to cover tender plants against a late spring frost. I have planted by the full moon and during a thunderstorm.

In Northern Michigan, we’re famous for our sand dunes, cherry trees—and unpredictable weather. It can snow in May and be 90° in July. Mother Nature certainly has an agenda of her own. But instead of giving up, we built a greenhouse to protect plants and extend the season.

Gardening is part of my life. It’s just something I have to do.

—By Danielle Horvath of Beulah, MI.

This article was published originally in 2015, in GreenPrints Issue #104.


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