By Shirley.

All around there are signs of Spring. On my way back from the grocery store, I passed a field where I could hear the peepers (frogs) in their Spring mating chorus. My husband and I have watched a hard-working house sparrow in our backyard,  carrying material for its nest. Lisa, from the singing group, spotted an owl’s nest on one of her walks (see photos below). The early morning bird calls have been growing steadily and have now morphed into a bird orchestra. And every week, there are more flowers blooming.

“Mini Irises in March, Shirley’s front yard.”

The coronavirus might have trapped us in our homes, but we can use our homes to fight the disease. Our current situation reminded me of the Victory Gardens, grown during World War I and II. Grown especially in England and the UK, but also in United States, Canada and Australia, Victory Gardens were home gardeners’ contribution to the war effort. By growing their own food, families were reducing the pressure on food supply amid regular food rationing. Nowadays, our reasons for growing our own food would take on a different objective. Instead of Victory, we might call ours a Safe Garden or a Safe Haven. You can’t beat growing your own lettuce, squash or tomatoes and having the satisfaction of just walking into your backyard to collect your fresh produce – no need for a mask, gloves or sanitizer.

If you have never grown your vegetables here in Michigan, now is the time to get started.

Once you have cleaned the area you want to use for your garden, it is time for seeds. Here are some online retailers:,, (just be aware that retailers are running out of seeds fast during this crisis).

At this time of the year, there are several seeds that you can already start planting straight into the soil: radishes, carrots, beets, lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard, turnip, rutabaga, chives, dill, fennel, mint, oregano and peas among others. How deep in the soil and how far apart each kind of  seed should be planted is written in the instructions on each package. Spring is really wet around here, but make sure that the soil doesn’t completely dry between watering. If your family really likes, let’s say, lettuce, and you have determined the area where you want to plant them, I suggest you plant one line of seeds a week. That way, there will be lettuces in different stages of growth and you won’t get 50 heads of lettuce all at once.

Because the growing season in Michigan is limited, some vegetables will do better if you start them indoors and transfer them to your garden later, when temperatures have risen. These are: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, watermelons, squashes and pumpkins. These should be planted in your garden sometime in May, when you are sure there isn’t going to be anymore cold days and nights.

Make sure to plant enough to share. Yes, you can share your vegetables with friends and family, but before you can do that, there is a possibility you will be sharing them with birds, bunnies, voles, moles and even deer. Some years ago, I shared my parsley with several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars. I had a great time watching them grow, and later in the Summer, watching the butterflies around our garden.


“Lisa found a local Great Horned Owl (mother) with her two owlets (babies).”

“Here  is the father Owl, who may be asleep in this photo, but can quickly awake to provide protection from his perch on a nearby tree.”