From seed to sprout to harvest, there are few activities as rewarding as time spent in the garden. Fresh air in your lungs, hands in the earth as you plant tiny seeds to nourish and watch as they grow throughout the months ahead; what could be better?
Feeling inspired by the season, we reached out to Morgan Ford, who lives with her husband and two young boys on a farm in Michigan. They live in an old farmhouse, originally built in 1861, situated in a captivating landscape of neverending skies and lush, expansive land. Join us in conversation where we discuss dream projects both new and old, garden bed favourites, and some sage advice for new gardens.
Please, introduce yourself!
A little bit about me- about ten years ago I married my neighbor and we purchased his grandparent’s home! Smack dab in the middle of my family farm and his. We spent the last decade working on fixing the foundation, running new electrical, plumbing, etc. etc. If you can think it, we did it. I am an RN working part-time, and he works full time in HVAC. We have two little boys and are still working on various projects around the farm and in the home. I am so happy to say we are finally finished with the upstairs of this 1861 year old farmhouse.
Let’s talk gardening! Whereabouts are you located?
I am in Michigan!
How long have you been tending to your current garden space?
We have been in this home for almost ten years now, and we have had a few different garden spaces and sizes. When we moved in, I thought the garden was too small. Then, we tripled it in size. Two kids later, I learned that I tend to bite off more than I can chew… so last year the hubby built a new fence around the garden to make it a bit smaller than it was before. I love the oak boards that divide the garden from our yard; there is plenty of space for various vegetables and cut flowers.
Have you always had a green thumb? Or was the interest more so inspired by the property you’re on?
I grew up on a farm and always tending to a garden. I sure didn’t love gardening growing up, but I’ve grown to appreciate the fruits of your labour over the years.
Has the outdoor space on your property changed much from when you first moved there?
So much has changed since we moved here. We decided to move the garden to lower ground which tends to hold moisture best. We also added fences throughout our property to protect our boys from the road and built pastures for the animals. We decided to raise our own jersey steer, two pigs and chickens (for fresh eggs all year)!
We hear you have a new garden shed at your fingertips! Can you tell us a bit about this project?
Well, this has been a dream of mine for almost a decade. It was after we moved the garden that I finally picked my favorite place for a garden shed. The hubby wanted it to be built on flatter ground, and I wanted it to feel nestled in between two trees. Eight years ago I bought those windows with thoughts of the shed actually being a greenhouse. I had cut out photos from magazines and pinned photos on Pinterest for years. With a greenhouse, a few challenges arose such as figuring out how to bring power to the building. (For a functioning greenhouse, fans would be ideal for the hot summer days, and heat for those cold nights.) I decided after much debate a shed would be practical for holding the rototiller, garden rakes, shovels, etc. The hubby built a loft we can use as storage in the winter, but for the summer the boys have it as an escape to hide and play.
What is your go-to garden tool?
I love a good garden hoe! I have had a few raised beds before, but they are always a challenge to weed by hand and keep the soil from drying out. When we redid the garden last year, I opted to remove the few raised beds I had. I also love to bring the rototiller into the garden to have the soil turned with that beautiful rich dark soil color. Then I use the hoe to weed the rest!
Do you have any favourite blooms, herbs, or veg that you can’t wait to see flourishing?
I love nothing more than some fresh salsa made from the garden! So I always plant a variety of tomatoes, bell peppers and banana peppers for the best salsa.
Favourite spot to sit and enjoy the view from?
Well, if I could relax enough to sit down, it would be on a blanket in the grass under the maple tree.
Who does the majority of garden care in your household?
I tend to keep the maintenance, but after August when I have picked all that we need and will eat, it tends to go wild and overgrown. The hubby is always good for helping with the big clean-ups!
Favourite local flora in Michigan?
I love white Zinnias because they never fail me and are so easy to grow!
Any tips for new or inexperienced gardeners?
My biggest advice would be to first live in a home for at least an entire year before making any major changes or plans for your garden! You’ll learn a lot about the land you’re on in that time.
You can see more of Morgan’s beautiful Michigan homestead and incredible DIY projects on her Instagram.
Browse Morgan’s go-to garden tools: