The green corn is starting to turn brown and dry and the sky has become gray more often than not. Fall is here and I expect the trees to start turning quickly in the next few weeks. The grass in the photo above will become a pollinator meadow and several garden plots: I’ve already laid out the borders and will be removing sod soon to prepare the beds.
In late October or early November, I’ll plant the quarter-acre pollinator meadow with carefully selected perennial seeds and a nurse crop of sterile wheat. More delicate species will need to be started inside and transplanted and still others will be sown in spring. In a few years, with some luck and a lot of work, I’ll have a fully established meadow habitat to host pollinator insects and other creatures (and have less grass to mow).
Each of the six garden plots covers 500 square feet. One plot will be planted with smaller garden vegetables and the other five will be put into rotation with space-consuming crops like potatoes, squash, and sunflowers. Other plots will be given over to blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and lavender and a small orchard of six apple trees will round out the harvest. Herbs and salad greens will grow somewhere yet to be determined.
Here’s hoping that gardening books and magazines and thoughts of fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes will help me get through my first long, snowy Michigan winter.
Over the summer, Emily accepted a nursing position in St. Joseph, Michigan—the culmination of three and a half years of graduate work. With this news, we quickly embarked on our first homebuying adventure. This turned out to be what is perhaps the ultimate exercise in marital compromise. While I’ve enjoyed a lot of city amenities over the last decade, having grown up in a small town, I had been wanting to move back to the country for some time. Emily was not so sure of such an endeavor but we were very lucky to find a rural property in close proximity to several towns, Lake Michigan, and within an easy drive of Chicago and Grand Rapids. Despite the horror stories we heard about first-time homebuying, our experience was as smooth as could be expected.
Our new house is a circa 1920 farmhouse on five acres in Royalton Township, Michigan. The area is mostly agricultural with specialty crops like grapes, hops, tomatoes, and fruit trees. We’ll have plenty of space to start a garden and perennial pollinator meadow and I plan to expand my beekeeping efforts. Emily will be just a few miles from work and we’ll be five miles from Lake Michigan when we need to kick back and relax.
Of course, we are feeling mixed emotions about all of this: sad to leave friends, colleagues, and neighbors in Columbus but excited to start a new chapter in a new place.