WDET At Home: Level Up Your Garden With Expert Tips

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

In this “WDET At Home” episode, we answer your questions about gardening, cultivating and bringing plants to life… or at least keep them from wilting.

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It’s May in Michigan, which means novice and expert gardeners alike are exercising green thumbs.

Gardening is just a great way to get outside and engage with our natural environment. There’s so much going on in your backyard.” — Alice Bagley, Fields of Plenty

And a global pandemic is a great time to start planting — whether that be potted herbs, a raised bed garden, or a full-fledged hole in the ground. 

After “WDET at Home” introduced you to how to start your first garden, producers Jake Neher and Annamarie Sysling now are going to help level-up your skills.


  • Malik Yakini, co-founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates a four acre farm in Detroit. Malik also spearheaded efforts to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council.
  • Alice Bagley, farmer at Fields of Plenty and member-owner of City Commons Cooperative.

Click on the player above for tips on protecting your garden from aphids and moths, planting watermelons and read tips on your first garden below.

Expert Tips 

Measure the sun.

Plants require a full 6 hours of sun on average, so map how shade moves through your yard area to see where the ideal spot to place the garden will be. 

Start with a boxed garden.

If you have no gardening experience, try starting with a boxed or raised bed garden. 

Our experts recommend starting with a potting mix, which is lighter and fluffier, as a top soil and provides good organic matter to start. If you’re worried about water retention with a raised bed, Lined the beds with weed barrier between the soil in the raised bed and the soil on the ground (which is of questionable integrity.) The barrier is permeable and lets water soak through.

Finally, plant a variety of things, that way if something doesn’t go well, you still have something to show.

Share your harvest.

Gardening in your front yard or in a side lot is a fantastic way to meet new people — safely at a distance. 

Additionally, a home garden offers a way to build community.

Typically with plants you have a lot that comes into maturation at the same time, you’re almost forced to give produce away to people around you,” Yakini says. “Working the garden really makes us more human.”

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WDET At Home, Special Programming

WDET At Home” is a special program during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist our audience in learning new skills they can execute from the comfort of their domestic abodes.

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