Upcoming gardening season lifts the spirits

Knowing that it soon will be gardening season has helped get me through the ice, snow, rain, hail and wind that has been the reality of the past two weeks of northern Plains living.

Red, yellow and pink gladiola flowers
Gladiolas are among the flowers Ann Bailey will plant in this year's garden.
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Warmer and drier days are coming and with them gardening season.

That’s one of the things I've been hanging on to help get me through the ice, snow, rain, hail and wind that has been the reality of the past two weeks of northern Plains living.

Just as I’m ready to put away the hoes when October rolls around, I’m eager to pick them up again in May. This year, like others, I will be using them to weed between a lot of rows, because also this year, our garden will be sizable and contain a variety of vegetables and fruits.

Although sometimes during the gardening season, when my husband, Brian, and I are overwhelmed with the amount of hoeing and roto-tilling that needs to be done, I dream about not planting a garden the next year and instead buying our fruits and vegetables at a farmers market, that doesn’t happen.

Instead, most often, I end up buying the same amount of seeds, if not more, the next gardening season than I did the current one, and I typically try out some new varieties of the crops and add a couple of new crops.


Ann Bailey Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

This year, our seed order is made up of 17 seed packets made up of bush beans, three varieties of squash, beets, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, snow peas, three varieties of cantaloupes and two varieties of watermelons.

I also ordered parsnips and Brussels sprouts, two vegetables that we haven’t grown before. We enjoy eating both and I thought we could try our hand at raising them. Experimenting, as gardeners know, is a fun part of the hobby and the only expense I will encounter if mine fails is the cost of a couple of packages of seed.

Our garden also will include bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet corn and potatoes. We will buy the peppers and tomato plants and sweet corn and potato seeds at a local garden center.

Besides the vegetables and fruits, I also included in my seed catalog order zinnias, sunflowers and gladiolus that I can cut and use in arrangements and marigolds that I will plant on an island in one of our yards.

Besides sowing the vegetable, fruit and flower seeds, I also am looking forward to the installation of evergreen trees and a flower bed between our front yard and our driveway leading to the garage

Last fall, we had the lilac bushes that had been planted there more than 100 years ago removed because they had become overgrown with nuisance trees. Every year, we pulled out and cut down the trees that grew in the midst of the lilac hedge, and every year they grew back, along with many brothers and sisters.

We finally decided the best course of action was to get rid of the entire mess so we hired a local excavator business to bulldoze it. I am looking forward to the new look, which will provide color for three seasons of the year. At the same time, the evergreen trees that will be planted on either side of the garden will add beauty to the yard in the winter and be a place birds can build their nests in the spring.

Meanwhile, there still are plenty of other lilac bushes on our farmstead, so I am not shedding any tears about the ones that are gone. At this point in my life I prefer low maintenance and spent way too many hours getting attacked by stinging nettles while sweating in the midst of the trees we were pulling out or cutting down to mourn the loss of the lilacs.


Though it seems virtually impossible given the way it looks outside now, gardening season is just around the corner, and that sparks new life in me. I can hardly wait to get growing.

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or

Opinion by Ann Bailey
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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