You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Gateway gardens: Are you in danger? We want to know!

By Jim and Janice Leach

Pea Seeds.jpg

Janice Leach | Contributor

Are you or is someone you love at risk because of a Gateway Garden?

Maybe you tried gardening for the first time last year, and now you just have to go back for more. You find yourself lingering around every seed display, and you are sneaking more and more of those brightly colored packages into the house. Although the ground is still frozen, you are already making notes and plans about which plants are going where and possibly toying with the idea of perennials.

Or maybe your “friend” started with just a couple tomato plants, and everyone thought “that’s no big deal.” But now, he or she is anxious for the snow to melt and keeps talking about getting his or her “hands dirty again.” Maybe he or she is hanging with a new crowd, which includes the man down the block who grows roses or that helpful woman at the garden center. Perhaps your friend is even talking about starting a compost pile!

These are just some of the possible signs of a Gateway Gardener.

What exactly is a Gateway Garden? It’s the first gardening experience that leads to the desire for more. Unlike those nasty types of “gateways” we hear about, a Gateway Garden is a positive experience that lays the framework for a continuing exploration of the realm of growing one’s own vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers.

In all seriousness, the only real “danger” to the new gardener is over-extension. Being too ambitious can led to making a first garden too big to handle, resulting in a one-time gardening effort. A Gateway Garden is a successful garden that makes a person want to come back for more.

To get the word out, we would like to talk by email with Gateway Gardeners — first-time ever or first-time in a while gardeners — about their experiences.

If you’d be interested in providing some insights into your garden, send us an email at We will send about 10 questions for you to answer via email. Depending on the level of response, we plan to write brief posts about what we hear from local Gateway Gardeners. If you wish, you can use a first name or a gardening handle for the purposes of a post. Just let us know. We’d also love to get a picture or two to share, again with your permission.

Our ultimate goal here is to give new gardeners a chance to reflect, dream, share, and maybe even brag about their gardening stories with others and also to inspire the next wave of Gateway Gardeners to give gardening on some small scale a try. We’re pretty sure you’ll be hooked.

Jim and Janice Leach tend a backyard plot in downtown Ann Arbor, where they try to grow as many vegetables and other plants as possible. For the last five years, they've published gardening tips, photos and stories at their 20 Minute Garden website.



Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

My gardening started 15 years ago when a neighbor gave me fresh cut roses from her garden. Until then I had been content to just have a lawn and some evergreens. But those roses inspired me to start growing my own. Now I have a beautiful cottage garden with low-maintenance rose bushes tucked in with plenty of perennials. It's heaven.