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Don’t pull out those tomatoes yet! And more tips to make the most of your fall garden.

Luke Marion sits in front of a seed sorting machine and box of seed packets giving the thumbs up and wearing headphones
Courtesy of Luke Marion
"As I started to talk to more people...I realized there was a lot of gaps with seeds, with fertilizers, garden tools. There just was not really a place where exclusively gardeners could go to get the things that I was talking about in my videos," said Luke Marion. "And so I decided to kind of close that loop by creating a brand around it."

Has your summer garden been holding on longer than usual? Did you go to pull out your pepper plants only to find them filled with a second crop? Have you been enjoying vine ripe tomatoes well into October? You are not alone.

Michigan’s hot summer, and unusually warm fall temperatures have meant many people’s gardens are looking pretty different than they usually do this time of year.

“I've always said that a garden is not over until it is over. You don't pull your tomato plants out if they're still alive and they're still producing fruits. Leave them in. I never pull my garden out until the garden dies from a frost,” Luke Marion said.

A woman in shorts and an off the shoulder shirt picks lettuces from a raised garden bed
Courtesy of Luke Marion
With the help of his wife Sindy (pictured here), Luke Marion has taken the MIGardener YouTube channel and turned it into a brand. A few years ago, they took that brand into the real world with a brick-and-mortar store in Port Huron.

Marion runs the popular MIGardenerYouTube channel, which has more than 900,000 subscribers. Marion told us as long as the daytime temperatures are in the upper 40s to low 50s, summer crops like peppers, and of course tomatoes, can still produce food for you late into the fall.

“And if I get one or two more tomatoes, that's one or two more tomato sandwiches, I get to enjoy it,” he added.

Marion said fall is actually his favorite time to garden, especially in Michigan. And he’s made it part of his mission to get other gardeners on board with growing food into the cooler months.

“I might sound crazy to say that, [they] might be fighting words for those that really like tomatoes and peppers,” Marion joked. “But as someone that really likes things like leafy greens, they're difficult to grow in spring. Radishes, lettuce, spinach, things like that need cooler temperatures.”

Marion started the MIGardener (pronounced M.I. Gardener) YouTube channel as a high school student in 2011. None of his friends were really into gardening at the time, and he was looking to connect with other like-minded plant people. When he first started uploading videos, Marion said he just shared what he was growing in his garden at the time. Then, he slowly started to attract an audience of fellow gardening enthusiasts.

The interior of the MIGardener store that includes a wall of seeds, chairs, a rack of clothes, and a table with books and other various items
Courtesy of Luke Marion
"So many people just don't really know where real food comes from, and the story that it that it has and the journey that food takes to get from a seed to your plate," said Luke Marion, creator of the MIGardener brand, which includes a brick-and-mortar store in Port Huron.

“And then it turned into, 'How do you grow that? How were you growing that so well? Can you show us, you know, when you're planting, why you're planting,' you know, the what, and why, and how of gardening? And that's really what I transitioned into.”

Since then, Marion has expanded the MI Gardener brand to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and now a brick-and-mortar store in Port Huron, with the help of his wife Sindy. As he’s expanded the platforms MIGardener is on, Marion said he has had to learn how to strike a balance between work and time with his wife and daughter. But in the end, he says being able to spread the joy of gardening to new audiences has been incredibly rewarding.

“Every day I get to do what I love to do, which is to encourage people to grow a garden, teach them how to do it, and in the process, I'm interacting and hearing their stories. I'm actually learning about them as well," he explained. "And that's like I said, at the core, that's been always my mission is to create those connections and foster that community.”

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April Van Buren is a producer for <i>Stateside</i>. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
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