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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!
As I take a step away to rejuvenate at a retreat called “Media That Matters”, I thought I would revisit some old posts that some of you may have missed.
Since there are some brand new gardeners to The Growing Challenge, I thought I’d start with basic gardening.
My Top 12 Easy Vegetables To Grow From Seed
Learn what “in situ” vs. “ex situ” are, and why one might be easier to grow than the other! Plus beautiful photos of my top 12 favorites to grow. AND see a beet as big as my mother’s head – can’t beat that! My Top 12 Easy Vegetables To Grow From Seed
Gardening 101: Seed Starting For Beginners
I go over a few different ways you can start seeds, and try to make it as easy as possible for new gardeners. Let me know if you have any questions via email or comment! Seed Starting For Beginners
Hi everyone – I hope you’re enjoying your spring! The weather is just warm enough to start planting tomatoes here – I’m finally getting excited.
I wanted to cast another net out there to see if there might be a few of you lurking in the shadows… maybe you’re a little bit afraid to comment on a blog, let alone take a challenge. Maybe you’re shy, maybe you’re new to this green thing, or maybe it’s old news and you don’t think you need a challenge?
You have nothing to lose except a few gloriously aching muscles and a little garden knowledge! Come on, don’t be shy – I dare you to try. Just try!
I promise to write about gardening, remind you to garden, get you excited about gardening, and help answer your gardening questions. I also promise to help you get over any fears you have of growing from seed. It’s surprisingly easy!
Put Your Name Down In the Comments… It’s Simple! Pretty Please?
The more people who sign up, the more fun this becomes. A couple years ago we had over 200 people signed up!
And I know there are friends of mine out there who are aching to try these things but haven’t got up the nerve. Now’s your excuse – I’m putting a big cherry on top with a big warm smile and saying “pretty please.” :)
The Easy Guidelines
For each of the four seasons of 2011, grow at least one type of fruit or vegetable that you’ve never grown before, and grow it from seed. (So at least 4 crops from seed this year – one for each season.) If you’ve never grown anything, grow one thing! If you’ve never grown beans or carrots or lettuce or strawberries, try one of those…. And if you don’t have a garden, you can grow in a pot or on a window sill!
Check in here on occasion, and maybe tell someone else about gardening. Checking in here allows us all to learn from one another – I won’t post all the time, but will try to do it once a month at least. Ask questions, share stories, whatever you’re thinking about regarding your garden. And tell others about gardening if and when you can – because it’s a great thing for the world to have more people eating from the land. (Psst, this is one of the fun parts of gardening: becoming a part of a gardening community.)
The folks at BetterWay Home Books have generously offered a giveaway for 2 sets of these 3 fabulous gardening books! That means 2 of you will be the lucky winners of these 3 books. Yay!
I Garden: Urban Style
The photos from this book are completely inspiring, and make me want to grow from every nook and cranny in my apartment. If you’re growing in small spaces, or trying to get the most out of the space you have, or you want to give your garden a fun urban twist, this is the perfect book.
It covers all sorts of things in a very short amount of time: lasagna gardening, companion planting, identifying your soil type, seed starting, creating a terrarium, guerrilla gardening, vermicomposting, and even planting to make your cat happy. A really nice addition to a gardener’s library.
Composting Inside & Out
If you are at all like me, you might be a tad bit afraid of composting. It’s a bit mythical, isn’t it?
This book does a great job of telling it to you in easy to understand terms. It’s also the first composting book I’ve read that is written by a woman, which I really enjoy. It’s written from a very conversational tone, covers indoor and outdoor composting (including worm bins), goes over all the equipment as well as how to test if it’s done. I’m impressed.
Rx From the Garden: 101 Food Cures You Can Easily Grow
I have a dream to one day be able to have this scenario:
Good friends Angela and Alex are over for dinner, and Angela complains that she has had a headache all day.
“Oooh,” I say. “Wait one minute!” I say as I disappear into the garden with some scissors.
Moments later I return with a handful of herbs, heat up some water, and 15 minutes later Angela is headache free and enjoying are home-cooked meal together.
It’s a dream for now, but I’m constantly looking for great tips and books to add to my future remedy garden (I’ve started planting a few herbs already). This book is another piece to that puzzle.
It’s much more of a “how to” gardening book than I expected, given the title – the first half to shows all the different remedies (not just herbs – also vegetables and fruits!), and the second half gets you out in the garden with gardening basics.
Want To Win 3 Great Gardening Books?
Tell me so – leave your name in the comments!
If you want to leave an extra tidbit about your own garden (or future garden), that would make me happy – but it won’t adversely affect your chances of winning.
I’ll draw TWO winners on Sunday, May 15, at 6pm PST.
Both winners will receive all 3 books. Good luck!!
I could make excuses – I have plenty of them. But truthfully? I was a bit lazy. Lazy. Yep, I take full responsibility for my laziness.
So needless to say, I jumped. Matt and I planted all sorts of things, I went to the community garden meeting last weekend, and I’ll be doing a photo essay of some of the local garden patches for this season’s P-Patch Post (if you want to check out my past article, the issues are in PDF form in the right side bar of that link).
As it’s currently planted:
All in all, this has been fabulously fun and renewed our excitement about growing our own food.
In fact, it has been so fun that we took it a GIANT step further…
In June, it looks like we might be moving. A result of March’s focus on money management and April’s focus on gardening, we’re likely going to move to a new apartment that is cheaper and across the street from our garden patch.
Assuming all goes well with our application, we’ll be attempting to grow more intensively in our little garden plot. Something more like this (click to enlarge):
For the United States, the most comprehensive information comes from the National Climatic Data Center. There, you’ll be able to download a PDF showing many cities in your state, and the probability of light frost, heavy frost, or freeze (36, 32, and 28 °F).
Each of these resources will have different dates (as the Cheap Vegetable Gardener points out), plus this is the average last frost date – which means sometimes it happens earlier and sometimes it happens later, and there are always outlying years.
As a result, you’ll have to weigh the risks and decide for yourself. But at least these will give you more information upon which to measure those risks!