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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!

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The Growing Challenge: How Is Your Garden Doing?

The Growing Challenge The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed

 

Check In

 

Welcome!  Come check in, and tell us all how your garden is growing!

 

Since it is a long holiday weekend here in the US, I will leave this post up for the rest of the weekend – please check in when you have time and need or want a bit of a break from the festivities.  My sister will be visiting, so we’ll have a lot of fun catching up this weekend.  And those of you not celebrating this weekend, please make sure to post a long, healthy garden update!  ; )


If you missed it, here was our last check-in (my apologies that it has been so long).  Since we are all over the world, some of us are saving seeds at the end of the season, while others are still planting their first seeds of the year.  We are quite an interesting group of gardeners.


Who Are We?


So far there are 152 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and we’ve reached 200 participants in The Original Growing Challenge.

 

Together we’re an awesome support network for learning new things! Welcome, everyone who has recently joined. And if you haven’t already, please join us in taking a new step toward sustainability by growing your own food from seed to seed.  It’s not too late to join.


New participants of The Growing Challenge From Seed to Seed are in orange at the bottom of the following list, and participants of The Original Growing Challenge are listed here.  Let’s visit, support, and learn from one another – visit each others’ blogs and ask questions!  Rob wrote a great post about what he’s already learned this year, if you’re looking for a place to start.


  1. Jules, The Garden of Plenty, Melbourne, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  2. Jena, Married To The Farm, Caro, Michigan – zone 5
  3. Amanda, You Reap What You Sow, South Central Pennsylvania – zone 6-7
  4. Jen, Toward Arcadia, Michigan – zone 5-6
  5. Deb G, Bee Creative, Pacific Northwest – zone 7
  6. Greeen Sheeep, Wisconsin – zone 4
  7. Kory, Kicking And Screaming, Central New York – zone 5
  8. Abbie, Farmer’s Daughter, Connecticut – zone 6-7
  9. Margaret, Margaret’s Ramblings, Nottingham, England – zone 8
  10. SusanB, Southern New Jersey – zone 6b-7
  11. Karin, Fleecenik Farm, Central Maine – zone 4
  12. Kelsie, Hobbit’s Feat, Kentucky – zone 7
  13. Monica, Northern Ohio – zone 5-6
  14. Jen, Aaron-N-Jen: Living Life Simply, Iowa – zone 5
  15. Di, Path To Greendom & World of Yardcraft, Southern California – zone 10
  16. TomB, My Simple Home Garden, Central Massachusetts – zone 5b
  17. Judy, My Freezer Is Full, East Central Iowa – zone 5a
  18. Julie, Towards Sustainability, Newcastle, NSW, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  19. Dina, Hip Chick Chronicles, Portland, Oregon – zone 8-9
  20. Alana
  21. Milkweed, Milkweed Diaries, Swannanoa Valley, North Carolina – zone 6-7
  22. Melanie J, Ember’s Lighthouse, Jacksonville, Florida – zone 9a
  23. Risa B, Stony Run Farm, Western Oregon – zone 8
  24. Maureen, Fotos By Meg & Suburban Sharecroppers, Central Valley, California – zone 9
  25. Amy Crump, Crump Family Blog, Chapel Hill, North Carolina – zone 8
  26. Rob, Rob’s World, Burien, Washington – zone 8
  27. The Rachface, This Evolutionary Life, Virginia – zone 8
  28. Janice, Going Off Da Grid Janice, California – zone 8-9
  29. Green Bean, Green Phone Booth, Bay Area, California – zone 9
  30. Daphne, Daphne’s Dandelions, Winchester, Massachusetts – zone 6
  31. Briel
  32. Jimmy Cracked-Corn – zone 5
  33. Lisa, Domestic Accident, Southern Coastal Maine – zone 5-6
  34. Hannah, The Purloined Letter, Takoma Park, Maryland – zone 7
  35. Suzan, Scrub Oak, Rocky Mountain southern foothills (6,700 feet) – zone 4
  36. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener
  37. Onemotherslove, What’s He Up To Now?, North Central Texas – zone 8
  38. Red Icculus, Red-Icculus.com – zone 5
  39. Jocele, Knitting On Call, Idaho – zone 6-7
  40. Matt, Florida – zone 9
  41. Sara, Mama Craft, Canada – zone 3a
  42. Tyra, Tyra’s Garden & The Greenhouse In Tyra’s Garden, Vaxholm, Sweden – zone 6
  43. Inadvertentfarmer, The Inadvertent Farmer, Western Washington – zone 8
  44. Lauren
  45. Melody, Merrie Melody, Utah – zone 6
  46. Melinda, One Green Generation, Seattle, Washington – zone 8
  47. Michelle, Alpaca, Chook, Garden, Travel and…., Hobart, Tasmania, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  48. Laurel, Nefaeria, North Bay, Ontario, Canada – zone 4a
  49. Mary, Freedom Gardens Journal: Mecar, Crete, Illinois – zone 5
  50. Susan, How Green In My Garden, Southern California – zone 8b
  51. Mary, Cat’s Fiber Adventures, Oregon – zone 8-9
  52. WIlla, Plants And Animals & Yumminess Ensues, S. Central Pennsylvania – zone 6A
  53. Jenn, Attempted Simple Life, Osgoode, Ontario, Canada – zone 5a
  54. Shibaguyz, Here we go! Life with the Shibaguyz…, Seattle, WA – zone 8
  55. Tina, Bee Content Ranch, California
  56. Cassandra, The Urban Trowel, Southeastern BC, Canada – zone 5
  57. Nico, Self Sufficient Life, North Germany – zone 8
  58. Sadge, Firesign Farm, Carson City, Nevada – zone 6
  59. Leanne, At The Good Life, New Zealand – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  60. Jenny, Studio J
  61. Sarah S, Life At The Ranch, Northern California – zone 9
  62. Sarah Z, Ward Road Garden, Northern California – zone 9
  63. Christy O, Farm Dreams, Georgia – zone 7
  64. Jason L, Vegetable Garden Planner
  65. Annette, Ward House, Hot Springs, Virginia – zone 6
  66. Paige, Clausen In The Hausen & Out In The Garden, Saint Peters, Missouri – zone 5
  67. Rhonda, FarmHouse Style, North Georgia Mountains – zone 7b
  68. Kelly, Taurus Rising, Adelaide Hills, Australia- zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  69. Laura, Mas Du Diable, France – zone 9
  70. Christina, A Thinking Stomach, Altadena, California – zone 9b
  71. Latigoliz, Cowgirl Up, Enumclaw, Washington – zone 8
  72. Lisa, Natural Gardening, Upstate South Carolina – zone 8
  73. Chris, Chattagarden, Chattanooga, Tennessee – zone 7
  74. Mary B, Tampa, Florida – zone 10
  75. Kathy, Birmingham, Alabama – zone 7-8
  76. Kathy and Skippy, Skippy’s Vegetable Garden – zone 6
  77. Katrien, MamaStories, suburb of Boston, Massachusetts – zone 6-7
  78. Maggie, Mama What The
  79. Christa, Lazy Toad Farm, New Hampshire – zone 4-5
  80. Emma, The Berry Patch, Sydney, Australia – zone 10 (Aust. 4)
  81. Jenny, Seeded, Toledo, Ohio – zone 6
  82. Melissa, Rabbit Hill Farm, rural North Carolina – zone 7-8
  83. Jessie Earth Momma, Pacific Northwest – zone 7b
  84. Catherine, Love Living Simply, Texas – zone 8
  85. Ian, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada – zone 6b
  86. Christy, Growing Human, Coastal Virginia – zone 7b
  87. Amanda, A Homegrown Life, California – zone 9
  88. Robbie, Going Green Mama – zone 5
  89. Pamela, Suburbancrunch – zone 6-7
  90. Beth, Potager Gardening, Columbus, OH – zone 5
  91. Tammy (+ her 6 cherubs!), Simply Beck’s Bounty, SE Tennessee – zone 7
  92. Ottawa Gardener, The Veggie Patch Re-Imagined, Ottawa, Canada – zone 5a
  93. Laura Chandler
  94. Lisa Cohen, Life Is In The Details
  95. Darlene, Stover Lane, Kansas – zone 5-6
  96. Sherri M, Sherri’s Mad Blabber Blog, Erin, Ontario, Canada – zone 5a
  97. Chad M, Minnesota – zone 4
  98. Shelby, Eat Local Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM – zone 5-6
  99. Linda, Garden Girl, Chicago, Illinois – zone 5b
  100. Stacy, Canada – zone 5b
  101. Joan, Young Girl, Old Life, Northeastern Missouri – zone 5
  102. Kim & Victoria, Living And Gardening In Idaho, Boise, Idaho – zone 5-6
  103. Sinclair, Nature With Me, Oregon – zone 7
  104. Jenette, Sacramento, CA – zone 9b
  105. Jennifer, Jen & The Bean Stalk, North Idaho – zone 4-5
  106. Laurie and Tim, Golden Gaits Garden, Colorado – zone 5b-6
  107. Phoebe, Cents To Get Debt Free, Southern Missouri – zone 5-6
  108. Megan, Raised On Sunshine, Dallas, TX – zone 8a
  109. Crunchy Chicken, Seattle, WA – zone 8
  110. Jenn, Jenn’s Coop, central valley, CA – zone 10
  111. Veriance, Michigan – zone 5
  112. Sande, Sow This, Sew That, Southeastern Michigan – zone 5
  113. Jenn, Newlyweds!, Texas – zone 9
  114. Carri, Home Of The Petersonclan, South Central Kentucky – zone 6
  115. Amber, Cloud9 Design, Texas – zone 9
  116. Jo, Little House By The Railway Line, England – zone 8
  117. Andrea, Colorado – zone 5-6
  118. Kendra, A Sonoma Garden – zone 9
  119. Stuff, Proactive Bridesmaid – zone 7
  120. LiBBy BuTTons, US – zone 6
  121. Healing Green, Gaylordsville, Connecticut – zone 6
  122. Carpe Diem, British Columbia, Canada – zone 3
  123. Trish, The Promised Land – zone 8-9
  124. Diana, Backyard & Community Gardening, Northern Colorado – zone 4-5
  125. Tricia, Little Eco Footprints, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  126. Juliette, Abielle A Miel, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – zone 8-9
  127. Ciera, Ciera’s Garden, Pittsburg, PA – zone 6a
  128. Kara, Garden of Eatin’, Canada – zone 4
  129. Vickie, In The Acorn, Winnetka, CA – zone 9
  130. Paula, Buckets Of Gardening Ideas, Idaho – zone 4-5
  131. Jennifer, Seeds In The City, Bay Area, CA – zone 9-10
  132. Anne-Marie, Cheeseslave, Los Angeles, CA – zone 10-11
  133. Shea, The Lion And The Little Red Birds, Australia – zone 4
  134. Vermontmommy, McKinney, Texas – zone 8
  135. Christina, Closer To Fine, Bay Area, CA – zone 9-10
  136. Transition Housewife, Suffolk, UK – zone 8
  137. Lori, Life In Webster Groves, St. Louis, MO – zone 6a
  138. Nature Deva, Colorado – zone 5-6
  139. Bettina, Unterm Walnussbaum, Alsheim, Germany – zone 7
  140. Kelly, Simply Dawson, Columbia, SC – zone 8
  141. Berryvine Farm, NE Georgia – zone 7b-8
  142. Plant Lady, Trillium Grove Farm, Southern Ontario, Canada – zone 5b
  143. Saara, Garden Journal, North Cascades, WA – zone 6b
  144. Melissa, Melissa’s Ramblings, Kansas – zone 6
  145. Cheap Like Me, Denver, CO – zone 6
  146. Maybelline, Maybelline’s Garden, Bakersfield, CA – zone 9
  147. Heather, Heather’s Homemaking, Massachusetts – zone 5-6
  148. Aimee, Project GROrganic, Ohio – zone 6a
  149. The Cottage Comtesse, River Rock Cottage, California mountains – zone 3
  150. Rodney, Rodney Harrington’s Blog, Warren, OH – zone 5
  151. Xan, Mahlzeit, Chicago, IL – zone 5
  152. Jude S, Greenhouse (Jude, where are you gardening, and in what zone?)


I’ve added everyone’s name, blog, location, and hardiness zone. Please check your info to make sure I have it right as I had to guess on some of them.  And if I’ve left you off, be sure to tell me.  And again, The Original Growing Challenge participants are all listed here.


Chat Away!

 

Take Special Care Of Your Animals On July 4th

Melinda, Matt, & Grace (16 years old) - 2005

 

For those of us in the US, July 4th can be incredibly festive:  parties, music, and fireworks throughout the neighborhood.  Some animals, no matter how tempered they normally are, can become frightened from the sounds and activity, combined with the loneliness.


Over the years, I have rescued several dogs who were scared out of their minds and running aimlessly through the neighborhoods on July 4th.  Fortunately each time, I was able to connect the pooches with their families within a couple of days.  The stories varied:  from families who were out of town and someone was house sitting (“they just flew by me when I walked into the house”), to families who’d left their dog in the yard only to find they’d dug a hole under the fence (“he’s been left in the yard for years and never dug a hole once”), to families who were just gone for a few moments and the dog jumped out of a window – or in one case, the dog jumped through a closed window.


Another family was afraid to leave their dog at home, so they took it with them to the fireworks display.  It took only seconds for the dog to chew through it’s leash and tear away through the crowd.  They think it had tried to run home (which was 4 miles away).


Cats can get scared, too.  As can horses, chickens, and any other animals.  Whether you live in the US or in another part of the world, large festivities can be hard on all pets. So please be careful and think through ways to calm your pets and make them safe.


I don’t mean to scare anyone, I just want to help protect you and your animals.  Our pets are a part of our family, as I think they are for most of us here – and for us, family safety and well-being are important aspects of living sustainably. 


The Humane Society suggests several ways to help keep your pets safe:


  1. Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.

  2. Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects—even death—in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but they do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.

  3. Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.  [Also makes sure to close the windows and lower the blinds.  You may even consider putting your pet in his or her crate, if it's something that makes them feel safe.]

  4. If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.

  5. Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.

  6. Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at-large should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners. [Also consider getting your pet microchipped, in case the tag or collar falls off.]

  7. If you plan to go away for the holiday weekend, please read Caring for Pets When You Travel.


And then, enjoy your holiday!!

 

The above photo is Matt and I with Grace in 2005 – Grace lived a happy and full life of 16 years.