Green, frugal, sustainable, simple, healthy, happy... No matter what we each call it, we come together here to support and learn from each other.

We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!


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!

Join Us Here, Too

Buy Sustainably

Join us in saving our family budgets and helping our local communities thrive.

10,000 Steps

With numerous environmental, physical and emotional benefits, what are you waiting for? Let's start walking!

Green Your Insides

For your family and our planet, start greening your own home.

Great Reading

The Growing Challenge: How Did It Go? Will You Plant Seeds Again Next Year?

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


Check In


Welcome, everyone.  Final tally for the Growing Challenge: 158 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and 202 participants in The Original Growing Challenge.  That’s 360 total – pretty cool!


I will continue to leave these challenges open, so anyone can join either challenge at any time.  I’m thinking up a new one for 2010 – please leave a note in the comments if you have an idea.


Participants of The Growing Challenge From Seed to Seed are listed below, and participants of The Original Growing Challenge are listed here.  Thanks everyone for joining together and supporting one another as we each learn and grow!

  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, – 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
  153. Kelly, Patio Farmers Guild, Oregon – zone 8a
  154. Wendy, Greenish Thumb, Maryland – zone 6
  155. Maria Hitt, Morgan Creek Chronicles, North Carolina – zone  7
  156. Lucky66, 240
  157. Annette, Sustainable Eats, Seattle, WA – zone 8
  158. Dave Titchenl

I’ve added everyone’s name, blog, location, and hardiness zone. And again, The Original Growing Challenge participants are all listed here.


In case you’re curious how I did with the challenge, I wrote about one of my seed to seed experiences yesterday:  Amaranth, The Wonder Crop. (I still have to work on the seed saving part, but I’m still hopeful!)

Chat Away


Please let me know how it went, everyone, so I can try to make this a better experience in the future!


How did it go?   Did you keep up with the challenge?


I’m thinking next year there will be a monthly check-in, since I’m clearly not keeping up with the updates more often, and we all need time to garden!!  I’ll try to set up a way for bloggers to more easily include their blog posts as well. How does that sound?  Any other suggestions, thoughts, ideas for what to do next year?


And most importantly, will you plant seeds again next year?!


Similar Posts:

16 comments to The Growing Challenge: How Did It Go? Will You Plant Seeds Again Next Year?

  • Despite a few hiccups, my organic soil performed great. I have tons of peas and bhut jolokia seed for next year.

  • This challenge definitely got me actually doing what I’d been learning about before. This year we saved a bunch of seeds–from corn for grinding to radishes. I’d never even seen the fruit of a radish plant before. Very cool. Thanks.

  • Rob

    I got tomato seeds saved- Window Box Romas,Tumbler and Robin’s Egg, worked particularily well for me, so I am hoping their offspring do well next year. Other seeds saved- Acorn squash, summer squash, sugar pie pumpkin abd banana squash- also saved a variety of ghourd seeds. This year I learned to not fear the Heirloom tomatoes, growin a number of them not from seed, but as plant starts. For next year I am excited to try amaranth (your influence there Melinda!) I also had onE prolific hungarian wax pepper plant- HAve been enjoying pickled peppers (this one plant gave me 5 quarts of pickled peppers- nice peppers with just a hint of heat) and was producing peppers until the end of october! Yes I saved some seeds from those peppers!

  • My last post on the subject was here:

    I had both successes and failures. The failures were due to our over abundance of rain this June. I tried collecting pea seeds, but they just rotted. I even tried picking them a bit too early and letting them dry inside, but they just molded over. The winter squash was another failure. They didn’t grow well this year and I only got a couple of squash from six plants, much less an isolated blossom.

    I did have many successes. I cage isolated an Early Jalapeno and saved the seed from that. Fall was pretty dry so saving bean seeds was easy. I also saved seed from several varieties of tomato, and lettuce, dill, cilantro, pineapple tomatillo, marigold, tithonia, and sunflower.

  • I have seed saved from all my beans, the soup peas, four types of tomatoes, garlic and some sunflowers. The squash didn’t do so well. Might have a few seeds that are viable, but a lot of them seem like there is nothing but hull. Very excited to plant everything I saved and see what happens.

    My most exciting discovery for the year was that I can grow peppers! I cheated a bit in that I had starts that my mother started in her greenhouse, but I was able to get them to bloom and fruit on my porch. I don’t think this summer was exceptionally hot either.

    I was very excited by how well my shelling beans did. I’ve grown them before, but not to the point of drying them for storage. It does take a lot of plants to get a good crop, but the plant doesn’t take much space so I’m going to try tucking them in various spots.

    My biggest challenge for next year is to get more organized about winter gardening. Just didn’t get there this year. Best thing I’ve done for the garden is to get the chickens. All that lovely compost….

  • For the second year in a row, I am saving seeds from the hyacinth bean vine (had so many seedlings last spring that I had a hard time finding new homes for them!). Also herbs: dill, marjoram and basil. And monarda and some seeds that are either from a moon vine or a morning glory (impossible to tell at the end of the season, as the two plants were growing on a trellis together). Someone more experienced than I am might see distinctions; I will find out next spring!

  • Stacy

    I did way better than expected! I was able to save seeds from my: tomatoes, peppers, peas, bok choi squash, and beans. The bean seeds look completely different from the ones I planted though. So I don’t know if they are hybrid or cross pollinated with some other beans? We’ll find out next summer!!

    Great challenge!

  • Though we had a bit of trouble with the “community” part of our neighborhood community garden (a valuable learning experience of its own), the garden did produce well. Some things, like peppers, squash, and tomatoes even survived the extreme heat of summer with no supplemental waterings (an issue with “community” caused this) and began producing again once we had some cooler days and much needed rainfall. Our family moved at the end of September, but the garden was still growing well at that point. Our group gave away over 100 bags of organically grown produce to those in our neighborhood, and had plenty of veggies for ourselves. I didn’t save as many seeds as I’d hoped; though I did save a few heirloom tomato, cantaloupe, and gourd seeds. All-in-all, it was a good learning experience; and something my family will definitely do in the future. We are currently looking for a suitable place to plant a community garden in our new home.
    Thanks for the challenge!

  • Thanks for including me here! We sort of lost our enthusiasm for active gardening because we love the produce we get from our CSA share, and this year was atypical weather for our area (cool and wet), which threw us and the garden off.

    But we did grow tomatoes (several kinds), cucumbers, tomatillos (TONS of them), chiles, beets, kale, strawberries and cherries, and probably some other stragglers I’m forgetting. We are focusing more on perennial or self-seeding plants, because we are lazy. We didn’t intentionally save seeds, but I know, for instance, that next year we will have lettuce, parsley and dill volunteering, and most likely a tomato and maybe a cucumber too. And possibly tomatillos, if those self-seed. We’ll continue to have strawberries and cherries, and hopefully will have apricots and an apple or two next year. This year we also planted a pear tree and hops for homebrewed beer.

    We just finished off our last butternut squash grown in 2008, so we will grow those again next year (and possibly even sell some?). We had enough cucumbers for a couple of good batches of pickles. And I just pulled out the last of our tomatoes that have been ripening in a shoebox in the basement since the hard freezes started in September.

  • We had some great successes and utter failures when it came to seed starting, but it still felt worth it. A move cut our garden season really short, but I’m excited to try to keep up with the challenge next year. Reading the experiences of others has been really helpful in determining what changes we need to make next year.

  • I’d saved back some seeds (mostly the easy ones like beans). I’m definitely for it next year — and the seed catalogs I’m already getting are SO tempting!

  • Hi everybody. We’ve been gardening for several years now and would love to participate in the growing challenge. My wife and I have a farm and bed & breakfast in WV, zone 5. We’ve been raising animals for 3 years now, and growing a garden for 2 years. We grow mostly from seed and save as much as we can. Our goal next year is to extend our growing season with hoop houses and possibly a green house. We want to become mostly self-sufficient, eating only what we raise, grow, hunt or barter with locally. You can read about our challenge at

  • We kept up, but did not save seed (commercial Monsanto farm close by). Since then we have moved — and are getting ready to set up to start the Heirloom seeds we have ordered for 2010. And in 2010, we will definitely save seeds.

    Looking forward to the new challenge.

  • I’ve finally taken stock of what seeds I saved last year and posted my list of those saved seeds I plan to plant this year. Here’s the update (from saved seed is indicated with an asterisk):

    I saved a whole lot more than I thought I would. Seventeen varieties in all! I started a few annual flowers from saved seed just today. Can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  • Jenette

    I think we did well last year. My 2nd year of gardening and first year of seed saving. We saved seeds from sugar pie pumpkin, Winter Squash, bell peppers (we will see how this goes as I haven’t been able to get any to sprout from seed yet), pea seeds (which are now growing in the garden), and gourd seeds.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I saved a whole bunch of seeds last year. Several tomato varieties, several melons, cucumbers, sweet corn, lettuce, peppers, chives, radish. It was an excellent learning experience and I am already growing several of them outside this year. There is no way to learn something like actually doing it.

Leave a Reply to Chris




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>