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The Growing Challenge 2011: 4 Season Garden!

Join Us!

Several of you asked for it… So here it is – the new Growing Challenge!

This year, I need to work on my four season gardening.  I keep neglecting to plant winter crops early enough in the fall.  As a result, my garden gets put to bed for the winter.  It’s so sad, because greens, root vegetables, and all sorts of other tasties could be feeding us over the winter.

So this year, I’m taking the challenge.  I will have harvestable fruits and/or vegetables every season of the year. I will plan ahead.  I will plant some things from seed.   And I will eat gloriously!

I know there are garden neglecters out there, and new gardeners thinking about doing it for the first time.  So please join me!!

I’ll do my best to remind you all to think about the next season in time to plant, to give you tips for interplanting and succession planting, and to finally write “How To Grow A Four-Season Garden Part 3.” Plus I’ll write “How To Save Vegetable Seeds Part 2,” for those who are more adventurous (it’s not required).


  1. 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. (That is, at least 4 crops from seed this year: one for each season.)  If you’ve never grown anything, well, 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!
  2. Check in here and evangelize 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.  It’s a great thing for the world, to have more people eating from the land!
  3. Sign up in the comments below. Include your Name, your gardening zone*, your location, and your pledge (you can add extra challenges for yourself if you like).  In other words, if I were signing up, I’d write:
    • Melinda, USA zone 8, Seattle, WA, and I’m going to grow a 4 season garden this year!  To give myself an extra challenge, I am also going to try to save seeds from at least one crop in the fall.  Good luck everyone!


  • Grow at least one crop from seed to seed.
  • Evangelize on your blog, or in your local newsletters, PTA meetings, community gatherings, or even just talking with your friends and family.  Inspire at least 3 others to garden!
  • Substitute growing your own for buying produce from a local farm year round.  If you don’t have a garden, this is a great alternative.
  • Others?  Please add them!


This little doodad can go on your blog, or the larger one above can be printed out and put on your fridge as a reminder.  Feel free to tell others about the challenge – the more the merrier!!

To add a button to your blog, right-click on the image and save it to your desktop. Then upload it to your blog as you would any other image, with a link to:

Oh, and once you’ve uploaded the image, just check to make sure the link works and the image loads correctly.

Who’s In?

  1. Barely beautiful girl, Ohio, US – zone 6
  2. Judy, Eastern Iowa, US – zone 5a
  3. Deb G, Bellingham, WA, US – zone 7
  4. Green Bean, Bay Area, US – zone 9/10
  5. Ken Toney, West Virginia, US – zone 6
  6. Angie Harding, Southern Highlands, Australia – zone 3 Aust, zone 9 US
  7. Rue, Perth, Australia – zone 4 Aust, zone 10 US
  8. Lyndsay, London, UK – zone 8
  9. Michael J. Church, US – zone 5b
  10. Andrea, Cape Cod, MA, US – zone 7
  11. Andi, US – zone 4
  12. Rob, WA, US – zone 7
  13. Mark Ruhl, US – zone 6
  14. Kim, Long Island, NY, US – zone 6b
  15. Lynda, Sacramento Valley, CA, US – zone 9
  16. Jennifer
  17. Peggy, Denver, CO, US – zone 5/6
  18. Helen, Catonsville, MD, US – zone 7
  19. Marianna, Greece – zone 9
  20. Kory – zone 5
  21. Eryn – zone 5b
  22. Melissa (Bee Girl), Santa Fe, NM – zone 6-7
  23. Elizabeth, Australia – zone 8-10 US
  24. Christie Mandeville, Washington, DC – zone 7
  25. Grace, Atlanta, GA and Greenwood, SC – zone 8
  26. Heather Adkins, Louisville, KY – zone 6
  27. Catherine, Texas – zone 8
  28. Barb, Pennsylvania – zone 6-7
  29. Jeanine, Lost Coast, CA – zone 9-10
  30. C Robb – zone 7-8
  31. Melinda, Seattle, WA – zone 8
  32. Jody, Eastern Iowa – zone 4-5
  33. Shell, Eagle, PA – zone 5-6
  34. Dorothy, Southern California – zone 9-10
  35. Katherine, SE of Atlanta, GA – zone 7b-8
  36. Carrie, Newark, NJ – zone 7
  37. Brandi & Terri, Mankato MN – zone 4-5
  38. Guru and Giri, Bay Area- zone 8b
  39. Stacy, Indiana – zone 5
  40. Frances, Bermuda – zone 10-11
  41. Jonathan, Yakima, WA – zone 6a

Sign Up Below!

*Find your zone:  U.S., Australia, CanadaEurope, South America, China. For other regions, I don’t have links so give it your best guess.

This is the  fourth annual Growing Challenge. For a peek into past Growing Challenge history, visit the original Growing Challenge.

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50 comments to The Growing Challenge 2011: 4 Season Garden!

  • Great idea! I have a big garden but I have no idea HOW to garden, it’s my goal this year to learn and what better way than to garden all year long! Thanks, l look forward to reading more about this.

  • Oh, I’m in! I’ve been hoping to expand the seasons this year anyway, so this will help keep me on track. I’m in Eastern Iowa, zone 5a (pretty darn close to 4!). Winter will be a definite challenge to me since we currently have over a foot of snow on the ground. But, my hubby got me a small greenhouse for my birthday and I’m hoping to get that set up for some winter stuff next year. This could be fun. The biggest challenge for me, I think, will be to come up with something new for each season. I always try to plant at least one new thing every year so this will be extra fun! Thanks for hosting again.

  • Hey Melinda, is that the correct link above? It takes you to the seed to seed challenge instead of this one. Just curious.

  • Of course I’m in! Zone seven, Bellingham WA, USA: My goal is to grow a four season garden as well. I do the same thing and forget to plant the winter crop when I should…. I’m going to make a goal of planting at least 5 crops for winter. In addition, I want to save seed from a crop I haven’t done yet…some type of green I think. I also want to add more medicinal herbs and dye plants to my garden.

  • I’m in, Melinda. We’re still in the SF Bay Area – zone 9/10. We moved to a 1/2 acre parcel last year with the hope of transforming the back into a large garden with fruit trees. Right now, my goal is to finish planting my bare root berries and trees. After that, I’ll aim to plan things by seed (and save one seed per season) 2-3 seasons this year.

  • I’ll certainly be joining the challenge again. Our farm is in zone 6. I have tried gardening all year with low tunnel hoops. Winter has been a challenge for me in the past due to heavy snowfall, over 200 inches a year lately. This year I’ll try to get a hoop house built for winter greens. I just started seeds for spring greens this past week. New for me this spring is pak choy, extra dwarf. I love Asian greens and can’t wait to try this one.

  • Angie Harding

    Definitely on board. I’m growing in the Southern Highlands in Australia. Three big challenges for me this year: This will be my first winter this far south (and hence cold) and we are renting so I’ll be container growing. Thirdly, the newest addition to our family is just learning to crawl and puts all sorts of things in his mouth. He loves being outside in the garden with Mummy so I’m looking forward to the learning experience and the bonding time together…

  • Rue

    I live in Perth Western Australia. I pledge to grow a four season garden this year. I will plan ahead, grow from seed and try to grow a plant I haven ever grown before each season. I aim to use only heritage, non hybrid and organic seed.

  • I’m going to join in! I thought “oh I don’t know” but I think being part of a group challenge will really inspire.
    Lyndsay, zone 8, London UK. My challenge is to go to the plot (allotment plot on an unfriendly site!) at least one day per week. This is a real problem for me as I feel so sad at the prospect of going, irrationally so as I love it when I get there. I’m ideally a back garden potter-about-er so it’s quite a mind shift to pack my equipment and go to the place.
    Thank you!

  • Michael J. Church

    I’m in USDA zone 5B. I love the challenge, as I’ve been in the same boat as you… Getting distracted and planting too late in the fall for a viable winter crop. I’ll need to do some research on what is good to grow in my area over winter. I’m also interested in looking at indoor planting for that season. If anybody has any tips, that’d be great!

  • andrea

    I’m in! We’re in zone 7, Cape Cod, MA. I’ve been lazily working on my four season garden for a few years. For me that means throwing some row covers over hardy plants (kale, chard, cilantro, etc) and letting them tough out the winter. Helps for getting a jump on greens in the early spring, but really doesn’t cover my fourth season. My goal is to have fresh eating greens next winter (focus on lettuces, spinach, and chard). I’m getting better at remembering to plant fall seeds early enough, but can never get them to grow to a good size for winter harvesting. I’d appreciate some advice for getting these cool season veggies to grow and thrive in the heat of the summer to be ready for winter harvesting.

  • Rob

    Oh you know I’m on board. And like you I have the greatest notions of year round gardening, but never get a winter crop going. Although, I did get some garlic planted in the Community Garden this year. -Rob, zone 7

  • Mark Ruhl

    I am in! I have a garden every year but I had already pledged that I would grow what works for my garden (i.e., residential area with limited space, temperature extremes, varying light conditions, etc.) and do it year round. In addition, I plan on adding a cold frame for the winter months. I am in US Zone 6, which gets both very hot and very cold, so it should be challenging but fun.

  • Kim

    I’m in!! I’m in zone 6b. I already have a gardening plan for all the seasons except for winter so that’s going to be a big challenge for me (we are still covered in snow since the day after Christmas!). Thanks for the motivation!! I’m growing a lot of new veggies this year that I’ve never done before.

  • I’m in! Zone 9 Sacramento Valley, Northern California. Working on more permiculture, seed saving, and aquaponics.

  • Jennifer

    Here I go! I’m pretty new at all this. I just ordered a growing system(lights trays etc) and am going to start my crops in the basement. I think I may have been over ambitious…I ordered about 8 veggie seed packs and two flowers. Uh oh.

    • Hi Jennifer – welcome! We all order more seeds than we could possibly use – and I’m not sure it gets better with more experience! Sort of like food shopping while you’re hungry. ;) Can you let me know where you’re gardening and/or what hardiness zone you’re growing in? Makes it a little more fun to know a bit about where each person is gardening.

  • I’m in — just learned about this over at Deb G’s blog — working on growing the required ingredients for certain summer recipes — like ratatouille, etc. — had already set a goal of growing & freezing 12 lbs. of green beans (is it even possible?) and 12 2-cup packets of varied greens, and growing and storing 12 winter squashes. I figured that we eat them about every other week during the 6 mo. cold season — that makes 12 the magic number! Have a cold-frame for the first year so hope that helps along the winter crop. This is fabulous! Thanks.

  • Helen

    I’m Helen, USA Zone 7, Catonsville, MD. I’m in for the 4 Season Garden challenge! Last year I was still getting tomatoes in November and I was kicking myself for not planting any fall crops, plus I’ve been wanting to try starting more from seed, so we’ll see!

  • I am Marianna,Greece,Zone 9.I am in…more in than you could imagine!!Total support to growing everything on your own.Starting this spring.Good luck to everybody.Seed to seed and a lot of help from sites like yours and people that have done it before me.

  • Count me in. Zone 5, so that means I have snow to contend to, but I have a few tricks in store.

  • [...] Growing Challenge Posted on March 9, 2011 by Kory Background: Check out 1GreenGeneration for details, but I signed up for a challenge whereby I must have at least one active crop during [...]

  • Eryn

    In! Zone 5b.
    I have never even managed to cultivate ONE full season of crop, but I am completely determined. I am in an urban apartment, but have access to a raised bed at my mother’s house, my entire house is filled with seed starting trays, and I have a lovely balcony garden which spills over the sides. I have always wanted to learn the skill of 4 season gardening, and I want to collect my own “Seeds for Survival”. This is probably the best crash course I could ask for! Starting with spring 2011, I will successfully grow healthy, delicious produce for myself and my little girl!

  • [...] if you haven’t signed up for the Growing Challenge this year, I welcome you to join us.  It’s easy and [...]

  • I’m in! Melissa (AKA Bee Girl), Santa Fe, NM, Zone 6-7 (according to Arbor Day). I pledge to grow at least one new plant from seed each season. I am growing kale this spring, will grow peanuts this summer (this can count as my “starting from seed” and my “seed to seed”) and will decide on fall and winter later :-) I am also attempting to grow tomatoes from seeds for the first time this year (though they look pretty sad, as of right now). Regardless of how my tomatoes do from seed, I am challenging myself to save the seeds for the first time from my harvested beauties. This has always intimidated me a bit.
    This will be an exciting push/reminder to get things done! Thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    I’m Elizabeth from Australia. We have planted lettuce, beetroot, tomatoes, and various brassicas, and have fruit trees in pots as wells as lots of herbs. We have started saving seeds but have yet to see if they grow!

  • christie mandeville

    I am in! I am in Washington DC, zone 7. I have back patio raised beds, a plot in a community garden, and am using my front garden for combined flowers/veggie garden (new this year). I have most things this year growing from seed (kale, chard, lettuce, peas, beets, carrots, turnips, bok choy so far). I never quite get a fall/winter garden growing, looking forward to the tips!

  • Ok, I’m in. I do some fairly ambitious container gardening at my suburban Atlanta and I have an overly large big garden on our family property in Greenwood, SC, both Zone 8. The big garden is almost entirely direct seed sown. I must say that when I’m sweating my tushie off hoeing weeds, I fantasize often about putting the garden to bed this winter, but I know I won’t really let that happen. I made up a planting schedule for the whole year ahead of time and my last scheduled planting date is October 22. Local universities can be a great source for recommending planting dates for your specific area. Clemson’s website helped enormously with mine. After that I will do some sort of quick cover crop because that soil really could use it. I can grow some cold weather crops on my patio almost throughout the entire winter, if I’m careful about it and make some cold frame-type units. I’m headed to my South Carolina garden tomorrow night. I’ll be red-faced, sweating and sore by shortly after sunrise on Saturday morning and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I’m in! I live in Louisville, KY, Zone 6. I’ve had an herb garden for the last few years, and I am finally branching into veggies! My challenge probably won’t extend to 4 seasons, but I do want to try cold weather crops this fall if the spring and summer do well. Happy gardening everyone!

  • Welcome, newcomers! I’ve added your names to the list and look forward to hearing about your gardens!

  • Please add me to the list!
    I am in Texas, zone 8.
    This season I am growing soybeans for the first time, as well as a “new to me” variety of squash-Guatemalan Blue Banana.
    Thanks so much for your challenges!

  • Okay, I found the Gardening Challenge. I’m definitely in! My blog is

  • What a great idea. I’m Jeanine. I’m looking forward to some helpful gardening reminders. My husband and I haven’t planted from seed for a handful of years, and we were out of our comfort zone when we did…so we are newbies. Excited newbies at that.
    I live on the Lost Coast of California in zone 9-10. We’re planting peas, beans, basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, delicata squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, watermelon, thyme, chard, fava beans, corn, sunflowers, and scallopini squash this summer. We’re hoping to be able to harvest most of our summer fresh foods from the garden…especially since the market is 40 minutes away. Thanks!

  • This sounds fun! I found your site researching camellia sinensis, got my plant today. I guess that qualifies as one plant I’ve never grown before but I didn’t bring it on from seed. Others that are new to our garden this year we did bring on from seed include, water cress, French sorrel, NZ spinach, artichokes (2 varieties), okra, leeks, winter rye and red mammoth clover (cover crops).

    We save and give away seed from as much as we can though our favorite success last year was stevia.

    I evangelize through my blog as well as through our church community garden, and as part of my efforts to organize a neighborhood food shed.

  • By the way we are in zone 7 trending towards 8. I have a question for you, does using a sunspace or greenhouse in the winter count? We will still grow kale, nettle and turnip greens outdoors but there is very little challenge to that.

  • Welcome newcomers! I’ve added you to the list above.

    C Robb, congratulations on your new tea plant. Enjoy. :)

    Jeanine, I miss your warm zone – we were in Northern CA a few years ago.

    And Barb, good to see you again!

  • Frances

    I’m in Bermuda and the zone is considered 10 or 11.
    I grow food all year long contending with hurricanes, summer droughts and the inevitable semi-tropical insects and pathogens. I teach Grow Biointensive organic gardening and dream of an island of gardeners. I say “yes” to anyone who is interested in a talk on the topic and network with people who are interested in food sovereignty and encouraging locals to grow food. Thank you for your inspirations.

  • Sarah D

    I’m in Vancouver, BC, which I think is zone 8a. I’ve had a summer vegetable garden for the last couple of years but have never managed to grow all year (despite intending to plant every fall). I’m excited for the challenge!

  • Lisa E.

    I’m in! I’d like to join the challenge. I am new to the site, and this is my first year planting completely from seed. I live in zone 6b. I am going to try succession planting! I can’t wait to read through the site and read everyone’s wonderful tips!

  • Count me in!! I am not new to gardening but I am getting back into it after a few years of not having the time to have a garden. I am in zone 9 and loving the sunshine. I plan on growing all the produce my husband and I can eat! I am also going to get rid of my high water consuming lawn and grow food there too! I’m looking forward to the challenge!

  • Stephanie

    I’m in! We’re growing in Southern Oregon zone 6. I have a small raised bed garden with 4 beds and my goal is to start growing edibles year-round. We’re in a small historical town, so the space is not large but we’re cramming all the tomatoes, squash, peas, cucumbers, eggplant and peppers that we can get into those beds! Had success this year with PVC arches and bird netting to keep the wildlife out.

  • It’s zone 4-5 here and the weather has been whacky for gardening this year. This is also a new climate for me, but I’m trying and actually managing to get a little fresh to eat now and then.

  • DaniB

    Zone 6 (zip 01886, tho I don’t believe zone 6!!!) I am on my 3rd year of seed saving (trial and error), and am planning to continue. This year I have at least 3 new crops planted (tomatillo, chilies, lima’s) that I am planning to save seeds from. I only buy new varieties of seeds that are organic/heirloom, so I hope to increase my chances of saving seeds and continuing varieties…

  • HI there. I’m still in it. After a disappointing bi-state experiment in gardening this summer, I’ve checked myself before I wreck myself and am confining my gardening efforts to ONE state. The fact that I chose the state I actually live in this time shows I’ve learned something, at least. My fall garden is coming along nicely right in the middle of my front yard. I am now turning my attention to learning about perennial food producing plants, as that seems like a particularly sensible garden occupation to me.

  • Gus

    I just found your site! I’m in zone 4. Can’t wait to get ‘em germinating! Cannon Falls, Minnesota

  • Jane

    I realise this is for 2011 but I hope you don’t mind if I do it this year!

    Zone 9 UK (Northern Ireland). Just got our first allotment (community garden) and plan to grow many different things throughout the year.

  • Fay

    Zone 8 – Gabriola Island, British Columbia – just found your site – love it. I realize this is a year late but it fits with what I am doing in the garden. Planted for all four seasons and haven’t had to buy any vegetables for a full year. Used seeds I’ve saved for most of the summer and fall crops but not the winter ones. That will be my challenge for next year.

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