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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: Has This Been Helpful?

The Growing Challenge


There are currently 173 people who are a part of this challenge. Please join us any time! Just head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all about.


As I walk with Kate through many local p-patches here, I’ve been wondering what you think of the Growing Challenge.  Has it been helpful for you to have this community of gardeners pushing you to plant from seed?  Will you continue on to grow more new plants from seed?  Are you saving your seeds for next year?  And it’s ok to be honest.  I know some of you had a terrible time with some of your new seeds and will never plant those crops again.  Did you learn from that experience, or was it just a dud?


Most of you in the Northern Hemisphere are trying winter gardening of some scope – how is it going?  Aussies and New Zealanders, feel free to brag about your wonderful spring gardens!  And as always, feel free to ask questions of other gardeners, discuss food gardening, and link to your recent gardening posts here.


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14 comments to THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Has This Been Helpful?

  • I don’t know that the challenge itself encouraged me to try something new-I would have done it anyway. I’ve grown veggies (and flowers) from seed since childhood. If I’m working on the grow what you will eat premise, there isn’t much left for me to try. :) Just grains. Not sure about the logistics of that though. It was fun to take part in the challenge and it is great reading about what others are doing!

    After watching the video that katecontinued recommended (thank you!), I did realize there is a direction I can go. I am more determined to save my own seed. I’ve always saved beans, cosmos, marigolds, poppies, calandula, pansies, and garlic. This year I’m saving peas for the first time. I also have a tomato I’m going to try. Next year I want to expand from that. So I do have a new challenge, to try saving seed from things I haven’t before.

    Here’s an update on the garden: My sweet potato cuttings did root. I’m going to plant them and see if I can grow it as a “house plant” this winter. My grapes did ripen before the weather turned. There were plenty to eat, share and to try drying. The spinach I’m growing in the cold frame is doing great, as is the swiss chard (not in cold frame). The kale and cauliflower are getting pretty hard hit by slugs and snails. I picked a handful of fall raspberries yesterday. The garlic is in the ground and off to a good start.

  • Rob

    How’s the winter gardening going? Slow. I prefer instant gratification. My kale has germinated, as has the broccolli I am trying again,turnips as well. My garlic is doing great And my lettuce is still growing- aint bolted yet. My chard is looking good too

  • I found it helpful (even though I wasn’t very diligent about the blogging component) to think about how much we were growing, and how well it was doing. It gave me a focus, even though I’d done a fair bit of gardening before, and I am more inclined to try seeds now. Seedlings have always been so easy, and I’ve been behind in planning.

    I did still end up buying some seedlings, so many of my home sprouted lot got eaten by slugs, but it was worthwhile starting with seeds anyway.

    We’re eating broad beans (fava beans) raw for entree every night in the garden now. I haven’t actually cooked any of them, they don’t make it inside.

  • Hi Melinda,

    The challenge has helped me stay focused on the planning and actually getting things done side of things.

    Personally I have pretty much always grown from seed so that concept didn’t intimidate me… but just writing a post each week made sure I have been generally more organised and improved my record keeping somewhat.

    As such for me the challenge was more about doing and organisation rather than seeds… but support improving in those areas is helping things keep moving along.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

  • Melinda,

    I enjoyed the challenge, it came just as I was starting my new garden, and helped me think about things to plant. It was also motivation to keep blogging about it all.

    My garden is going well, My sole apricot is growing, it looks like my tamarillo will flower, I have been eating paw paw – delicious with yoghurt and honey. Snow peas and lettuces, broad beans and brocolli have all been growing and now am planting tomatoes, beans, basil, eggplants, white and orange sweet potatoes, one half of my banana circle is in, the almond tree with some lebanese cress shared from a seedsaver friend (she gave me the banana’s too, and some borage seed which I need to plant out!

    I’m loving seeing it come together, sticking poppies amongst the veges, finding surprises of sweet alyssum and violas popping up all by themselves, sharing plants with neighbours and friends, and feeding the weeds to the chooks who give me eggs and lovely rich soil in return.
    Hannah

  • i want to join in..no idea how to do that but

    i think it would challenge me…this is my first year growing from seed at all and growing a garden capable of feeding my family…its an adventure

    we r currently trying to grow potatos out of garbage cans…first go at potatos at all, but we have currently moved and my garden beds r not ready yet..they r still coming so we have two cans with potatos in the bottom and some more to go in a bed when its ready in a few weeks time.

    snow pea and beans r just going in the regular garden beds and the corn may just end up there too for the moment.

  • The challenge has been helpful. It encouraged me to grow more from seed (and even save some of my own seeds) – gave me confidence that I sorely needed when it comes to garden.

  • I had been planning on starting many of my plants from seeds and it was great to see all of the updates from other people. Definitely learned a lot from doing my first time garden, looking forward to applying what I learned next year!

  • monica

    Just this posting alone, I have lots more information about things to try.
    We have all sorts of potato–baking and sweet–growing in pots in the spare bedroom. I think if this method is going to work, we will have enough room to grow corn in the outside garden for next year.

    I have lots of hope for the future. We are going to be able to stay in our house a bit longer until I can find a good job. We might not have lots of money, but we are going to have lots of food.

    I wish that I had pictures. My husband built a box out of plywood lined with plastic pond liner. I have lots of pots that we saved from the landscaping that we planted and many of the Dollar Stores have all of the garden stuff on clearance. We save the water that we ordinarily waste “waiting for the warm water” for the plants.

    I am so grateful to have a resource to turn to for advice. I am truly inspired and want to write a book about my experiences.

    THANK YOU!! FOR YOUR WEBSITE!!

  • Rob

    If I may add- had it not been for the challenge I would’ve planted the same boring things I plant every year- and this challenge has challenged me to try some new growing techniques, like a potato condo ala shiba guyz, and some new varieties of old favorites!

  • Hi Melinda,
    I’ve found your challenge to be a fabulous incentive to a) get planting and b) to be much more organised about what is going into my vegie garden (and when). I am loving it :-) It has also enabled me to get over my (irrational) fear of sowing seeds and having them not germinate; now I can’t imagine buying seedlings again! So thank you :-)

    Cheers, Julie

  • Definitely helped me! I got to know my apartment environment better, the benefits and limits of east/west exposure, that tomatoes do need pollinators or hand-pollination to flower, that catnip sure enough attracts cats (I knew that, but got confirmation when a furry little b*stard knocked the catnip right off the porch), and that herbs need more care than I gave them. I look forward to trying some winter herbs and studying hard to plant more. I’m in this blasted apartment for at least one more year, and am determined to grow my own food during that time!

  • Deb G, Ah! What a great idea. I’ve been thinking about a Seed Saving Challenge… I wanted to do it in the late summer, but I had too much going on. So I’ll probably start one in late winter, so that people can start thinking about what they will plant so that they can save seeds. It’s a different way of thinking about planting, when you have to worry about some things cross-pollinating! And truthfully, I need the push myself – I have only saved the easy stuff, like beans, poppies, and potatoes.

    So great that the sweet potato cuttings rooted! How exciting. I’m glad your grapes ripened – though I was looking forward to hearing about the juicing of unripe grapes… : )

    Rob, Yes, I see you’re a summer guy: you want things to grow fast and produce quickly! The fall and winter growing is a little different, eh? But still, it’s so nice to eat fresh veggies in the dead of winter.

    Kate, LOL – yes, lots of people weren’t so good about the blogging component – including me! But that’s ok, the most important thing was the growing itself!

    I’m so glad that you’re more likely to plant seeds!

    Belinda, It helped me get things done, too. Very interesting take on it – that it helped with the organization side. I’m glad! : )

    Hannah, Oh boy you just love making me jealous of your amazing fruit trees, don’t you?! Sigh. Your garden sounds absolutely lovely!!

    Jacqui, Sorry I didn’t comment, but I’ve added you to The Growing Challenge page – so consider yourself joined!! Welcome.

    GB, Good to hear. :)

    Out of the Weeds, Excellent!

    Monica, I wish you had pictures, too – if you ever do, let me know and I will post them here in a Growing Challenge post.

    And you are so welcome – I am glad I can help!!

    Rob, Hooray! Those are good things!

    Julie, LOL, I also had an irrational fear about it before I planted from seed last year. That’s why I thought I’d create the challenge – to give us all a chance to break down our irrational fears! I’m glad it worked! : )

    Melanie J., Uh oh – I’ve got catnip out on the fire escape! Hmmm… guess they’d have to climb pretty far, though, to get to it. I’m so glad to hear you’re still growing at your apartment! When we started this, your apartment garden seemed so different from where I was (with 1/2 an acre) – and yet now here I am, in an apartment too!!

    I’m glad it helped!

  • coffee online store

    Thanks! its’ a good idea, I have been eating paw paw – delicious with yoghurt and honey. Snow peas and lettuces, broad beans and brocolli have all been growing and now am planting tomatoes, beans, basil, eggplants, white and orange sweet potatoes, one half of my banana circle is in, the almond tree with some lebanese cress shared from a seedsaver friend (she gave me the banana’s too, and some borage seed which I need to plant out!

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