It’s time! It has been exactly one year since we officially launched The Growing Challenge. And now it’s time to add some spice. So this year, we’re adding a twist for a new advanced level that goes something like this: Grow a new crop from seed this year, nurture it organically, and then successfully harvest enough seeds to grow next year.
This may sound difficult for some of you, and that’s ok. We’re all in it together. But really, this can be very simple if you want it to be (or not, if you want to challenge yourself with more difficult seeds to save!).
The only thing is, you really do need to plan ahead and do a little research. That’s why we’re starting the challenge now! So I’ll provide some information here, but I recommend also picking up a GREAT seed saving book. It’s one of my favorite gardening books, period. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners. You can find it at your local bookstore, library, gardening supply store, or at Seed Savers Exchange (which is a great place to find seed, too).
Here’s Some Enticement…
Why Grow Your Own Food?
1. Growing your own food tastes better and is more nutritious.
2. Gardening is a good workout and improves mental health.
3. By being outdoors among the elements, you can learn about local wildlife, appreciate small beauty, and become one with the seasons.
4. Growing at home reduces your carbon footprint and energy usage. By gardening organically, you eliminate the petroleum products used in farming equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, food packaging, storage, and transportation.
5. You can have fresh, local, organic produce all year long by planting a four-season garden – long past the day your local markets and farms close for the winter.
Why Grow Food From Seed?
1. To save money. It costs just a couple of dollars per packet for many seeds. When you plant starts from a nursery, you pay a lot more per plant. (Hint: if you don’t want a whole pack of seeds, share seeds with other gardeners to save even more money.)
2. For greater variety. The varieties of seeds available are nearly endless – the different flavors, colors, and growth paterns of tomatoes alone is astonishing.
3. To support sustainable farmers who bring you the seeds. You have the option of buying open pollinated, organic, biodynamic, sustainably grown seeds – supporting the environment and farmers alike.
4. To further reduce your carbon footprint. A small seed packet sent in the mail takes much less energy than a much heavier seedling (and its soil) that has most likely been transported long distances from its original home.
5. To become more self-reliant and adaptable to economic changes and energy supply issues.
Why Save Your Own Seed?
1. To save more money. You can grow crops for years without spending a cent on seeds!
2. For fun. There is certainly pleasure in nurturing a plant from seed, learning how it propagates, and actually harvesting the seeds. It’s quite empowering, actually!
3. To preserve biodiversity. By saving heirloom seeds that have been passed on through generations, you can help preserve important crop diversity.
4. To create new varieties with particularly desirable qualities. You can create crops uniquely adapted to your backyard microclimate. Also, you can select seed from the plants with better flavor, greater frost hardiness, earliest blooms, prettiest color, and more.
5. When you are entirely the master of your seed, you know where it has been, from what plant it originated, what has been sprayed on it, what soil it grew in, and important details about how it will grow in your garden.
The Rules Are Simple
1. Plant at least one new crop from seed, grow it organically, and save the seed to plant next year.
2. Check in here when I post Seed To Seed or Growing Challenge posts (more or less once/week). Or if you have your own blog*, you can write about your gardening there instead – or in addition. The point of #2 is to learn from one another, inspire one another, and build our growing community. So please share questions, thoughts, and discoveries as they come up.
3. Sign up in the comments below!
*Please note that you do not need your own blog to join! But do let us know you’re participating by making a comment below, and be sure to check in here (Rule #2)!
Here is a doodad you can use to help spread the word and to remind yourself of the challenge. Post it on your blog, place it in your sidebar, and/or print it out and tape it to your refrigerator!
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, check to make sure the link works and the image loads correctly. Feel free to email me if you have any problems and I’ll see if I can help.
So Please Join Us!
In the comments, include your name, blog if you have one, where you’re gardening, and what zone you’re in (find your zone: U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, China. For other regions, I don’t have links so give it your best guess.). Let’s have some fun!!