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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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New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed!

The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed

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)!

Doodad

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!

The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed

The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed


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:

http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=703

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, CanadaEurope, South America, China. For other regions, I don’t have links so give it your best guess.). Let’s have some fun!!

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235 comments to New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed!

  • Count me in! We live in South-eastern BC Canada in garden zone 5.

    I planted open-polinated tomatoes purchased from a greenhouse last spring and saved the seeds. I’ll be trying to grow my own seedlings from those. Also planning on saving seeds from other plants this upcoming growing season.

  • [...] are currently 53 people taking part in the new Growing Challenge:  From Seed To Seed.  Find out more about it [...]

  • Great challenge! Looks like I have a one season head start.

    While moving to our new home, about half a year ago, the broccoli wasn’t quite ready to harvest. The next time we went to our old home to pick up the last stuff, the broccoli had grown seeds. We also have seeds from last years home grown tomatoes, basil and radish.

    I can’t wait to start planting again!

  • I’m in. Carson City, Nevada, USA; zone 6

    I’ve been saving my own paste canning tomato seeds for so many years here, I’ve named it my own heirloom: the CC Paste Tomato
    ~Sadge

  • Hi
    We had fun with your last years challenge growing from seed.
    Now ready to try saving seeds eeeek – I am not good at keeping records so hope real basic instructions get shared for folks like me.

    Zone wise mmm not sure
    By the Auszzie link you shared I think we are zone 3.
    My NZ link http://www.gardenate.com/zones/

    I think we are :
    New Zealand – temperate =
    Warm summer, cool wet winter. Occasional frosts.

    Love Leanne

  • I saved my first seeds last year so I am really happy to see this challenge! Now if all this snow would melt…

  • Oh, forgot to mention: we are in North Germany zone 8, I guess, when I look at the map for Europe you linked to.

    We’ll be planting in a greenhouse though.

  • I am very excited to try this. I live in Northern California, in zone 9. I am planning on ordering seeds and bare root fruits next weekend! I can’t wait to check out everyone’s progress! Thanks for a great idea!

  • Welcome, everyone!!

    Shibaguyz, was wondering how long it would take you to join! ; ) I believe the edit function relies on a pop-up, so maybe that’s the issue? No matter, though.

    Leanne, will keep you in mind when writing instructions. Was Part 1 basic enough? Glad you’re taking it on!! I’m sure you’ll have fun. There isn’t much record-keeping involved for cucumbers.

  • I’m in again this year! Zone 9 in sunny Northern California. Can’t wait to see what everyone else is growing.

  • I want to sign up this year. I’ll grow butternut squash and save the seeds from that. I’m growing a lot of other things too but this is the one I’ll make sure I save the seeds from. I’m in zone 7.

  • Saved some seeds from a green hubbard squash we got from the local farmers market last year and looking forward to growing them as well as saving some seeds from our own garden!

  • Count me in! I am a zone 6 in “Hot” Springs, Virginia.

  • Excited to grow from heirloom seed (this is my first year to start with seed) and save the seeds for our future plantings! Zone 5 Saint Peters, Missouri.

  • Please, count me in as well. I’m in Zone 7b.
    Rhonda

  • I’m in. I had fun participating in the first Growing Challenge, in which I grew a variety of beans for the first time. The definite winners of that challenge were Blue Coco (purple podded pole beans) and Indian Woman Yellow (a delicious, dry bush bean). I begin almost all my crops from seed and save quite a bit of seed especially if I’ve been very careful about cross-pollination and have a large enough gene pool. I can’t promise to post weekly about seed starting on my blog, but I will include occasional posts on the subject and drop in here to swap ideas. Thanks for organizing this!

  • [...] far there are 69 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed. Please join us, if you haven’t already! New participants are in orange at the bottom – [...]

  • Count me in! I put 3 dozen tomato seeds in my bathroom on the heated floor for germinating this week! That’s just the start!

  • What a great new aspect for The Growing Challenge! I’ll try to save some of my open-pollinated seeds this year and give it a shot.

  • I’d like to join. I’m in zone 7 Chattanooga TN.

  • Mary B

    Zone 10, Tampa FL
    No blog but love to read and learn from others.
    Hope to learn how to grow a tomato in Florida!!!

  • Kathy

    I would love to be a part of this. I’m a Zone 7-8 in Birmingham, Alabama…just got my seeds from http://www.rareseeds.com

  • Me Too! I’ll JOIN!

    I have some new Chinese pole beans I’m growing this year, seeds saved by a friend from his garden, and passed to him by friends who saved these beans for years. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow, eat, and save these myself.

  • Count me in.
    I’m in zones 6-7, in a (shady) suburb of Boston, MA.
    This is the first time we are growing a garden – I had some herbs in pots before, that’s it.
    We’re growing everything from seed. I went a bit crazy ordering the seeds, I admit, but then they keep, right! We fixed up a germination and seedling “chamber” in our basement and are ready to go.
    We weren’t living here yet last spring, so I don’t know when the last frost was, and no one in my neighborhood gardens, so I can’t ask. But in general our last frost is estimated around 30 April (50%), so we’re going to play it somewhat safe this first time around and count it as 5 May.
    Good luck everyone!
    Katrien at MamaStories

  • I’m so happy to see that excitement is growing!! Welcome, newcomers!

  • Thanks for doing this! It really is exciting to see what everyone else is doing, and invigorating to learn from each other. I saved my own seed for the first time last year; but I look forward to the challenge of doing it on a larger scale this year.

  • Hello from NH… we are in! We try to save as many seeds as we can from year to year. We are planning our hoop house so we can start planting some of those seeds real soon!

  • I kept up with your last challenge and decided it was time for me to join the new one.

    I live in Sydney, Australia – Zone 4. Last year I began to grow most of our veggies by seed and this year am looking forward to saving the seeds too.

    Emma

  • I’m late (winter hibernation, you know), but I’m in–I traded for some lovely new seeds this year that will fit the bill nicely. Thanks for doing this again!

  • Welcome, welcome everyone! Don’t forget to let me know where you’re gardening and what zone you’re in. : )

  • Thanks for the challenge!
    I’m in Texas, zone 8.
    We are just beginning a new community garden in our neighborhood with friends. I’ve done a bit of seed saving, but plan to implement more this season.
    Thanks so much!
    Blessings,
    Catherine :)

  • Ian

    I’ve been “in” for a couple of years since I started growing a variety of tomato called “Homestead” which, by the way, is the best tomato EVER!!! I was never able to find the seed again, so I started saving seeds about 4 years ago, and so far they are coming true. No cross pollination. I also save seeds from a vareity pack of hot peppers from Vessey’s and so each year I get a bunch of new and different hybrids, some purple leaved, even!

  • Ian

    Forgot to say, Im in St. Catharines, Ontario, in Zone 6b

  • [...] far there are 88 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed. I want to welcome all who are new to the challenge, and all new readers in general (there have [...]

  • hey!

    I’m growing in Columbus, Ohio-zone 5. I’m going to document it at my website. Looking forward to seeing what others are up to.

  • Hi everyone, Melissa is joining too!

    Melissa, Melissa’s Ramblings, Kansas – zone 6

    Melissa & Beth, welcome!

  • Count us in for sure here in SE Tennessee !!

    Our seeds are started indoors, plus we are almost ready to put the potatoes in, and we will put in cool crops like peas and lettuce and broccoli in just a few more weeks.

    Last year we grew 75% of what we use in a year (eggs, veggies, & fruits), and this year we are aiming as close to 100% as we can get between spring, summer, and fall gardens plus we are adding some “covered” beds for possible (we hope) winter growing of fresh greens too.

    ‘t won’t be long now …

    Tammy & 6 Cherubs
    Zone 7

  • I’m jumping onto this bandwagon with glee. This year I am growing all my overwintered biennials to seed for the purpose not only of growing out again next year but distrubtion to others! Thanks for the fun challenge.

  • I have been a gardener for 10 years and every year do more and more.My family of four to the country on 12 acres three years ago. I have been obseed with gardening since! This year I have ordered only heirloom variety seeds, and plan to increase my raised vegetable gardens by 100sq ft and I plan on doing a large in the ground garden as well.

  • Count me in! I just started a whole bunch of seeds and I look forward to saving seeds from the future harvest!!

  • This is very interesting. I haven’t had a garden in too many years to count and have never saved my seeds. It’s not something I knew about. So here I am, to learn, to start out slow and add more each year.

    I’m also going to plant fruit trees (which I have never done) and would appreciate any and all input :)

    I’m going to visit my fellow gardeners as I have a lot to learn. The area I live in now is totally different from what I am used to.

  • monica

    Darlene,
    Melinda posted wonderful directions on how to plant bareroot trees and berry bushes on this site. I think they are very good instructions so I bookmarked them!! Of course I can’t remember the name, but it was within the past month.
    I can’t wait for spring!!!!!

  • Thank you Monica! You are correct, the instructions are very easy to follow. I’ve saved the page so I can come back when my tree(s) arrive.

  • Great site Melinda, very inspiring! I am signing up for the Growing Challenge, advanced addition. I am in zone 5a in Ontario and lok forward to visiting your site on a regular basis :)

    *Waiting for my seed order to come in and, of course, spring to arrive*

  • Chad m.

    This sounds like an asome idea. I have only been gardening for a year now, but i am also only 16 if that makes a difference.I live in zone 4 in Minnesota and intend to grow many wonderfull plants this season. I admire your dedication to this site because its truly remarkable. Thanks for the wonderful ideas, i personally prefer organic techniques, but last year i did use some miricle grow so now i have to wait five years to get my garden usda organic certified, and by that time the house i am living in now will most likely belong to somone else for i will be at college hopefully doing somthing with plants, and my mother will not want to stay in this big house by herself. That is why this site is so interesting to me, the fact that we can all do this and help our enviroment and our wallet.

  • I’m in. I was planning on building some raised beds this year, starting seeds and trying some 4-season gardening anyway. I an in Santa Fe, NM in the good old USA, Zone 5/6. We are at 7,000ft in the desert so gardening can be a challenge. But last year we did pretty good. Can’t wait to get started.

  • What a great idea! It couldn’t come at a better time for me since last fall I built a raised veggie bed – my first vegetable garden in five years. I’m in, and added a link to my blog sidebar.

  • Stacy

    Hello, I will be participating in this challenge this year. I have had a vegetable garden for two years now, and this is something I was hoping to do! I live in Canada and my zone is 5b

  • Count me in. I’m living in rural Missouri and will be growing to feed myself – will only be purchasing bulk grains/beans/nuts. In a few years I’ll have a permaculture/food forest filling in most of my garden space.

    Joan – Young Girl, Old Life – Northeastern Missouri – Zone 5

  • [...] over at One Green Generation, has started a new round of The Growing Challenge. The goal of the challenge is simple: grow a new crop from seed, organically of course, and save [...]

  • We’d love to be included. Idaho – zone 5-6

  • This sounds like fun! I am glad I found you because this is the first year I am growing from heirloom seed and attempting to save the seeds for next year. Looking forward to this wonderful experience…

  • Jenette

    I will give it a go. I saved pumpkin and snow pea seeds from last year … this will be my first time planting them. I am going to plant tomato, pumpkin, bell pepper, and pea seeds. Is there anything else I should try? Sacramento, CA >>> USDA Zone 9b Sunset zone 14<<<<

  • [...]  potatoes are a great new crop to grow from seed to seed!  Stay tuned for How To Grow Potatoes Part [...]

  • [...] by Melinda’s Growing Challenge, I decided to host a small growing challenge here as well: who can grow the biggest [...]

  • Jennifer

    What a great challenge…I love to garden and last fall my husband and I made a pledge to one another that we were going to grow heirlooms for the 2009 Season. A few of my heirloom seeds are already planted in the garden windowand happily waiting for the frost to be gone.

  • I just discovered this website, and it looks like it will be helpful. Thanks for providing this community! We are starting a large garden project this year in Colorado (Zone 5b or 6), and hope to grow enough vegetables for our following year and to share with friends and folks who are in need. We have been doing lots of research about the principles of permaculture and organic gardening, and have begun by preparing some of our new terraced beds with sheet mulching. We’re also starting plants from seed indoors under grow lights, to get a head start on our short growing season. We are researching companion planting to combine plants in areas that will be beneficial to one another, repel the pesty insects and attract the beneficial ones. We have an area roughly 3600 square feet and plan to plant most of it!

  • I’m kind of a late comer, but I’d love to join in! We live in a little apartment just outside of downtown Dallas, TX. I just started my first tomato seeds ever today. They are in little newpaper pots under a grow light. They’ll be grown in containers–my first time trying that as well. So, if all goes well, I should be able to complete the challenge and have seed for next year.

  • Does it matter if the seeds are NOT organic? My family is saying it doesn’t matter. I think otherwise. I have not planted them yet, because I want an organic garden, but wasn’t sure if the seeds you can get locally from Wal-mart were even worth using if the goal is an organic garden…Can you clarify this? Thanks a bunch!!!!

    Amber

  • I blogged about this in my post at http://naturewithme.blogspot.com/search?q=sowing+the+seeds.

    I personally would only purchase ORGANIC AND HEIRLOOM. Most of the seeds you get at WalMart will be F1 hybrids, so they are not really good for seed saving. If you have to choose between the two, choose HEIRLOOM. Check online or with your local nursery for heirloom seeds. You can grow your garden organically even if your seeds were not produced organically. Hope it helps.

  • That was meant to be in reply to post #136 @ cloud9 design…

  • Hi cloud9, sorry for the late response! I agree with Sinclair – you should go for organic and preferably open-pollinated seeds. I’ve explained this in more detail here: How To Save Vegetable Seeds – Part 1

  • Cloud9, can I count you and your family “in” for the challenge?

  • [...] far there are 108 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed. Congratulations to Stacy for being the 100th participant! Welcome, everyone who has recently [...]

  • Jo

    Can I join in too? I know it’s rather late now, but I only just found this challenge, following a rabbit trail through some blogs. I’m doing this anyway, basically, and would love to do it along with some others. I planted some peppers, tomato and chard last week, and I’ve got some squashes to plant next month – hoping to be able to save seed from the pepper and the squash at least.

  • [...] So here’s the challenge, copied/pasted from that blog.  And a link!  But you can also link to it by clicking on the image above. Seed to Seed Challenge [...]

  • andrea

    Hi, I am planning to save as many seeds as I can this year. I only have heirloom tomatoes this time – no hybrids – so the seeds should be consistent with their parents (right?) My hybrids never do well. Not sure why. I also want to grow garbanzos for the first time; they’re my favorite veg. protein source (that and lentils) and a staple in our pantry.

    I hope volunteers count. Greens and tomatillos reseed themselves without my help :-)

    We are in Colorado, zone 5-6.

  • Can I join so late in the game? Shame on me for taking so long to sign up!
    We are doing a lot of new seeds this year and hopefully will start to save more at the end of the growing season.

    We’re in zone 9! Thanks Melinda.

  • I’ve been neglecting my blog in favor of my garden, so maybe this will keep me in line on both. I’m in zone 7.
    -Stuff

  • Thanks! Yes! Count us in! I will try to get organic seeds. Do you recommend any particular websites to order from?

  • I’m a huge heirloom seed grower and this challenge sounds like its right up my garden path! Also looking for anyone interested in exchanging heirloom seeds. Im in the USA, zone six. Planting veggies and flowers.
    smiles
    LiBBy

  • I’m in Michigan, in zone five. Trying to create a vegetable garden in my own yard and create a community garden in my hometown. I’m starting five different veggies from seed now and planting another dozen or so veggies from seed the moment the weather is cooperative.

  • [...] If you’re starting garden plants from seed, you may want to join The Growing Challenge, a neat blog challenge over at One Green Generation. [...]

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