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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)!


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:

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!

  • I thought I had signed up for this ages ago — I’ve had the link in my challenges for quite a while! Glad I checked in and saw I wasn’t really sign up… I am definitely in. I love gardening, and am planning on saving more seeds this year. My veggie garden is about 20 x 20, spread over several locations, and my herb garden is 10×10. This year my veggies are going to be in a few new spots, too… The less lawn the better!!

  • I am in zone 7. Have you posted about HR875 and S425 yet? I am interested in your thoughts on the matter.

  • Oh yeah, and I’m in the Pacific Northwest

  • Please add us to the challenge. We are in northern British Columbia zone 3.

  • [...] have even signed up to take part in “The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed” on the One Green Generation [...]

  • Trish The promised land

    I’m in Zone 8-9, Growing only from heirloom and organic seeds. My current garden is 400sft, but we are in the process of adding 500 more, and a mini orchard.

  • Welcome newcomers! I’m glad you’re joining us, and will publish a new list of participants next week. Be sure to come back and check in! And if you haven’t left your location and hardiness, please leave them in a comment here. Thanks!

  • We just got a little over a foot of snow and my little greenhouse collapsed. I hope the cold-weather stuff I had planted outside (lettuce, peas, beets, onions) didn’t mind the 15 degree low last night. I do appreciate the moisture, though.

    It’s typical here – March weather is nice, sometimes in the upper 70s (Fahrenheit), but winds bring in cruel April weather. My tomatoes and peppers stay inside until we know it’s safe.

  • diana

    Hi, count me in! I’m in Northern Colorado, zone 4-5. I have a garden at our house, a community garden plot, have helped coordinate a school garden club for over 10 years and am involved with a local group, “Home Grown Food”

    I’ve already planted 2 varieties of peas, spinach, beets, 4 carrot varieties, kohlrabi, lettuce, arugula and 2 radish varieties- all outdoors from seed. I’ve been a seed saver for years but this year I’ll try collecting seed from new something new, maybe radishes.

    thanks for organizing this!

  • Welcome, everyone!

    Kendra, of course it’s not too late! : )

    cloud9 design, I’ve shared my favorite seed stores here: How & Where To Order Organic Vegetable Seeds. That should help! : ) Where are you & in what hardiness zone are you growing – so I can add you to the challenge?

    Sinclair, Haven’t posted about them but I bet you can guess how I feel! All the more reason to grow our own food… and to become more involved in our food systems.

  • Another late one….I’d love to join your challenge. I have been aware of the challenge for ages – but did not have the confidence to join as I was worried about all my seeds failing to germinate. I was worried it would be too hard and take away too much of my precious time. But I was wrong! I recently planted some seed and much to my delight they all germinated! Looking forward to joining the challenge.

    in Australia, Zone 3 (US Zone 9-10)

  • Hi there, thanks for your great site and for this challenge – I’m looking forward to it!

  • [...] also so pleased to see so many newcomers to The Growing Challenge.  It’s not too late, nope!  You can participate at any time, though I recommend starting at [...]

  • I’m in! I’m gardening in Pittsburgh, PA, zone 6a. I’m doing the following from seed as they were great last year: Lettuce, spinach, carrots, peas, basil, and dill. The last two are from my own seed saving (third season!).

    New for this year, I’m trying corn and honeydew from seed. I’ve also got onion sets, garlic cloves, potatoes, and tomato plants, and we have a bunch of perennial herbs. The tomatoes I will try from seed next year, and I’m going to save a few cloves of garlic for next year too.

    Past failures that are not recurring are beans and cucumber. Total failures for two years in a row….Anyone having luck with those three?

  • [...] far there are 130 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and we’ve reached nearly 200 participants in The Original Growing Challenge. Together [...]

  • Hi Im very late but would love to join. I live in Australia (Zone 4) on an avocado farm and have begun setablishing our own vege/orchard for our own purposes.
    I have just bought some new seeds and was planning this weekend on planting brocoli, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, and lettuce.
    Fantastic challenge and thankyou for the inspiration.

  • Hi Shea, no worries – you can join any time! I am sooooo jealous of your avocado farm. I’ll add you to the next post about The Growing Challenge.

    Also wanted to remind myself here that Anne Marie from Cheeslave will be joining us as well!

  • vermontmommy now living in Texas

    I am in McKinney, Texas in zone 8. I planted our garden three weeks ago. Please add me to this group. Thank you!!

  • [...] Saving Basics International Seed Saving Institute The Growing Challenge: From Seed to Seed [...]

  • Well, my seedlings are in the garden, but I didn’t harden them off as well as I should have because I was SO ANXIOUS to see them in the ground! Now they are suffering a little on the edges of the leaves from a bit of sunburn, I believe. I am definitely going to shade them a little better in the days to come and hope they all survive. More seed is sprouting for backup just in case!

  • [...] decided to participate in The Growing Challenge: From Seed to Seed, which is sponsored by Melinda of One Green Generation in Seattle.  Our garden is of significant [...]

  • I’m in!

    This is Bettina, gardening in Alsheim, Germany. Hardiness zone 7.

    My blog (german):

    Last year I saved seeds from dry peas and beans that I will use again this year.

    This year I want to add tomato seeds!


  • Kelly, is the site of my blog about gardening, and I think I’m in Zone 8, Columbia, SC

  • We are in NE Georgia.Zone 7b/8 depending on who you ask.Just found your site. We decided for personal and economic reasons to have a Market garden this year. We grow a kitchen garden every year and have always used organic methods. We save heirloom bean seeds every year and some herb seeds.We put about everything in the ground already. We are late with the corn and melons though due to time constraints and weather.I have just started a blog and am new to “blogging” but I have enjoyed everyone elses.

  • I’d love to join in! I’m growing my garden in Southern Ontario, Canada in Zone 5B although very close to where Zone 5A starts so there are exciting weather moments :)

    This year I am trying sowing the seeds myself, previously I have always bought my plants already started…..who knows if anything will grow at all! But I am excited to give it a try!

    My blog is at If you go to this page you can see all the seeds I’m starting this year

  • Saara, North Cascades, Washington – Zone 6b

  • [...] The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed! [...]

  • Welcome, everyone!

    Note to self: add Melissa, Melissa’s Ramblings, Kansas – zone 6. My apologies, Melissa!

  • [...] far there are 145 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and we’ve reached 197 participants in The Original Growing Challenge. Together we’re [...]

  • [...] We are in the midst of garden planning. I am planning on doing some raised beds and 4-season-gardening this year. So I thought I might Join the Seed to Seed Challange. [...]

  • Oh wow this is cool and I’m so glad I stumbled across it. I’m already participating in the challenge but I’d like to make it official if it’s not too late.

    This is my first year organically growing on my own. I’ve started cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, and bush beans from seeds and they’re doing great so I guess I’m eligible to do the advanced challenge even though I’m a newbie! I’m in Ohio in zone 6A.

    I’ll be blogging about the challenge and adding the image and keywords to my posts. This is going to be fun! I hope I get to “meet” lots of like-minded people.

    On Twitter I’m @Ellavemia

    Good luck everyone!

  • monica

    Hi Aimee, I live in Monroeville, Oh–practically neighbors (about 20 miles southwest of Cedar Point!) We should arrange to trade seeds if some of yours do well. I usually have the best success with peas, beans, and squash.

  • [...] Filed under: Growing Challenge, Heirloom Varieties — Saara @ 18:54 So I signed up for Melinda’s Growing Challenge from Seed to Seed where the challenge is to save some seed and grow it next year. I haven’t quite decided what [...]

  • [...] far there are 148 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and we’ve reached 200 participants in The Original Growing Challenge. Congratulations, [...]

  • I am finding this late, but VERY excited to learn along with everyone. I actually planted several varieties of heirloom veggies on May 15th in organic raised beds, with the intent of harvesting the seeds and reusing them next year. What a blessing to find this site/challenge to keep me motivated and learn tips along the way. I am new to this and appreciate any advice I can get that will help. I am gardening in the mountains of California in a zone 3 climate and you can follow along at

  • It doesn’t seem fair taking on a challenge in something I’m already doing, but you’re welcome to take a look.

    I also am happy to find people doing the same. I garden on abandoned properties in Warren, Ohio. Low cost, organic, and aiming to teach as well as learn from everyone.

    Good weather to all.

  • Welcome, newcomers! Rodney, your work looks wonderful. I think it’s fair to join the challenge simply because you’re inspiring so many others to do what you do. : ) And by joining the challenge, you will be signing up to save seeds from something new, too, right? ; ) Great stuff you’re doing.

  • Has anybody begun saving seed yet from this year’s crop? I have thus far saved some shelling peas and poppy seeds for next year. I love gathering my store of seeds and labeling for future use! Not sure how to save broccoli seeds, though, as this is the first year I have ever grown brocolli. Anybody save from broccoli?

  • More clarification re: my broccoli seed saving question. I do have the narrow pods developed, and I have taken some of them off to dry. But I was not sure how big to let them get before I cut them off to dry. Is there a time that is too soon to harvest the seed pods?

  • Trish The promised land

    So far this season, I have saved sweet peas, onions, fava, kale, lettuce, and radish.

  • Sinclair: I’m growing broccoli from last years saved seeds. I have let the plant grow until it started wilting. I do the same with my basil that has gone to seed. The plant will show you when the seeds are ready, take them off to soon and they might not sprout next year. Happy gardening!

  • Hi everyone,

    I think I missed a week of checking in…..sorry! I have been slaving away in the garden and dropping into bed exhausted at the end of the day, not touching my pc much at all.

    There are seeds really growing now! Beans, sunflowers, oats, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and more! It is so exciting, apparently for the critters too as there have been some unauthorized excavations of my seeds….

    Plant Lady

  • Xan

    Well, I’m already very active on (where I’m nax), and I’ve added gardening to our family recipe blog, Mahlzeit, but I’m game. However, I’m a little vague on how this works. Not sure if I’m “signing up” right now, or what. But I’ll link you when I post to Mahlzeit. Gardening for 20 years, this is the first year I’ve started seeds indoors (althought I’m a veteran direct-sower), and I jumped into seed saving with heirloom tomatoes this year. Once I get a handle on the site, I’ll journal it over at MyFolia.

  • My first try with greenhouse im guessing im going for my chillies and tomotoes.. with organic fert from my kitchen veggies……. comments welcome


  • [...] far there are 152 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and we’ve reached 200 participants in The Original Growing [...]

  • I’m not very clean on how this works; so here goes…
    I’m in Zone 8-9. We had wonderful weather in June. Now it’s July and the heat is on. With the heat the garden is booming – tomatoes, watermelon, cataloupes, onions, peppers, strawberries, herbs. The one crop that I have had problems with this season are potatoes.

  • Count me in! I’m in Oregon, zone 8a, and I garden on a 2nd floor patio. Lack of space hasn’t hindered my ambition! I’m growing tomatoes, cukes, eggplants, squash, beans, peppers, corn, flowers, peas, spinach, scallions, potatoes, and lots more! You can see my little farm at my website,

  • [...] been two months since we officially entered the Seed to Seed challenge at One Green Generation.  Gardening is a lot of fun, and a lot of work!  The whole family is involved, although [...]

  • [...] are 154 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and 202 participants in The Original Growing Challenge.  You can join either challenge at any [...]

  • Well, my tomato plant I’m growing in hydroculture for the challenge has some red fruit on them. I’m going to read how to save these seeds and probably start the process when I pick one of these tomatoes this week.

  • This is great- We garden in zone 7 in North Carolina which means we can grow three seasons and the winter things can stay alive in the garden, though they don’t grow a whole lot- but it’s like having a big outdoor fridge!
    I’ve been saving bean seeds forever because they are so easy. This summer we also are saving tomatoes and cantaloupes. I want to explore trying peppers, but I think they are tricky because they cross and I always grow several varieties close together.

  • I’ve got a carrot gone to seed! This is exciting because I’ve never had them go to seed before. I think it’s one of last year’s carrots. I’ll replant them next to the broccoli, cabbage and kale.

    I also have some delicate-looking lentil bushes, just for fun. I will save some of those and grow many more, now that I know I can.

    I hope the little snakes are keeping the grasshoppers in check. I can’t imagine why else they would live here – we don’t have mice (thanks, kitty) and they’re too small for birds’ eggs.

    In my greenhouse I have a separate square foot garden, and the romas in there have blossom end rot. Tomatoes outside do not, though.

  • I just found your challenge but I took it Jan 1, 2009 after reading Omnivore’s dilemna. We ripped out the lawn and turned it all to grow space, planting heirloom varieties that I am saving seeds from. We got chickens and next year plan on bees and rabbits.

    I buy all the meat from organic farmers who raise grass fed ruminants or chickens that don’t eat corn and soy. I buy organic grains grown close to home and grind them myself, making everything from scratch.

    I’ve been blogging about local resources as I find them, and my food preservation and gardening. It’s a crazy time in my garden and kitchen but lots of fun.

    I’m currently starting the fall/winter/spring crops (or already have some going) since we plan to make this a year-round effort.

    It’s rare that I go the farmer’s market even now and rare still if I need to venture into a supermarket (maybe for glass jars.)

    Looking forward to learning more about saving seeds since some plants are not quite as obvious as others, although so far everything has been pretty clear if you leave it there long enough.

    I’m in Seattle, Washington and the only one of my neighbors who no longer has lawn!

  • Dave Titchenl

    Doing it now

  • [...] are 158 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and 202 participants in The Original Growing Challenge.  You can join either challenge at any [...]

  • [...] – there are 158 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and 202 participants in The Original Growing Challenge.  You can join either challenge at any [...]

  • Issac

    Nice information there! I just thought of to become your regular reader but the problem is your site doesn’t seem compatible /friendly when it show in KMeleon browser which I use regularly other than internet explorer, hope you can get it fix soon, thanks in advance.

  • Hi Issac, Thanks for letting me know. I plan to upgrade the site over the holidays, when I have some time to do the code work necessary to bring it up to date. I’ve honestly never heard of KMeleon, but if you would please do me a favor and let me know how it works with your browser in January, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

  • [...] 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 [...]

  • I Plan on going full organic heirloom this year , from seed to Lbs to Seeds :)
    Let me know if you update this for 2010 .

  • I’ve been growing and collecting my seeds for years now. This is such a wonderful way to promote seedsaving and sustainability. Excellent work!

  • meg

    Count me in! It is getting close to seed planting time in Seattle!

  • Angela Moore

    Would love to participate! This will be my first growing season at Whitton Farms in the Mid-South US. We are located on the fringes of a 7/8 zone and this experience may turn into a blog. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Hello! I’m a new gardener this year and I’m SO excited. I’ve been wanting to start a garden for years, but we finally settled and I can FINALLY grow one. My friend is helping me get seeds and she and I are going to save seeds this year. I thought I would join the challenge for that additional support.
    The zone map says that we are in a 5-6 zone, but we have a lot of micro climates here and I believe I’m probably in a 4 zone. We have a very short growing season here and Spring doesn’t come around until the end of May. I’ll be using a greenhouse this year. I’ll post on my blog as I go along.

  • I’ve been gardening for a few years now but have never really tried growing from seed. This will be an awesome challenge for me! I’m in Colorado so in zone 5-6 which in my past experience gives me a season with enough time to grow all kinds of things.

  • Jen

    In Zone 7 here – Last year I grew a very small garden and this year we are “all in” so to speak. Excited to do seed saving!

    Our progress will be posted on our Becoming a Local Blog

  • Welcome new gardeners! I’m so glad you’re joining us!!

  • Look what you got me into! Honestly, who knew I’d enjoy it so much. :o) Check out the new business blog…

  • TheMom

    Well I have finally made the leap. I have been experimenting with saving seeds and growing veggies and herbs through out my landscape. This year a fence is going in around the veggie garden, chicken coop is being built, and herb garden going around deck. Here I gooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • Hi! I’d love to sign up for the seed to seed challenge. I’m a new gardener but I just started some seeds of my own, and want leap right into seed starting and collecting. I’ve linked to the blog I’ve just started to document my gardening!


  • I live in Sardinia, Italy.. We have our garden and we grow our vegetables…I sign up too..follow what happens in our garden every day (well..almost every day..when i have time to write posts…!!)

  • Oh, this sounds like fun. I’ve gardened for years now (though I’m still such a beginner!!). I’d love to try and keep my own seeds from my own vegetables! Can’t wait to peruse through this blog. I’m in zone 8-9. I’d love to see how others in my zone fare.
    Rebecca of the R&W Gals

  • Amy

    I love the seed challenge! I’m trying it this year with: paste tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkin, lemon squash, gourds, cucumbers, beans, and I’m sure some others I started. I’d love to try my tiny herb seeds too. Thanks for the challenge!

  • This is an amazing idea! I am excited to get into this and read some of the info…. I am practicing on herb seeds this year. Hopefully I can do igoogle.
    I sell heirloom seeds and promote seed saving. It is my goal to give the “bug” to every customer. Its fun and it makes sense to NOT loose our skills to save seed. After all, We do rely on these veggies dont we!
    A great challenge indeed.

  • I’m up for the challenge. I’m a little behind, but everything but my eggplants and 3 of my 13 pepper plants are from seed. I’m currently saving seed from my bolted lettuce.

    I live in the SF Bay Area in zone 8.

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