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The Growing Challenge: Welcome, Ask Questions, Meet One Another!

The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed

So 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 – let’s visit, support, and learn from one another!!


  1. Jules, The Garden of Plenty, Melbourne, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  2. Jena, Married To The Farm, Caro, Michigan – zone 5
  3. Amanda, You Reap What You Sow, South Central Pennsylvania – zone 6-7
  4. Jen, Toward Arcadia, Michigan – zone 5-6
  5. Deb G, Bee Creative, Pacific Northwest – zone 7
  6. Greeen Sheeep, Wisconsin – zone 4
  7. Kory, Kicking And Screaming, Central New York – zone 5
  8. Abbie, Farmer’s Daughter, Connecticut – zone 6-7
  9. Margaret, Margaret’s Ramblings, Nottingham, England – zone 8
  10. SusanB, Southern New Jersey – zone 6b-7
  11. Karin, Fleecenik Farm, Central Maine – zone 4
  12. Kelsie, Hobbit’s Feat, Kentucky – zone 7
  13. Monica, Northern Ohio – zone 5-6
  14. Jen, Aaron-N-Jen: Living Life Simply, Iowa – zone 5
  15. Di, Path To Greendom & World of Yardcraft, Southern California – zone 10
  16. TomB, My Simple Home Garden, Central Massachusetts – zone 5b
  17. Judy, My Freezer Is Full, East Central Iowa – zone 5a
  18. Julie, Towards Sustainability, Newcastle, NSW, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  19. Dina, Hip Chick Chronicles, Portland, Oregon – zone 8-9
  20. Alana
  21. Milkweed, Milkweed Diaries, Swannanoa Valley, North Carolina – zone 6-7
  22. Melanie J, Ember’s Lighthouse, Jacksonville, Florida – zone 9a
  23. Risa B, Stony Run Farm, Western Oregon – zone 8
  24. Maureen, Fotos By Meg, Central Valley, California – zone 9
  25. Amy Crump, Crump Family Blog, Chapel Hill, North Carolina – zone 8
  26. Rob, Rob’s World, Burien, Washington – zone 8
  27. The Rachface, This Evolutionary Life, Virginia – zone 8
  28. Janice, Going Off Da Grid Janice, California – zone 8-9
  29. Green Bean, Green Phone Booth, Bay Area, California – zone 9
  30. Daphne, Daphne’s Dandelions, Winchester, Massachusetts – zone 6
  31. Briel
  32. Jimmy Cracked-Corn – zone 5
  33. Lisa, Domestic Accident, Southern Coastal Maine – zone 5-6
  34. Hannah, The Purloined Letter, Takoma Park, Maryland – zone 7
  35. Suzan, Scrub Oak, Rocky Mountain southern foothills (6,700 feet) – zone 4
  36. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener
  37. Onemotherslove, What’s He Up To Now?, North Central Texas – zone 8
  38. Red Icculus, – zone 5
  39. Jocele, Knitting On Call, Idaho – zone 6-7
  40. Matt, Florida – zone 9
  41. Sara, Mama Craft, Canada – zone 3a
  42. Tyra, Tyra’s Garden & The Greenhouse In Tyra’s Garden, Vaxholm, Sweden – zone 6
  43. Inadvertentfarmer, The Inadvertent Farmer, Western Washington – zone 8
  44. Lauren
  45. Melody, Merrie Melody, Utah – zone 6
  46. Melinda, One Green Generation, Seattle, Washington – zone 8
  47. Michelle, Alpaca, Chook, Garden, Travel and…., Hobart, Tasmania, Australia – zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  48. Laurel, Nefaeria, North Bay, Ontario, Canada – zone 4a
  49. Mary, Freedom Gardens Journal: Mecar, Crete, Illinois – zone 5
  50. Susan, How Green In My Garden, Southern California – zone 8b
  51. Mary, Cat’s Fiber Adventures, Oregon – zone 8-9
  52. WIlla, Plants And Animals & Yumminess Ensues, S. Central Pennsylvania – zone 6A
  53. Jenn, Attempted Simple Life, Osgoode, Ontario, Canada – zone 5a
  54. Shibaguyz, Here we go! Life with the Shibaguyz…, Seattle, WA – zone 8
  55. Tina, Bee Content Ranch, California – zone ?
  56. Cassandra, The Urban Trowel, Southeastern BC, Canada – zone 5
  57. Nico, Self Sufficient Life, North Germany – zone 8
  58. Sadge, Firesign Farm, Carson City, Nevada – zone 6
  59. Leanne, At The Good Life, New Zealand - zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  60. Jenny, Studio J, (Jenny where are you located?)
  61. Sarah S, Life At The Ranch, Northern California – zone 9
  62. Sarah Z, Ward Road Garden, Northern California – zone 9
  63. Christy O, Farm Dreams, Georgia – zone 7
  64. Jason L, Vegetable Garden Planner, (Jason where are you located?)
  65. Annette, Ward House, Hot Springs, Virginia – zone 6
  66. Paige, Clausen In The Hausen & Out In The Garden, Saint Peters, Missouri – zone 5
  67. Rhonda, FarmHouse Style, North Georgia Mountains – zone 7b
  68. Kelly, Taurus Rising, Adelaide Hills, Australia- zone 9-10 (Aust. 3)
  69. Laura, Mas Du Diable, France – zone 9

I’ve added everyone’s name, blog, location, and hardiness zone. Please check your info to make sure I have it right.


So, How Is Your Garden?

I’ll tell you our garden has been snowed, hailed, and sleeted on over the last couple of days. Warm enough for bud break, and then ice cold again. Phew. However, we just created a community Urban Gardening plan for the year, which makes me excited to get going. I’ll be teaching a few classes and getting neighbors excited about growing in small spaces. I’m definitely looking forward to that. Please let us know how your garden is doing!


Also, I’m planning to write about seed starting soon, for those of you who are new to this. Once things get growing a bit in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ll also write more about seed saving. Anything else in particular you’d like to know?

Please feel free to chime in whether or not you are officially taking part in The Growing Challenges. Those who are new to all of this may find good information here. And those seasoned gardeners may be able to help some of us new to the challenge.

Leave links to your gardening posts, too, if you like. Chat away!

Similar Posts:

32 comments to The Growing Challenge: Welcome, Ask Questions, Meet One Another!

  • I started my totem tomatoes and bhut jolokia peppers and they just sprouted:

  • It’s still a little early for me to start anything but our recent thaw has given me spring fever. I am getting ready to plant my broccoli in the next week or so. I’ve got my lights dusted off and things ready to go.

  • I just looked through “Seed Sowing and Saving” again to confirm that the earliest I should start any seeds is 8 weeks prior to the last frost date. Here is Michigan I expect the last frost sometime around May 1st – June 1st so I’m planning to start the first seeds around March 1st. Does this sound right?

    Along with all the veggies I’m trying a few flowers this year. My theory has always been that I don’t want to take time and energy to grow something if I can’t eat it, but the yard could use some color I guess. Plus, if the flowers start well maybe I can use them as Mother’s Day gifts!

  • My garden is growing fine as far as I know. It is still under its bed of snow. Yesterday was in the 50s and today will be in the high 40s so I’m thinking a lot of the snow will be melted out, but not all of it.

    I started my onion and leek seeds under blue LED lights a few weeks ago. They are growing well, but slowly, which is only to be expected with onions. It is the reason I start them so early. I’m itching to start my super early lettuce but I need to wait a couple of weeks. I always push the season by using row covers, but lettuce can handle quite a bit of freezing weather if you harden it off well. I don’t plant my whole bed in early lettuce. Just a little bit and then more every couple of weeks.

  • I’ll be prepping where the peas are going to be planted this weekend and starting tomatoes, maybe some spinach or lettuce for the cold frame. It’s colder than average around here (below freezing at night) so I can’t do much planting. Mostly just thinking about garden layout right now. I’m going to set up some raised beds and do some structural work. Plus pruning the fruit trees. Lots to do. I’ll probably have a garden post on my blog this weekend.

  • I’ve got seeds sprouting and planted potatoes yesterday! Everything is new to me and it’s all wonderfully exciting!!!

  • everything is dormant at the moment, but the greenhouse…er sunroom is mid construction so that will change shortly.

  • I’d like to join the challenge too!

    I heard about this on other blogs and have really already started.

    Growing lots of new things this year, all from seed, using my Square Foot Garden. Last year I did manage to successfully save tomato seeds from 3 varieties and can report that they sprouted in their seed trays! Yeehaw! (I really was worried they wouldn’t :))

    Can you add me to the list? I’m in Virginia (Coastal) and zone 7B. First name Christy and blog is Growing Human, on Blogspot.


  • Oops, I keep forgetting to add myself to the new challenge! I’m in California, Zone 9. I wasn’t very good about posting weekly last year, but I’m going to try!

    I saved cilantro, bibb lettuce, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, pepper and tomato seeds from last year, and my list of things to plant this year has tripled!

    What I have growing right now:
    Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower (planted in October and it’s still very small, so I’m not sure what it’s doing), Napa cabbage (got very leafy and bolted), parsley, carrots, celery (still tiny!), onions and garlic.

    I also started tomatoes, summer squash, cucumber and zucchini from seed last week. I’m not sure if it’s way too early, but hopefully they’ll be okay.

    I’m hoping it’s not too late to order seed for a few more things. April is a weird month here, it can be 90 degrees for a week, and then drop to 50 degrees and raining the next.

  • We have been concentrating on fruit trees and coppice wood, but the first tentative sugar peas and potatoes are in — twenty feet of bed. We are betting against the cold staying, of course — but when you try one thing and it doesn’t work, be ready to try another.

    We’ve set up the window seed starting garden and that will be for the tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Most other things will be direct sown, under cloche and row cover if necessary.

    We finally accumulated enough runner beans as saved seed from our original small handful ten years ago, to regard half of what’s on hand as FOOD. I made a potful of beans on the wood stove, using home grown wood to complete the concept of 100 foot diet, for the first time. The blue- and-tan beans turn very black and swell to butterbean size, and they are tremendously flavorful. A real treat as the occasional snowflake drifts by the window.

  • Still a couple weeks from seeding here, I’ll start tomatoes about March 1st.

    I’d like to get some lettuce starts going soon as last year I put seeds in one end and transplants in the other end of my south facing close to the house raised bed. The transplants did well and the seeds … didn’t.

    I’m still making up my seed order!

  • If we are able to close on our new house, I hope to be growing many, many things! I am zone 4-5, and am excited to start my first garden!

  • I am very nervous about saving seeds.

    My fear is ot knowing which seed is which.
    I know my personality, I plant seeds & then forget what I have planted & where – so dreading what I will be like saving the seeds & knowing what seed is what.

    I am really looking forward to reading tips on saving seeds for busy minds like mind.

    AND not sure how my seed saving will go this year as my plants are all mixed together so cross pollination I am sure has happened – but I will play – maybe I will develop a new type grin!

    Love Leanne

  • My garden is… in progress! We have to pick up some compost this weekend. Our 70 degree weather has me inspired. But I think it is supposed to rain and hail Saturday of course. I am reading up on seed saving and planting distances. Wondering how I’m going to get everything I want to grow in the tiny space I have!

  • SusanB

    Last week record snowfall, this week record heat wave, more cold to come. And me with a bad case of spring fever. I’m planning the garden for planting trees and bushes, inventorying my seeds, and just ordered some more including early tomatoes, fava beans and peas which I vow to get into the ground in a timely fashion this year (maybe in a couple of weeks).

  • I’m planning to start some flowers and lettuce this weekend. My botany kids started their flowers last week, and they’re already enjoying watching the sprouts grow.

    Their homework, due tomorrow, was to make a list of 5 veggies they want to grow, research when they could be planted outside, then figure out when we should start them inside. Tomorrow’s our last day before vacation, so I’m going to try to get all their seeds over the week and then they should have their schedule ready to go. They’re already excited about growing peas, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce… A couple have even convinced their parents to put in gardens this summer, which will be filled with the plants we start from seed at the school greenhouse.

    Now, if only I could start MY seeds in the school greenhouse…

  • I’m looking forward to starting the first of my seeds (onions) indoors next week. Then in the following weeks, I’ll be starting peppers and tomatoes.

    I may need some advice from some of you with the onions. I’ve tried several times to grow them. Although germination and seedling growth usually is fine, they then don’t grow very much in the garden after that. Same with leeks. Could it be not enough sun? Or that I’m trying to grow the wrong variety of onions for northeastern Illinois?

    In the cold frame now, carrots, mache, spinach and leaf lettuce are growing, and I sowed arugula seeds last week (haven’t seen germination yet). Today I harvested about 1/3 pound of mache, spinach seedling thinnings and lettuce. That will be good in salads!

  • Di

    Hi Melinda I started a new gardening only website now as well as my path to greendom blog. Figured I’d caught the bug good and proper so might as well go full fledged and do a major blog about it!

    The week I planted seed of: tomato, eggplant, melon, pumpkin, peppers, few herbs

    Still harvesting: broccoli, collards, beet greens, peas, oranges

  • I am hopefully gonna start my tomaters this weekend I already have the soil in my toilet paper tube start pots. I am also experementing using Tully’s Coffe cups- Supposedly they are compostable coffee cups- We will see! In other garden news I am a sprouting maniac- I have been sprouting all sorts of beans and seeds for sprouts- lentil bean sprouts, mung bean sprouts, broccoli seed sprouts (I may not be able to grow broccoli plants but I can grow Broccoli sprouts!!! Radish sprouts. I like sprouts- anyone can grow them- you don’t need soil or anything!

  • I usually grow a lot of different varieties of plants in my garden. I would like to start saving seeds but I’m worried about hybridization. Do heirlooms tend to hybridize less than plants that are more closely related? Or do they still hybridize and are these hybrids of poor quality?

  • deep, heirlooms can hybridize just was easily as any open pollinated plant. Hybrid created from them are not better or worse than other hybrids (depending on the genes you are looking for in a plant). The difference between heirlooms and non-heirloom open pollinated plants is when they were created. Heirlooms are open pollinated plants that were created before the advent of hybrids or huge factory farms, so they were bred to do well in a natural garden setting without pesticides and herbicides. They were also often bred to do well in certain areas as farmers and gardeners would save seed from year to year and the seed over time becomes well adapted to that farm/garden.

    Most modern plants even the open pollinated variety are bred for factory farming and to be useful over much of the world. They are created by huge seed companies and their bottom line is that it is cheaper to produce fewer varieties that do OK anywhere. So you get seed that will grow just about anywhere, but it isn’t great anywhere, and the produce is bred to ship well not necessarily to taste good. BTW there are small breeders out there that don’t follow the philosophy of bigger is better, but you would have to hunt for them (look for ones in your region since they would bred plants for your climate). I’ve often heard the seed called something like “modern heirlooms”, since they aren’t really heirlooms but they have some of the quality of heirlooms.

    There is an issue with heirloom seed though. Just so you know that life isn’t perfect with buying heirlooms. A seed that has been around for a long time, like Kentucky Wonder beans or Brandywine tomatoes, will have lots of different strains that have been saved over the years, strains that do well in their own little micro climate were they were growing. When you buy an heirloom from a company, you have no idea where this seed has been growing before (unless you get them from a place like the Seed Savers Yearbook), or what of these substrains you are getting. If you order from the same company the next year, they could have bought their seed from someone else so it could be a different strain. The moral of the story of course, is if you find an heirloom that you love and works well in your garden, save the seed from year to year from the best plants and you will always have it.

  • I have a question, or two, actually.
    1) When should I put compost on the ground. The ground is slowly thawing out here (Boston, MA, zone 6 I believe), but there is still some snow. Can I spread it on top and then work it in when it’s unfrozen and dried out? Or should I wait?
    2) what about composted manure?

  • Turns out I have a third question :)
    3) Is a rototiller (the kind rented from Home Depot) difficult to operate? I’ve heard some horror stories. Also (4th question!), can they handle large stones, and Christmas tree roots?
    Yup, I’m done, for now.

  • Sign me up too. I’m in zone 5.

  • Katrien – You should watch to see if others post more advice but in the meantime I’ll offer my opinion. I wouldn’t spread compost or manure on snow or frozen ground because if it thaws too fast or rains you will lose a lot of nutrients in the runoff water. This is a basic principle taken from cash crop farming and I think it would also apply to a garden. I would recommend working the compost in ASAP or spreading it on relatively dry, flat ground. As far as the rototiller goes, I know many woman who operate them well. That being said, I found it to be absolutely miserable work and was very, very grateful when my husband took over. I guess it would depend on how big the rototiller is too. Large stones would probably be a problem, for roots it would depend how big. Our rototiller broke up a lot of tree roots but had trouble with others. I hope this helps!

  • Katrien, I agree with Jena. I wouldn’t put the compost out until you’ve thawed out. I garden in WA State and the recommendation here is always to put the compost out in the spring or the nutrients leach out.

    As for the rototiller, there are even some philosophical differences about whether it is good for soil to use a rototiller. I’ve never used one, my parents do on on an infrequent basis – mostly for new garden areas. I have really rocky soil and decided to go with raised beds.

  • Thanks for checking in and asking questions! Spring is nearly here, and I can’t wait.

    Jena, sounds right to me!

    ChristyACB, Amanda, & Robbie, will add your name to the participants – welcome.

    Amanda, definitely not too late to order seeds. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but we haven’t ordered our new seeds either. ; )

    risa b, I have the feeling your house and garden are a wonderful place to be – makes me happy just reading your words about it!

    Cassandra, I hope you try lettuce again – sounds like you had a bad batch?

    livesimplylovestrongly, would you like to join the challenge? No pressure, just asking!

    Leanne, LOL I’m sure you will do FINE at saving seeds! I’m also a … um… chaotic gardener. But the great thing is you can have runner beans, soy beans, and bush beans all growing in the same garden, for example, and because they are all different species, you can save each of their seeds. Learning about the species is key and will open a lot of doors!

    Abbie, great stuff you’re doing with the kids!

    Mary, I must admit to not having much experience with bulb onions (I’ve mostly planted green onions), but I believe you’ll want a long day variety since you’re pretty far north. Also, I’ve had better experience with the onions germinating in situ (straight in the ground), and when the days weren’t very hot.

    Di, awesome – what’s the link? Somehow the one you left didn’t work…

    deep, I wrote quite a bit about seed saving here – it might help. If you are saving seed, it’s important to stay away from hybridized/”F1″ seed. When you plant seeds you’ve saved from a hybrid, it will mutate into a variety that is not what the original plant looked like, and the taste is often not very good (if it even produces the edible fruit or vegetable). In an ideal world, you want heirloom seeds, preferably open-pollinated and organic or biodynamic. Daphne’s comment is full of good info, too.

    Katrien, 1&2. I agree with Jena & Deb G, you’ll want to wait until you can mix the compost or manure into your soil. Also, after you mix in the manure, wait a couple of weeks before you plant so that the manure has time to settle down a bit – manure can burn new seedlings.

    3. We used a rototiller the very first time we started our old garden, because the soil was really dead and compacted. We were lucky, though, that the guys in the vineyard brought over their big tractor-pulled tiller. So I don’t have experience handling one myself.

    After that very first time, though, we didn’t till – there isn’t really a need to do so, and there are so many needed microbes and worms in the soil that die when you till. That’s our thought, anyway!

  • Nevermind, Di, I found you! : )

  • Thanks for the onion growing tips, Melinda. I’m working with a long day variety, but will try germinating in the garden. Another thing I might try is starting onions in mid July, to grow as “sets” that I’ll try planting the next spring. I’m determined…

  • Zone 7 (SE TN). Our family has been gardening organically for years, but this year are planning to use Heirlooms exclusively. We also preserve for later use (canning, etc). Looking foward to “watching” others gardens this year too.

    Our first seeds to start will be an heirloom variety of Brandywines sent to us by a friend, while we await the arrival of our seed orders from various companies. It’s almost time for gardening again !

    Grace & Peace,

  • whey are my tomatoes having rot spots on them before they ripe?

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