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The Growing Challenge

There are now three options!  You may continue to sign up for The Original Growing Challenge below, or you my sign up for The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed or The Growing Challenge Evangelist Edition (click those links for details)!

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

The Original Growing Challenge

Welcome! I began this challenge in January 2008, at Elements In Time: Creating Edible Landscape (my first blog), thinking that for a variety of reasons, it was time to gather together and learn to grow more food. Well, apparently lots of others felt the same way, and we quickly became a great, supportive community of food gardeners!! We have fun together, learn from one another, boast about our harvests, and occasionally we cry on each others’ shoulders when things just don’t work out. And then we pick ourselves up, and start again!

Please feel free to join us any time.

Here are the Rules of The Growing Challenge:


Grow one additional type of fruit or vegetable than you did last year, and grow it from seed. If you’ve never grown anything, well, grow one thing! If you’ve never grown beans or carrots or lettuce or strawberries, try one of those…. And if you don’t have a garden, you can grow in a pot or on a window sill – see Gardening 101: Ordering Seeds for links about how. The goal is to push ourselves to grow a little more food than we have before.


If rule #1 is not enough of a challenge for you, you may make your own rules. For example, I’m going to grow two fruits and three veggies more than I did last year.


Post about gardening once each week. This could be a post about researching different plants, ordering seeds, buying pots, digging beds, planting the seeds, pruning, adding compost, all the way to preparing a meal that includes the food you grew. Please include “Growing Challenge” in the name of the posts – and/or have a Growing Challenge tag in your sidebar – so we can all find them! Also, if you link to this page, the trackback function will list all our posts together right here, for easy access. (If you don’t have a blog, feel free email me a blurb about your gardening progress and/or leave a comment in the weekly Growing Challenge Check-Ins.)


Check In. Every week I will write a check-in post at 1 Green Generation. Please come comment and let everyone know what you’re up to – this is a really great way to learn from one another!!


When signing up, make sure to include your zone and where you’re located. (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 me know in the comments below** if you’re joining in the fun!

If you ever have questions or anything else comes up, please email me!


The Growing Challenge

To add the 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. Sorry I can’t host the button – my bandwidth has been eaten up by the little logo – who knew!

Growing List of Participants:

  1. LimeSarah, Suburban Entwife
  2. Tameson O’Brien, Tameson’s Musing
  3. Green Bean, Green Bean Dreams
  4. Laura, Urban Hennery
  5. Simply Belinda, Belinda’s Place
  6. Melissa
  7. Ali, Our Patch
  8. Lisa, The Tin House
  9. Idaho Locavore, Simply Local Idaho
  10. Sweets, Sweet Southern Knits
  11. The Happy Housewife, The Lucky G
  12. Tracy, Sunny Corner Farm
  13. Jayedee, Life in the Lost World…
  14. Leanne, At the Good Life
  15. Ellen, Ellen’s Grind
  16. Ivy, Shakadoo
  17. Rejin, Urban Botany
  18. Meg, Future House Farm
  19. Emily, Eat Close to Home
  20. Kimberly, Sunshine Alternative Mama
  21. Pattie, FoodShed Planet
  22. Kerry, Wicked Flavory
  23. Farm Mom, Children In The Corn
  24. Rebecca, Sticks and Stones
  25. TamaraC
  26. Kory, Kicking and Screaming
  27. dancingfatcat
  28. Jenny, Seeded
  29. Diana, Thane’s Neck Farm
  30. The Forge Village Farmer, The Edible Landscape Project
  31. Sarah Gilbert, Cafe Mama
  32. Lisa, Natural Gardening
  33. Lori (my sister!), Life in Webster Groves
  34. Mel, Green Gringa
  35. Hannah, The Purloined Letter
  36. SegoLily, Media Knits
  37. Andrea, Heavy Petal
  38. Teacher A, Teacher Anonymous
  39. Emma, Fluffius Muppetus
  40. Craig, Harvistry
  41. Tracey, Life in Sugar Hollow
  42. Kristi, Not So Crafty
  43. Curtis, Growing Thumbs
  44. Anthony, The Compost Bin
  45. Late Bloomer, Soccer Moms and Single Chicks
  46. Gina, My Skinny Garden
  47. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener
  48. Neil Pedersen, Petrogy
  49. Dave, The Home Garden
  50. Kate, Hills and Plains Seedsavers
  51. Susan Harris, GardenRant
  52. Christina, A Thinking Stomach
  53. Jen, Emerald Sunshine
  54. Maltagirl, Shenanigans
  55. Daharja, Cluttercut
  56. Shibaguyz, Life with the Shibaguyz
  57. Jonathan, Votiso’s World
  58. Doug, SeedTraderDug
  59. Diane, Peaceful Acres
  60. Danielle, Savor Culture
  61. Carmen, Who Me? The Adventures of Hippy Goodwife
  62. Janet, Rainy Day Gardening
  63. Sarah Z, Ward Road Garden
  64. Mark, Garden Desk
  65. Tanny,
  66. Tom, My Simple Home Garden
  67. Shawna, This Is Me
  68. Colleen, In the Garden Online
  69. Lissa, Confabulation
  70. Tina, Taming The Garden
  71. Summer, The Tao Of Summer
  72. Earth Heart, From My Homestead
  73. Julie Artz,
  74. Lara, The Crone At Wits End
  75. Melanie, Old Country Gardens
  76. Top Veg, Top Veg
  77. Jocele, Knitting On Call
  78. Kate, Inner City Garden
  79. PumpkinPatch
  80. Vickie, In The Acorn
  81. Angelina, Dustpan Alley
  82. Hatchet, Woman With A Hatchet
  83. Can I Eat It?
  84. Graziana, Erbe En Cucina
  85. Lisa, The Tardy Homemaker
  86. Ceara, Garden of Eatin’
  87. Britt, Britt’s News
  88. Kelly, My Garden Plot
  89. Colleen, These Daily Colors
  90. Ann Marie, Cheese Slave
  91. Deb G, Bee Creative
  92. Nathalie, CWM Goch Chronicles
  93. Jen C, A Garden Experiment
  94. Matt, The Geek Homesteader
  95. Liberty, Liberty’s Yarn
  96. Windyridge, Musings at Windyridge
  97. Melinda, One Green Generation
  98. Hannah, Caminho Da Vida
  99. Kendra, A Sonoma Garden
  100. Carolyn, Waite for Carolyn
  101. Jinx, Hi-Jinx
  102. Sue, Dog’s Little Acre
  103. Naturewitch
  104. Kimberley, The Life of a Garden
  105. Renee, I’m In The Garden
  106. Christina, Coffee Coffee Coffee
  107. Mrs. Mecomber, New York Renovator
  108. A Frugal Life – Just The Two Of Us
  109. Aradiay6, Gaia Community Blog
  110. Erica, One Busy Mama
  111. Pete, Allotment 5 1/2
  112. Carla, Violet Lane
  113. Jen, What’s Your Name, Mommy?
  114. Allie, Allie’s Answers
  115. Jen, Craft Adventures of Stitch Chick
  116. Nature Deva
  117. Erikka, The_Extra_Ordinary
  118. Kim/Blackswampgirl, A Study In Contrasts
  119. Compostings
  120. Dig This Chick
  121. Rena, A Day In The Life… Whew!
  122. Steve Kirk, Making Perfect Sense
  123. Jayne, Our Great Southern Land
  124. Cia007, Whimsical Ponderings
  125. Katrina, What Katrina’s Up To At the Moment
  126. Suzan, Scrub Oak
  127. Hedgewitch, Earth And Tree
  128. Sacha
  129. Jimmy Cracked Corn
  130. Kate, Make-a-(Green)Plan
  131. SuzyQ, Squirrel Chatter
  132. Kate Has Roots, The Root
  133. Heather, As The Mood Swings
  134. Chicharon, ‘Dig’ The Earth
  135. JasonL, Primolicious
  136. Lesley, Lesley’s Gardening
  137. Melanie J, Ember’s Lighthouse
  138. Phyllis, Green Universe
  139. Carolyn, Walnut Spinney
  140. Cheap Like Me
  141. Merlot, Merlot Mudpies
  142. Sam, Loving Green
  143. Becca, Becca’s Musings
  144. Dina, Dina’s Hip Chick Chronicles
  145. Linz, The Pondering Sheep
  146. Cathode, Inner Suburban Sustainability
  147. Grow This
  148. The Late Rob (Often Late, But Always With Style), Rob’s World
  149. Chris, Chez Musser
  150. Abbie, Farmer’s Daughter
  151. Julie, Towards Sustainability
  152. Eco ‘Burban Mom, Eco ‘Burban: Green Living For The Suburban Life
  153. Dana, The Small Piece Of The World We Tend
  154. Rebecca, Rebecca’s Life
  155. Jodie, Jelly Wares
  156. KateF, Picklebums
  157. Monica
  158. Trish, Castles In The Air
  159. Jennifer, Veg*n Cooking And Other Random Musings
  160. Kelly, Taurus Rising
  161. Heather in Oregon, Accidentally Frugal
  162. Milk, Milkweed Diaries
  163. Laurel, Nefaeria
  164. Sonnjea, Slowification
  165. Samantha, World of Wonders
  166. Amanda, A Homegrown Life
  167. Risa B, Stony Run Farm
  168. Viv, Highway Cottage
  169. Laura, Mas Du Diable
  170. Becky
  171. Greenfumb, Footprint Reduction In The ‘Burbs
  172. Duane, The Funny Farm
  173. Ian, Kitchen Garden In France
  174. Mary, Mary’s Florida Garden
  175. Tracy, Sunny S’African Garden
  176. Mama What The
  177. Jacqui Jones, Our New Country Life
  178. Jane, A Nice Blue Plate
  179. BevB, BevB’s Backyard
  180. Sarah, Going Green, In Little Baby Steps
  181. Cammy Harbison
  182. Lorina, Lorina Lately
  183. Jules, The Garden of Plenty
  184. Joy, El Mundo De Mamacita
  185. Trudy, Loving Home
  186. Maureen, Fotos By Meg
  187. Greg, Utah Valley Gardens
  188. Darlene, Stover Lane
  189. Sherri M, Sherri’s Mad Blabber Blog
  190. Paula, Buckets Of Gardening Ideas
  191. Jennifer, Seeds In The City
  192. Deb, Simple Not Easy
  193. Kara, Garden of Eatin’
  194. Allison, Adventures In Container Gardening
  195. Jason, Two Thousand Trees
  196. Krista, Provincial Pie
  197. Bunny, Carrot Wishes And Cilantro Dreams
  198. Chessa, Maybe Local Vegan!
  199. Roz, Gaea’s Box Of Rocks
  200. Mangochild, Living In A Local Zone
  201. Spanishloquat
  202. Wendy, Greenish Thumb
  203. DermaTalk
  204. Bec, Bec’s Green Diary
  205. Ken Toney, Our Mountain Farm
  206. Anne, Powell Cottage
  207. Marlene
  208. Jim, Andrews Education & Research
  209. Bree, The Knittings of Bree
  210. Linda Vate Brattstrom
  211. Kelli, The Eensy Weensy Spider
  212. Melanie J., Ember Madrone
  213. Remote Gardener

147 comments to The Growing Challenge

  • Yay, return of the Growing Challenge! Our garden has yielded about four purple string beans and 10 sugar snap peas so far, and is being taken over by potatoes with delicate purple and white blossoms. This all despite being traumatized by severe windy thunderstorms, some mysterious digging critter, and at one point dime-sized hail. The potatoes are sort of flat now, but I don’t want to try to stake them back up; I’m worried of breaking them.

  • Hi, found you!
    I am wondering if you will still be doing the growing challenge posts? and the journal reviews?
    if so, um, where are they?
    I swear to god I am a bimbo!

  • SARAH, yikes, your poor garden! But sounds like it’s resilient – and beautiful. I can’t wait until we have potatoes. The plants are getting big, but we planted them so late, I hope they still produce!

    CATHODE, Yes! I will be doing the Growing Challenge posts again! With the move and the job search and such, I just haven’t had a chance. But the new plan (above) is to have a weekly check in and a monthly recap about what people are up to.

  • [...] weekly reports at this point! As a memory jogger, The Growing Challenge was started by Melinda of One Green Generation as a way to encourage people interested in sustainable living, or homesteading agriculture, or [...]

  • [...] lifestyle, for many reasons. So if you aren’t growing food yet, I encourage you to try growing something. There are many things you can still grow from seed (in the Northern Hemisphere). If you are unsure [...]

  • I’ve been terrible and got sidetracked from leaving regular reports! Our garden is doing well – but forget those darned carrots. Who are these people who say they are the easiest things to grow? And will grow all year round? They just won’t work for me!!! I have planted hundreds of seeds and 3 count them THREE! have germinated!!!!

    I’m glad I had the secondary challege plan of getting into permaculture because carrots aside everything else is doing pretty well and our garden this year has produced more than we have ever done before. Still room for more though – lots more!

    Those carrots – we’ll give them another bash in spring.

  • Nathalie, no worries – with the move and the blog moving and all, I have been terrible too! Important thing is that you’re still growing!!

    Carrots – they are finicky. I never understood it when people say that either. I tried to grow them 3 times last year before I got it right. They require constant monitoring when they’re germinating – I watered them probably 3 times a day. And not just any water, water in the form of a fine mist (otherwise I think they float away!). I also covered them with a hoop tunnel of burlap – that seemed to keep them a little cooler in the summer.

    Thanks for the update!

    Hi all, am hoping someone can help me out. I have a shady spot in the garden (a 1/2 wine barrel) and I would like to plant something edible in. The area gets only about 1/2 hr of direct sunlight a day.

    Is there any kind of edible plant that would survive in these conditions?

  • Cathode, hmmm… lettuces and other greens would probably do ok. My fire escape garden gets very little direct sun and everything is growing (though not nearly as fast), but I started everything in the sun, and then moved them to the shade. You might try that: germinate in the sun, and let the plants get decent sized, and then transplant them to the barrel. That said, it depends on *how* shady it is. Is it deep, dark shade or just no direct sun? And can you place the barrel next to something white, to reflect any additional light? (A white wall, a white board, anything.)

  • It is actually surrounded on 3 sides by a cream coloured 6ft high brick wall (is where my meter box is), pretty much only gets sun when it is directly overhead.
    Im thinking I may just have to forgo edibles and re pot the Draceana-Colorama (Dragon Plant) into it (I tend to plant all ‘indoor’ plants outside anyway).

    thanks for your help!

    btw, I think you are right, it is a relative of the ground cherry (Cossack pineapple).

  • Hiya! I haven’t been posting about my garden in my blog much but promise to do better. We’ve got Colorado potato beetles that love the kale – I’ve been picking the little buggers off regularly and they keep coming. Any tips -organic wise? Otherwise, have been harvesting peas, lettuces, zukes and crooknecks. Beans are about ready, tomatoes are s-l-o-w.

  • We have a great product in Australia (not sure if it is over there) and it is called Beat-a-Bug … it is a mixture of chilli and garlic oil with a dash of pyrethrum…great for most of the cabbage family plants.

    Someone else told me that if you put an esspresso shot in 5-8 litres of water (so one shot of real caffeine coffee) and spray it on plants, it keeps something away, but cant remember if it is snails or bugs.

    Another friend said they use a mix spray of vinegar, a little oil, chilli, garlic and pepper and that keeps their food plants safe …

    worth a try : )

  • Thanks for the heads up on the changed link… we didn’t even think about that when you changed host sites. All fixed up now though!

  • SUZAN, I promise to do better, too. : ) I haven’t had that much of a problem with Colorado Potato Beetles, so I don’t know unfortunatley, but Cathode is full of advice that sounds great!!

    I also looked them up in my organic pest book, and it says:

    - shake them off plants in the morning & dump them into soapy water
    - attract native predators and pollinators with pollen and nectar flowers
    - mulch deeply with straw
    - cover plants with a floating row cover
    - release soldier bugs or Edovum puttleri (parasitic wasps)
    - apply parasitic nematodes to the soil to attack larvae
    - spray plants weekly with neem or pyrethrin

    CATHODE, great stuff – my mom uses straight vinegar to kill all sorts of weeds and bugs in the garden!

    SHIBAGUYZ, : ) You’re actually among the few who’ve changed the link already!!

  • OOOOOOOOOh another challenge- and one I can eat! Sign me up as the late rob as I am late as usual to a challenge!

  • Awesome, Rob!! It’s never too late!!

  • Colleen

    Just found the changed website Yay! My garden is growing but there may not be much to harvest! I have Basil but it’s growing so slowly I doubt I’ll have much more than garnish quantities. Full sun, but it doesn’t seem to want to flourish. My spinach has gone to seed now but I did get some edible leaves before it went off. Carrots didn’t do anything so I gave up on those. Once the wet cold spring resolved toward summer I finally just bought transplants of tomotoes. Now they have lots and lots of flowers but aren’t setting fruit. They’re in 3 gallon pots of good soil plus commercial compost and just a bit of lime, on the south side up against the light colored house, which I thought would be a good place for them. I see bees and such so I’d think pollination wouldn’t be the issue. Any idea what’s up?

  • COLLEEN, Welcome to the new place! If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that about carrots… wow, they really are temperamental, eh? So the tomatoes… you have flowers and bees but no fruit…???? Weird.

    Here’s a little bit of info I found at the WSU extension site:

    From that info, it looks like temperature and humidity can deter pollination, but that you can aid pollination by slightly shaking the plant in the morning.

    You also may not have the right type of bees – I believe they need bumblebees specifically. You could try hand pollinating – I will be doing that shortly, so I’ll be sure to post about it.

    And also, if they are the first few flowers of the season, I wouldn’t worry – often the first ones do fall without fruit set. For more information you can try calling your local university extension office – usually master gardeners have a decent help line.

  • FOLLOW-UP on COLLEEN’S question:

    After doing some more reading, it seems that most tomatoes are self-pollinating, having both male and female parts in the same flower. They do, however, need vibration in order to pollinate. This can be in the form of wind, bees, shaking the plant, flicking the flowers, or holding a vibrating razor or toothbrush gently against the flowers or stem.

    Also, the pollen becomes sticky when it’s humid, and less viable in cold and hot weather. So Colleen, it could have been that early wet weather (but hopefully that will change with the sunny weather). Also, if it’s still getting below 55, you may want to cover your tomatoes with a frost cloth to keep it warm at night.

    Hope that helps!

  • [...] At long last, here we are! Those of you who are new to One Green Generation and Elements In Time, you may or may not have followed the link in the left sidebar that leads to The Growing Challenge. [...]

  • Glad that your back! Love the new site :) There are lots of new comings I need to be checking out now.

    Hate to be a pain, but the link to my site on your list, is wrong lol. No biggie, just a friendly FYI.

  • Erica, Yikes!! So sorry! It’s fixed. Glad you like the new site. ; )

  • I am glad the challenge is back and going forward…. our contribution the the challenge was we planted Okra this year. We ended up with 2 pitiful plants… still wondering what we will harvest from them. We also planted a few bush beans. We have had a great harvest off so few plants. We also planted gourds… tons of them.. the first are ready to harvest and dry to turn into bird houses. Check out the blog here…


  • OK I wanna do a another seed! While I like the borage it is slow. I was in the nursery today and just glancing at the diminishing seed rack and something caught my eye- I realized I have never ever tried (oh the shame) to grow broccoli! So i am adding broccoli ‘De Cicco’ type to my list!

  • If you follow this link, you can get to all of my posts on the Challenge so far.

    I’ve been having great fun this summer growing veggies. I am currently waiting (impatiently) for my tomatoes to ripen. They’re now taller than I am and I see fruit all over them, but none are ripe yet. Aiee! I have bell peppers, 2 kinds of tomatillos, ground cherries, zucchini, crookneck squash, pumpkins, 3 kinds of winter squash, and green beans all setting fruit which is all kinds of wonderful.

    On a daily basis I get to bring in a zuke or two, fondle tomato leaves, ogle spaghetti squash and make pesto plans. I’ve also got a jungle started on my deck as well. Because really, 4 raised beds just aren’t enough for me! I’ve even started a new pot with carrots, spinach and parsley as my fall crop. Tomorrow I’ll put together another pot with peas and lettuce. Crazy to think about “fall” crops in late July.

    Thanks for starting this up again!

  • CHRISTINA, Sorry to hear about your okra plants!! I didn’t have much luck with okra last year either – I think it needs a long, hot summer. But I planted purple okra and the flowers were absolutely gorgeous. I may plant them just for the flowers some day – the bees loved them too! I’m glad you did have luck with the beans and gourds – will you post about how to build the bird houses?!

    ROB, AWESOME. I know, it’s catching, isn’t it? And yes, broccoli is pretty darn easy to grow from seed so you have no excuses. ; )

    HATCHET, I’m so glad you’re having fun! Isn’t it great? Our tomatoes haven’t ripened yet either but they will. Yum, you are going to have a great late summer/early fall harvest! And we all need to start thinking about our fall crops…

  • I just joined on the old site. But, in case, I want to join the fun. I move to my new yard next week. And, I plan to grow at least something edible. At least one type of food, enough for our family (at least one meal =)).

  • Here’s Dana’s comment:

    I want to join the challenge. I will grow at least one something edible in my yard. This will be great for the family to do together. And, we’re in zone 9.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 – 04:39 PM

  • DANA, you have a jungle!! Wow, I’m looking forward to watching your new edible garden grow – I’m sure it will be beautiful and fun to create. Welcome.

  • I want to join the challenge. I’m in Seattle and this year I’m growing carrots and parsnips and rutabaga –all new to my garden. I’m also focusing on my winter garden much more than in the past.

    I can’t wait to see what everyone else is growing!

  • REBECCA, Great! I’ve also added you to the Northwest Blog List – pleased to meet a new Seattle blogger! Also, we’re going to have a northwest blogger meet & greet next month – we’re still ironing out the details, so stay tuned. There’s a post about it here, if you’re interested. Either way, I’m looking forward to watching your Seattle garden grow!

  • I am so up for this challenge!

    We have almost 10 acres of mostly weeds just north west of Melbourne, Australia – in theory that makes us zone 3 but in reality I think we have a bit of zone 2 thrown in as well. We get snow here occasionally in winter and have some exceptionally late frost but usually long hot summers… makes for a bit of fun for a beginner gardener.

    We’ve been here a little over three years and in that time have planted almost 350 trees, put in a 30 tree orchard and begun a pretty big veggie and herb garden. We are total beginners and have had a lot of failures but heaps of success as well. Above all I love that we are teaching our three young children (4 year old twins and a one year old) how much fun it is to grow your own food and be responsible for your footprint on this earth.

    Looking forward to following this and your great blog!

  • KATE, Your garden sounds wonderful!! I’m so jealous of your fruit trees! I love watching children learn about gardening – I’m sure yours will grow up to be amazing gardeners. Wow, I can’t wait – your garden is going to be inspiring to watch grow!

  • monica

    This is my first attempt to post in a blog (I am so excited). I am going to do this growing challenge–in containers, over the winter–in our spare bedroom. I found two books from the library to get started.

    I am buying seeds today. I am looking forward to carrots and spinach for Christmas!

    I love this site!

  • monica

    Well, I am back from my errands–with lettuce, carrots, beets and peas in seeds that we are going to plant.

    With me not able to find a job . . . the house is going to have to pay for itself if we are going to keep it . . . the spare bedroom faces the west for natural light.

    scrolling through the other posts. . .our bees go right to the pond water, but not to the flowers two feet away. . .

    I even found cat grass, so they may have a snack that is local, too. I found some duckweed for the pet turtles in the aquariums–they aren’t quite sure what to do with it.

  • MONICA, Sorry it took so long to respond – I’ve been away from the computer and busy with a visit from my sister.

    Welcome to the challenge! And welcome to One Green Generation!

    So you are going to garden indoors, am I understanding that right? Excellent! What books did you find? I’m so curious! I’ve been thinking about growing some things indoors this winter as well.

    My cat LOVES her cat grass – loves it. It makes her very happy, so I’m sure your kitties will love it too.

    I look forward to hearing more from you!

  • monica

    “The Indoor Garden” by Joy Spocznska (1989)(isbn 0-06-0160118-7)
    “The Edible Indoor Garden” by Peggy Hardigree (1980)(I couldn’t find the isbn #, I ordered it through the library)
    “Kids Container Gardening” by Cindy Krezel (isbn 1-883052) (mostly to get our son involved–he wants to plant carrots–but the book was not very informative for inside applications)

    It seemed that there are far more resources for maintaining flowers inside, or assume that they would be later taken outside. These describe the light/temp requirements. I think that these will be easier to control inside. I live in zone 6–Ohio, but at times it seems much hotter and dry.

    I will be planting mostly vegetables that I know we grow well outside to start. But I also want to try Salsify (never even heard of it!) I planted the lettuces (6 varieties so we can see which we like and grow well.) in a railing window box.

    The village is calling me back about the chickens. I think I sold my Hubby on it when I mentioned that we might have pickled eggs and red beets for Christmas. Gotta get them interested through their tummy.

  • MONICA, Thanks! I will definitely check out those books at the library. Regarding your hardiness zone – I have found that that categorization only goes so far. There is also a heat zone map that is becoming more popular (there’s a link at the top of that page for a downloadable version).

    And congratulations about the chickens! Let us know how it works out, and feel free to share your pickled eggs and beet recipe any time. : )

  • [...] What an experiment! I’ll report back here as the fall garden develops. Check out what other folks are doing on The Growing Challenge. [...]

  • [...] are currently 157 people who are a part of this challenge. Please join us! Just head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all [...]

  • Hi, it’s hannah, no 99 :)
    I have changed my blog to a different account and had to make a whole new blog, now it’s
    I have a new update, and a few older ones people may not have seen. The garden is coming along well, growing lots of new things, from seed (endives, kohlrabi, broad beans, coriander) and from other means (raspberries, apricot, nectarine, tamarillo, apples, strawberries, asparagus and more)

  • monica

    Checking in . . .
    County Fair this week. I think our son would like being in 4-H.

    camping in the rain last weekend
    sprouts all over in my container garden in the house

    No significant rain in the garden for about a month.

    I think it is a go with the chickens–but still checking on the zoning. It is odd that the high school has tractor day: the last week of classes, the senior boys all get to drive a tractor from home, but there are regulations against a chicken in the village limits! Zoning board says they want to be careful on the wording so that cafo’s will not be drawn to the area.

  • We’d love to join in! I know it’s a little late, but we are gardening in containers and a community garden, and are attempting to get started on our first indoor winter garden.

    My partner and I are in hardiness zone 6 and hail from Columbia, Missouri.

  • Hannah, love the new blog!

    Monica, Thanks for checking in – pardon my ignorance, but what are “cafo’s”?

    Jennifer, welcome! No problem – it is perfect timing to begin a fall and winter garden! And I’m looking forward to hearing about your indoor garden – several of us are going to try it this year, but I think it’s new to all of us!

  • Here’s a note from Trish, that I’m bringing over from the old blog.

    From Trish, Castles In The Air:

    I’m joining in as this fits in with my own personal goals. Your zoning does not include New Zealand so as best I can tell I’m about a zone 2 Australia.

  • ok ,im in. newbies for me this year are cabbage and parsnip in some lovely newly sited vege patches. Im in zone 4 south australia. look forward joining in the community.

  • monica

    cafo stands for “controlled animal feeding operation”. They are the factory farms of the modern age people who expect to have all of the benefits of wonderful food. What the consumer fails to realize is the deplorable conditions the animal suffer–improper diet, unsanitary waste disposal (some of them just pump out the manure into ponds where they leach into ground water) Do a general websearch and you will begin to understand the true nature of what happens to your food before it gets to your plate. The cafo owners build a barn with a metal grate where the manure falls through until it gets pumped out. The owner will fill the barn beyond capacity with cows, chickens, pigs for the sole purpose of selling as many as they can. cafo’s are not something I want next door to me–I would rather eat an egg that I raised myself that I knew had a good diet and not full of diseases.

  • [...] of the beauties of The Growing Challenge is that we are able to see what’s growing all around the world. This month it has been [...]

  • I guess I will be #161 ;)

    I’ll read thru everything now…but I just wanted to sign up before I got sidetracked.


  • Nathalie – about carrots – I have a solution that I learned from a worn out old book by Ruth Stout – plant your seeds according to the directions on the package (depth and so on) but make sure of TWO THINGS!!!

    ONE – your soil cannot crust over between waterings (ie clay soil WILL crust over). Carrot seeds are finicky and will not break through.

    So…this is where TWO comes in – cover the seeds with damp cardboard.

    Keep everything moist and after a few days peel back the cardboard and peek underneath…

    As soon as you see little sprouts toss the cardboard into the compost and voila you will have carrots in a few months.

    Oh and do follow the soil culture rules for carrots too – light friable soil, no rocks, no fresh manure, not a ton of fertility – but some is good.

    What is the source for this fountain of knowledge about carrots you ask? Well, years of gardening – plus lots of book reading!

    Back to reading :)

  • This is why I love this place, I never thought to do that with carrots and I have tons of clay soil. My fall crops were just seeded so I should still be able to try this trick. Thank you heather.

  • I’m glad I could help. I had zillions of crop failures too until I tried this method.

  • MONICA, Ah CAFO – got it. Wasn’t thinking about that in terms of residential areas. Scary that they have to word it specifically so that they’re not drawn to the area. AWESOME that you’re working with the zoning board on this!!

    HEATHER, Wow, thank you for that!! I’ve been trying to figure out what to tell people about growing carrots – so many of us seem to have issues with them!! I’ve heard of wetting a paper towel, but cardboard would retain more water so that’s even better. And you have supported my suspicions that carrots don’t like fresh manure or compost. It seems that it needs to be well-aged. KORY, It’s why I love it too! Will you let us know how the Heather Method works for you? I’m going to try it, too.

  • For anyone subscribed to The Growing Challenge comments, wanted to let you know that my conversation with Colleen (above) inspired my latest post. It’s a video (!!!!) about how to hand-pollinate tomatoes and peppers. Check it out here:

    Gardening 101: How to Hand-Pollinate Tomatoes & Peppers

    Also, you can see what are garden looks like in beautiful video form. ; )

  • monica

    cafo (I should have SHOUTED, Right?) They certainly don’t say it on the labels, but I just can’t stand to buy them anymore in the store.

    I watched your hand pollinating video and I will tell my environmental science teacher about it. I mentioned that I was going to try the indoor/ winter garden and she wanted to know how I would pollinate without bugs. I think she was trying to caution me against it. It is not like I am expecting enough to preserve or freeze. At some point though, we may depend on knowing how to do such things without the benefits of bees. Your garden is gorgeous by the way!

    I have learned from several sources that plants rely more on length of day than temperature, especially when producing flowers or fruit. They are susceptible to frost though and will not recover if any are exposed. A few varieties can endure some though, so check your seed labels.

    I have noticed that many of the garden stores are putting all of their seeds away, or they are out-of-stock for the season. Many of the mailorder catalogs are getting ready to send out Spring planting.

    As my postings are getting longer, I think I should open up my own blogg. Anybody have good sites to get started–I have NO clue as to even where to begin!!

  • [...] all day, I was inspired to take charge of my overgrown garden and take stock of my progress on the Growing Challenge and my Companion Planting work with Team [...]

  • MONICA, LOL, no – I just capitalize acronyms. : ) There are lots of crops that don’t need to be pollinated by bees – peppers & tomatoes, lettuces, beets, carrots, greens, potatoes, herbs, … a lot of crops we eat before they flower. Interestingly, these are also the crops that do better in winter (minus the peppers, toms, & pots).

    You’re welcome to write away here! No worries at all – we all learn from it. However, if you want to start your own blog, you might start with Blogger – it seems to be the easiest program to use. I prefer WordPress, but I do have to know a bit of HTML code.

  • OK, I finally, finally understand trackbacks! Here goes….

    If you’re a WordPress blogger, linking to this post will automatically “ping” here and create a link below. If you’re not a WordPress blogger, you can do the same thing by entering:

    into the “Trackback” field of your blog post.

    For more information about trackbacks, here is a good explanation (or a boring but informative video walks you through it here) and this link if you have a Blogger account.

  • Ok, you’re on!

    I’m adding Brussels Sprouts to my fall garden – the first time I’ve grown them. I started them from seed about 10 days ago and they’re very cute little brusselbabies now. I’m growing 2 varieties, Catskill (Long Island Improved) and Rubine, which promises to be a RED Brussels Sprout!

    Onward and gardenward,


  • Fabulous, Milk! You have a beautiful garden. Can’t wait to read more about your fall & winter gardening techniques.

  • [...] creating a new challenge for growing a winter garden. However, I think we cover it pretty well with The Growing Challenge. So, if you’re thinking about growing a fall or winter garden and need some extra incentive, [...]

  • dancingfatcat

    I know it’s been a long time but I thought I should check in sometime, seeing how summer is coming to a close.
    On my last report (spring) I was having trouble with my gardens location, I have a container garden due to sunlight and space issues. Anyway I decided to put the tomato plants under the arch way, in the planter but behind the condo’s existing hedge (so far no one has complained). This way my veggies get about six hours of sun, which is plenty cause it get so hot. So here is what I planted: one of each, roma, stripy, yellow and early girl tomato’s. Two cherry tom’s, three green bell peppers, two jalapeno’s, six yellow bells, three sweet banana peppers, an armenian cucumber and two tomitollos. I also grew green beans.

    Everything is doing well, especially the peppers. It has been a little to hot for the tomatoes, not as many as I would like, but I think once the temp’s drop some I’ll get a better return. The tomitollos were a complete waste of time, they grew and grew but no fruit. Got huge cucumbers and someone stole one! Got few green beans but they seem to be going to town now.

    I got my order of seeds for my fall/winter garden and just planted lettuce and broccoli. I’m going to try to overwinter the peppers and tomato’s, let’s see what happens. I’ll be planting the fall seeds next weekend, so we’ll see how it goes as I’ve never planted for the fall.

    Maybe at some point I’ll try to post some pic’s. Thanks for all the tips, like the safe drinking hose and journaling about our gardens, you’ve been a great help!

  • Just found this – better late than never, I guess! I’m in Long Beach, CA, zone 9-10. Thanks for all the great information!

  • [...] are currently 164 people who are a part of this challenge. Head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all [...]

  • I’m joining in the fun too. I live in the Netherlands, zone 8.

  • Samantha & Sonnjea, Welcome! Sonnjea, please feel free to introduce yourself to everyone at the latest Growing Challenge post. Samantha, I’ll look into your question there.

    Dancingfatcat, good to hear from you! And wow – everything sounds great! I had no idea you were growing so many things. I wonder why the tomatillos didn’t fruit… weird. Mine were extremely prolific last year. If your tomatoes are flowering but not setting fruit, you can try to give them a little hand and see if that helps.

    All in all, I’m impressed and glad it has worked out! I look forward to pics!

  • Hi Melinda! I should have joined the Challenge months ago, but, well, I didn’t. I’m nearing the end of my first summer harvesting (we’re in California, zone 9), and I’ve learned a lot. Like, how much I don’t know! My tomatoes did well, but I didn’t get a single green bean. Still have no idea why. Harvested one cantelope off of six plants. One watermelon off three plants. Three small pumpkins off six plants — and two of them shriveled. But my ONE eggplant is still producing FABULOUSLY — and my family actually likes them! (Thank God for parmesan cheese!) And my bell peppers have done pretty well, small and a little sunburned, but still producing. And my herbs have done well, too, so that’s a blessing.

    Now I’m getting ready to plant a TON more for our fall/winter garden — and I really hope I have more success! I’m starting everything from seed, and I’m going to read as much as I can about each veggie so I don’t do anything stupid.

    It’s been fun, even if it wasn’t as productive as I hoped! Fortunately, I also had my parents’ fruit trees to keep me busy with baking and canning. :)

  • Hi there and thanks for starting this Challenge!

    I joined the Challenge last week, but have been away from home and did not get the chance to post here yet.

    This year my family is growing food in containers on a balcony, in not the most opportune growing conditions (zone 3b/4a, Northwest facing balcony), but hopefully that will be partially remedied next year! We also grow everything organic, so we have not been using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

    It has been somewhat challenging to track down local organic and heirloom seeds, as well as figuring out what can be grown in our region in containers, on a balcony that does not get very much sunlight. After experimenting last year, we decided to not grow peppers, cukes, or tomatoes this year, and got a really nifty recipe for a homemade pesticide that works.

    This year we are growing two different types of peas, two different types of beans, carrots, beets, greens, spinach, lettuce, onions, and a bunch of culinary and medicinal herbs.

    We are lucky to have such a great Farmer’s Market in our city, and have access to so much wild food and medicine, that what we can’t grow, we can get local eats quite easily during the growing season.

    I have never really preserved food before, save canning with my Grandma when I was a little girl and drying herbs and some food; however, my better half has some experience, and we are going to try and get a canning set and have a stab at preserving more food this year.

    Now we just need a bigger garden, cluckers (et al!), and a root cellar! :)



  • ‘K, well, I’m a Freedom Gardener and doing Independence Days, might as well roll up my sleeves and pitch in here, too. Won’t do much about the harvest till the roof is done, though.

    We have gardened here for 32 straight years, and are kind of set in our ways. Umm, what are we doing that’s really new for us? Oh, yah! Pear trees. There’s one here already but I put in 2 new Bartletts in the front orchard — except the deer ate them — but one came back! And stevia! That’s new for us. I like to pick a leaf whenever I go by, it’s like candy.

    risa b

  • [...] and oregano, mint, and fancy Italian parsley in small pots in my kitchen.  Melinda’s experiment has succeeded in teaching me what is attainable — and what is worth [...]

  • Amanda, Welcome! Indeed, learning how much we don’t know is half the battle. ; ) It sounds like you’re doing just fine, though. And you’re in a wonderful place to garden all winter long!!

    Laurel, Thanks so much for your update. I’m impressed at all you’re growing on the balcony. I’m with you on the “now we just needs…” I’d like to have all 3 as well! But in the meantime, we learn and grow as gardeners in small spaces, eh?

    Risa B, Excellent! Sorry I’ve been out and about for the weekend and I’m just now sitting down to the computer for the first time in days.

    So… I encourage you to grow something new from seed this winter!! Welcome to the Growing Challenge. I’m going to check out your blog now…

  • Viv

    Hi, I’m joining in the fun. I’ve added the required links to my blog and looking forward to blogging more regularly about the gardening going on here at Highway Cottage

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