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Forming a Habit of Garden Journaling

Creating a habit of garden journaling can be a bit challenging. It’s easy to get busy or distracted. Or perhaps you haven’t yet discovered the deep insights that can come from journaling about your garden. 

Click here to check out our past blog on the Hidden Gems of Garden Journaling.

Are you not currently keeping a garden journal, but you know the benefits and the profound impact it can have on your journey? You want to do it, but you haven’t yet made it a habit and integrated it into your busy schedule. You might feel you don’t have enough time. 

If this is you, you need to know that you can keep a journal successfully in as little as 20-30 minutes per week or just 5 minutes a day! If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s all about how the garden journal is structured. 

Most journals are either totally blank, leaving you to guide yourself, or they’re so guided you feel like you’re having to conform to the journal versus the journal conforming to you and your needs.

To have a journal that conforms to you, you want to think about the 3 main types of garden journaling. Yes! There are three different types of journaling, and it’s ideal to choose a different space for each. The first is Go ACTION mode, the second is observation, and the third is reflective. 

In addition to choosing different places for each of these modes of journaling, you want to create a ritual around journaling. If you’re thinking you don’t have time for journaling so you definitely don’t have time for a ritual, here’s the deal: A garden journal ritual doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, it should be quick, lasting no more than a few minutes.

What does a garden journal ritual look like? 

My personal ritual for reflective mode journaling is to set the mood with music, light incense, and to make tea. But no matter what your ritual looks like, the important thing is to perform it in the same order every time.

Each time, I perform my ritual in the same order. First, I start the hot water for my tea, get my cup ready, choose my tea, and add my honey. Then I put music on, light incense, and get my journal out. And that’s about when the hot water is done heating, so I’ll pour my tea and carry it to my space. I set a timer so I don’t have to be interrupted by my mind constantly wondering what time it is and if I’ve gone over. I sit for a few moments, letting myself brew with my hot tea. Once my tea has brewed to my liking, I will take my first sip, THEN start journaling.

Performing your ritual in the same order each time solidifies the habit more and more over time. Eventually, as you go to start your ritual, your body and mind will immediately begin to get into the state of that journal mode.

Choose rituals and habits that you already perform in your daily life that ‘put you in the mood’ for the particular type of journaling you want to do that day. Let’s say you want to journal about a garden project. Instead of a ritual that puts you into a comfortable and relaxed state, you might choose a ritual that gets you into the mood to take action!

If you take an early morning run, you might start your action task journaling by putting on your running clothes and shoes, even if you’re going to sit at the table and make your tasks lists. Because that is a habit that gets you in a state of GO!

The rituals you perform should help you get in the mood of what you’re about to do…and also help you get out of the mode you were just in. Let’s say you’re on your way to do some observation journaling in the garden. You also do a five minute meditation every day on your break at work just to clear your mind. You could use this same five minute meditation just before you go to your garden to do your observation journaling. That way, you can clear your mind of what you’ve been doing to make room for what you’re about to do.

Whatever your rituals are, they should work for YOU. If you find a ritual isn’t working the way you want it to, change the ritual. Keep experimenting until you find what works. Just like the garden journal, your rituals should conform to you, not the other way around.

 

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

Share your rituals or your ideas for a garden journal ritual below!

3 Keys to Successful Indoor Seed Starting

Growing your own healthy plants from seed can be tricky. Even expert growers have trouble keeping their seedlings alive and well. Luckily, three simple keys are all you need to focus on.

Discover how to start your plants off right so they thrive. Be sure to stick around to the end for a Bonus Key!

Do you have a successful seed story? Please share!

The Hidden Gems of Garden Journaling

The garden journal is one of the least used tools of gardening. Those who keep a garden journal, often do so because they simply love journaling. Those who don’t journal often find the idea daunting or a frivolous waste of time. But under the surface of this seemingly extra-curricular activity exists a giant underground cavern of insightful gems waiting to be discovered.

Like other historical records, a garden is a place where we can look back to examine the why’s of the present moment–and make better choices for the future.

Why am I having a challenge with this one area of my garden? What’s wrong with my plants? Is it the soil?

If you’re not journaling about your garden and keeping a history, your garden experience will likely be filled with moments when you can’t remember events that happened. Without that history, learning what to do and what not to do becomes more difficult and time consuming than if you had just taken a few minutes to make a few notes.

Sometimes, the insights a garden journal can bring are so profound that it changes your entire journey and launches you the equivalent distance from here to the moon.

I remember waking up one day during my second year of market gardening. I was getting success, but not quite like I wanted. And while I was feeling successful, I was getting burnt out. As the season continued, that exhaustion got worse. I had trouble reaching goals and staying on track. Then abundance season hit and with it, all the pests and disease. I woke up one morning and realized I was so exhausted that I was no longer happy. I felt like I was trying to force nature to cooperate. So I walked. I left the food in the garden and just walked away.

I didn’t return to gardening for an entire year. But when I did, I looked back and realized that so many of my days were filled with journal entries of frustration. How I felt that year was exactly what was happening: I was trying to force nature to cooperate and fit in my box.

That’s when everything changed.

I began to ask questions about how I could partner with nature so that I was letting her do as much of the work for me as possible. I realized that the language I was using for my entries was all about how ‘I was growing a garden.’ So I changed my perspective and started writing, ‘Nature is growing this garden, and the soil is growing my plants.’

And she did. Nature grew my plants. And because I wasn’t trying to grow plants, I could focus on growing the soil and being a steward of the land.

Were it not for my garden entries, I would not have had anything to reflect on to make the connection of how my approach to gardening was creating the very frustration I was working so hard to avoid. Writing down my new mindset to partner with nature and filter my garden choices through that lens helped me set goals properly.

Because of that one insight, gardening became more effortless than ever. Staying on track with my goals became so much easier. Had I not seen those entries of frustration later after I had long ago walked away from my garden, I may not have seen the pattern I was creating. When you journal, positive change is possible and can catapult your journey forward.

A garden journal isn’t just a place for you to look back and gain knowledge and wisdom. It’s a place where others can too. Whether you share lessons you’ve gained from your journaling with other growers in your community or you gift the journals to your grandchildren to pass on your garden insights, mindsets, and recipes, the record of your garden journey is absolutely priceless.

My grandmother didn’t garden, but she did make the most delicious chicken noodle soup! The are many moments in my life that I have wished for that recipe and a photo of her and I enjoying that amazing meal together. But there’s no recipe. There are no photos. And so there is a gap where her smile and her creation should be.

By keeping a journal of your garden harvests and recipes, you are recording the creation of your life. Someday they may become precious to your children and grandchildren.

When you choose to keep a garden journal, so many gems can be found that may otherwise have remained hidden and lost to time. Keeping a garden journal is a way to light your path and the path of those who will follow in our footsteps.

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

If you are interested in learning more about how mindsets & journaling techniques can help you grow a thriving and enjoyable garden check out our new micro-course led by Crystal.

Garden Mindset and Journaling micro course introductory pricing

Click here for details

Do you journal about your garden? Share an insight below that you have gained through your journaling!

6 Benefits to Saving Your Own Seeds

“Don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been!” said every parent, ever.

Plants today are fumigated, grown in overly fertilized soils, and go through all sorts of processes we unknowingly agree to when we put that food in our mouth. 

When you save your own seed, you know exactly how that seed was grown. So there’s no mystery as to what you’re putting in your mouth. You do know where it’s been!

Seed adapts more and more to your local growing conditions through their generations. Over time, future generations of those plants will be more tolerant of your temperatures, precipitation levels, and other local conditions. If Stephen Hawking is right and “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” it would seem that seeds may just have a higher collective IQ than us humans. Because as they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”.

There is a direct link between the flavor of food and the nutrition it contains. Constantly consuming the same humdrum varieties of mass-produced, uniform, flavorless food can have a big impact on your long term health. Boring food may not kill you, but the absence of proper nutrition will definitely not make you stronger!

And supposedly only the strongest make it, survival of the fittest and all.

By saving seed, you are ensuring the survival of humans and tens of thousands of seed varieties. There are ‘aspects of life that are valuable to our survival and aspects that make survival valuable.’ Seed saving is both.  Big agriculture disregards variety because it doesn’t fit into a cookie cutter box of traits that make their job easier.

Seed saving gives you access to literally thousands of new food varieties, all with their own unique colors, textures, and flavors. Since you are what you eat, I have to ask: Are you eating the same cookie cutter, uniform foods over and over again? If so, it’s not a good look.  When you save your own seeds, you’re creating abundance you literally cannot buy with money.

But the abundance can buy money. Because in fact people, money actually does grow on trees… and annuals, perennial shrubs, and biennials. Ask any gardener or farmer that has ever lived. And the abundance of variety means unique offerings to share with neighbors (and market if you’re a small-scale grower).

A seed saved is potentially hundreds of thousands of seeds earned.A single amaranth seed grows into a plant that can produce up to 250,000 seeds. Now that’s what I call an investment!

While there are a ton of benefits to seed saving, it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, you save seed, and you don’t get what you expect, or none of the seed you save germinates. It happens. But you know what they say: It’s better to have seed saved and lost than to have never seed saved at all!

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

Have a seed saving benefit or perspective you want to share? Post it in the comments below… bonus points if it comes along with a quote or play on words! 🙂

3 Mistakes Beginners Make Saving Seeds (And What to Do Instead)

Saving seeds is rewarding on so many levels. It’s not just about the end result of getting viable seed. It’s not even just the harvest you get from that seed next season. In fact, it’s not about any one thing. 

Saving your own seeds  is about the entire journey–from the moment you hold that tiny fleck of life on the tip of your finger, all the way through that plant’s life, to that special moment when you are holding the next generation of seeds in your palm. This experience gives seed savers a special relationship to plants and the food they provide us.

But when you’re first starting out on your seed saving journey, it doesn’t often feel this magical. If you’re making these three mistakes, you’ll end up disappointed, like someone just took your birthday cake:

Saving Seeds Mistake #1: Trying to Save & Breed Hybrid Seeds

Hybrid seeds are the result of two open pollinated varieties of the same species mixing. When this happens, the seed is either as sterile as a mule or a weird mutant plant that makes you feel like your life took a turn into a sci-fi alien movie.

Seed savers avoid hybrids because they do not produce relatively stable outcomes (a true-to-type variety). Now, a hybrid can be stabilized over time and become a true-to-type variety, but this process takes many years of growing, selecting, and saving seed. And there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get what you’re aiming for.

Saving Seeds Mistake #2: Planting Different Varieties From the Same Species Too Close Together

Plants grown from open pollinated seed can still cross-pollinate with other varieties. When this happens, you’ll get the same weird and unpredictable results as you will when you try to save the seed of hybrids that happen to be fertile: you never know what you’re going to get. Basically, these are naturally bred hybrid seeds.

To save seed and get the same variety next year with relatively stable traits, you want to plant only one variety of each species within the space that variety pollinates. This is called the “isolation distance,” and all crops are different. 

For example, lettuce only pollinates at a distance of around 20 feet. This makes it easier for most home growers with medium-sized gardens to save seeds.

However, the species Brassica oleracea (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.) is another story. Members of this species can cross pollinate if they’re within half a mile of each other. So you only want to grow one of these if you’re planning to save the seeds. You’ll also want to find out if anyone else within a half mile radius is growing anything from this species!

But if you’re a home gardener and still want a variety of food and to save your seed, there are other options besides buying a piece of land miles wide. Connect with your community of seed savers and growers and exchange food and seed. You grow the brussels sprouts, and let your friends grow the others. This way, you can maximize your garden space, get a variety of food in your diet, and still save your seed.

Saving Seeds Mistake #3: Not Planting Enough of the Same Variety

If you don’t plant enough plants of a variety when you’re saving seeds, the result is gene bottlenecking and a deterioration in the genetic stability of the traits of that variety. The most common way to recognize this phenomenon is if you notice that your next generation of seeds just aren’t producing as vigorously as previous generations.

To preserve genetic diversity in that variety, you have to do one of two things:

1. Grow enough plants to preserve genetic diversity long term. 

How many plants is enough? Well, that depends on the variety. 

For some varieties, it’s only a few plants. Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) only require 20 plants minimum for long term genetic preservation. And they get planted between 2-6” apart depending on the variety. 



But for corn, you need more than 200 plants! Each corn plant needs a lot of space to grow, so unless you’re a farmer, it’s a little unrealistic. 

If saving a seed is out of reach for you because that crop needs too many plants per season to preserve the genetics, then go for option number two below.


2. Reintroduce new genetic material every so often. 

If you’re growing Glass Gem heirloom corn and you can’t plant 200 plants, plant what you can, and save those seeds. Then every so often, buy a packet of Glass Gem heirloom corn from Rareseeds.com, or get some from the local free seed exchange, and plant them in with the saved seed you have. This can help preserve the genetics of that variety.

When you’re first starting out on your seed saving journey, it’s best to start out with self-pollinating plants. These plants generally don’t need a ton of plants to preserve long term diversity, and they usually have shorter pollination distances (like the lettuce in Mistake #2).

When it comes to saving seed, you’re going to have much more success if you plant enough plants, follow proper pollination distances, avoid mules and aliens, and stick to those open pollinated seed varieties.

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

Have seed saving tips? Share them in the comment section below!