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Getting Started Growing Your Own Vegetable and Herb Seedlings

Seedlings are the baby plants you see at the nurseries, ready to be transplanted into your garden. But you might want to grow your own instead. While there are many benefits of starting your own vegetable and herb plants from seeds, there is one BIG reason why you might consider purchasing instead. Here’s the most important considerations for growing seedlings at home. 

Benefits to growing your own:

  1. You know exactly how the seedlings were grown. Ensure your plants are grown organically without any toxic chemicals entering your garden. When purchasing ask whether plants have been treated. 
  2. You ensure your plants immunity is high for a healthy life. Temperatures and conditions are important to baby plants, and stress at a young age can cause transplant shock or a weak plant that doesn’t yield well. Sometimes you bring home a seedling, plant it, and it dies. And you’re not sure if it’s something you did. But it could just be a plant that wasn’t cared for properly.
  3. You have complete control of when you put plants in the ground. When purchasing transplants, you are relying on what’s available at the stores. And what you want is not always there when you need it. Growing your own means you can plan ahead for your most abundant harvest.
  4. You have access to hundreds of varieties of vegetables. There are so many varieties of mustard greens and tomatoes on the planet that nobody could even tell you how many there are. And that’s true of most vegetables. Choose exciting varieties for flavor, yield, what grows well in your climate. 
  5. You save money. Once you get the hang of growing HEALTHY plants and you have all the supplies, you will save money. However, the first few years, planting your own can actually be more expensive than buying transplants. This is the one BIG reason you may want to purchase instead.

Three garden supplies essential to growing your own seedlings

You’ll need 1) growing medium (not soil), 2) containers to put it in, and 3) grow lamps if you’re growing indoors. We’ll focus on containers in this article. But real quick, our favorite growing medium is Fox Farm Ocean Forest, It’s got everything your plants need in one bag, from earthworm castings, bat guano, sea-going fish & crab meal to forest humus and moss. This mix will not disappoint!   Click here to get it on Amazon. And here is a bulk order option

This article is too short to include recipes for making your own mix. A couple key ingredients to include are perlite, vermiculite, peat moss or Canna Coconut Coir and Wiggle Worm – Worm Castings. For small gardens choose the 4.5-pound size. For larger gardens choose the bulk 30-pound option.

This is not a complete list, just some of our favorites to get you started.

Reusable Containers for Starting Vegetable and Herb Seeds


Generally, plastic trays are flimsy and end up in the landfill after just one or two uses. However, one farm is changing all that and helping to redefine our relationship to the Earth. Bootstrap Farmer offers durable trays with a one year warranty against warping and breakage… that’s amazing! Clean trays between use to prevent disease spread.

These are the best, longest lasting trays on the market. And they have different cell sizes available. Get cells for smaller varieties like lettuces here and get larger six cells for your larger transplants like tomatoes and cucumbers here.

Containers You Plant Right in the Ground

Avoiding plastic altogether?, Consider Fertilpots over at Arbico Organics which compost right into your soil. Plant the whole thing in your garden and avoid any transplant shock from handling the plant. Unlike many similar compostable products, they are OMRI listed meaning the ingredients have been tracked as organic. Fertilpots are breathable and help prevent roots from getting root bound, too. However, the downside is that you have to keep buying more.

“Soil Blocking” Eliminates the Need for Containers

Soil blocking is a process where you press your growing medium together into squares that hold together without the need for containers. Once you have the right equipment for this process, you never have to buy containers ever again. However, you do have a higher initial investment to get started.

There are benefits to this method: no cleaning trays, conserving growing medium, and providing optimal root health. The details of how to soil block effectively is the topic of another post. NOTE: You’ll need to mix your own special growing medium (not one that you can buy at a big box store), and a bit of time to get used to the process. 

Soil blockers are for anyone who wants to get away from plastic, has a little extra time and money, wants the healthiest seedlings and plans to garden long term. 

20 Cell Soil Blockers come in a hand held and stand up  versions. The stand up soil blocker is much easier on your wrists, shoulders and back. 4” Soil Blockers are the largest blocker available and are perfect for your larger transplants like tomatoes, gourds, cucumbers, eggplant, etc.

How do you make your garden decisions?

Ultimately, there are many garden choices you will make. Some questions to consider: What do you really have time for? What feels like the best environmental choice for you? And what amount of investment feels good right now? Whatever suits you and your lifestyle is the right choice for you. And that goes for making decisions about seed starting at home, too.  

Check out our NEW Garden Freedom Series Micro Course for more information and instruction on successful seed starting. In this course, you’ll find resources for setting clear goals that reflect your values and make gardening everything you need and want it to be…

 

NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links and Grow Your Own Vegetables, LLC may be compensated when you click and purchase through the links above. By purchasing through these links, you’re supporting our mission to help green the planet and create food stable communities across the globe. We only recommend products we LOVE and that help growers on their quest for a fresh food lifestyle.

Cutting Boards for Fresh Food Safety

Food safety practices are important… especially when you start preserving and storing food. You’ve probably heard about sterilizing jars, and cleaning kitchen utensils properly. These are common practices to keep the bad microbes out of our food. But quite often, the one tool that’s overlooked is your cutting board. 

When chopping fresh produce, it’s vital to have a cutting board that won’t create biofilms and harbor the kind of bacteria you don’t want to ingest. If you’re preserving your food for later – whether blanching, freezing, canning, drying or fermenting – it’s even more important. Having a good quality cutting board is the foundation for keeping you and your loved ones safe.  

Simply put, a good cutting board is the one place you don’t want to skimp on. But what is the safest cutting board?  

Plastic, Glass, or Wood?

Many people think that plastic cutting boards are safer than wood. Even the USDA’s Food News for Consumers has recommended plastic over wood cutting boards. 

However, more recent studies reveal that plastic is not as safe as we think. According to the study, glass is the superior choice, followed by wood. Glass has a smooth surface, so no gaps to harbor bacteria. The problem with glass cutting boards is that the hard surface is hard on knives and might cause food-slippage accidents. Be careful! 

Wood however, does not cause slipping the way glass does and is easier on your knives. Wood also has an antibacterial effect not found in glass or plastic boards that scientists are still trying to understand. What’s more, wood doesn’t require harsh sanitizing the way plastic boards do. Once a plastic surface has been cut into, the grooves can harbor all kinds of bacteria and require sanitizing with harsh chemicals. But as time goes on and more grooves appear, sanitizing your plastic cutting board may become less and less effective. 

Sterilizing your wood cutting boards is easy and doesn’t require harsh chemicals. What’s fascinating about this study is that the scientists researching expected to find plastic cutting boards to be safer. Their intention was to discover how to clean wood to increase its safety. So they were quite surprised to discover that wood – specifically well maintained, close-grained hardwood cutting boards – were less prone to contamination.

PRO TIP: Historically, butchers used salt to keep the ‘bad’ smell away. Perhaps they also knew that using the salt kept people healthy, but there’s no record of that. Regardless, they had the right idea. Rinse your cutting board with warm water, sprinkle your cutting board with salt and rub the salt into the board using a lemon cut in half (flesh side down). Let sit for five minutes, rinse and let air dry in a place with good circulation. 

What kind of wood is best for your Cutting Board?

According to the study, hardwoods are best. When you think of hardwood, you might think oak, mahogany, or maple. It’s true that these woods are harder than pine, chestnut, cherry, and even walnut. But they aren’t the BEST hardwoods for prepping your ferments, preserves  and fresh food. It’s hard to imagine, but these woods are soft in comparison to other hardwoods. One quick look at a Janka chart will reveal just how soft in comparison these woods really are. 

The Janka Scale Reveals the Best Wood Choice for Cutting Boards

Wood is measured by its hardness using a process called the Janka scale. This test measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444″ steel ball into the wood to half of the diameter of the particular wood. Woods with higher ratings are harder than woods with lower ratings.

So for example, Genuine Mahogany measures 800 and English Brown Oak rates at 1360. The scale goes all the way up to 4380! While you don’t need the hardest wood on the planet to safely cut your vegetables for ferments and preserves, it’s a good idea to find something that has at least a 2500 rating. Even though maple is the industry standard (1,450 on the Janka scale), a harder wood will be more scratch and impact resistant, leaving you with a safer cutting board.

Check out this amazing cutting board, the Stella Falone Reversible Cutting Board made of solid West African Crelicam Ebony Wood. Not only is it made from a hardwood measuring at a whopping 3080 on the Janka Scale, but it’s made by a company that harvests ethically, replants what they harvest, and pays stable living wages to workers. 


If you’re looking for a more affordable option, these mixed wood cutting boards made with Purpleheart Wood (2520 Janka Scale) are also good options.  Here’s a pretty one that could double as a fancy food tray at your next party. It’s a Ziruma Teak and Purpleheart Wood Cheese Board and it’s cured with Organic Beeswax, too.
 

 

 

The Downside of Supremely Hardwood Cutting Boards

Yes it’s true, there’s a downside. The hardwood cutting boards ranked higher on the Janka scale will dull your knives a little faster. But it’s a small price to pay for better protection for your health and well being. Simply choose good quality knives, and sharpen your knives more often.

Ultimately, the cutting board with the least potential for bacterial contamination is glass… but the safest cutting board? Hands down, properly cared for hardwood cutting boards are safer with no slippage plus antibacterial properties. Plus, these beautiful cutting boards can also be a fancy food tray for your parties. Enjoy!

AK, N., CLIVER, D. and KASPAR, C. (1993). Decontamination of Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards for Kitchen Use. [online] Available at: https://meridian.allenpress.com/jfp/article/57/1/23/195718/Decontamination-of-Plastic-and-Wooden-Cutting [Accessed 7 Mar. 2020]. 

How to Measure How Much Sunlight Your Garden Space Gets

Watch the video below and learn how to observe key temperatures in your area and map the sunlight and shadows in your garden space for success!

All plants have ideal growing temperatures. Outside those optimum temperature ranges, plants become less productive, and growth grinds to a halt. Too far outside the zone, plants die. It’s crucial to know what temperatures your plants need and when those temperatures happen in your area! 

 

Your vegetable plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight minimum to thrive. Measuring hours of sunlight and mapping your shadows BEFORE you dig or build your garden beds will ensure your plants’ success.

Download our complimentary shadow mapping template

Once you understand your climate, you can let Mother Nature do the work. She’ll even let you take the credit! 

Share what shadow mapping has taught you about your garden space!

How One Ugly Carrot Started the Grow Your Own Vegetables Movement

One ugly carrot changed Stacey Murphy’s life forever. Watch the video or read Stacey’s story below to learn how the seed for Grow Your Own Vegetables first sprouted! 

Stacey’s Story:

Years ago, I was working overtime as an architect in New York City. I was working on exciting projects like churches, libraries, and community centers. I had worked my whole life to get where I was, and you would think that I would be ecstatic. 

But every day, I was feeling a little bit more disconnected from everything. I felt like a tourist in my own life, like I didn’t belong. And I especially felt disconnected from my food and my body. 

I was trying to stay as healthy as I could. But to be honest, I was a little depressed and low energy. Maybe you can relate. 

I was grabbing quick, convenient food all the time and rushing right back to my busy day. It was “healthy” food, but it was still convenience food, and I was just grabbing and going without thinking.

On the weekends, I would go to the farmer’s market. I would load up on organic, fresh food. It would keep me happy for a day or two…until I went back to work and forgot about it again. 

Then on a crisp day in October, 2008, I bought carrots from one of the local farmers. The carrots were in a bag, and they were covered with a bunch of soil. Who does that? Who sells your food mixed in with a bunch of dirt? It’s so weird, right? Well, this farmer did. He told me that the carrots would stay fresh in the fridge longer and that they would taste sweeter.

The crazy thing is, he was totally right

These ugly, dirty carrots were a miracle in my mouth. And at that moment, I had a flashback to growing up in my mom’s garden. I was so lucky. She had a gorgeous garden, and I remember discovering carrots underground, digging them up, and pulling them out. Just, “Wow, look at this,” and I ate the carrots before they were even washed. They had little flecks of crunchy soil on them. 

How sweet and delicious those carrots from the garden were! As I sampled these carrots in this bag covered in dirt, I remembered my mom’s garden, and I knew that I had to get my hands dirty and start growing some food again.

To this day, I have to tell you, my mom says her memories of her garden are much different than my memories of her garden. She says that my memories are better. She still has this sort of garden shame around what it all looked like, and she was busy being tormented by tomato hornworm caterpillars.

But I saw something different. In my experience as a little kid, her garden was my own private science discovery show. It was full of mysteries to solve. It was where I learned to appreciate the finer things in life. I discovered the exact moment to pick peas for maximum sweetness. I chased butterflies, and I watched new seeds magically emerge from the ground into full-blown plants dripping with fruit. I watched and learned intently, and I asked lots of questions, like all curious kids do. 

Years later, there I was, holding this bag of soil and carrots. And I had so many questions for this farmer. I felt so much curiosity about these beautiful-tasting carrots. It was a delightful rediscovery of the feeling of digging up your own carrots.

Suddenly, I felt connected, I felt healthy, and I felt whole again in ways that I hadn’t a long time. And that’s when I knew I was going to grow my own vegetables and herbs. My whole lens on life shifted, and I could never go back to the way life used to be because I had this big realization.

What I realized in that moment is that a garden, it’s not a thing. It’s a lifestyle. But even more than your garden being a lifestyle, it’s a feeling. 

It’s not about what you’re actually growing. It’s not about your yield. It’s about who you’re becoming. And that day with the carrots, I suddenly remembered that I was this wild child and a part of nature. I loved the thrill of discovery in the garden. I remembered how great it felt to run barefoot. I wanted that feeling back. I wanted my own private science discovery channel again. I wanted to play in the dirt. I wanted to learn from my favorite teachers: the sun, the soil, the plants, and the insects. Simply making the decision to grow my own food, I already felt connected to the feelings of health, vitality, and most of all, peace.

Do you have a favorite vegetable story? Share with us below!

One Crop Rotation Rule to Prevent Diseases in Your Garden

Plan your plants to prevent disease in your garden!

When you’re thinking about what to plant where this year, you should be thinking bigger picture…what crop rotations each year will help you prevent the kinds of diseases that wipe out all your hard work and your harvest.

To help you create a plant plan that works for you, Stacey created this video about how to use crop rotation to prevent 3 of the most common “big nasty diseases” you might see pop up in your garden:

If you would like more in-depth instruction on planning your garden for success, check out our Crop Planning course. It’s a sure fire way to feel more in control of your garden every time you plant.

What crops do you like to rotate? Let us know below!

What to do if you have no “Browns” for your Aerobic Compost? (Composting in the City)

Adding “Browns” (organic, dry and carbon rich materials) speeds up compost of food scraps in an aerobic bin. What’s Stacey’s favorite Brown if if she doesn’t have leaves? Watch and find out!

Are you a city gardener? Share your city gardening tips with us!

Cooking Oil Smoke Point

Have you ever wondered if you are using the best oil when you are cooking? An important thing to consider is the oil smoke point. 

The smoke point is when an oil will begin to burn or smoke. Avoiding this is important because it both negatively affects flavor and studies show it likely carries health risk. High oil smoke points are 400°F or higher. Low oil smoke points are 395°F and below. 

Oils with high smoke points are best to use for cooking anything hotter than low heat cooking. Oils with low smoke points are generally best used for seasoning or dressing by adding them at the end of or after cooking. They can also be used for marinades and low-temp cooking methods such as confit.

520-570°F: Avocado Oil

Avocado oil’s smoke point is quite high at 520-570°F (271-299°C). This is a great oil to keep on hand for cooking because of its health benefits and high smoke. 

510°F: Safflower Oil

Safflower oil is another great cooking oil with a high smoke point of 510°F (265°C) making this a reliable oil to keep on hand for all cooking methods.

450°F: Clarified Butter

Clarified butter has a high smoke point because of the milk fats being removed (these burn first). This gives clarified butter a smoke point of 450°F (230°C). It works great for almost all cooking methods including high heat cooking as well as emulsified sauces such as hollandaise.

450°F: Sunflower Oil 

The smoke point of sunflower oil is right around 450°F (230°C). Sunflower oil has a light flavor, but it has a richness that is nice for rounding out the flavor of a dish.

440°F: Peanut Oil

The smoke point of peanut oil is around 440°F (227°C) which accommodates all high heat cooking methods. It also provides a prominent and rich flavor to your dishes.

425-465°F: Refined Olive Oil

Unlike fresh olive oil, refined olive oil has a smoke point that works well for most cooking processes. Refined olive oil has a smoke point around 425-465°F (218-241°C).

390°F: Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil has a smoke point around 390°F (195°C) which accommodates even more cooking methods than lard. Most cooking methods are achievable with grapeseed oil excluding searing and grilling.

370°F: Lard

Lard has a smoke point around 370°F (188°C). It will work well with most cooking methods from medium to medium-high heat

350-385°F: Coconut Oil 

Coconut Oil can be effective for roasting, baking, and pan-roasting. It has a smoke point between 350-385°F (175-196°C) which makes it suitable for moderate heat cooking methods.

350-410°F: Sesame Oil

This oil has a smoke point around 350-410°F (175-210°C). It is better when sesame oil is added towards the end of the cooking process. If sautéing or glazing, add sesame oil 1-2 minutes before adding the soy sauce or other glazing liquids. Sesame oil is also great for flavoring sauces. 

325-410°F: Olive Oil/EVOO

Olive oil’s smoke point is around 325-410°F (163-210°C) based upon how filtered it is. It can be used to cook at lower temperatures or added to fresh food at the end of cooking. When using especially aromatic olive oils like single origin or freshly processed olive oil, the subtle flavors come through best when the olive oil avoids temperatures above 200°F (93°C). The best uses include dressing salads, tomato toast, and freshly roasted chicken and beets.

300-350°F: Butter

Butter has a slightly lower smoke point than other fats, but it is a commonly used cooking fat for those who consume dairy. The smoke point of butter that has not been clarified is 300-350°F

Brandon Beins
Culinary Educator and Human, Plant, & Soil Health Advocate

“My food journey began in high school when culinary classes brought me into the world of creating food. I continued on to culinary school before completing a two year apprenticeship with a local sushi chef. This apprenticeship was really where 

I learned to care for ingredients; how to prepare them in a way that shows them respect. In order to really take care of your ingredients you need to start with the soil. I haven’t had many memorable meals that were prepared with unhealthy produce from depleted soils,and most of the memorable meals from my life were simple meals made from ingredients that had themselves been nourished lovingly and prepared the same way. I believe high quality food can be prepared by anyone, and it starts with the soil.” 

Do you have a favorite cooking oil? Share your cooking tips with us and our readers!

What’s eating my garden greens? (5 common garden pests)

An ounce of prevention is worth dozens of pounds of fresh herbs and vegetables.

You’re planting lots of food in your garden, specifically greens… and all of a sudden there’s someone else eating all your food before you have a chance to harvest it… ARG!

Everyone has some pests that show up in the garden. But before you can kick them out of your garden, you need to figure out WHO has invaded! Typically, there are 5 (actually 6!) common pests that give gardeners the most trouble. Watch this video to help identify these unwelcome guests:

Once you identify which pests, diseases, or weeds have come into your garden, you can start showing them the door! 

What are favorite, or not so favorite, visitors to your garden?

Become a Closet Gardener and Grow Greens Indoors Year Round

Growing greens year round means you you can enjoy fresh, organic food at your fingertips! That’s why Shannon started this beautiful closet garden to grow greens indoors. Plus she shares some hidden benefits that her doctors can’t explain… gardens really do HEAL!

Shannon asked how she might improve her yields. Watch this video to discover what she has already done and how she might tweak her system to improve her yields with tips on watering, “flies”, and lights.

Eating well and boosting your immunity is a year round lifestyle… it doesn’t have to stop just because it’s cold outside or there’s snow on the ground. Discover the secrets of successful indoor and outdoor winter gardens.

Are you a winter gardener? Share your magical adventures below!

Journaling for Joy: 3 Garden Journaling Myths BUSTED

Garden journaling is one of the most underused tools for gardeners. It’s also a tool that research shows can decrease anxiety, depression, and stress. That means that along with the joy you’re getting from gardening directly, you can further increase your state of joy simply by keeping a journal. 

But if keeping a garden journal is so beneficial, why aren’t more growers doing it?

Objection #1: Time 

Growers are busy with their lives and gardening tasks. Often, the assumption around journaling is that you have to do it every day or for a long period of time. 

But one study revealed that the time it takes to receive the benefits of journaling are less than most people believe (1). In the study, people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) showed significant decreases in depression scores when assigned to write about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes over three consecutive days. A follow-up later also showed that the benefits continued four weeks after the individuals participated in the study. With just three consecutive days of journaling for just 20 minutes, individuals with a very serious depressive disorder decreased their depression scores. 

Getting benefits from journaling doesn’t have to take giant amounts of time.

What do you think might happen if you wrote for three consecutive days for just twenty minutes each about the single biggest challenge you’re facing in your garden?

Objection #2: The avoidance of deep emotions. 

When we bring deep emotions to the surface, it can often disrupt the flow of our daily lives and productivity. But what if the journaling process could shed light on the logic you’re currently using that may be holding you back from realizing your full, vibrant, incredible self?

In a study titled, ‘Self-writing as a tool for change: the effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary,’ (2) findings demonstrated that daily diary writing can encourage personal reflections and changes, capture micro-transformations, and shed light on argumentative logic used to represent self and problems occurring for the individual. Other studies show that when people write about emotional trauma, there is a marked improvement in their physical and mental health (3).

If you journaled every day about your garden, how many micro-transformations could be brought to your attention? 

How much more clearly could you see how far you’ve come on your garden journey? 

And how much could your mental and physical health improve?

Objection #3: Growers often feel like journaling won’t really improve their gardening results.

An in-depth examination into the ‘Use of Reflective Journaling to Understand Decision Making’, (4) a myriad of insights emerged when psychotherapists and other clinicians practiced reflective journaling about their cases. Insights were not only gained for the individual therapist, but for the therapies they were using to support their patients as well.

By reflective journaling about our gardens, you gain insights into your individual decision making about your garden. And by sharing your insights with other growers, leaps in gardening methods are possible as well.

Ultimately, studies on journaling have brought to light benefits ranging from improvements in mental and physical health to gaining insights on our decision-making processes. And while more research is needed to discover just how much time is needed and specific methods that may prove more beneficial, current studies show that you can get benefits from journaling without dedicating your life to becoming a writer.

References:

1. Krpan, K. M., Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Deldin, P. J., Askren, M. K., & Jonides, J. (2013). An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: The benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150(3), 1148–1151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2013.05.065  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3759583/

2. Faccio, E., Turco, F., & Iudici, A. (2019). Self-writing as a tool for change: The effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 22(2). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2019.378  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451300/

3. Smith, M. A., Thompson, A., Hall, L. J., Allen, S. F., & Wetherell, M. A. (2018). The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of type D (distressed) personality. British Journal of Health Psychology, 23(4), 857–871. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12320 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174944/

4. Cook, J. M., Simiola, V., McCarthy, E., Ellis, A., & Stirman, S. W. (2018). Use of reflective journaling to understand decision making regarding two evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD: Practice implications. Practice Innovations, 3(3), 153–167. https://doi.org/10.1037/pri0000070 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6426332/

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 you gained insights from journaling about your garden? Do you experience more joy when you’re journaling? We’d love to hear! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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!

Vegetable & Herb Gardening in Different Growing Climates

Getting to know your local growing climate is one of the first steps to growing a thriving vegetable garden. But there’s a big difference between learning about your climate and feeling limited by your climate.

Your growing climate matters. It determines what veggie varieties you’re going to grow and when you plant and harvest them.You’ve probably heard that vegetables and herbs thrive in an “ideal” temperature range of 50-85 F (10-30 C). But how many places on Earth consistently stay in that ideal range? Not many!

You don’t have to live in ideal conditions to grow lots of food all year long.

There’s no denying great growing conditions help. But once you understand the language of plants and what they want, you can grow vegetables anywhere at any time of year. You just have to get a little creative!

“There are as many creative ways to grow your own vegetables as there are places on this earth” -Stacey Murphy

In this two minute video, Stacey shows you what’s possible if you want to grow food at an unusual time of the year OR in a less than ideal growing climate.

What grows best in your climate? Share your creative gardening tips with us!