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 Get Fresh Food from Your Garden in Winter

For growers with a winter season, giving up that garden-fresh food in the colder months can be a bit frustrating. Not only is winter a time when colds and flus are at their peak, now you aren’t getting the fresh, nutrient-rich foods you’re accustomed to getting from your garden. 😧 That’s why many growers grow through their winter months—so they can get nutrient-dense food year-round. No matter where you live, you can grow through the winter. So how do you get fresh food from your garden in winter? Before you decide to grow through the winter, there’s one important thing you need to know: when is your Persephone Period?

What is a Persephone Period?

The Persephone Period is a term coined by Eliot Coleman, an organic farmer, author, agricultural researcher, and educator. It is the period of time when plants go into a type of hibernation due to too little hours of total sunlight in a day. 

How the Persephone Period Got Its Name

Persephone is the ancient Greek goddess of vegetation. One story is that her return to Hades each year signaled the earth going into a phase of being barren. Does this sound familiar to you? It is the story of winter in Greek mythology.


The Persephone Period’s Impact on Your Plants

Most growers know that plants want six to eight hours of FULL sunlight without any shade at all. This is a little misleading. Because while it’s true they want six to eight hours of direct light, they also need to be in an environment where there is light for ten hours a day. During times when there is less than ten total hours of light in any given day, plants go into hibernation mode. 

When growers first start growing through winter, they set up their greenhouses, cold frames, and other season extension materials to ensure their plants get proper temperatures for growing. More often than not, they place their garden infrastructure in an area that receives six to eight hours of sunlight, even through the winter. Then they plant their seeds and transplants. The problem is that if the Persephone period isn’t taken into consideration, plants stop growing halfway through their maturing state, and then the grower either gets small harvests or can’t harvest at the time when they expected to be able to harvest.

How to Harvest During Your Persephone Period

You can still harvest food through your Persephone period, but you need to make sure that your plants are fully grown before your Persephone Period starts. First, check what dates your area has less than ten hours of sunlight. When that date starts, that’s the date your plants must be almost to completely mature. 

To make sure you have enough to harvest through your whole Persephone Period, you need to figure out how long that time lasts for you and then plant enough to harvest during that time. So, if your Persephone Period is 30 days long, figure out how much harvest you want to have of each crop through that time frame and then plant that amount at the same time. 

Sometimes growers will stagger that by a few weeks and plant half the amount one week. Then two weeks later, they plant the other half because often the plants’ growth slows but doesn’t stop growing completely right away. Plus, breaking the planting in half makes the task of planting an entire month or more of harvest much more manageable. 

Crops that Grow During Winter

If you’re fairly new to gardening and not sure what crops to start growing in your winter garden, select cool season crops. Avoid summer crops unless you have a fully heated greenhouse and are growing self-pollinating varieties. 

Crops like kale, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and radishes are good choices for first time winter gardeners. Remember that your season extension infrastructure has to maintain proper temperatures for growing the crops you want to grow.


Once your crops are near to fully grown and your Persephone Period begins, you won’t harvest all the food at once. Since your crops are hibernating, you can treat the garden as your refrigerator and harvest when you’re ready to eat.

Winter Garden Icon with veg globe

Before you start your winter garden journey, be sure to factor in your Persephone Period so you can get fresh food on your plate year-round, even when Persephone has returned to Hades.

Want to Learn More About Winter Gardening? Discover our Winter Garden Course and get the know-how you need to get fresh food all winter long!

2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide

The Grow Your Own Vegetables Elves have been busy recently. They took a break from the garden and gathered all kinds of garden goodies together for our 2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide.

This is the third year that the GYOV Elves have worked tirelessly to create this guide for you to help with the holiday shopping for your garden friends and family—and YOURSELF!! 🎁

This year’s guide is better AND bigger than ever and is filled with items that are sure to work for anyone on your list—no matter where they live—no matter their available space. 

Years ago, when you said garden, it conjured images of a plow, tiller, or tractor creating rows and rows of turned dirt on an acre or more of land. However, today so many options exist that allow you to garden pretty well ANYWHERE!

2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide highlights some of these options, which make great gift ideas. 

Garden Tower 2

The Farmstand Nook

Farmstand Nook

Looking for another option to grow indoors that allows you to grow anywhere you choose—no sunlight required? The Farmstand Nook is your answer. 

With the Farmstand Nook, you can grow up to 20 plants of herbs, greens, and more all year long. The sleek compact design includes integrated LED lights (why no sunlight is required), a water pump for self-watering, and a water-resistant floor mat, allowing you to place it anywhere in your home such as within steps of your kitchen stove.

The specifically designed Grow Sleeves and Grow Cups allow for easy maintenance of your plants. Each Grow Cup features a notch to hang Plant ID labels that contain the name of your plant, the ideal harvest date, and an icon indicating the best location to place the plant on your Farmstand Nook for the best results.

An additional bonus feature of the Farmstand Nook is the included Digital Smart Timer, which allows you to automate and remotely update the watering and lighting systems through the Farmstand Nook’s app. This means that you can go on vacation, and your plants will continue to thrive during your absence. 

See page 9 in the 2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide for more information about the Farmstand Nook.

RailScape Plant Clips

Vivosun Grow Tents   

Vivosun Grow Tents

Do you not have any outdoor space available for gardening but maybe have a free room or garage available indoors?  Vivosun Grow Tents are a great solution to be able to still grow fresh vegetables and herbs for your dinner table.

Available in a variety of sizes, the Vivosun Grow Tents allow you to select the size that meets your growing needs and space availability. Their design creates a reliable, stable growing environment that puts you in control of the light, temperature, humidity and soil conditions. With multiple chambers, you can keep your delicate seedlings separate.

See page 8 in the 2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide for more information about Grow Tents.

Raised Bed Grow Bags

Walk-In Greenhouse  

Walk-In Greenhouse

Looking for an option to garden all year round? A quality Walk-In Greenhouse allows for a longer growing season, no matter where you live. Tractor Supply offers a high-quality 6’ x 12’ Walk-In Greenhouse for a great price. This item creates an internal environment that provides a productive growing location for any vegetable or herb that you want to grow.

With a durable aluminum, rust-resistant frame, this Walk-In Greenhouse is wind resistant up to 30mph. Polycarbonate panels diffuse sunlight, eliminating the risk of plant burn and shade areas. It includes two large adjustable vents so that you can give the plants inside ventilation for longer growing into the season.

See page 9 in the 2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide for more information about the 6′ x 12′ Walk-In Greenhouse.

Athena Rain Barrel

Handwoven Cotton Macrame Hanging Chair

Handwoven Cotton Macrame Hanging Chair

After setting up your alternative growing solution, it’s time to relax. A Macrame Hanging Chair is a great way to set back and enjoy the fruits—or veggies—of your labor. 

The chair is made from handwoven cotton in a pale pretty color that blends with any decor. The base is 26” in diameter and has a weight capacity of 250 lbs.

See page 4 in the 2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide for more information about the Macrame Hanging Chair.

These are just a few of the many great gift ideas in the 2023 Holiday Garden Gift Guide. Don’t wait to download your copy and start shopping for all your garden loving friends and family. Any of the items can be ordered and shipped directly to the receiver, if they don’t live close by. 

In addition, you will find all Grow Your Own Vegetables courses in the gift guide on sale through the end of the year. Our garden courses make a great gift for those garden friends and family far away because you simply provide us with their name and email, and we take care of the rest. It’s a gift whose value in near-ending!

It’s definitely holiday 🌿 thyme in the garden!

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.

Season Extension Basics

When we think of gardening, it’s common to conjure up images of summer and all those juicy summer crops we love so much. However, these images prevent us from realizing a year-round garden. The reality is that there are people who live in climates where it’s freezing much of the year but successfully grow during much of that time. It takes a little infrastructure, but you can have fresh food throughout the cold months. Start here with season extension basics.

What is Season Extension?

Simply put, season extension describes methods you can use to extend the season. It’s not limited to winter gardening. A walipini, for example, is an underground greenhouse designed to protect crops from intense heat. For this article, though, we are focusing on season extension methods typically used to grow crops through colder climates.

Different Types of Cold Season Extension

The most common forms of winter protection—besides greenhouses—are cold frames, row cover, low tunnels, and high tunnels. Cold frames are either a raised bed or set in the ground. What makes these spaces a cold frame is the clear lid that angles towards the sun covering the growing area. High tunnels (also referred to as hoop houses), low tunnels, & row covers are half-circle, tunnel-like structures covered with crop protective material.

High tunnels are sized so that multiple beds fit underneath and are usually tall enough to walk through. Low tunnels are tunnel structures that cover a single bed and typically range from two to four feet high. Row cover tunnels are tunnels that cover just a single row in a bed.


In greenhouse construction, the clear materials used to cover the greenhouse are typically glass or polycarbonate hard plastics and referred to as glazes. Cold frames are typically raised beds,  made of wood, sometimes insulated, and topped with an angled glass or plexi-glass. 

For hoop houses of all sizes, the materials used to cover the hoop house area are generally known as coverings. These coverings are either agricultural fabric or flexible plastic and come in different thicknesses. The thicker the covering, the more protection. But thicker does not necessarily mean better. The thicker the covering, the less light your plants receive. So ideally, you want to make sure that your greenhouse is in an area that will get 8-10 hours of sunlight so your plants don’t lose too much sunlight from whatever covering you have on your hoop house. 

The type of season extension you’ll need depends on how cold your winter temperatures get. If you have mild winters and you want to grow just cold hardy crops, you might only need a row cover with a light agricultural fabric covering. If you live in a climate with a harsh winter, you might choose a row cover with a thick agricultural fabric and a low tunnel or hoop house with a medium to thick flexible plastic covering. There’s so much more to season extension that you’ll want to know before finalizing your infrastructure plans, but these season extension basics can get you started on your winter garden journey.

Want to discover more about season extension and learn how to grow a winter garden? Check out the Winter Gardening Course. 

The Best Growing Trays for Microgreen Success

Microgreens are a great crop for so many growers. Whether you’re looking to supplement your vegetable garden, wanting to add fresh veggies to your plate in the winter months, or growing indoors because you don’t have outside gardening space, microgreens are a fun and easy crop to grow. But finding a good microgreen tray can be challenging.

How to Choose a Good Microgreen Tray

A good microgreen tray should be food safe, have drainage holes, be non-porous, not be biodegradable, and be sustainable. In addition to the list above, it’s really helpful if all your microgreen trays are the exact same size and fit perfectly in your drainage tray below so no space is wasted and you can maximize your harvests.

“Too often I see students growing in trays that aren’t safe to grow food in or trays that don’t support microgreen growth. A good microgreen tray set up can mean the difference between a healthy harvest or a failed batch.” – Crystal Meserole, Commercial Microgreen Grower.

The Micro-Dream Tray

Recommended by commercial microgreen grower, Crystal Meserole, these trays are truly one of a kind! So many of the trays on the market are downright junk and you’ll be lucky if you get two plantings from them. Not these trays! Meet the most amazing microgreen tray on the market.


A perfect size for the home grower, these 5×5 inch trays are listed on their site as ‘Ultra-Durable, Top-Quality BPA Free Plastic Trays…Will last multiple seasons’. This is a serious understatement!

“I bought a batch of 800 of these microgreen trays 5 years ago. After 5 years, I still have most of them in near perfect condition. They’ve been in and out of kitchens, gone through dozens of wash and sanitize cycles, and just as many plantings. These trays are the most superior trays on the market.” – Crystal Meserole

Because these trays are all uniform, you can hone in on the seed amount you need for each planting. No more winging the amount or having to measure different amounts for different sized trays.
While the taller 5×5’s are best for larger rooted greens such as pea, nasturtium, and sunflower shoots, their shallow 5×5 mesh trays are best for small rooted crops like broccoli, kale, amaranth, and more. Don’t let the mesh fool you, these shallow trays are equally durable.

These extra strength 5×5 trays (called 801 inserts in the commercial world) are made of heavy-duty, BPA- free, FDA-grade, polypropylene plastic and guaranteed not to warp or break.

“These trays are so easy to use and clean. I can’t imagine growing my microgreens without them.” – Crystal Meserole

Perfect for Multiple Varieties

Not only are these trays safe and durable, they’re great for anyone wanting variety! Fitting eight 5×5 trays to one 1020 flat, these trays reduce environmental waste, AND save you money.

The design provides better drainage than competing trays, saving you even more with reduced crop loss. As an added bonus, they can be run through most dishwasher cycles with no problem. Say goodbye to flimsy non-sustainable trays for good with Bootstrap Farmers’ superior quality 5×5 Microgreen Trays.

In addition to your 5×5 trays with drainage holes, you’re going to want a flat with no holes to catch water draining out below. Use these for the deeper micro trays and these ones for the shallow mesh trays.

Humidity Domes

Bootstrap farmer also makes a seriously durable dome to fit over the 1020 flats to protect your seeds while they germinate. And the openings in the top allow you to slowly adjust your baby microgreens to your indoor environment.

From safety and durability to maximization of space, Bootstrap Farmer microgreen trays are where it’s at for anyone who wants to grow microgreens as a crop. Whether you’re a home grower or commercial grower, these trays are far superior to anything else we’ve found on the market. See for yourself! Get the 1020 flat and dome starter kit here and the microgreen 5×5’s here.

Share Your Thoughts!

How do you like these microgreen trays?

Exploring Garden Personalities: What Kind of Gardener Are You?

Gardens are like fingerprints—each one unique. For each gardener, their garden reflects their personal gardening values, strengths, and goals. Garden values and strengths are reflected in your garden personality and are at the core of every garden. By understanding your garden personality before you begin your garden each season, you will be able to define the necessary goals needed in order to achieve the success and results you desire. But how do you discover your garden personality?

What's Your Garden Personality? Images of the Eight Different Personalities: Garden Chef, Alchemist, Explorer, Sage, Buddha, Artist, Activist, and Ninja

Garden Personalities: What Are They?

Before you discover your garden personality, you must first understand more about the different garden personalities. Over the years, the gardening experts at Grow Your Own Vegetables have observed that gardeners typically share eight distinct core values. Those eight values are:

  1. Beauty
  2. Education
  3. Enjoyment
  4. Harvest
  5. Health and Wellness
  6. Nature Connection
  7. Physical Activity
  8. Positive Environmental Impact

While most gardeners find all or at least many of these eight values to be important to them, generally, one or two values emerge as the strongest and most important to an individual gardener. Thus, your garden personality—and in turn, the corresponding Garden Hero—is identified.

Beauty: The Garden Artist

Garden Artists appreciate the benefit that is received from the fresh food that their garden provides. However, they value the beauty that the garden brings to their world even more. These gardeners do not necessarily plant foods they want to consume. Instead they plant based upon the look, height, and color of the resulting plants. They consider their garden their masterpiece and want to share the beauty with their friends, family, and community.

Education: The Garden Explorer

As the saying goes, “Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.” This is true of Garden Explorers. They look to their gardens as a source of knowledge and experimentation. Their gardens can be in neat rows or a chaotic mess or anything in between, depending on their ultimate goal. Garden Explorers are generally more interested in the data results from their gardening efforts than the actual food produced. 

Enjoyment: The Garden Buddha

Garden Buddhas love everything about their garden, and they love to share their gardens—both in stories and in products. For a Garden Buddha, their garden is about the peace, relaxation, and comfort that they receive from being in it. They typically do not have much in the way of an actual garden plan or design other than a peaceful place to escape the stresses of everyday life.

Harvest: The Garden Chef

Which is more important—how much you grow or how good it tastes? The answer is both, if you are a Garden Chef. They want to maximize their time, space, and results. While Garden Chefs also enjoy gardening, they are more about the results—quantity and quality.

Health and Wellness: The Garden Alchemist

Ludwig Feuerbach, a 19th century philosopher, said, “We are what we eat.” Garden Alchemists follow this same belief. They recognize the health advantages in understanding what they eat and study to understand the full benefits of each food they grow and consume. A Garden Alchemist tends to have a large garden as well as lots of variety within it.

Nature Connection: The Garden Sage

A Garden Sage views his gardens as a source of knowledge, much like a Garden Explorer. However, unlike the Garden Explorer, a Garden Sage is not concerned with experiments and data. Instead for them, it is about personal observation and making a connection to all parts of their garden, including the weeds, bugs, and dirt. Garden Sages allow nature to take its own path in deciding how and where things grow. 

Physical Activity: The Garden Ninja

The physical activity of garden work is what Garden Ninjas value. This includes viewing physical activity from both ends of the spectrum. Their focus can be about how to achieve more with less physical exertion or about how to achieve the most physical fitness from their garden work. Both types of Garden Ninjas work to achieve a bountiful harvest.

Positive Environmental Impact: The Garden Activist

While having a garden is part of a green lifestyle for all gardeners, Garden Activists value this part of gardening above all else. They are serious about making an environmental impact through their actions and strive to be an inspiration to those around them. Garden Activists love the fresh nutritious food achieved in their garden harvests, but they also want to ensure that they leave the area around them in a better place for future generations.

Garden Personalities: Which One Are You?

Your garden is an expression of your values, strengths, and goals. Whether you’re a Garden Artist or a Garden Activist, your garden tells a unique story about who you are as a gardener. Embrace your garden personality for it is a reflection of your connection to the natural world and what you hold most dear.

To find out more about the different garden personalities as well as how to discover your individual garden personality, Grow Your Own Vegetables created a handy free downloadable eGuide that outlines how to identify your values and the garden goals that align with those values. You can download your free copy HEREDiscover Your Garden Personality eGuideYour garden personality may change over time or maybe even change every year. Use this eGuide at the beginning of each season to re-evaluate in order to naturally cultivate a mindset of success and to help you continually embrace your inner Garden Hero.

Once you have discovered your garden personality, be sure to check out the merchandise available in the Grow Your Own Vegetables’ Online Shop featuring the different Garden Hero personas. 

Store window featuring some of the GYOV Garden Personality merchandise. (A sweatshirt, a tote bag, a tumbler and mug, another tote bag, and a T-shirt)


Microgreen Garden… indoors, fast, & DELICIOUS!

Do you have limited TIME and SPACE but want to grow fresh food? You can still grow! Learn to grow your own microgreens. The healthy fast food with flavors galore!

Check out two of my students who are are busting the myth that you need a lot of time and space to enjoy homegrown food. It’s just not true!

Even if you only have a closet or a few shelves, you can get TONS of fresh, flavorful greens on your plate.

Try the nutty flavor sunflower shoots in your next salad, spice up your soup with purple radish microgreens, or add a sprinkle of fennel atop your favorite meat dish—the flavors are truly endless!

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The best part about growing microgreens? It takes just a few minutes each day! You could have a non-stop supply of fresh greens, if you grow your own microgreens. 😉

A lot of people wonder what you can grow as a microgreen. They’re unsure about what plants can be eaten as a microgreen. An easy general rule of thumb is that if you can eat the leaves of that crop, then you can eat it as a microgreen. There are hundreds of possibilities.

What’s more is that there are endless ways to use microgreens. From adding a bit of tart to your salad with red veined sorrel, dusting your pasta with that fresh micro basil (because we all know dried basil just doesn’t cut it!), or adding a handful of that cilantro kick to your southwestern soup, microgreens are one of the most versatile crops you can grow.

Want to try your hand at growing microgreens?

Get Your Complimentary Guide to Growing 6 Easy-to-Grow Microgreen Varieties

Guide to 6 Easy to Grow Microgeens

Related articles you may enjoy:

The Best Growing Trays For Microgreen Success
The Benefits of Growing Microgreens & Ways to Enjoy Them

Share how YOU like to use your Microgreens!

Make Gardening a Lifestyle, Not a Chore

It’s common for growers to get into gardening and get bogged down. When the garden isn’t providing you the healthy, vital lifestyle you want and your garden isn’t giving you the healthy harvest you’re looking for, it can often feel like an uphill battle just to get food on your plate! But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make gardening a lifestyle, NOT a chore.

That’s why we created the 3 Scientifically Proven Strategies for an Abundant Vegetable and Herb Garden Masterclass.

One of the strategies covered in the class is about a process our founder Stacey Murphy uses called the Circle of Awesome. It integrates gardening into your lifestyle a little bit at a time. So instead of scheduling tons of time whenever you can ‘get to it’ to complete garden tasks, you’ll be setting a little bit of time aside more often so that your garden isn’t a project but rather a lifestyle that becomes as effortless and automatic as brushing your teeth.

Stacey asks us to consider what we can do right now to feel healthy and vital. What can you do NOW so you can live more of the green lifestyle you want?

The Key is to Feel GREAT!

The key is to feel great about the journey. That’s hard when your garden isn’t giving you the results you wanted! When we feel good and joyful about what we’re doing, the habit is more likely to stick around.

So what can you do? How do you make Gardening a lifestyle, not a chore?

Even if you can’t find the 15-30 minutes each day to be IN your garden, it can be as simple as setting aside just 15 minutes each week for the discovery process of gardening. Just by doing this, you’re going to be more prepared for garden success than you ever thought possible. This is what expert growers do. You get everything ready through learning and planning. That builds your momentum for success so you feel good about your garden journey.

So what is the Circle of Awesome, and how can it transform your garden journey?

The Circle of Awesome

Once a week, you focus on one of the eight topics in the Circle. You can start anywhere. The eight topics are climate, soil and fertility, composting, planting, watering, pruning and trellising, harvesting, and mindset.

You may notice pests, diseases, and weeds are not on the list. That’s because when you focus on health and prevention, you focus on more of what you want. That’s why mindset is so important, and mindset is on the list.

You can pick anywhere in this circle. Since nature is cyclical, it doesn’t matter where you start. Pick anywhere, and you’re going to focus on that category for that week. Then the next week, go to the next topic.

It sounds overly simplified, but it’s very powerful. When you do this, you’ll discover interesting things about your local conditions and how to garden. It’s a way that you can break down all of the garden overwhelm and do a little bit at a time throughout the year, instead of trying to cram it all in during the height of the growing season.

And congrats! Because right now, reading this blog, you’ve already begun!

Gardening is a Lifestyle

Gardening is a lifestyle. It’s not always going to be outside in the garden with your hands in the dirt. It’s writing down your plan. It’s getting the right resources ready. It’s learning a little at a time. The miracle is that when you do this regularly, you’ll discover that your season is much more abundant.

Discover more about the Circle of Awesome and discover the other two strategies that can help you get the thriving garden you want with the 3 Scientifically Proven Strategies for an Abundant Vegetable and Herb Garden Masterclass.

5 Tricks to Get Higher Garden Yields

No one wants wasted space in the garden. Bare soil not only means less fresh food; it’s not good to leave your soil exposed like that. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to get more fresh food on your plate. Here are 5 tricks to get higher garden yields and keep your plants healthier. 

First and Foremost, Create A Crop Plan

If you haven’t created a crop plan, you’re going to be randomly sticking plants in the ground and planting seeds. This chaos might feel okay at the beginning of the season, but as the growing weeks proceed, you’re going to be spending a lot of effort wondering what to plant in that empty space. Crop plans are essential to maximizing your fresh food harvests.

Trick #1 – About Those Sun-Kissed Tomatoes

Single stem your indeterminate tomatoes. Single stemming is a process where you trellis your indeterminate tomato varieties and plant them just one foot apart versus the normal 18-24 inches. You’ll keep the lower branches trimmed leaving just one stem on the plant. When the plant begins to flower, you’ll prune all the way up to the first set of flowers. As you harvest those tomatoes, you’ll prune the leaves just above that cluster. The result is that while you’ll have fewer tomatoes per plant, you can get a higher yield overall because you’re planting the plants closer together. Plus, by pruning off all those leaves, you’re protecting your plants from pests and diseases and increasing air flow.

Trick #2 – Why Wait For Giant Hard-To-Work-With Roots

Harvest roots at smaller stages. The longer you leave a plant in the ground, the more potential that crop has to get a pest or disease. Not only will you lose less food to pests and diseases, but you can plant closer together than typical spacing. Forget planting beets 4-6 inches apart and harvesting them at 60 days when they’re gigantic and hard to work with, getting stains all over the counter. Harvest them at day 35-40 when the roots look more like the size of a radish. Then you can plant them just an inch apart and get more successions in before the season ends.

Trick #3 – Abandon Traditional Spacing 

Over plant and thin the in-betweens. Lettuce say 😉 you have a lettuce variety that says to space them 10 inches apart. Instead, place a plant every 5 inches. As they grow in, begin harvesting every other baby lettuce in the row. Now, you’ve had a whole row of half lettuces and still have a whole row of full head lettuce coming in!

Trick #4 – How to Plant Cool Season Crops In Summer

Plant cool season crops behind taller crops in summer. Lettuces are a cool season crop. When the heat arrives, the scorching afternoon sun is just too much for them. However, you can get lettuces later into the season by planting your lettuces on the north side of taller crops, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere and planting them on the south side of taller plants, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. This way, the lettuces get relief from the strong summer sun.

A great crop to choose for the protector plant are those single stem tomatoes because if your lettuces need more shade, you can leave an extra set of leaves on the tomatoes. But if your lettuces need more light, you can prune off more of the tomato leaves.

Trick #5 – Overlap Your Successions

Overlap your successions. A lot of the time gardeners will plant a row of plants, harvest, then plant another row. But this wastes time. Let’s say you’re growing a small variety of radish. These often mature in about 30 days. So you plant your row, but instead of waiting until you harvested that row, in 15 days, you’ll plant another row about 4 to 6 inches next to the original row. That second row will take about 5 days to germinate and another week or two before it starts needing the roots space. About the time that second round of radish needs more root space, you’ll be harvesting the first row, giving the second more root room.

These are just some of the tricks you can use to pack in more plants and get more fresh food harvests from your garden. But none of these tricks will matter if you don’t properly plan your garden with a crop plan.

If you’ve never created a crop plan before, you can learn how in our Beginner Crop Planning Micro Course. 

>>> Click HERE to Learn More About the Beginner Crop Planning Micro Course <<<

Keep Your Garden Plentiful with a Well-Designed Crop Plan

One of the most common occurrences with gardeners is that they leave a massive amount of space empty in their gardens every year. This happens with new and seasoned growers alike. All that empty space means you’re not getting the best return on your investment…and it’s not for lack of planning. Keep your garden plentiful with a well-designed crop plan.

Dedicated growers will spend hours and hours trying to create a solid garden plan only to discover midseason that there is a lot of unused space. That unused space isn’t just a strike against your time, money, and effort. It’s also not ideal for your soil. Soil is precious, and seasoned growers know—gardeners grow soil, not plants.

The best thing you can do for you and your garden is to learn how to maximize your harvest yields by using every square inch of space. To do that, you need one thing: a solid crop plan.

However, this is what most growers create for a crop plan, and it isn’t a crop plan at all:

The Difference Between a Crop Plan and A Garden Map

This is a garden map. The difference between a garden map and a crop plan is that a crop plan is like a video of your entire growing season and a garden map represents one frame of that video. The garden map you see above is one moment in time. The crop plan is the chart of all the points in time that something big needs to happen in your garden.

That doesn’t mean a garden map is useless. In fact, garden maps can help us understand and calculate proper plant spacing. It’s just that it alone cannot maximize your yields.

Once you begin building a crop plan that charts your entire season and creating garden maps during key points in time, you’ll not only see how many plants you can get in at one time. You’ll also see how many successions you can grow. This word throws a lot of new growers off, and it’s often confused with crop rotation. Even the definition of succession in farming is confusing for a lot of new growers so I’ve found it best to create the definition using an example. 

The Difference Between Succession & Crop Rotation

So what is a succession? Let’s say you are planting a smaller variety of radish in your garden starting in March and let’s say your climate lets you grow them all the way until the end of May. That’s three months or roughly 90 days. But the small radishes typically only take about 28-35 days to mature.

So you plant in March and then in April you’ve harvested. Instead of leaving that space bare for the next two months, you’ll plant another round of radishes in April and another in May. That’s three total. These ‘rounds’ are the successions, and a properly done crop plan gives you the insight into how many successions you can get from a given crop.

Crop rotation is something entirely different. Crop rotation basically means that if you plant your cucumbers in bed 1 this year, you don’t plant them or any other members of that plant family in that bed again next year. In fact, your crop rotation should be on a four year cycle. So ideally, you’ll have four garden beds.

Crop rotation helps keep our gardens healthy in a number of different ways. The first is that crops have varying nutritional requirements. So let’s say, for example, that you always plant corn in the same place. Corn is notorious for being a heavy nitrogen feeder, so over time, the soil you plant your corn in will be depleted of nitrogen. By rotating the crops, you’re helping to keep your soil nutrients levels more in balance.

Using Crop Rotation In Small Gardens

But what if you only have two garden beds? That’s okay. The goal would then be to subdivide the beds into two so you have four equal parts. You’ll plant the cucumbers in the first section of bed 1 the first year, the second section of bed 1 the second year, then move to the second bed the third and fourth year, cutting that bed in two sections as well.

Crop rotation also helps suppress pests and diseases. If you plant tomatoes in the same place every year, those tomato hornworms are going to know exactly where to go to get their next meal. By planting them somewhere new each year, you’re making those pests and diseases work that much harder to get your food.

Create A Crop Plan For Garden Success

With a well designed crop plan, you can easily rotate your crops without having to redo your crop plan every year and recalculate how many plants and seeds you’re going to need. To learn more on creating a well designed crop plan, check out the Beginner Crop Planning Micro Course.