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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!

Kids’ Read-Aloud: Dandelion Magic

So many grownups think dandelions are weeds. They mow them down, spray them, and gripe about them all spring.

But did you know dandelions can actually be…MAGIC?? Dandelions are the first food honeybees eat each year. And because they have a taproot, dandelions loosen hard soil and bring deep-down nutrients, like calcium, to the soil surface for other plants to use. Dandelions have tons of health benefits for you, too!

Join our Youth Garden Instructor, Meg Groves, as she reads Dandelion Magic by Darren Ferrell. Dandelion Magic is an interactive story about a little boy named Jonah, one magical dandelion, and a wish that gets a little out of hand.

Jonah’s Nana tells him that there is a very special dandelion that grows once a year. If you find the magical dandelion, make a wish, and blow its seeds, your wish will come true! Nana found it once herself, so she knows all about it.

Jonah finds the magical dandelion, and he wishes to become a pirate! But being a pirate comes with LOTS of unexpected challenges. Just when he finds treasure, sea monsters appear everywhere. Jonah needs your help to scare them off and get back home.

How can you help? Roaring, making faces, and blowing raspberries! This interactive story will work those dandelion-blowing muscles, even if they’re not blooming where you are right now.

When you blow the dandelion seeds off of the stem, the wind takes the seeds far and wide. If the seeds land in a place where it’s good to grow, they’ll grow into more dandelion flowers! More dandelions will feed even more bees and improve more soil.

With so many reasons to love dandelions, let’s stop all this “weeds” business. Pick a dandelion, make a wish, and send the seeds out on your own breath! Maybe you’ll make a little magic 🌬️

This article contains links to a product that we are a referral partner for. If you click and take action, Grow Your Own Vegetables LLC may be compensated. We only recommend products that we love and that we know can be helpful to you as a gardener.

Do you have a favorite ‘Garden Story’? Comment below.

[Recipe] Pizza Sandwiches!

Curiosity in the kitchen is a fun way to connect with kids and inspire their creativity! Join your favorite young person in the kitchen and start creating!

This fun recipe is both a really tasty treat and a fun experience to share with the whole family. It’s quite simple to prepare, so it’s a great meal to create with family and friends of all ages. In fact, this sandwich is inspired by the first dinner I ever remember making when I was probably six or seven years old, and it has stuck with me long enough to write this for you!

Preparation & Cook Time: Around 30-35 minutes
Yield: Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

• Sourdough Baguette
• Pizza Sauce (*Some suggestions for store-bought options are in the notes below)
• Pizza Toppings of your choosing!

• Pepperoni or other cured meats, sweet peppers, parmesan cheese, and basil is a great combination for those who consume meat!
• Sweet and/or hot peppers, basil, parmesan cheese, and tofu or mushrooms is a great meat-free combination for this dish!
• For a vegan combination, my suggestion is sweet and/or hot peppers, basil, and tofu tossed with olive oil, black pepper, and a dash of salt! Plus nutritional yeast, if you would like.

• Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon
• Salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste (fresh-cracked)

Steps of Preparation:

1. Start by preheating your oven to 350°F – 400°F (or 176°C – 204°C°C°C).

2. Cut the baguette lengthwise into three roughly equal pieces. Cut each of these sections in half like you would for an open faced sandwich.

3. Pour the olive oil onto a plate, and wipe the oil up with the halves of bread until they each have a glaze of oil. Add more oil as you go if necessary. Oil helps toast the bread as it bakes in the oven, but also allows you to toast the inside of your bread in a pan before loading it with toppings if you want extra crunch!

4. We are now ready to load our toppings! Start with the pizza sauce and finish with the cheese, salt, and black pepper. I suggest layering softer herbs like basil under other ingredients that need more cooking, such as sweet peppers, or even adding your soft herbs after the cooking is finished.

5. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. Arrange your sandwich halves on the sheet tray with space between each of them.

6. Move this sheet tray to the oven to bake until nice and toasty! Bake for roughly 10-20 minutes based on the ingredients used and your preference for char.

7. Once they are as roasted as you’d like, use an oven mitt to remove the sheet tray from the oven. Set the tray on a heat-safe surface such as the cooking range or a trivet.

8. Next, you can add any seasonings you like. A few examples to choose from include chili flakes, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, extra virgin olive oil, barbecue sauce, or whatever you like with your pizza!

9. Put the two halves back together, and enjoy your sandwich!

Notes:

• Recommended store-bought brands of pizza sauce:

• Most store bought-brands of pizza sauce will be great for your pizza sandwiches. Explore the options and find your favorite!

• Of course, organic tomato sauces generally will both be better in flavor and nourishment and also come with a slightly higher price point.

• Check your local farmers market!

• Making your own is quite straightforward. I recommend it for the height of tomato season!

• It is also an option to simply slightly cook down spaghetti sauce for a tasty and convenient pizza sauce for those who already have that on hand.

Attention all gardeners! We have a BRAND NEW Kids Micro Course available!

Five reasons to check out the BRAND NEW Micro Course for Kids:

🍅 Introduce veggies to even the pickiest palates
🌽 Build movement skills that will help kids gain strength and confidence
🥕 Help kids get ahead in school–plant knowledge is part of Next Generation Science Standards!
💖 Strengthen your bond with them by sharing what you love
🌍 Develop kids’ respect for the natural world…and help create a better future for our planet

Kid’s Read-Aloud: The Enormous Carrot

The Enormous Carrot is a story about two gardeners who accidentally grow a carrot SO BIG they can’t pull it out of the ground themselves. They ask friends and neighbors to help. And by working together, the team finally harvests the enormous carrot! All of the friends celebrate their harvest by eating the enormous carrot together at a picnic.

The Enormous Carrot shows us the importance of working together, especially in the garden. The story will also help cultivate kids’ curiosity about how their food grows. It might even inspire them to grow their own enormous carrot!

Meghan Groves is a teacher, gardener, and mom. She is creating a brand new Grow Your Own Vegetables Micro Course to teach the little ones in your life about plants and how they grow!

As a reading specialist, Meg loves using books as a foundation for learning new ideas and new skills.

Spark Garden Excitement in Kids with Reading

All you need to explore gardening with children is a garden. Right? Generally, this is true. However, if we want children to develop sustained curiosity about the natural world, we need to present them with digestible, age-appropriate topics. Our new course, Sprouts: A Child’s Garden Adventure, will do just that. You can explore outside and inspire curiosity with the resources listed below. 

Books are an excellent way to set a purpose or entice a child to look closer at the world around them. I especially love the book Up and Down in the Garden by Kate Messner. She explores the many things happening above and inside the soil. Her story highlights the different animals, insects, and plants just outside your door all season long. She also has a companion book entitled Over and Under the Snow that explores the hidden animal world during a snow-covered winter. I recommend reading these two books together.

For the youngest gardeners, Lois Ehlert’s books are bright with simple illustrations and quickly become favorites. Her books contain a lot of labeling, which can help deepen your conversations about gardening. Growing Vegetable Soup illustrates the progression from growing food to eating it. It would be a fantastic read for any child unfamiliar with where food comes from or who is interested in cooking. There is also a recipe at the end of the book. Lois Ehlert has written another book called Planting a Rainbow about different kinds of flowers and how they grow. If your child enjoys Growing Vegetable Soup, they are sure to love this book as well.
A Seed is Sleepy, A Nest is Noisy Book CoversDianna Hutts Aston creates wonderful books about the natural world. I suggest A Seed is Sleepy, and follow it up with A Nest in Noisy. The main text will engage your child, but she also includes more in-depth information in asides on each page. She describes and labels different kinds of seeds and plants. The illustrations are captivating and reminiscent of traditional botanical drawings. This book will reach readers on many levels.
A Seed is Sleepy, A Nest is Noisy Book Covers
A Seed is Sleepy, A Nest is Noisy Book Covers
The next two books take you on the journey of a plant’s life cycle. Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed is enlivened by his acclaimed illustrations and tells the story of how one very tiny seed becomes a very big flower. This engaging fiction tale has many realistic elements that will reinforce the reader’s understanding of a plant’s life cycle. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell is a great book for October or November, when you may have your own pumpkin lying around the house. This book follows the journey of jack-o-lanterns through decomposition into sprouting new pumpkins. It is an excellent book to set the scene for your own pumpkin rotting experiment.
Check out Kelly’s Classroom Online blog for more information. I have conducted this experiment a few times in my classroom, and it’s fascinating to watch the pumpkin decompose up close.
This battery-operated microscope is one of my favorite classroom purchases. You can take it on nature walks and immediately look at plants up close. It has a 60-120x magnification, and it is incredibly easy to use. It has also proven to be quite hardy.
Choosing one aspect of the natural world to focus on at a time is a great place to start. These books can help focus your intentions and engage the children in your life. Thank you for taking the time to inspire the young learners in your life. Happy Learning!
This email contains links to a product that we are a referral partner for. If you click and take action, Grow Your Own Vegetables LLC may be compensated. We only recommend products that we love and that we know can be helpful to you as a gardener.