The Importance of a Versatile Garden Trellis System

Trellising is one of the best ways to increase the amount of growing space available to you in your garden. It also helps keep harvests off the ground away from moisture and soil dwelling pests. The soil is where plants grow but it’s also where organic matter gets broken down. So you generally want to keep your harvest off the ground as often as possible. But before we get into the importance of a versatile trellis system, if you’re new to gardening, check out the ‘When to Trellis’ and ‘What Plants Get Trellised’ sections below.

When to Use a Garden Trellis

Don’t wait until your plants get large to trellis them. Start them on the trellis when they’re small (about 2-3 weeks after transplanting them in your garden, depending on the crop). If you wait, you’ll end up needing to move stems and branches on the trellis which can cause damage and diseases to your plants. If your plants are already past this size, you’ll want to trellis and do the best you can, then plan to do it earlier next season.

What Plants Get A Trellis?

Plants that typically get trellised are crops like pole beans, indeterminate tomatoes (click here to find out the difference between indeterminate and determinate tomatoes), cucumbers, squashes, melons, and other similar crops.

Why You Want a Versatile Garden Trellis

In gardening, expert growers rotate where their crops are each year. This system of crop rotation helps confuse pests, keeping them guessing where to find the particular crop they’re fond of.

Crop rotation also helps prevent diseases from transmitting year to year. If a soil borne disease hits your tomato crop this season, next year it won’t because you’re planting in a different area. And by the time you plant tomatoes in that same place again (typically every four years), there is a better chance that disease has died off, not having the host plant available.

Plus, rotating your crops keeps soil nutrients more in balance. Every crop needs different levels of nutrients. So if you plant the same crop in the same place each year, then your soil is going to get depleted of the nutrients that crop needs to thrive.

So you want to rotate crops for healthier plants and bigger harvests. But if you don’t have a versatile trellis system, then you have to move your trellises from bed to bed each year… what a pain!

Free yourself from excessive work by using a versatile trellis system and check out our blog on a simple, easy-to-manage, versatile trellis system… and the best part? It’s inexpensive too!

Share how YOU trellis your plants!

Gardening Moms Get Kids to Love Eating Vegetables

One mother and student in our garden membership, Harvest Club, shared a story with us. It’s one that holds a clear message of why growing your own food is just, well… superior.

As a mother and wife she struggled to get her kids and partner interested in vegetables. They simply didn’t like them. And she wouldn’t be the first. Parents all over the globe struggle to get their kids to eat fresh food. It’s so common that kids don’t want to eat fresh vegetables and fruits. And really, who can blame them?

The moment a food is picked from the earth it’s connected to, it begins to die. It starts to lose nutrients and begins to decompose. That means that by the time it travels who knows how far and sits in storage and on shelves for who knows how long, it has lost so much vitality and flavor, no wonder kids don’t like it! 

But when this mother started growing her own, the kids and her partner began eating vegetables in just a single growing season! It seemed like a miracle!

Really, it’s the power of fresh, nutrient-dense food. And it’s the power of variety. Large farm producers choose plant varieties most often by how much it can produce and traits like how long it can live on the shelf. Some even choose variety based on how uniformly it will grow in the field. But large scale growers aren’t choosing their varieties based on nutrition. 

Garlic is a great example of this: Hardneck garlic doesn’t store nearly as long as softneck. So most of the garlic you see in the store is softneck. But hardnecks have more allicin in it. If you’ve never heard of allicin before, it’s the principal bioactive compound present in garlic and is in study for a variety of health benefits. 

Back to the story of mom … all was going well during the growing season for mom until one unfortunate week, she ran out of fresh greens. She decided to pick some up from the store. When the daughter began eating the greens at dinner that evening, her mouth twisted. 

“Ewww! These taste really bad!” her daughter exclaimed, removing them from her mouth. 

The mother felt she had spoiled her family and worried that her daughter may never be able to eat greens from the store ever again! 

Our first thought? That’s wonderful! Because homegrown food simply tastes better. And science is now discovering that there is a link between flavor and nutrients. So the more flavor your food has, the more nutrients it contains.

And this isn’t just important  for us. By growing a variety at home, we are sharing that nutrient density with our loved ones and preserving the best varieties, for our children and future generations to come.

Mom’s goal when she joined Harvest Club was to grow a garden and get her family to eat fresh greens. Mom, you nailed it! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being a fresh food revolutionary! And a huge thank you to all the mothers out there growing fresh, homegrown, nutrient-dense food.

Have a story about your kids eating fresh?

Share below!

Soil Blocks: Considerations and Benefits of Soil Blocking for Your Seed Starting

Wondering if soil blocking is for you? Some people love them, some people think they are a pain in the flower pot. For the latter group of people, they typically feel that way because they don’t realize you need to create a special mixture and often need to add more water so that the media holds together without a container. So getting the mix correct can take a little bit of experimenting, but once you get the hang of it, there are quite a few benefits to soil blocking. But before you jump on the soil blocking bandwagon, there are several factors you’ll want to consider before you decide whether or not it’s right for you.


To soil block the traditional way, you ideally want soil blockers. So there is special equipment needed for this process. And these soil blockers are an investment. Most decent soil blockers cost around $100. That’s quite an expense for many of us home gardeners. That’s why we were stoked to discover these 2” soil blockers from Bootstrap Farmer.

At the time this blog was written, the soil blocker is going for half of what they normally go for. And often a cut in price means a cut in quality. But Bootstrap Farmer is known for only carrying supplies they use on their farm. So they’re high quality, durable supplies that hold up on a farm. This makes them even longer lasting in most home gardening environments. Bootstrap Farmer also carries a smaller ¾” soil blocker. If you want to plant in the ¾” and then transplant to the larger 2” soil blockers later, be sure to get the inserts for that.

While there is an investment cost up front, soil blockers will last for years and years, often they can last longer than a lifetime with very small replacement costs!

Earth Saving

Not only will they save you money from disposable and plastic pots over time, they save the earth too. Who wants to keep the earth cleaner and their pocketbook more full at the same time? We sure do!

Now, if you’re a first year grower, you might want to wait until you have a few years of gardening under your belt and be sure that you plan to make gardening part of your lifestyle before investing.


Soil blocking can be a bit more time consuming while you’re getting the hang of it. Soil block seed starting mix recipes are a bit different than other mixes because the mix has to stick together to maintain its shape. And it has to be dense enough to keep its shape, but not so dense that it suffocates seedlings.

Getting the mix just right requires patience and persistence. If you’re short on time or in a hurry, this may not be the ideal seed starting method for you. Once you get your recipe down and get
accustomed to filling and emptying the block maker, making your seed blocks will go more quickly. Just be prepared to spend extra time in the beginning getting the hang of it.

Healthier Root Growth

Aside from lasting a lifetime and being a fast process once you get the hang of it, seed blocking offers healthier root growth because the block is exposed to the air on all sides (versus meeting the edge of a pot). This prevents roots from wrapping around each other the way they do in pots. Instead, the roots will grow up to the edge of the soil block and then stop growing.

While you might think that it’s a ‘bad’ thing that the roots stop growing, soil blockers have noticed that while the roots stop growing, they maintain health and often show superior health compared to roots bound to a container.

Avoid Transplant Shock

Transplanting plants grown in containers means disturbing the roots. By disturbing the roots, the plants go into what growers call transplant shock. It can take them up to 3-4 weeks to recover from this shock. In some cases, the plants’ immune system is compromised and the plant doesn’t make it.

With soil blocking, there’s little to no transplant shock since you don’t have to pull the roots and media out of anything before planting. You simply place the whole block into the ground. Reduced stress means a shorter recovery time and an increase in your plants’ ability to maintain optimum health!

Faster Harvests

With a minimized transplant shock recovery time, your plants can resume growing sooner and that means they can mature more quickly and give you more harvests!

Easy Upgrades to Larger Blocks

Indents in blockers allows you to easily nest a smaller block into a larger one, so a baby plant that’s outgrowing its block can be placed inside a larger block easily and keep growing.

No More Sanitizing Trays!

While you’ll still need to clean your soil blocker, you’ll save so much time and chemicals not having to clean and sanitize transplant containers. For anyone with a substantially sized garden, this is a dream come true!

Soil blockers are for anyone who wants to get away from plastic and the constant financial and environmental stress of manufacturing disposable/biodegradable pots, has a little extra time and money, wants a high ROI (Return on Your Investment) over time, and wants healthy seedlings for your garden. 

So how do you soil block? Stay tuned for more blogs on soil blocking! 

Want to learn more about seed starting?

Check Out Our Seeds Micro Course!

Have questions about soil blocking?

Ask Your Questions Below!

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.

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
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?

Determinate Vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes: What to Know

Tomatoes are one of the most prized garden plants. With hundreds of varieties, who can resist those sun-kissed bursts of flavor? But when new growers plant tomatoes, they often experience issues or total failure for one reason: there are two different types of tomatoes.

The type of tomato you grow will determine when you harvest, what you harvest for, and what type of support you need to provide for your precious tomato plants. So what are the two types of tomatoes and how do you know which type you should grow?

Type 1 – Determinate Tomatoes

The first type of tomato is called a determinate tomato. It’s called ‘determinate’ because we know that it will grow to a specified height. Since these tomato types grow to a determined height, growers typically use cages.

These types of tomatoes typically ripen all at once, making them the perfect choice for canning, sun-drying, or other bulk preservation methods. You can also eat them fresh, but they’ll only give you a few weeks worth of fresh harvests and they are usually less juicy. This makes them perfect for sauces, but not so ideal for that off-the-vine, fresh, juicy flavor we enjoy so much.

Keep in mind that if you’re growing determinate tomatoes, you want to follow the spacing on the seed packet carefully. These types of tomatoes should not be pruned much, if at all. If you prune them too much, they won’t produce as many tomatoes for you. That means you need to space them according to the packet (or even a little further apart) so that they get plenty of air flow. Keeping good air circulation will help prevent tomato plant diseases.

Type 2 – Indeterminate Tomatoes

The second type of tomato is an indeterminate tomato. Instead of growing to a determined height, these plants are actually vines and will continue to grow and produce as long as the environment allows. So if you grew these in a greenhouse under the right conditions, they would just keep growing and producing! These tomato types will give you fewer tomatoes all at once, but they’ll continue to produce all season long. This makes indeterminate tomatoes the perfect choice for your fresh, weekly harvests.

Since these types of tomatoes keep growing, they absolutely need a trellis. First time growers often try to use a cage for these types of tomatoes. But this vine-type plant will quickly take over the cage. The result is bent cages, fallen tomatoes, and often, other plant damage to nearby plants! So if you want those sun-ripened delicious tomatoes, choose an indeterminate and give your plant a nice strong, sturdy trellis.

For a video on a super easy trellis system, check out this video! The ability to trellis makes them a great choice for smaller garden spaces that need to use vertical space to maximize their garden harvests. And while determinate tomatoes can’t be pruned, indeterminate tomatoes can be pruned all throughout the tomato season. This has allowed growers to cheat a bit on the spacing recommendations listed on the seed packet… but that’s a blog for another time. 😉

Tomato Determinate vs. Indeterminate | GYOV

Related articles you may enjoy:

Growing Nutrient-Dense Tomatoes
5 Garden Tips to Maximize Tomato Harvest

Check out Stacey’s Masterclass on Youtube:

10 Tips to Growing Tomatoes… and More of Them!
Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel while visiting!

Download Your 10 Tips for Delicious Tomatoes eGuide

Tomato Determinate vs. Indeterminate | GYOV

Share how YOU like to grow tomatoes!

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!