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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’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?

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!