Learning to Grow Your Own.

My favorite aspect of farming, agriculture, and homesteading is the variety of activities you can learn. From baking breads to canning, there is always something new on the horizon when adopting sustainability.

Since the end of last year when the icy Polar Vortex rolled into town, I’ve been counting down the days to start seeds indoors. While it’s been fun mastering how to harvest grown food, I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my hands dirty.

Between the weather and a bad luck streak that drained my savings, it originally looked like another growing season would pass me by. Then, I received a big blessing: I won a giveaway from several lovely ladies that supplied me with seeds and other gardening goodies. {Thanks to Kat from Simply Living SimplyAngie from Schneider’s Peeps; Mary from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds; Janet from Timber Creek Farm; and Annie from Montana Solar Creation!}

Plant One / from TheSirensTale.com

The Good: I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is to start up your seeds! You can start seeds in many recyclables, you can buy heirloom seeds to cut down on yearly seed costs, and a basic indoor set-up won’t break the bank if you tap into creativity.

With the goal of becoming an organic farmer, I wanted my first “trial crops” to follow suit. Many experienced gardeners warned me about the pitfalls of organic farming; but, this is my passion and my future, so why not fall into sinkholes now to learn how to get out of them later?

In constructed seed pots (toilet paper rolls stuffed with newspaper), I started by planting three varieties of lettuce, along with tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, bell peppers, and cabbage. Within just three days all the leafy seeds sprouted, showing their strength under the grow light and my hope. This past weekend I planted cucumber, squash, and melon; I’m eagerly awaiting the seedlings’ arrival.

Toilet Paper Seed Pots / from TheSirensTale.com

The Bad: I missed the warning I would suddenly transform into a busy mama bee, buzzing around my seedlings as if my life depended on it. There’s an almost maternal instinct that comes with growing seeds, an urge to be a caretaker and make sure they have everything they need.

Similar to my canning adventures, I’ve been busy wringing my hands, checking temperatures (despite them remaining constant), and adjusting seed pots to get maximum exposure to the grow light.

Also, I missed the warning about the sudden transformation I’d undergo when my seedlings sprouted. The first day I hovered inside my makeshift greenhouse and saw growth, I started laughing wildly with my head thrown back, making loud statements of, “I’m growing food! I’m a magician!

I wish I could say this part is a joke.

Planted Seeds / from TheSirensTale.com

The Lessons: I need to shed the academia coat I’ve worn for the past decade. I was almost too surprised to find that seeds just need water, warmth, and light to grow. I felt stumped that there wasn’t a bigger theory or process behind growing your own food. Talk about over-thinking something natural.

Learning this lesson has reminded me why I crave a simpler lifestyle, away from the hustle and bustle of business, corporations, and career ladders. In this busy world, it’s far too easy to become disconnected with ourselves, our surroundings, and our environment.

Do you grow your own food?
Are you interested in gardening or sustainability?

{shared on the Jack of All Trades link-up and Hen House hop}

57 responses to “Learning to Grow Your Own.

  1. I can’t wait to see them grow! I’m hoping you will share their growth that is:) Also congratulations on your winning! That makes me very happy.

    • Tracie, I’ve been like a new mother with my seeds, it’s too funny! I have so, so many pictures of their growth and will be sharing that on the blog in the next few weeks 🙂 It was such a blessing to win all those seeds.

  2. How cool and interesting! In buying our first home, one of the things I’m most excited about is the opportunity to have a garden. I would love to grow herbs and vegetables, and I think this is awesome. Like you, though, I have a hunch I’d overthink everything about the process. I don’t have a green thumb (not yet, anyway), and actually killed succulents by watering them too often! It’s so gratifying to grow something, though. My husband is into chile pepper plants, and he’s done quite well with them!

    • Over-thinking.. I swear it’s a leftover curse from too many thesis papers and arguments, LOL. I hope you do start a garden and share it on the blog, I’d love to read about it! And chile pepper plants? Yum. I’m hoping to grow those in the future 🙂

  3. Very cool!! I’ve had a small garden the past few years, but I’ve stuck with easy things–I have perennial cilantro and mint, I grow green onions, zucchini, and tomatoes…and I don’t put nearly the thought and intention into it that you do! 🙂 Sounds like you’re having fun with it, though!

    • Cilantro and mint… two of my favorites! I’m so excited for this year’s garden, and I appreciate you picking up on the amount of intention and thought I put into it 🙂 It’s my absolute passion so I tend to get a bit over-analytic with it. Here’s to just having fun!

  4. it’s a project!! and worthwhile!! Good luck and have fun!

  5. This is fascinating! I’d love to grow my own seeds. I’ve tried herbs, but errr… they didn’t last very long, doh! xo

  6. Oh this is great! We grow a few different things in the summer, but it’s difficult because neither my husband nor I have green thumbs and our “garden” is pretty much just clay. Each year we just hope to do a little better than the year before.

    • I’ve heard that Canada has a hard time with their clay dirt! I’m with you about not having a green thumb, and I think that’s why I’ve been so obsessive with checking the seeds every few hours when I can! Here’s to adopting green thumbs and growing a bigger garden every year 🙂

  7. I’m impressed! I’m convinced my thumb is brown… but I hope to plant some herbs in the future. It would be nice to have some cilantro and basil always at my fingertips. I hope they keep growing!

  8. That’s so cool! It’s especially awesome that winning the contest saved the day (I *love* when serendipity appears like that). And girl, I totally can relate to over-thinking natural processes; I do the same thing with my houseplants (without fail), so you’re totally not alone in that boat. 🙂

  9. I totally kill anything I try to grow. Or even just keep alive. Except humans. And dogs. I’ve done well so far with that! Ha!

  10. Your energy knows no bounds! I am lucky to keep things that are already blooming alive, much less start them from seeds! It is hard to live the simple life!

    • So true, Jenna! Some of my family and friends think I’m crazy to crave this kind of lifestyle, but I think that’s the beauty about life: we all live through so many different styles, beliefs, and work patterns. Even though I’ve been a business/corporate gal for the past decade, I knew that “suit” never fit well. But at the same time, I have so much respect and admiration for my friends that crave that busy lifestyle. It keeps life interesting 🙂

  11. i don’t have a green thumb.. but saying that while i know i’ve never attempted to be a green thumb-my like.

    • I always thought I had a “black thumb” because I would buy a plant, never water it, and then it would die. I would blame that on not having a green thumb, when it reality I just didn’t know what plants/seeds needed to thrive. It’s been fun learning! 🙂

  12. Bawahhhahaha ! that magician statement got me to LOL! loved it. Ok now that you have sprouts did you know that you mush harden them before planting unless you have a very very warm spring? That is the next lesson!

    • Haha, I’m glad it brought you a laugh! My boyfriend was in stiches laughing over my reaction… it definitely was a funny moment 🙂

      Right now I’m waiting for the true leaves to form so I can transplant the seeds to bigger recyclable pots, then once I do that I’m going to start hardening them off 🙂 Our Spring is chilly at best, so I’m hoping that placing the seeds in our 3-season room (outdoor room that’s closed in with glass doors) will give enough warmth, sunlight, and wind to harden them!

      • great sounds like you a headed for a great season of loving, learning and eating healthy… For the second year in a row our garden will be small,more sewer and water line issues to deal with.But we will have tomatoes, peppers, rhubarb, pole beans, gourds, and cucumbers and spinach in containers and a small plot of yard if all goes well!

  13. we are thinking of starting a garden! this looks great! 🙂

  14. Hi Caitlin,
    We enjoy growing a medium size garden and sustainability is always on a farmer’s mind. I very much enjoyed reading your experience with seeds. It reminds me of when I first began gardening here on our farm and how much simplicity highlights enjoyment. Thanks for sharing.

    I also over think things more times than not.:) For instance, I have insisted on growing my plants from seeds for several years. Starting from seed has been touted as “next to godliness” in many publications, so I did my part and ended up with a surplus that had me hunting people to give my new babies to whether they wanted them or not! LOL. Then other times I would miss the proper timing for certain seeds to be planted, etc., etc. I realized I just wasn’t especially great at this initial stage of gardening – in fact I recognized that I didn’t really enjoy it or want to be great at it – AND I am okay with that…and no less “godly” for it.

    I prefer to buy my plants. Buyers of seedling plants support our local and corporate nursery industry – an industry where so much excellent knowledge and care is focused on giving us so much to grow on! – the simple thought of buying young plants from those who are gifted with seeds and have a good system set up just never occurred to me because it didn’t seem as pure of an inclination based on the magazines I was reading at that time. Oh the tangled webs our literature can catch us in. 😉 In short, I’m glad for the time I spent learning to grow from seeds – and I’m glad to know I can depend on local growers and larger growers. It makes me feel better connected to agriculture overall – and that is so important.

    When I need plants before the local farmers market opens – or when I see something delightful at the hardware store that I must have for my garden – I buy Bonnie Plants, a company based in Alabama – http://bonnieplants.com/

    Hope I haven’t gone on too much. 🙂 Hope you have a good week.

    • I’m glad that my newbie experiences could bring back some good memories from when you first started 🙂

      I definitely hear you on the growing from seeds status being next to Godliness. It takes a lot of time, planning, and constant check-in’s. In the future when I have a piece of my own land and can grow more, I will probably start buying some transplants to cut down on the starting work. Whether something is grown from a seed, or transplanted into a garden, it’s still Godly and hard work 🙂 Just supporting the local business / industries is such a good thing!

      Thank you for the link to bonnieplants.com – I’m heading over to check them out now. Some seeds are extremely difficult to find in the Northeast because of our limited planting season. I’m wondering if I could order some transplants from them and pray like heck they take root and grow here! It’s worth a shot, at least 🙂

      And no, you didn’t go on too much.. I thoroughly enjoyed this comment! I strive to hear from experienced farmers, gardeners, ranchers, etc. because y’all are a wealth of knowledge as I begin my baby steps into an agriculture-filled life. Your words are very appreciated!

      • Sounds good. 🙂

        How about Rhubarb? It’s a spring bearing perennial, and I just love it with strawberries in a cobbler. I think it will take your gardening zone quite well.

        Have a great weekend!

  15. YAY!! So happy for your gardening start for the season. I laughed so much with the “I’m a magician” comment. Seriously though, I feel that way quite often. Seeds come up, or something starts flowering and I just get so incredibly excited and feel “wow, I DID THAT” (pay no attention to the fact that it was the sun, the soil, the temperature, etc. lol). It is in fact a magical feeling. I think one of the things I love most about gardening is the idea of feeling connected to the earth and everything around us.

    • Thank you, Jessica! I am literally beaming like a new Mom.. it’s silly! It is pretty amazing to see what you can grow when you just take the time and care to do it. Of course, the water/heat/light helps too haha.

      You describe the connection between self / earth / environment perfectly 🙂 That’s exactly why I love planting!

  16. What a wonderful win! This is SUPER embarrassing but I used to grow various herbs as a kid and I definitely sang to the seedlings. 😉 Granted I was like 11, but I was convinced that it worked.

    • It really was an amazing win! I felt so blessed, and continue to as I watch the seedlings grow 🙂 Add this to the list of reasons the internet can be an amazing place.

      And no judgment here about singing to the seedlings 🙂 I can’t confirm or deny this, but I might have been caught doing the exact same thing this past weekend, haha.

  17. How lovely… growing your own seeds are so super rewarding.
    (in more ways than one 😉 )
    I’m truly excited for you!
    And as per the usual – a beautiful post!
    Love reading them.
    Have a blessed day sweet person.

  18. The first time i grew my own seedlings I had the same response! I hovered and hovered and then when they began to sprout I screamed and did a happy dance! 🙂

  19. Our next house will definitely have room for a garden.

  20. Yay! Congrats on winning your lovely gardening package 🙂

    I thought about growing a garden this year……… I don’t know. I might start off with something easy like pumpkins. How come we can grow hundreds of acres of corn and soybeans but failed miserably at keeping a potted tomato plant alive?

    I will worn you. Our corn is grown conventionally. My potted tomato plant was not. I tried to keep it organic.

    It will be fun to learn through trial and error throughout the years! There’s so much to learn.. so so much….

    MU HA HA HA HA HA HA. <———– Just so you don't feel left out.

    • Thank you so much! I was so excited when I received the email I won, and realized I would actually be able to start my first garden.

      I give you so much credit for growing acres of corn and soybeans. To me, I can’t imagine doing all that! They’re two of the most in-demand crops so I would crumble under that much pressure, haha. Thank goodness we all have green thumbs in different crops, so there’s enough yummy food to go around 🙂

      I almost can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how much I have to learn, and how much I will learn. It’s all so exciting, and I look forward to learning more from experienced farmers like yourself!

  21. It’s amazingly exciting growing your own plants, huh? I only do tomatoes because we don’t have the sunlight (such a bummer because we do have the space but I don’t want to chop down my oak trees for more sun) and seeing that first fruit on the vine is SO exciting. Can’t wait to see more of your gardening adventures. I’m always craving to learn more.

    • Oh, so exciting! I’m definitely a nerd about it, but it just brings me so much happiness. Sunlight is one of the biggest challenges I’ve found so far. Some of my seeds that require high/full sun will end up in containers instead of the raised garden beds because there just isn’t enough direct sunlight to go around. Tomatoes are so delicious.. so even if that’s the only thing that grows, y-u-m!

  22. I completely understand your calling to this lifestyle! When I was very young, my parents moved us away from our many farmer relatives to follow my dad’s own career path. But we visited their families on a regular basis and I just loved being there. And as I got older, I began to understand exactly what they did and I can not begin to explain my great admiration for the family farmer. And here in Hoosier Land we are surrounded by the beauty of the farms. I wish you the all the success in the world!

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  25. What a fun giveaway to win!!
    Good luck with your new garden!

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  27. What a great giveaway you won! I loved this: “I need to shed the academia coat I’ve worn for the past decade. I was almost too surprised to find that seeds just need water, warmth, and light to grow. I felt stumped that there wasn’t a bigger theory or process behind growing your own food. Talk about over-thinking something natural.” So true! Academia definitely makes life seem much more complicated than it really is.

    • I was so excited when they contacted me about winning the giveaway. Talk about the stars aligning!

      I love academia, and work in it, but phew! It makes me often over-think the simplest of things, haha. “Why?” can be my worst enemy; I end up over-researching something that just requires gut instinct.

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