Why You Should Set Vegetable Gardening Goals

Spring arrives and we gleefully start digging in the dirt to coax life from our gardens, but have you ever stopped to think about your vegetable gardening goals? If you are like many gardeners, you may find your main motivation is simply to get outside and reconnect with nature. You may also enjoy gardening as a way to squeeze more physical activity into an otherwise hectic schedule or you simply wish to have healthier, organic fruits and veggies on hand. Without question, growing a vegetable garden is a very relaxing way to accomplish these goals.

Why You Should Set Vegetable Gardening Goals

A sense of personal satisfaction and better overall health are admirable and worthwhile objectives on their own. However, if you dig a little deeper you may find you have a number of other goals for your vegetable garden. If you find you are short on gardening space, clearly defining these goals before you begin growing will make it a lot easier to achieve them.

For example, if you want to reduce your monthly grocery bill throughout the year by preserving part of your harvest, you’ll need to figure out how much you can actually grow in the space you have available (you’ll find my formula for tomatoes here.) Even if you just want to grow enough so your family can enjoy fresh produce during the warmer months, you’ll still need to figure out what you want to grow and how to make it work within your personal space and time constraints.

Assess Your Garden Space

In most cases, the amount your garden can produce will be defined by the amount of resources you can devote to it. Therefore, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How much time do you have to work in your garden?
2. How much space do you have available to plant?
3. If you plan to preserve part of your harvest, where will you store it?
4. What is your budget?

This last question is often overlooked, but it is very important because financial considerations will determine how much you can invest in seeds, transplants or other supplies. Honest answers to all of these questions will ensure you don’t get in over your head or become discouraged before you’ve had a chance to see results. Defining the amount of resources you have available upfront will allow you to set more achievable vegetable gardening goals.

Plus, it’s always easier to overcome a challenge once you clearly define it. Taking stock of your current situation can help you find creative solutions to potential challenges. For example, perhaps you can overcome a small budget by swapping seeds with neighboring gardeners or online communities. If you are short on growing space, maybe you can take advantage of unused vertical space along a sunny wall.

Define Your End Vegetable Game

Once you’ve developed a clear picture of what you have to work with, you can set realistic gardening goals. Make a list of the fruits, vegetables and herbs you use most in your cooking and highlight your most important “must-have” items. This will help you focus your resources on what matters most to you and will make it much easier if you decide to scale back your plans later.

As you can see, there are many benefits to setting vegetable gardening goals. Once you have a clear picture of what you’d like to get out of your vegetable garden, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to put into it.

Write down your goals and keep track of your progress with these handy, printable Garden Journal Supplement Pages.

Continue your garden journey with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!

Sustainable Chick News | June Farm To Table Trends

Summer is nearly here, the earth is warm and welcoming!  Now is the time to harvest the early bounty, work on summer home improvements, enjoy the sunshine and plan your fall garden.

If you are a Sustainable Chick, it’s also time to catch up on what’s new and innovative in the farm to table movement.  This month we have updates on how to spot fake farm-to-table foods, wine-to-table trends and everything you need to know about coconuts!  Read on!

What’s On Our June Bookshelf:

Sustainable Chick News | June Farm To Table Trends


June Farm to Table Trends:

U.S. wine changed forever 40 years ago, but not just at a blind tasting in Paris  How farm to table initiatives continue to change the wine industry

Bike-Powered Farming Program Turns Lawns Into Urban Farms  Fleet Farming, a bike-powered, all-volunteer team of farmers in Orlando, Florida is turning wasteful, water-hogging lawns into mini urban farms to help boost local food production.

At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants,you’re being fed fiction  Enlightening and thought-provoking article on whether farm-to-table restaurants are selling truth or fiction

How to tell if your ‘local’ food is actually local  Fantastic information you need on how to distinguish real from fake “farm-to-table” food at restaurants and grocers

Corn Whisperers  Interesting read on chefs grinding corn for grits, for polenta, for masa to fashion into tortillas while helping to preserve the 59 heirloom varieties grown in Mexico and the small family farms.

Best and Worst Cities for Staycations  As we try to keep our travel eco-footprint low, where are the best staycations spots?

Cracking The Coconut Guide to the paleo movement’s favorite fat

How to Host a Farm to Table Meal Experience the magic of gathering people together and sharing seasonal food.


Start on the path to homesteading today with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!

6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Green

Growing and processing your own organic coffee beans may be the most organic way to go, but depending upon your climate, soil and time constraints, it may not be the most productive method.  There are plenty of ways to eco-up your java fix, though.  Before you fill your next cup, try one of these “green” options:

6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Green

Seek out fair trade and organic.  Fair trade is the coined term for the effort to support small farmers by guaranteeing a minimum price for their crops and promoting long-term sustainable solutions.  Not all fair trade farmers use organic methods, so you may also want to identify those dedicated to using organic farming practices.

Ditch your filters.  Did you know you can brew coffee the same way you brew tea?  In fact, in many countries, steeping coffee is the preferred method for enjoying a great cup o’ jo.  Using a French coffee press is one of the preferred methods, delivering an incredible brew with minimal effort.

Use reusable filters.  Can’t bear to ditch your filters or still wish to use your traditional coffee maker?  Replace your paper filters with reusable ones.  Even a lot of the “fancy” electronic cup brewers offer reusable mesh filters in place of standard plastic cups.

Compost your coffee grounds.  There’s absolutely no reason to toss your coffee grounds in the trash.  Coffee grounds make excellent compost material.  If your coffee habits are heavy and your compost bin is full, consider working with a local park or environmental agency to find a good spot to spread your grounds.  Coffee grounds can be spread directly on soil and will quickly be absorbed.

Go local.  The further a food product has to travel, the more resources it consumes.  If you want to purchase a truly eco-friendly brew, seek out local coffee growers or whenever possible, stock up on local coffee during your travels.

Use a travel mug.  If you regularly crave a cup of java on-the-go, be sure to carry a travel mug or purchase a refillable mug from your favorite coffee hangout.  This way you will avoid having to use and dispose of cardboard cups, plus you’ll likely get a discount from the vendor for having a reusable mug.

6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Green

Easy Edible Plants to Grow This Spring, No Green Thumb Required!

Spring is in full splendor here and if you’ve been hesitating to start a garden, it’s time to sow your nourishing seeds! Whether you are new to gardening, pressed for time, or think your thumb is a little less than green, there are edible plants nature designed to make you instantly feel like a pro.

Easy Edible Plants to Grow This Spring, No Green Thumb Required!

Sugar Snap Peas – This sweet, crunchy treat with a high tolerance for frost is hard to resist eating straight from the vine.

Spinach – Rich in calcium, fiber and an impressive list of vitamins and minerals, spinach deserves its reputation as a superfood. It’s also a super garden grower that thrives in cool weather, rapidly producing large yields. Lettuce, kale, mustard greens and cabbage are also easy-to-care for spring crops.

Nasturtium – A hardy annual with edible flowers and leaves, nasturtium will brighten your landscape and your salad! Other low-maintenance floral edibles include Dahlia, Pansy, and Calendula.

Cilantro – An often over-looked garden herb, cilantro’s versatility, cool weather tolerance and quick cycle boost it to the top of the spring planting calendar. Basil, thyme, parsley, chives and rosemary are also ideal picks.

Zucchini – The trick with this vigorous plant is to be careful how many seeds you sow. Zucchini is such a prolific grower, one to two plants will produce an abundance.

Radishes – If you are seeking speed of growth and virtually no-maintenance, radishes produce in 3 to 4 weeks. Use mulch to help protect from frost and keep weeds at bay.

Easy Edible Plants to Grow This Spring, No Green Thumb Required!

Have limited gardening space? All of the plants above are container garden-friendly.  You can grow them indoors or on your porch or balcony, just be sure they have adequate light.

Want to perk up your indoor plant fun? Try growing a coffee plant! They are easily domesticated and if allowed to pollinate, will produce aromatic flowers and coffee beans suitable for roasting.

Start on the path to homesteading today with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!

What’s Stopping You? Top 10 Homesteading Myths

What does it take to be a homesteader?

People entertain the idea of homesteading because they have the desire to reduce their global footprint and/or to live a simpler, healthier lifestyle.  What it takes is that initial desire, the willingness to learn, and possibly some investment in initial supplies. All doable and easily achievable, so what’s holding you back?

Chances are you’ve fallen into the number one myth we tell ourselves – “I can’t start until __(fill in the blank)__.”

There are 10 common homesteading myths that keep people in the land of hesitation, postponing the desire to homestead, constantly waiting for the perfect day to begin the journey.  The day to begin the homesteading adventure, though, is now!  When you dispel the myths, a wonderful eco-journey will greet you.  Just take that first step!

What's Stopping You? Top 10 Homesteading Myths


Top 10 Homesteading Myths


Myth #1: You need to own a lot of land.  In reality, you can live a more sustainable lifestyle in an apartment or condo.  Space is not the issue.  Traditional homesteading implies settling on land in a house and acreage is certainly desirable, but there are plenty of people homesteading on 1 acre or less and creating eco-friendly environments in small spaces.  The key is to live responsibly within the space you have.

Myth #2: You can only “truly” homestead with free land.  If we were living in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s this may have a ring of truth, but in 2015 the 1862 Homestead Act is no longer applicable.  In modern times, we need to accept a more modern definition of homesteading and make it work within the parameters we have available.  Just because you pay for your home and land doesn’t mean you cannot be a homesteader.

Myth #3: You have to prep for the zombie apocalypse to homestead.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a survival plan but it’s simply not synonymous with homesteading. You don’t have to stockpile or make preparations like a survivalist to live a more sustainable lifestyle unless you choose to.

Myth #4: You have to live off-grid.  Plain and simple, you do not have to live in the mountains with no form of communication or access to the modern world.  It’s perfectly acceptable to choose this lifestyle option but you can live in the city and still adopt a homestead style.

Myth #5: You need to have skills before you homestead or come from a farm background.  This is the most popular homesteading myth I hear from people who are contemplating homesteading, but are hesitant to start.  If you have access to a library or the internet, you can find and learn everything you need to know to begin homesteading.  In addition to these resources, there are a wealth of classes available to help you learn some of the skills you may lack, such as proper animal care or gardening techniques, at your local extension agency, community center or college.  All you need is the willingness to learn!  The original homesteaders learned through trial and error, you have the huge benefit of history and modern technology to get you up to speed quickly!

Myth #6: Homesteading is hard and you can’t have a full-time job outside your home. Animals and gardens do need constant attention and I won’t minimize the fact that there is work involved in living a sustainable lifestyle, but there’s plenty of resources and alternatives available to find a desirable balance between work and homesteading.  Options like self-watering gardens, easy compost setups, animal sitters, low-maintenance tools and other time-saving conveniences are available to help you.

Myth #7: Homesteading is easy and doesn’t take much time.  On the flip side, some people con themselves into thinking that homesteading is a quick and easy process they can start in a flash, so they postpone until they have a pocket of free time to dive in and set everything up.  Homesteading is a process and doesn’t happen overnight.  However, don’t be afraid of the work or time involved.  You can approach it step by step and get started today even by implementing simple things like starting a window herb garden, setting up a compost station or implementing a water conservation plan. The time to start is now!

Myth #8: You have to be 100 percent self-sufficient.  I would love to be 100 percent self-sufficient and admire people who have taken the steps to reduce their eco-footprint to the lowest possible number.  They are eco champions! There are some modern conveniences holding me back from being among them, such as my cell phone, laptop and dishwasher.  But here’s the thing, I try to use my cell phone, laptop and dishwasher until they are nearly past the point of being obsolete and dispose of or re-purpose them properly when they’ve outlived their usefulness.  I also try to be responsible with my purchase decisions and buy products that are energy-efficient, comprised of renewable or recycled materials, and ideally have a low eco-footprint, when possible.

Also keep in mind, that you don’t have to do it all.  If you are homesteading on one acre, you may not be able to grow all of the crops you need to feed your family or animals.  Truthfully, there’s no reason you have to.  Bartering with neighbors or shopping at the local farmer’s market for organic goods is a viable, acceptable way to supplement your homesteading.  We may not be able to be or choose to be 100 percent self-sufficient, but we can certainly get as close as possible by consciously walking the sustainable path and using all of the resources available!

Myth #9: You can’t make a living as a homesteader.  If you want to leave your job and make a living homesteading, it is possible.  Like any other business, you’ll need to do your research and choose a homesteading business that provides a viable income.  There are plenty of profitable farming ideas and also a lot of artisan products to explore.  You may even consider other sources of home income like tutoring, writing or pet-sitting to help support your homestead lifestyle.  The key here is to have a plan and a budget established before you dive in.  You can easily begin homesteading while you still have a full time job and work on a timeline for transitioning to self-employment.

Myth #10:  You have to be a hippie, homeschooler, vegetarian or whatever label misconception you can come up with.  My husband and I don’t fit easily into any of these category, nor do most of the homesteaders I’ve interacted with.  The fact is homesteading is for everyone.  If you have the desire to homestead and the willingness to learn how, you are the perfect person to become a homesteader!

What other homesteading myths have you encountered?  What’s holding you back from taking the steps towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle? 

Start on the path to homesteading today with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!

Back to our Irish Roots on Epicurious Community Table

Tickled to be featured on the Epicurious Community Table today as part of the “Personal Touches in the Kitchen” series.  Stop by to learn about my food story and be sure to share your own!

Out of the Kitchen and Back to My Irish Roots! #epicurious #outofthekitchen –


Born under the earth sign Taurus, I arrived in this world ready to start digging and planting. My love of gardening, nature and craftsmanship was further nurtured by a long lineage of homemakers, masonry workers and farmers. You could say, perhaps, I was born with a silver garden spade!

My natural propensity for tending to the garden easily translated into the kitchen with all of my culinary efforts. But despite the fresh herbs and produce I regularly enjoyed, I didn’t quite make the full connection of our food story until I journeyed back to discover more about my heritage in Ireland.

See more at: http://community.epicurious.com/post/out-of-the-kitchen-and-back-to-my-irish-roots-epicurious-outofthekitchen/