Sow Generous. A Challenge to Grow & Give this summer!

A month by month planning calendar for starting your own (big or small) vegetable garden.  Have you always wanted a garden but never get around to it?  This series is for you.


Are you ready to start a vegetable garden?  Good!  This year you’re actually going to do it.  Even if it kills me. Over the next 9 months (the gestation period for both a child and a garden apparently) I’m going to walk you through everything you need to do to create a vegetable garden (big or small) .

Every month I’m going to walk you through what you need to be doing that month in order to plant, nurture, grow and harvest your own vegetables.


And then you’re going to give some of that food away!

Yup. Give it away.  That’s the concept behind the Grow & Give Garden.

You don’t have to do ANYTHING other than pay attention and follow along.

I know the biggest issue many of you have with doing anything is just getting started.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s painting a room, creating some project you saw on Pinterest or making dinner … it’s the getting started that’s the hard part. What materials do you need? What do you do first?  How long is it going to take?  You think these overwhelming thoughts and then give up before you even start.

I know for a fact this is the only reason I’ve never written a Hallmark Christmas movie. 

So I’m taking every bit of the guesswork out of Starting a Vegetable Garden in this 9 part series. Each month from February to October I’ll be taking you by the hand (or let’s face it, the computer screen) to let you know what you need to do that month to grow a garden bursting with vegetables.


You don’t need to register or pay but you do need to do 2 things.

  1.  Take the Pledge.
  2. Agree to give some of your food away.

Yup.  Give it away. You don’t need to figure out who you’re giving it to right now you just need to agree to do it.

Who can you give your extra food to?

Food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, even friends, family or neighbours.


I’ll be donating a portion of my garden to either my local food bank or a women’s shelter that’s in my town.

I haven’t quite decided yet.

So even if you ALREADY have a vegetable garden, this challenge is still a good one for you because it’s about sharing your food.  You don’t have to share with a food bank, it can be your neighbours, family or anyone else you think needs good food. But I do like the idea of giving to a food bank or shelter.

Here’s a quick rundown of what this challenge will cover.

FEBRUARY –  Seeds, seeds, seeds!  What to grow, where to get ’em and a list of my favourites.

MARCH – Sow you wanna be starting something? We’ll be starting some of our seeds indoors.  Yay!

APRIL – Garden planning.  Figuring out what kind of space you have and what you can grow where.

MAY – You. Get. To. Plant VEGETABLES!  What to plant outside now, how to make sure they thrive and what not to do.

JUNE – Shit just got real.  Plants are being eaten alive, falling over and being taken over by weeds. How to deal with ALL of it.

JULY – By now you’re going to have questions.  I’ll be answering some of the most common vegetable gardening questions you have.

AUGUST – So. Um.  When do I pick it?  How do you know if your watermelon is ripe?  Or if your potatoes can be pulled?  I’ll let you know how to tell when everything is ready.

SEPTEMBER – Now what the hell do I do with all of it??? Ways to store and preserve your infant.  I mean vegetables.

OCTOBER –  Important garden cleanup rules and my favourite fall harvest recipes.

Ready to take the pledge? Good I just knew you were that kind of person.

Take the pledge now!

Taking the pledge gets you a welcome email, gardening tip sheets and words of encouragement from me.  

If you have a website here’s a handy badge for your sidebar to show you’re a part of the Sow Generous summer.

Copy and paste this code below to get the badge for your site!

In the next Sow Generous post, I’ll let you know about my absolute favourite seed varieties including carrots, onions, tomatoes, some weird and fun vegetables plus the BEST beets I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Sow Generous. A Challenge to Grow & Give this summer!


  1. Leisa Joan says:

    we have 6 raised beds and grow stuff every year, and usually have lots of leftovers for family, friends, and co-workers.

  2. This is fab!

    A few years and a few states ago, I lived near and volunteered at a food pantry with a community garden. We helped food-insecure people grow their own veggies and herbs. It was lovely. The best part was that we also got to share our excess with one another and with the larger food pantry community.

    I miss that so much. You’ve just inspired me to look for ways to give from my garden this year.

  3. Lisa in West Tennesse says:

    I’m SO tired of fighting with my garden! Clay soil, weeds & (unkillable) grass, summer droughts, squash bugs etc.!
    I’m going to grow in a few containers this year so COUNT ME IN!

  4. Jan Donaldson says:

    Okay, I took the pledge, although I have been giving away for years. Can you give me some more ideas about giving away zucchini :) ?? Dark o’ night and anonimity work for a while, but when our local Food Bank starts turning it down, well, I’ve met my match. Thanks for alerting people to this easy peasy way to give back.

  5. Idaho Girl says:

    I’m in! I usually give away more of what I grow to neighbors and friends than I consume myself, but I love the idea of expanding that to a foodbank or shelter, so I’m taking that challenge this year. For Christmas I got myself some beautiful raised beds (I give myself the BEST gifts), so I can’t wait to put them in and get started this season. My favorite local nursery is having it’s Garden School this weekend, and I’m excited to go learn new things and rub elbows with other crazy garden people. The next weekend is their Seed Swap, so I’ve been working on my list of what new things to grow–influenced unsurprisingly by your blog.

  6. Bruce says:

    I’m in….let’s fill this thing!

  7. Heidi says:

    This is great! Count me in.

  8. Nancy says:

    I take the pledge…
    Last year you inspired me to build raised beds and grow veggies I never grew before. This year? Hooped covers.
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  9. Vikki says:

    When I saw your headline, I though maybe you were now going to keep chickens AND pigs!! Anyway, this is a great idea. Garden on!!!

  10. Leslie Elgert says:

    I take the pledge!!!

  11. Julia says:

    I’m in! I’ve got my seed heaters and grow lights all ready to set up.

  12. Karin says:

    Ugh. This reminds me I have to move my garden this year. It’s amazing how much trees can grow in 10 years. I am enamored with your home vegetable garden landscaping but do you ever have problems with watering close to your foundation? I’m worried about drainage. And then there are the squirrels. Nasty tomato eating gray rats. Every year I say I’m done but then you come with your siren song…

  13. Cindy says:

    I have a large garden in my yard and I am fairly new to it. It’s been about 5 years now and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and it’s just me and my husband. I give away sooooo much food but I just love it! I live up in Timmins ON, just a smidge north of you so it’s great to follow a gardening blog with someone in your growing zone because we don’t have much of one. We have about 4 feet of snow right now and bitter cold temps but I am dropping every last dime I have on seeds right now….like a crack addict…but healthier! Happy growing!

  14. Steph says:

    You are just the best.

  15. Sharon says:

    I can see my grandmothers house in the background of your picture.

  16. linda in illinois says:

    I’m in. !! i garden yearly, not always great but i give it my best, and will always. Can’t wait to do it with friends like you

  17. Megan Geiger says:

    This is just what I needed to get back out there this year. Last year my garden bit back (literally) and I was down and out for the count with poison sumac for months (still have the scars too)! So this year will be my year and I WILL get this garden to shape up and do something for me!!

  18. Barb says:

    We summer on the Canadian Shield, so lots of rocks and trees but I am determined to grow veggies. I just bought another large planter from Costco. I plan to grow cherry tomatoes, lettuces, green onions and herbs, if the chipmunks and groundhogs don’t get them first. I came face to face last year with a groundhog who ate all my lettuce that was in a planter on my deck. A surprise meeting for both of us!

  19. Beth says:

    I’m in! I’ve been gardening for years, but I love learning and trying new things!

  20. Nickybee says:

    I live near Montreal and last year I bought a cherry tomato plant at Costco. Planted it in a very big pot and had tomatoes all summer. Loved it. Because of limited space I wanted to try the square foot gardening method next summer or planting in containers. Well, I’m saying that every year and didn’t do it yet. May be this year will be the year!! That’s it I pledge.

  21. Susan says:

    I am in! Can’t wait to get down and dirty!

  22. Susan says:

    This is a great idea to help me get my garden going this year. Last summer, I ripped out my old rotten raised vegetable garden beds and joined them all up into one large one. Alas – it was rather late in the summer to grow much – but I am excited for this year. I need to know the timing of what to plant when – and sharing the bounty of the vegetable garden is a family tradition. Can’t wait to start!

  23. Jenny Durling says:

    I’m with ya! I already have a garden and share the wealth but I know your series will be fun. Still sharing LOTS of butternut squash!!!! 😂

  24. leisa says:

    Might be moving so I’ll have to watch from the sidelines this year but this is the BEST idea! Also, forget the groundhog… your gardening planning posts are the real first sign of Spring! Can’t wait to see how it goes :)

  25. Thera says:

    I have always wanted a garden,this year I am a renter with a very small S/E facing hunk of dirt, but I also have a deck facing that way so I am hoping to do some containers too!
    Just slightly N/W of you in Waterloo Ontario!

    • Anna Frick says:

      I live in an apartment, with a south facing balcony. I have 2 buckets that have an indeterminate tomato plant each every summer. I have netting on the face of the balcony in a futile bid to keep birds off my balcony, but it turns out that the tomatoes love to climb all over the net! painless trellising and the plants sprawl 2 m wide and tall.

  26. Cyndy says:

    From southeastern Pennsylvania, near the Delaware border, count me in, too!

  27. Mim says:

    P.S. for anyone who cares about such things: food shelves, shelters, any sort of charitable organization, will happily give you a statement reflecting your gift as a charitable donation for tax purposes.

  28. Mim says:

    I pledge, I pledge! I’ve already got leeks started in the basement and am about to start onions and (because of your recent post) cumin. We’ve got a few local food shelves that I already bring eggs to. Often, they are overrun with vegetables come August, but other places to donate produce are food kitchens — often attached to/affiliated with homeless shelters — and Meals on Wheels or other agencies that deliver meals to the elderly.

    Go forth and Sow!

  29. Jackie Johnson says:

    I’m in. I need the help. I love helping people i will gladly share my bounty.

  30. Suzanne Reith says:

    Always been a gardener, but traitorous muscle and joints have reduced me to a few large containers. I’m in.

  31. Catherine Vosper says:

    I have 3 small raised bed gardens, but 1/2 of one is dedicated to horse radish, but would love to make the pledge on a small scale.

    • Karen says:

      That’s not a terribly small garden, you can pack a LOT into 3 raised beds. As I’m sure you know! You can make the pledge even if you just have 1 cherry tomato plant. :) ~ karen!

  32. Kari in Dallas says:

    Woo hoo! I’m in! Just pulled out a ahitload of Photinia to make room for fruit trees! Let’s get this bitch done!

  33. Rachel says:

    I’m in!

  34. Elissa Rioux says:

    I’m in Florida and this was my first year in a community garden, thanks to your encouragement Karen. I’ll be heading to Maine in June and hopefully planting there too! These posts will be greatly appreciated!
    Love you K 😘

  35. Lisa Loftus says:

    I’m in!

  36. Jack Barr says:

    I’ve found the quickest way to pass on my extra veggies or plants is to fill the wheelbarrow, set it at the curb with a big sign: “Free to a friendly garden/kitchen”- most plants disappear within the day. But, nobody ever wants my Black Kale!……… even my wife.

  37. Kole Morgan says:

    Yep, count me in. Have got outdoor/indoor and school garden this year so all encouragement useful

  38. whitequeen96 says:

    Why did I think this was about raising and giving away piglets? Never mind; your idea is much more workable and is wonderful!

  39. Sabina says:

    I’m sow excited! 🤣 I’m in full research and planning mode, and awaiting deliveries of new seeds!

  40. carol says:

    Sigh… when I moved here in 2015 I planted tomatoes in big pots. Not one tomato was produced. Tried again the next year and again not one tomato was ever produced. Gave up on veggies at that point.

    Also tried carrots but the gophers ate them all along with a very expensive Camilla bush planted in the ground. But I do manage to grow big gourds for bird houses and other crafts.

    So if gourds count that’s what I will be planting again this year.

    • Karen says:

      I’m not sure where you live but if you follow along I can guarantee you’ll get tomatoes. :) They love growing in posts. You just have to make sure the pot is big enough to hold a lot of soil so the tomato has access to a lot of nutrients. It also needs to be full, full sun and finally … you have to water it. They seem like 3 easy things to accomplish but a lot of people miss one of these things and end up with no tomatoes. :) ~ karen!

  41. Nicole says:

    Every year I plan to garden. Many years I’ve even bought seeds. But it never seems to happen. The Christmas Pledge changed my relationship with the holidays; maybe this will do the same for my yard?

  42. Mandy M says:

    I pinky promise!

  43. Lois Baron says:

    Holy crap. I thought the Christmas pledge was ambitious! Fab idea. At the very least, I’ll look at seeds — because I love those catalogues — and will give some store-bought items to the food bank :-)

  44. Lisa says:

    Count me in Karen. I live in Adelaide Australia and have a large fruit and vege garden and im always looking for new ideas to manage the gluts of produce. Right now i have an over supply of zucchini , eggplants and cherry tomatoes. I love the idea of giving away some produce. I swap vege and seeds with my neighbour and never go anywhere in summer without an offering of freshly picked veg….or a wheelbarrow full of zuchini. 😉

    • Karen says:

      Yup It’s always the zucchini, lol. ~ karen!

      • Eileen says:

        ha. My farmer’s market vendor offered to hire me because I am a zucchini-killer. The year I had 21 zuke plants (and all my neighbors suddenly felt the urge to sell up and move) I managed a mega-crop of 4. As in 4 little individual zucchinis. I can grow butternut, I can grow Korean summer squash, but no zukes….

  45. Lisa says:

    I first thought that your post was about Sows as in Pigs (since it is the Year of the Pig) but I love idea of a Sow Garden. :-)
    Happy to share what my possums/scrub turkeys and crows leave behind. Last weekend I harvested my first ever capsicum – only 3 but still feeling very chuffed.

  46. Loreen says:

    I’m in.

  47. Paula says:

    Ah, thank you. Alas, no website.

  48. Eva Tovstiga says:

    I’ve been inspired to start gardening this year after reading your blog! I have a 10 x 20 community plot that I just planted. We have 2 growing seasons in Arizona and are planting now. Thank you for making me laugh and trying new things!

  49. Eva Tovstiga says:

    Thanks for inspiring me to start my own garden this year! I started with my small backyard plot then I got a bigger plot in a local community garden and I’m loving it. Living in Arizona has it’s unique gardening challenges and different growing seasons. Love reading your posts and your sense of humor!

  50. Paula says:

    I don’t know what get the badge for my site means.
    I always grow a large garden but it will be fun to be a member of a group doing the same thing. √

    • Karen says:

      It just means if you have a website, you can stick that button on the sidebar of it. That way it just shows you’re a member of the Sow Generous group and if someone clicks on it, they can learn about it too. Welcome Paula! ~ karen!

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