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. We’re in! I’m the Director of a public library in Western PA and started a community garden at our library a couple of years ago with the intent to donate the extra food to the community and the food bank. Limited space has caused that to be difficult. However, the local park has allowed us to put a few raised beds in last year and now we are expanding to a children’s garden and a blueberry patch! Bring on the ideas and information we’re ready!

    • Michelina says:

      Also I’m not sure what I am doing wrong but I can’t get the code for the badge to work on our website it says 404 not found. Any ideas?

  2. Mel says:

    I, Mel, doth solemnly pledge to sow generous this year.

    I garden already and I’ve been sharing this passion with my young boys. This year we will grow and give more than just the regular cukes, tomatoes and zucchini. Since my oldest is in SK and my youngest starting JK in September, I think the fall harvest will be shared with a local school breakfast/lunch program. For summer maybe a food bank.

    Great idea, thanks Karen!

  3. Meg says:

    I wasn’t going to do this, because I’m in an apartment. (What if I end up moving?) But a trip to the store for some small pots….turned into more pots and some more seeds. I’m only going to grow a few veggies, but with downstairs neighbors with kids, I think they’ll help out eating free food. (Plus I’ll grow plenty of flowers and herbs.)

    OMG what am I doing?! hahah!

  4. Toni (in Niagara) says:

    PLEDGE to give away veggies? Holy cucurbitaceae cucurbita pepo lady! It just seems like a natural thing to do for me, but as you know, not everyone thinks about it. So your pledge is wonderful, and I’m sure new gardeners and old gardeners (whoops – I mean, gardeners who have lots of experience) will love to participate! Our food bank staff are thrilled to receive home grown for the clients! What a wonderful thing for you to include in your blog!

  5. Christine says:

    Im in! I am really looking forward to some guidance. We always get stuck when we get to the “Shit just got real” part of the program. Gets us every time. Then we go away on a vacation and the weeds appear and take over the entire property. Can’t even find the veggie plants and we just give up….
    Hope you can help! I would be thrilled to actually grow enough produce to share!
    Love some tips on how to use all that chicken poop we now have! We got our girls last May.

  6. Julie says:

    Excited about this and before I read this post I had bought my seeds. This will be my first summer growing veggies in our new location of hot, humid Arkansas. Before that it was dry, cold Wyoming. Because my area of Arkansas is woods and lakes, I found out that getting down in the dirt was an open invitation to all the biting, stinging bugs that live here to jump on board. So trug veggie planters will be the route I go. Excited to be a part of this!

  7. Anette says:

    I want to plant a wild flower field on my property.
    live in Minnesota from April to October.
    Please help me get going!!
    Which seeds would be most likely to make it? I would prefer perennials.
    When is the best time to spread the seeds? Spring or fall?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anette! Wildflower fields can be beautiful! But just remember that wildflowers are generally weeds. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but usually one of those weeds is much stronger than the others and you could just end up with a field of one type of flower. So I would pick actual flowers, that appear like wildflowers for my plantings. Things like hollyhocks, Lupins and foxglove. Add in some classic wildflowers like Queen Anne’s lace and Rudbeckia and you’re golden. ~ karen!

  8. Mary Kay Wilburn says:

    Ok Karen,

    I am going to need your help. This will be the second year our Girl Scout Service Unit will be growing a garden to support our local food bank with fresh veggies for those in need. Last year we just sorta did it. Organized chaos. This year I would like to be able to plant a bigger variety of plants that would be more appealing to the masses. So suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Oh and by the way my little gardeners start at age 5 and go to adult age. So I definitely need somethings that the little ones would enjoy growing too. I have taken the pledge on behalf of my girls and am looking forward to all your help!!
    Are Girl Scouts … Girl Guides in Canada??
    And YES I am selling cookies – just in case you are in need of a fix! LOL

  9. Cheverly says:

    I’m in! I’ll have to call around to my food bank and be sure they can use the produce before it goes bad. I guess worst case scenario is me pulling up at the food bank distribution point on Saturday with a trunkload of veggies and being totally creepy about it (hey kid… want a tomato??).

  10. Sandi Remedios says:

    Um I think I’m in, I’m not sure the mail chimp thingy actually recorded my response. I have Paw Paw seeds starting in pots and I ‘m hoping to plant 3 trees this year along with another pear. I know that is fruit, but I will be planting veggies as well.
    Looking forward to the fun.

  11. Maryanne says:

    Thank you :) I’ve been inspired for years but always overwhelmed to start. I hope this helps me get over the hurdle and start!

  12. Lynn says:

    I am in.
    I garden an have for years, learned when I was young that not only growing your own but giving to others was the real joy of a gardener.
    Happy seed picking everyone.

  13. Mike Clark says:

    Thanks for the inspiration, I love to garden and I love to feed people. I have placed the badge on my site.

  14. Jacquie Gariano says:

    I’m in. We do have a backyard garden. My daughter has a green thumb. she gets soooo much out of a little city lot. But there is always extra. I do can and freeze a lot for good veggies in the winter. This is in Roseville, CA so we have a long season. But I have an extra challenge as I summer in Bradford, VT. I’ve tried gardens in the past but have failed for various reasons (lazy being one of them, brown thumb another) but your “pledge” has made me want to really try it this year. So I’m in for both areas. LOL thanks for your ideas and help and encouragement to us all.

  15. Kimberly says:

    I’m in! I had two raised planters last year for herbs and things worked out! I have garlic in a pot from fall – that is covered in mulch so I should be harvesting garlic in late spring maybe?

    This year I’m building a simple raised bed (no idea how, but I have a garage and nails) and will branch out into veggies. My biggest challenges are 1) fauna: namely the suburban rabbits and my dog who loves snuffling through dirt; 2) This sounds stupid but I don’t know how to tell how much sun areas of my yard get.

    • Karen says:

      You just have to keep watch Kimberly. If you have a South facing yard or section that’s the one that’ll get the most sun as long as it isn’t blocked by trees or buildings. You can also buy a handy little sun calculator gadget that you stick outside for a day and it’ll tell you whether that area is shady, partly sunny or sunny. ~ karen!

  16. Ashley says:

    I’m in! I made a quick trip to my local library the other day and was surprised they were giving out seed packets. As a member of the library, you can ‘check out’ three packets a month. Oh – and I started luffa seeds just recently – you started me on this one! I’ve never started my garden from seeds…. so this will be a new one for me!

  17. Debbie says:

    I have a tiny back yard because I’m on a channel but a huge front yard so maybe this year I can grow some “give away” food out front. Maybe some container gardens. Does it count if you use the food you grow to make other food? Like Zucchini bread? Either way…I’m In!

    You’re blog is giving me a few “to do” projects. I want to build a pizza oven like yours. Simple and easy and inexpensive!

  18. Vanessa says:

    I’m laughing soo much at this (taking 9 months to gestate a baby and grow a vegetable garden) because this is literally my life right now. Last attempt to start a garden was me 8.5 months pregnant assembling raised garden beds with the intention of following through with getting soil and planting said garden the following spring…. 3 yrs later, nice weathered raised beds (I made a 15ft x 12ft plot of 3ft wide beds with a small path between for access). next baby due at fall harvest, so best get on the garden while I’m at it.

    Thanks for the rear end kick in the pants to start!

  19. Stephani says:

    Help me get growing! I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m in hardiness zone 9a aka the fifthe circle of HAWT! – Spring, TX #growandgive

  20. Kelly says:

    Write a Hallmark movie! It could be about a beautiful, wise gardening lady who teaches the New York city slicker, played by Idris Elba, how to grow delicious food! And he could grow flowers and bring them to her at the end when he declares his love!
    Great idea on grow and give. I’ll be back to this post in a few years when I hopefully have a yard.

  21. Mary W says:

    I’m living the pledge today – bags full of ripe grapefruit waiting for people to want. I’ve made jelly, marmalade, juice, and fresh but the whole tree came in at the same time and I can’t eat that many so quickly – grapefruit are the zucchini of the fruit world. I’ve taken so many to family and friends but still have those 3 bags and no food bank in this small town. We do have a women’s shelter and I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks so much. I planted a kumquat tree 13 years ago and it promptly died after a slight freeze. Next year a fruit-ish looking shoot came up and since it was out back, I just left it alone. Thirteen years and it is now 20′ with tons of big grapefruit I think. Last year they were so sour we couldn’t eat them, then this year they are so fat, juicy and tasty but still sour and way more orange than yellow. Maybe they are some hi-bred but they taste so good! It has never been watered, fertilized, or sprayed with anything. Slight freeze doesn’t do anything, even the leaves are still gorgeous dark green after the Polar Vortex episode. Weird. Someone told me old native fruit trees are used for root stock since they are really hardy but not so sweet and used to graft on more desirable fruit I really desired kumquats but oh well. I’m too old to grow anything that takes 13 years to produce. The deer ate the pecan and peach trees I planted. The fig died within a week of planting. The only thing I’ve had any luck with is wild Hog Plums. They grow like weeds and I make jam from them when a slight freeze doesn’t kill the eager blossoms. We just mow over the baby trees since I’ve run out of people to give them to. I LOVE the idea you have and will immediately find out if there is a women’s shelter still in town.

  22. Dawna says:

    I have been working a 7,700 sq. ft. (approx. 715 sq. meter) garden for the last few years (crazy, I know, but it gives me more to share ;-) . I had better success last year than previous years by starting some plants inside, but still way too many failures–NO zukes or tomatoes? Really?!! I figure since it wouldn’t hurt to get some guidance/encouragement this year, I am taking the pledge. I think my garden will benefit from your tips, along with your planting and harvesting dates too because I think we are in the same Zone, or close to it (Central MN=Zone 4). I hope to have more successes this year with your help Karen. Wish me luck!

  23. Cindy G says:

    I don’t think I should commit to this, but I am thinking about finally planting up my Green Stalk vertical container garden this year. I’m probably going to grow flowers and herbs (and, since I think it came with bean seeds, I might try them as well). If I can successfully grow things this year, I might branch out to actual vegetables next year. In the meantime, I’ll be following along!

  24. Gayle M says:

    There are so many comments, so I’ll just save some time and jump to my question–

    QUESTION: we buy our seeds before we plan what/where we are going to plant?

    Thanks, Karen. 😊

  25. Agnes says:

    I’m in! I’ll share for sure.
    Last spring I would have said ‘but nobody gets my leeks’. However, thanks to your warning about the leek moth reaching Ontario, I am now armed with row mesh.

  26. Ramona says:

    Sign. Me. Up! Just started garden classes locally : I’m done being a hack—- want yo grow more and better in my limited space. Let’s go!!!! And thanks, Karen :)

  27. Christine Campbell says:

    I was just thinking of my garden last week. And then it snowed. Living on the west coast it’s easy to forget its winter but your challenge will hopefully keep me organized.

    Can’t wait!
    Christine in BC

  28. Katt Philipps says:

    I’m in! I have a stack of seed catalogs and a grow tent in my basement (I swear no herbs in there). The second summer on the new mini farm and I’m armed with a hoe and I’m not afraid to use her!

  29. I’m a grower and a giver, so shall join in on the fun. 😉

  30. Mindy says:

    I’m a grower and a giver, so shall join in on the fun. 😉

  31. Shannon says:

    I’m in.

  32. Katherine 4am Vancouver USA says:

    What the world needs is more gardens that grow food to enjoy and share. It the gardeners that are helping others and Mom Nature at the same time. Thanks for the invite! What a great spring and summer to look forward to.

  33. Nicole says:

    Count me in!

  34. Penny says:

    I just searched your site for tips of where you buy your seeds. This is perfect timing!

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