SG599: The Smart Start Garden Planner with Megan Cain

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Megan Cain (SG557) - The Creative Vegetable Gardener - is back on the show today and we’re discussing how to garden smart and how to be a smart gardener with the help of her Smart Start Garden Planner.

Think of all the adjectives you associate with the term gardener:

Hopeful

Constant

Keen

Enthusiastic

Practical

Skilled

Tired

How about Smart?

As gardeners, we have all experienced the feeling of bumbling our way through gardening not to mention the frustration of wasting money and time. In fact, that feeling of bumbling along and that disappointment of having sunk costs without a return on investment is why people hang up their trowel and head back to the market. Such a shame.

Well, today you’re in luck. Megan Cain (SG557) is here to help us with a smart approach to gardening - helping you create a clear plan for your garden and helping you get more from your garden, sooner.

Garden planning is a big job, but my gal Megan keeps it real with practical, down-to-earth advice. If you’re the kind of gardener who wants to get the most from your garden, year after year, this episode with Megan is perfect for you.

Megan sent me a copy of her Smart Start Garden Planner last summer and I immediately recognized the signature aspects of Megan’s work:

Clean design.

Simple layout.

Practical Advice.

In other words - the kind of resource that appeals to gardeners.

Megan is known as The Creative Vegetable Gardener. She and her husband, Mark, live on a corner lot in suburban Madison, Wisconsin. And, in case you’re feeling like a late-comer to the world of gardening, Megan never touched a vegetable plant until the summer she turned 26. Today, she teaches people about how to successfully grow their own food and get the most from their vegetable gardens.

Now, there are a few things I want to draw your attention to in this episode:

  1. Big Picture

When it comes to your garden, the big picture is made up of a constellation of answers to many questions and those answers are unique to you. You’ll hear Megan talk about a number of different considerations that you should take into account and I have to say that many of them seem pretty obvious - but then, some of them may be real lightbulbs for you in terms of how you think of your 2018 garden.

  1. Seed Smarts

Megan shares a little primer on seed types and reading seed packets. This is a great overview for new gardeners especially.

  1. Variety

I really enjoyed Megan’s insights and encouragement when it comes to selecting cool, new, or productive varieties of vegetables. She makes a great point here. I hope you pay close attention to this part and Megan also shares 10 Unique and Colorful Vegetables to Grow plus her Top 6 Picks for Annuals to make your veg plot incredibly good looking.

One fun aside here: when the kids were little and they got in trouble, Phil would ask them “Was that smart or not smart?” I don’t know if they ever realized that if dad was asking that question, the answer was always “Not Smart”. But, to this day, they still ask each other, “Smart or Not Smart?”, when something is not on point.

Now imagine if there was an accountability moment like that for us in our gardens...

We fail to read the seed packet and miss the fact that there are 150 days to maturity.

Smart or not smart?

We don’t realize that the small plant we held in the Spring was going to take up 6-8 feet of space in the garden.

Smart or not smart?

We waste valuable space by planting too far apart - fearing the plants will get to big.

Smart or not smart?

There’s a point in the interview where Megan says, "Experienced gardeners think about their gardens in these terms - but sometimes unconsciously.”

I really liked that.

With experience, gardeners device strategies and make choices that novices don’t make.

Yet, that experience can be hard won.

In real life, gardening is a solitary endeavor. Alone in our gardens, we all have some of the same constraints to deal with - there are limits to our time, space, and energy. Revelations about our success or failure may come to us or we may miss them entirely. That’s where a thoughtful guide like Megan’s comes in very handy.

As Megan says, "The most successful gardeners take some time before the garden season begins to devise a simple and smart plan for the year. A smart garden plan lays the groundwork for a beautiful garden that yields lots of food for the least amount of time and money invested. Simple garden planning will set you up for a season where you’ll get more of what you really want from your garden: food, beauty, and joy. And hopefully a little less of what you don’t want: stress and failure."

Your Garden IQ is about to elevate. It’s time to get smart with the Creative Vegetable Gardener - a woman who’s favorite vegetable is kale - Madison’s own Megan Cain and The Smart Start Garden Planner.

P.S. For my signoff today, I leave you with this thought to help you grow...

Think of some of the plans, purchases, decisions, choices that you’ve already made for 2018 garden… and ask yourself, “Is that Smart or Not Smart?"

P.S. For my signoff today, I leave you with this thought to help you grow... Think of some of the plans, purchases, decisions, choices that you’ve already made for 2018 garden… and ask yourself, “Is that Smart or Not Smart?"

Still Growing Hotline:

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85 episodes available. A new episode about every 9 days averaging 115 mins duration .