Sunday, December 20, 2015

Grow Journey Seeds of the Month Club and Giveaway

Cold weather crops. Photo: Tyrant Farms

When an email from Grow Journey's founder Aaron von Frank appeared in my inbox, with the subject line 'Opportunity to Work with You,' I may have felt an eyeroll coming on.  Many companies contact me about advertising or sponsorship. Few do their homework, and fewer have products I would endorse with either enthusiasm or a clear conscience.

But the Grow Journey email was a little different. "We love your blog and what you stand for—from marriage equality to intelligently and thoughtfully using whatever piece of dirt you find yourself living on, on earth...we're trying to impact the world in the same way you are. As such, is there a possibility of working together? We'd love to be your seed provider, or sponsor, or advertiser, or whatever you're comfortable with that is true to who you are."


Pest control ducks. Photo: Tyrant Farms

And so the correspondence began. I read Tyrant Farms, the personal blog written by Aaron and his Grow Journey co-founder and wife, Susan: edible organic gardening, a great post about no-till healthy soil,  mushroom huntingducks (for pest control and eggs), kitchen stuff. All good.

Healthy soil. Photo: Tyrant Farms

On the phone from South Carolina, Aaron told me that he and Susan have a modest goal: to transform the American landscape.

I laughed.

I like people who make grand statements. It takes guts, nerve, and confidence. And to be appealing and effective, it needs a very good idea and a way to disseminate that idea. Grow Journey's method of delivery is to shower the gardens of the United States with organic crops via a Seeds of the Month Club, and then to teach the gardeners how to grow sustainably.

My surprise seed package for December

Subscribers receive a surprise collection of seed packets for three to five crops (depending on the size of their garden) per month, plus some smaller bonus or buddy packets. The crops are tuned to the month and growing season. They could be herbs, vegetables, fruit or flowers.

Every seed has its own Quick Guide (at a glance) and Grow Guide (detailed)

But it is Grow Journey's support system that makes things interesting: Subscribers have access to a personalized online (and downloadable) resource that provides them with detailed information about their seeds, from cultivation requirements, to botanical back story, to potential pests for that crop and how to deal with them, to companion planting and sustainable horticultural methods.

Potential pests are listed for each crop, with control methods

On pests, they write:

"A healthy garden needs pests. Pest species provide food for beneficial species. A garden ecosystem that’s teeming with life will tend to hold the population of any one species in check. We’ve found that by focusing on improving our soil fertility and using polyculture plant systems that attract and support a wide variety of insects, we’ve virtually eliminated all pest and disease problems from our garden."

Guild plants for your crops - I had never seen the term before

All this easy-to-access information is detailed, good and interesting, whether you are a new or established gardener. It encompasses far, far more than could ever be squeezed onto the back of a seed packet. Imagine each packet attached to a small novel.

For new gardeners, belonging to this Seeds of the Month Club provides an enormous safety net and support system. For more experienced gardeners - like me - it helps kick you out of your gardening rut. While I like to plan what is coming next, not knowing holds more appeal than I would have imagined. Now I can't wait to plant my Golden Mustard and Painted Pony Beans. Plus I received the Thai basil that is a kitchen staple, and small buddy packets to give away to friends.

And you're not stuck with this, either. You can Pause your subscription at any time, say, over winter (or just collect oodles of seeds to be ready for spring).

Red mizuna mustard. Photo: Tyrant Farms

What does this mean for me?  I am receiving complimentary seeds every month, and I will be posting once a month about Grow Journey, for a fee. It might be about a crop I like, a new growing method I have learned about, or just what happens to those duck eggs.

'Painted Pony' beans

So, nicely in time for That Time of the Year, Grow Journey has offered a three-month Small or Large Garden Subscription (so, either three or five seed varieties, plus bonus seeds) to one lucky gardener. You may use this subscription for yourself or gift it to a friend.

The Grow Journey Giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

To enter, leave a comment on this post containing:

1. Your name (you can make one up but if you win you're gonna have to come clean!)
2. Your state or province (for Canadians)
3. Your favorite cold weather crop

Tuesday, December 22nd, 5pm EST. Deadline has passed

The winner will be announced by Wednesday, 12pm EST. Be sure to check back. I will ask the winner what size garden subscription they'd like, and to email me with their email address so that we can sign him or her (or a friend) up for the three-month Seeds of the Month Club subscription.

Best of gardening luck!

22 December Update

Randomly chosen from all eligible entries, Denise from California, whose blog is A Growing Obsessionhas won the giveaway. Please get in touch via the Find/Follow tab so that we can sort out the details!

For all sad non-winners, Grow Journey is offering a 30 day free trial - it's a nice way to see how their support system works.



  1. KarenLR
    Winter crop? Pea shoots on the sunny windowsill!
    (Thanks for this wonderful collaboration. Off to check the links now).

  2. Oregano, believe it or not. Two in the ground plants out front just came through a big snowstorm and 3-4 day sub-freezing cold snap. I am Diane in Denver and since I garden only in limited townhouse space, I will share any goodies won with other gardening friends in Denver. And you have my email addy but I will re-send.
    Re: your previous post, I love your new magnetic spice racks but it looks like a lot of work. Your new kitchen in CG is lovable, indeed.
    Cheers Marie,
    Diane in Denver

  3. Keith Meaden. Ontario.
    I don't have a winter crop but would like to try something. I have a nice south facing bay window that is crying out for something other than cats.

  4. Courtney, Washington (AND Brazil, part time in each)
    Kale, of course!

  5. My favorite cold weather crop is broccolini. We have had 4 hard freezes but under frost cloth it is still producing. I live in the mountains of western North Carolina.

  6. Cecile
    Illinois (Midstate)
    Our garden can't last all winter, but before the hard freeze sets in, I love Brussels Sprouts! And my Jerusalem Artichokes, although the are kind of a wild-ish crop. They are a wonderful screen between houses, with the bonus of yummy tubers when the 10-foot plant gives up the ghost.

  7. Spinach, of course! well, beets, too. This sounds great, but if i don't win i may join anyway. Am really a virgin when it comes to growing veggies - tomatoes don't count! - and this would push me in new and creative directions. Glad they approached you and you could work it out.

  8. Queens, new York
    What a great sponsor to try out. Thanks.

  9. Hmm, carrots are great, but take up so much space in my small balcony container garden. Kale and spinach probably. Though I'm intrigued by Marsha M above and her broccolini. Maybe I should try some of that next year!

  10. Seattle, WA - I live in a fairly mild climate and unless we a cold, frosty winter (it happens)my favorite is winter lettuce and arugula.

  11. NYC mainland.
    common sage.
    it. will. not. perish.

    bonus question -- all this talk of mustard greens has put me in the mood for a favorite cold-weather soup -- parsnips and mustard greens. where to go at midnight for supplies . . .

    best to you and Vince this holiday season, an in the noo yrr, an alwaze.

    Melanie & Halloween
    ~^!^~ an Mine

  12. SF Bay Area, CA.
    Kale is definitely my favorite cold weather crop! What a neat company! Thanks for the information!

  13. Olympic Peninsula, Washington State - Dinosaur kale! Thanks for sharing:0)

  14. Grisel Logsdon , san antonio tx, Arugula/Broccoli (it's amazing to me such big vegetable comes out of such little seed) Thanks!

  15. As a worker in the "business" I would love to have access to this type of seed. I teach the seed starting classes at my local garden center and am a Master Gardener. We have the Botanical Interest seeds on sale here and I find unusual varieties to try out and then suggest to customers. I think the seeds offered to you would be an amazing thing to try out.

  16. Bay Area, CA, US. My favorite winter crops (can't pick just one) are chard, arugula and pea shoots. Thanks for sharing this company with us. Sounds like a great partnership for both of you.

  17. Cool collaboration!

    Alberta, Canada here, we have cold and we have freezing arctic cold (late October until late April). My favorite cold weather crop is an early spring veg - little white, round crisp radishes and their leaves. Very flavorful, productive and useful in the spring. I grew one called Leda last year and really liked it. Always lots of French Breakfast radishes too.


  18. Ms. Tweetley
    Seattle, Wa
    Dinosaur kale
    What a thoughtful company.

  19. Tristan Crane
    Oakland, California
    I love Mizuna! It's going strong in my garden even through some very needed rain here in California.

  20. I always feel a little "lift" when more people take this approach.Kudos to you and to Grow Journey

  21. Debbie, Catskill Mountains in Upstate NY
    My favorite cold weather crop? Basil on my sunny windowsill! Other than that, there's not usually anything we can grow in the winter months. Although this winter so far is a completely different story so who knows what the future may hold!

  22. Lorlee Bartos
    Dallas, TX
    Seeds itself Cilantro -- a huge patch each year.

  23. The Backyard Community Garden
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    Carrots under straw

  24. Susan Black
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Peas & lots of them ;-)

  25. Hi, it's Hilary in Cambridge, MA. It's not really something that gets harvested during a Winter, but I love thinking of those bulbs of garlic I planted in Fall all tucked under the snow and waiting for their much later appearance.

  26. What a lovely idea. I may sign up even if I don't win. Details:

    Pearl R
    Atlanta, GA
    Mesclun mixes!

  27. Hello,

    This is Alex from California - my favorite cold weather crop has got to be Blue Curled Scotch Kale

  28. Cameron and Jael
    Aurora, CO
    Herbs: mint and sage
    Vegetables: Red cabbage and Brussels sprouts

  29. Kat in Rhode Island. I'm always impressed by thyme keeping in there for the winter. Kale is a close second!

  30. M L Whiffin
    New Mexico
    favorite cold weather crop: kale

  31. Nia Warter
    I really like collard greens and kale.

  32. Ed
    Favorite cold weather crops: Kale and Kohlrabi

  33. Kathryn
    Philly, PA
    I've never been adventurous enough to try a cold weather crop, though with this mild weather I'm thinking of planting kale and spinach NOW and seeing if they do anything!

  34. Love this idea! Favorite winter crop: fava beans, with kale a close second.
    Denise Maher, So. Calif.

    1. You are the giveaway winner, Denise!

  35. Liz O.
    Northern California, bay area
    My favorite winter crops are chard, kale and arugula.

  36. Lynn-Arugula,Oregano and Garlic Chives.

  37. Will you be getting ducks? Hope so!

  38. Love the idea of Grow Journey Seed of the Month Club! Amazingly, I had just discovered their site a couple of days before reading your post! Hoping to grow my first edible balcony garden this spring. Would love to include cold crop favorites arugula, radishes, kale and chard.
    Victoria, Alberta, Canada

  39. Leslie
    northern California
    Brussels sprouts
    Sounds like a great company.


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