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The 5×5 Challenge

March 28th, 2013

Well, it’s official, we will be doing the 5×5 Garden Challenge (the 5×5 Challenge website is up and running, head on over, check it out and join the forum). I’ve had a lot of questions about whether or not it would happen, so I figured I’d better announce that it will. I’m currently in the process of getting everything organized; seeds are on their way, regional mentors are being organized, making blog badges, etc.
5x5 garden challenge
What is the 5×5 Garden Challenge all about?
Encouraging new gardeners. Consider starting a group in your area to support and help each other. Gardening is as much about community as it is about plants. We’ll be setting up a special website, it should be on-line next week. There will be a forum for questions and for regional mentors to help beginner gardeners in your area. If you’re interested in being a regional mentor or forum moderator let me know (via contact form on the right) so we can get you set up.
renees garden seed
After much deliberation, I decided to go with the Rainbow Vegetable Collection from Renee’s Garden. I talked to Renee and she was more than happy to send me a pack to give away to one lucky reader. If you don’t think these vegetables will do well in your area, buy different ones. If you don’t want to buy this variety pack, buy seed for these vegetables from your local greenhouse. It would be nice for you to grow the same vegetables as everyone else in the challenge, but it’s not necessary. I’m also adding marigolds and basil to the garden for companion planting.
Renees garden rainbow kitchen garden
The rules aren’t hard and fast, if you don’t have space to do a 5×5, make it 4×4, or plant in containers.  If you don’t like one of the varieties chosen, choose something else.  If you’re an experienced gardener, perhaps your 5×5 garden can be filled with vegetables you’ve always wanted to try growing but haven’t had the courage to try or plant the 5×4 garden and donate all the produce to your local food pantry.   The main point of the challenge to learn and encourage those around you to grow something edible.  Considering sharing a garden with your neighbor, thus halving your work. This challenge is all about helping beginner gardeners get started.
5x5challenge wide
The 5×5 Garden Challenge will become a weekly feature on the blog during the gardening season. Each week, on a chose day, there will an update on the garden challenge with to-do’s, Q & A sessions, etc.
planning the garden
To kick off the challenge, we’re doing a giveaway. Join the 5×5 Garden Challenge for your chance to win the Rainbow Vegetable Collection from Renee’s Garden. How do you join, comment on this post and tell me how experienced of a gardener you are. Next week, when the website is officially launched, we’ll be doing another great giveaway of a container garden collection.

So what do you say: are you in?

42 Comments to “The 5×5 Challenge”
  1. Joan on March 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

    This will be so much fun Susy, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from it even though I’ve gardened for years. I can’t wait to get started!

    Reply to Joan's comment

  2. Tammey on March 4, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Thank you Susy! This will be a fun!

    Reply to Tammey's comment

  3. Adelina Anderson on March 28, 2013 at 7:12 am

    We have done a garden before many times, but it is usually the same stuff. Tomatoes, basil, and we try to grow broccoli and cucumbers. It would be fun to try growing other things. This sounds like a great idea! Thank you for the chance!

    Reply to Adelina Anderson's comment

    • Susy on March 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

      I’m doing some very interesting vegetables this year, I’m especially excited about cardoons.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. DeeDee on March 28, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Sounds fun! We always gardened growing up, but just getting back to it in the last few years (thanks to you)!

    Reply to DeeDee's comment

  5. Bonnie Fowler on March 28, 2013 at 8:01 am

    I have been successfully gardening for four years now. I had tried in Florida, but the heat and fire ants were a problem. In Texas, again the heat, but also the flooding were a problem. It wasn’t until I got the raised bed (Iowa) that I finally found my niche. Every year I learn something new.

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  6. Kim on March 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I guess I have gardening in my blood. My great-grandparents were farmers and I have never not grown something. Be it flowers or plants. With that being said, I have not grow much in the last few years and have leaned on my parents’ wonderful garden. I credit them with my love of gardening since they would let us run and play in the dirt while pulling weeds and watering.

    I am currently in a place where I can only grow in containers (don’t trust the soil in New Orleans) and have been trying things like radishes and carrots, along with potatoes and a Meyer’s lemon tree. I would love to participate though. Sounds like fun!!

    Reply to Kim's comment

  7. Jess Lamson on March 28, 2013 at 9:42 am

    My garden is never as beautiful or well taken care of as I’d like even though I’ve been at it for several years! Perhaps this challenge wi;; motivate me to take better care of it this year!

    Reply to Jess Lamson's comment

  8. Johanna on March 28, 2013 at 9:43 am

    This is absolutely perfect for where I’m at right now! I recently agreed to co-manage a community garden in my neighborhood with another resident and I’m SO excited to help others learn the joy of growing their own food.

    I’ve been gardening, in some form, since I was a tot playing with worms in my parent’s veggie garden. This year is my first full year with a yard of my own and lots of space to grow things. Between working with the community garden and managing my own harvest, I can use all of the encouragement and support I can get! Thank you for putting this together!

    Reply to Johanna's comment

  9. Amy P on March 28, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I’ve been waiting for this post :) I have a garden that I’ve been playing with for a few years. Other than some tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and onions I haven’t had much luck with it. This year is going to be different. My kids are finally big enough that when we go outside I don’t have to watch them 100% of the time, just 75%.

    Reply to Amy P's comment

  10. amy on March 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I am so glad you guys decided to do this….It is so important to share the knowledge and experience we have with those who want to learn and even with those who think they don’t…..especially when it comes to being more independent…..regarding our food. Do not enter me for the seeds….I have more than enough…..Thank you for the opportunity….I have been a farmer and gardener my entire life….which is 47 years now…..but I “Know” I still have much to learn and look forward to this opportunity and will humbly help in any way I can…..if you need me. I Iive in northern Ky on the Ohio river.

    Reply to amy's comment

  11. Diana on March 28, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I gardened all through growing up, and had some success just after moving east from the midwest, but our new place is proving more challenging-pests and lack of light-I’d love to have the support of a group! Thanks for being the driving force!

    Reply to Diana's comment

  12. DebbieB on March 28, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I’m in! I’ve talked before about my unhappy results from container gardening last year, which was my first year gardening. The only thing that survived was the onions – I’m still snipping green scallion bits from them. I’m hoping for better results in the ground this year (a girl can dream, right?)

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  13. Kara on March 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I have been gardening for a few years but I would consider myself a novice gardener who is trying to improve her skills. I am also re-doing our garden space this year and am hoping that I can do this years garden all organically. A challenge like this will help keep me accountable!

    Reply to Kara's comment

  14. Kaytee on March 28, 2013 at 10:04 am

    This will be so much fun. I’ve been gardening my whole life, but this year will be the first that I’ll plant my large garden and actually stay around to tend it. I’ve got big plans to get the most out of it and do a lot of companion planting. It’s always great to see what others are doing and to learn. And hopefully I can share my knowledge to help others.

    Reply to Kaytee's comment

  15. carol on March 28, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Count me in. I’ve had a vegtable garden for three years and this would be a great challenge in planting new things.

    Reply to carol's comment

  16. Jill on March 28, 2013 at 10:26 am

    We will join! We will measure out a 5×5 spot in Gram’s garden where we will be staying while our house is built. Looking forward to it!

    Reply to Jill's comment

  17. Heather on March 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

    This looks like a lot of fun and I’ll be doing some variation on this. I’ll be a 3 state 10 yr master gardener this year but the biggest challenge for me will be gardening in a new tropical climate with a very sandy/clay soil (not a lot of nutrients) and I’m a renter with a lot of shade so the perfect location will be a challenge. I’m thinking of taking it curbside!

    Reply to Heather's comment

  18. Kim of Sakura Sundries on March 28, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I am so excited to be joining this challenge! I am a Central Florida (Gulf Coast) gardener, which means I have pretty particular gardening circumstances. I am in my second year of full on gardening attempts, and have started a blog to chronicle my organic garden as well. I have an empty 4×4 raised bed that I had not yet made any decisions on (expect that maybe I want to trellis some melons in it), but I’ll be throwing it toward this challenge! In addition, I added a 24′ long tomato bed and between that and containers have 22 varieties of tomato for this season, compared to 4 plants last year. I have another established 4×4 and a couple of raised partial shade beds (the sun here is intense, many things just can’t handle it!). I also have many, MANY potted plants, mostly peppers, some of which will find their way into a new raised bed this summer. My other oddball addition is a hydroponics system, an outdoor stacker style with 5 towers; this is my only hope for growing certain crops in my climate, and maximizes my space. I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I’m thrilled to be on board!

    Reply to Kim of Sakura Sundries's comment

  19. Andria on March 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I love this idea! I’ve learned so much from your site already, I can’t wait to see what comes out of this challenge! Count me in! I’ve been gardening for years but only have really gotten serious about growing the bulk of our produce just in the last few years. I have a lot to learn! I am also over a local children’s garden and will be using this idea there as well.
    Thanks so much! While I don’t need any seeds for myself, if entered I’ll donate them to the Children’s Garden.

    Reply to Andria's comment

  20. Melanie in Ca on March 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Sign me up, sign me up! I’m definitely a novice gardener although I’ve had my raised beds for two years now. Fortunately we have a new neighbor who is younger and much more flexible than I so we’ve agree to join forces.

    Cardoon! Mwuahahahahahahahahaha. I had one last year. You ever see “Little Shop of Horrors”?

    Reply to Melanie in Ca's comment

    • Susy on March 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      I was going to ask you if you’d like to be a mentor for the California region.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  21. Renee on March 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I’m excited about following along with the challenge this year! (and I just tweeted about it)

    This is my 4th year gardening in my 8×8 backyard plot, and 3rd year in my challenging 20×20 community garden plot (with lovely Virginia clay soil).

    I might set aside a 5×5 section of the community garden plot to do this!

    It’s interesting that I have bought several packets of Renee’s Garden seeds, but none overlap this collection!

    I would volunteer to be a regional coordinator, except someone in my family has a health issue that may take me away from any extra activities for a month or so in the summer, so I don’t want to overcommit. I’ll definitely follow along on the blog, though! Thanks for doing this!

    Reply to Renee's comment

  22. Renee on March 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    P.S. I would post progress on my Flickr garden photoblog here:

    Reply to Renee's comment

  23. Nancy in IL on March 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    These would be some great new varieties to try. I’ve gardened at some level since I was a youngster with varying levels of success. Love to try new things and always gain new knowledge. Thanks for the chance.

    Reply to Nancy in IL's comment

  24. Peggy on March 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I’ve been gardening for close to 20 years but am a semi-novice for the 5th time…. yes we moved into a different area of the country for the 5th time which means we are learning about different soil types, climate, and planting requirements. I have to admit I am really looking forward to this challenge!

    Reply to Peggy's comment

  25. Deb on March 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I have gardened for 30 yrs. on my own now even when I had 3 very young children. probably helped mom for 13 yrs. or so before that. I started helping probably around 7 or 8. As I’m 51 now that’s been most of my life. I don’t know what a cardoon is. Before 7 I ahd to help with harvesting but not a lot of work otherwise. Sounds like fun.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  26. maggiewann on March 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I consider myself an experienced gardener–and this sounds like fun.

    Reply to maggiewann's comment

  27. Elyse on March 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    We’re gardening n0obs but are excited to try it…. not sure what our 5×5 will look like, but we’re going to plant SOMETHING this year for sure!

    Reply to Elyse's comment

  28. Amy S on March 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I am up for a challenge! I have been gardening most of my life starting young probably as early as I was able to snap beans….6 or 7? I’m thankful for our home now as I’m able to expand my garden each year. Thanks for the chance at winning! I did purchase some of Renee’s seeds at a local mom and pop store Kelly Seeds.

    Reply to Amy S's comment

  29. daisy on March 29, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Yup. ;0)

    Reply to daisy's comment

  30. Christine Jones on March 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Ooohh count me in! I’ve been gardening in different forms on and off for several years. I used to have a big 20 x 30 garden plot that was crazy to keep up with, but now that my kids are grown I’ve moved more toward a small raised bed. Much more managable. The great thing about gardening is even if you have a particularly bad year once in awhile, you always get to start with a clean slate each Spring. In addition to my old standbys like snow peas, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, I try to grow at least one unusual thing each year like birdhouse gourds or ghost pumpkins. That keeps things from getting boring! ;) I am in the southwest Ohio region by the way. We are blessed with some fantastic soil but of course the weather can be very fickle. I think each area has it’s own set of challenges to overcome.

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  31. Kris Engebretsen on March 29, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Great idea. I will definitely take part in your 5×5 challenge. I already plant a small garden each summer, but I’ll add this 5×5 garden to expand and maybe I’ll get my daughters (ages 5 and 7) be “in charge” of this one. Can’t wait to follow along all summer! Thanks.

    Reply to Kris Engebretsen's comment

  32. Mrs. H on March 29, 2013 at 10:53 am

    It’s been a few years since I last had a garden although I’ve gardened practically my whole life, so I’m an intermediate gardener. My husband and I recently relocated to Michigan from Kansas. I am putting in a garden here, so am using some different varieties from what I grew in Kansas. I’m looking forward to my Michigan gardening!

    Reply to Mrs. H's comment

  33. Sam on March 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    My family has gardened since I was little, but I still am learning, making many mistakes, and new to growing organically. This is such a great idea- thanks so much for doing it for us!

    Reply to Sam's comment

  34. Rebecca on March 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Most of my experience is in having my garden eaten by something each year, and when not eaten, trampled by rogue bovines. My 4-H club has a garden at a local church where they grow vegetables for themselves and for feeding the homeless, and that garden does better. The bugs get the eggplants and the squirrels climb into the fence for the peas, but they’ve still managed to produce a lot on their small plot.

    Reply to Rebecca's comment

  35. Lea on March 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I am so happy you’re doing this? My 9 yo son has been pestering me for 2 weeks to start a garden. Here in Texas it’s getting warm enough to get dirty so we started ours today. Would love it could catch up with us!! ;)

    Reply to Lea's comment

  36. Kiskin on March 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I’ll be joining you from the cold Northern corner of Europe! I have been gardening for almost a decade, mostly ornamentals, but my interests have for the last four years shifted towards the edibles – so I guess I am somewhat intermediate level gardener :)

    Reply to Kiskin's comment

  37. Amy hissa on March 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I have always wanted a garden and my grandpa always had a huge garden, i have tried to start em before with little to no luck in terms of consistent care, etc. i do grow herbs which i enjoy. I am so excited to grow more of my own food!! Yay susie!!

    Reply to Amy hissa's comment

  38. Jaquline on March 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Well, I have been gardening as of about 1 week ago, I started one packet of tomato seeds in my windowsill so hopefully in a few months from now, a plethora of little red globes will be filling my kitchen with homegrown goodness. I will definitely need the tips from your blog to help me on my journey.
    Thanks a bunch

    Reply to Jaquline's comment

  39. Becky on April 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I’m a novice gardener. I’ve planted garlic the last few years and last year some peas, cilantro, and parsley in a garden box, but that’s about it. I moved the end of last summer and now have more yard than ever before. I’m not quite sure where to start, so this might be the perfect way to ease into things. I’m excited to begin!

    Reply to Becky's comment

  40. Rebecca on April 7, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I have gardened my entire life with my parents and am trying to venture out from the norm. My husband and I have been working the garden for my parents the last two years so that they can enjoy the fresh foods while not having to do all the labor that goes with it. We also have been container gardening on our back deck for the past five years. We are trying to educate ourselves more to expand our garden and hopefully produce enough to sell at farmer’s markets some day.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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