SG599: The Smart Start Garden Planner with Megan Cain

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Megan Cain (SG557) - aka 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:
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.

2. Seed Smarts   

Megan shares a little primer on seed types and reading seed packets. This is a great overview for new gardeners especially.
3. 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?"

Thanks for Listening!

Still Growing,

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I never write reviews but this is the best gardening podcast out there. Jennifer has interesting topics and guests and is not one bit annoying like some others are. I love that she involves her kids at the end of the podcast - usually with poetry or music. Really good podcast.

- Barbcfc, Mar 23, 2016

Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.

- cwaigl, May 29, 2014

Best gardening podcast out there. Her preparedness leads to a good interaction with the guests and brings out the best in them. Very informative and yet personable.

- Corn bug, June 15, 2016

This is a great podcast. Really well produced and organized with good sound quality. I love the mix of information and personal touches. Jennifer has great guests and asks the best questions. You can tell she really does her homework. I listen to several gardening podcasts and this is my absolute favorite!

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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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