Virgin Harvest 2011

It’s time to start planning our plots.


I like to grow food for my family and I like to get better at it every year. So I started the Virgin Harvest last year hoping to create a community of gardening people, a space for documenting and sharing food-growing goals. The premise is simple and inclusive: do something new in your garden. Whether it is is a first-ever tomato plant, growing enough potatoes to feed your family for a year, a rosemary plant in a pot, canning jam or harvesting 17 varieties of squash.

Anything, everything. Pick a thing, or a few, and grow it for the first time.

It’s time to start the 2011 Virgin Harvest! Will you join? Hope so because it will be fun, exciting, interactive and satisfying. What’s not to love there?

In addition to posting your name, location and goals on the Virgin Harvest page, I have opened up a flickr group so we can share photos of progress and problems. It will be a resource for troubleshooting those sick beans and bragging about that giant pepper, an easy way to connect and learn.


Want to participate? Awesome.

  1. Email me with info about how you’ll lose your harvest virginity (scandelous!). Please have email subject line read: ‘2011 Virgin Harvest.’ Please format your information like this: Name, website, City, State, Country: Virgin Harvest plans. 
  2. Join the Virgin Harvest flickr group.
  3. Grow food.
  4. Get a jump start: leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a Heirloom Vegetable Lovers Seed Collection from High Mowing Organic Seeds. Comments will close on Tues, Feb 15 and winner will be announced at the bottom of this post.
  5. Grab the Virgin Harvest button and share it on your site.

I’ll start! My 2011 Virgin Harvest goals:

:: learn to hunt.
:: put up enough carrots, beets, garlic, onion, tomatoes, peas and corn to feed my family until summer 2012.
:: grow decent brussels sprouts.


Can’t wait to see what we grow!

**********COMMENTS CLOSED**********

and the winner is:

Kelli said…
I am so excited to participate in Virgin Harvest this year!
Last year I found you about 1/2 way through the summer. I just bought my first house last year &; started a garden in pots & planters. This year I am super excited to add some raised beds to the front yard &; get serious with my garden!
Thanks, I love your site.

Congrats! email me at

70 Responses to Virgin Harvest 2011

  1. Mary says:

    This is awesome! I wish I didn’t live in an apartment. I would love to own a little patch of earth so I could garden! Your food looks so yummy, especially that sauce! xx

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m going to send an email and join the flicker group now! I’ve been waiting… We have so many plans to grow our own food this year! Can’t wait to get started!

  3. Britta says:

    New in 2011:
    Sunflowers, broccoli, garlic, pumpkin.
    Remember to appropriately thin the carrots this year.

    Most of our “virgin” stuff this year will be with design.

    Convert old annual beds from previous owners to pea/bean space (currently a wasteland of weeds)

    Replace poisonous railroad ties from previous owners so I don’t have to worry about my carrots anymore.

    Replace siding on greenhouse shed. The mice are no longer welcome.

    Stop growing things we don’t eat: turnips, radishes.

    We were lucky that the home DID come with: asparagus, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, pear and apples.

  4. Marti says:

    OH, I am sooooo excited to do this! I want to grow, lots and lots of butter beans, green beans, squash and cucumbers!

    Will email when I’m not at work though!

  5. Daniele ♥ says:

    oooooooooh, planning gardens while I have 20 inches of snow outside my windows, me likey. I have to admit though, I’m not a virgin. I’ve been around the block quite a few times with tomatoes and jalapenos. I’d be a virgin in all other areas however. hahah
    the wheels are turning 😉

  6. Thank you for reminding us that there is light at the end of this cold, dead wintery tunnel.

    I’m so over winter and ready to start this garden of mine!

    Here are my goals:
    1. Actually reading what each veggie needs rather than just sticking a seed into the ground and praying
    2. Sow consistently throughout the year, so I can have my favorites last longer
    3. Grow out of the box. I don’t want neatly organized rows of carrots and corn, I want a garden that evolves and gets a little out of control.
    4. Making sure that the neighbor groundhog does not get a single heirloom tomato
    5. Growing so much that I beg friends and family to take produce from me

    Britta…good luck with the railroad ties. Hope they aren’t CEMENTED INTO THE GROUND like ours were. Yeah, that was a fun time.

  7. Kristine says:

    I was waiting for this to open up for this year :) I cannot wait to start gardening again! I miss it so much!
    Remind me again what kind of sunflowers those are with the big fluffy faces! Love them!

  8. Oh, I’m in! We just moved into our house last spring and put in 1 haphazard raised bed that grew stunted tomatoes, peas and peppers. Our carrots and lettuce didn’t even sprout! This year it’s ON! We are moving our garden and starting over from scratch (again). But first we have to remove the lawn that’s there. Ugh!

  9. Horray for Virgin Harvest again! I’ll be a little late with my goals~I’ve only just started planning our plot for this year, and I haven’t quite figured out our gameplan. I’ll be gettin’ back to ya!

  10. Michele says:

    This is exciting. I was already planning to go to the nursery tomorrow to get some flowers for my girls to plant. They are still young, and the baby eats dirt, but we’re finally at a point where we can play on our patio (we’re apartment dwellers). I think I can make this harvest happen, even if it’s just a pot of herbs.

  11. April says:

    Your house is ADORABLE! I’d love to grow and can my own tomatoes. And my word for 2011 is believe, so maybe, just maybe I will do it! And some raised beds would be nice, too. It’s just that planting season gets away from me each and every year!

  12. Lisa says:

    I moved last summer so this will be my first year in my new virgin soil. I’ve never started from scratch. My main goal is to grow what we eat instead of what looks pretty on the seed packages. But also to branch out :)

  13. Virgin Harvest! We’ve got lots of new goals for the garden this year. Raised beds filled with manure and compost goodness, canning enough food (grown by us and market bought) to get us through the winter, weeding more often, chickens! (and maybe rabbits), and finding/creating good recipes that use what we grow. We’re also doing a rain garden and planting more flowers this year. I. Can’t. Wait.

  14. Meredith says:

    Count me in! We are year round ’round here, but two of my beds have been resting for spring. My virgin goals are:

    Grow tomatoes from seed (I have picked 5 titalating varieties).

    Put down a *bleep* soaker hose BEFORE I am driven to plant

    Expand my “tea garden” (chamomile, peppermint, tulsi, stevia…) and keep it WATERED (it is in pots on our deck)

    Plant a 3 sisters garden, from seed, with all heirloom varieties


  15. Oh I am so excited! I have only grown herbs before, but I am hoping to help out in my mom’s garden this summer and learn a bunch!

  16. Tatiana says:

    Oh how I wish I could join you =0( Damn apartment with a cement yard! Can’t wait to see your garden though, always gets me excited for the day I buy my own home and yard.

  17. Melissa says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Chris says:

    Our backyard is more suitable for pigs than it is for growing veggies, but I am going to attempt straw bale gardening. Tomatoes, Peppers, Carrots, Squash, some herbs, cukes and maybe just maybe a pumpkin and watermelon. Thanks for the chance to win the seeds.


  19. how perfectly timely! After a two year hiatus from growing a garden – make that growing weeds – I built 4 lasagna-style beds this fall which are now patiently waiting under black tarps, under 2 feet of snow.

    SO here is the list:
    1) grow tomatoes and peppers from seed rather than plants.

    2) grow potatoes in tires.

    3) Can enough tomatoes, preferably my own, that will last until the summer 2012. We’ve already run out from last year :(

    4) Make coldframes from our old windows to extend the season on both ends.

    5) Not let the garden get overtaken by weeds as in previous years.

    THIS IS THE YEAR! I’m so looking forward to it all. Looking forward to being part of the group.

  20. Melissa says:

    Deep breath–there is already a garden started in our new yard so I don’t know what’s already been planted but as for goals I will start small and get back to you when I know what’s what:

    1. To not kill any of my plants!

    2. To involve the kids in the process

    3. To learn what grows best in our neck of the woods (Berkeley, CA)


  21. alyshab says:

    Gahhh! so excited for spring. someone just told me about doing a worm garden for composting and it got me all fired up for the growing season to come.

  22. crystal says:

    we just started our first garden! I’m thankful for a little community to share it with and turn to when in need! and i’m sure we will be needing advice! now GROW!

    much love

  23. Mary Beth says:

    Note to those of you in apartments with concrete back yards – try container gardening! Last year, my container tomatoes looked terrible, but never stopped producing. I also grow hot peppers for my husband, and small pots of herbs.

    This year, I’m going to branch out and start my plants from seed. My husband and father-in-law have already built me a grow light system. Also, I’m trying a few new things like scallions and miniature strawberries, which I’m really excited about.

  24. Charity says:

    I’ll have to think about this for a bit. We have had a garden for a couple of years. So I’m not sure what I could do to make it a virgin harvest. Although there is some things I would like to do for the garden such as install a rain water system. As well as some things that I haven’t had great success with, and would like to try again,such as growing potatoes.

  25. jennymariee says:

    I am a true gardening virgin… My mom has grown stuff that I enjoyed as a kid growing up but NEVER my own. And I don’t even know where to start.

    I have a small garden area where i’d like to grow tomatoes and peppers. And i’d like to trying making my own sauce and canning for sauce over the winter but i’m also a virgin chef so I don’t know how to do any of this.

    where do I start? Any good resources for beginners?

  26. Sarah says:

    I’m in and emailed you!! Yah for veggies!

  27. Sandra says:

    Your home looks adorable in that pic. I bet those brighten everyone’s day as they drive past!

  28. Sandra says:

    Sunflowers! Forgot sunflowers! Please insert that into the last comment.

  29. Yeah! Another Virgin Harvest. My predicament this year is the same as last: I hope to be moving into a new house: so…my virgin harvest might just be to HARVEST something, anything. Last year our yard was overrun with gophers, so only got potatoes and garlic. Still yummy, but we were accustomed to growing & preserving enough to last most of winter and spring.

    Also, I haven’t hunted since autumn of 08–the fall before my daughter was born. So…I want to HUNT again! I especially want to hunt elk with my new bow.

  30. Shay says:

    I haven’t fully planned my plot just yet, but I do know I wanna fit in some eggplant somewhere. Also want to give broccoli another go since I didn’t get any heads off the ones last year . . only beautiful leaves,

  31. Jeanne says:

    Shhh…my virgin harvest! I have been thinking, p.anning, getting ideas from my 2.5 year old, reading books, reading kid books about gardening all in preparation for this season. Living on 10 acres, I really owe it to myself anfpd family to give it a try. So, this year I am moving my garden to the sun, novel idea I know! So I am going to need to start from scratch. And with a newborn, 1.5 and 2.5 year old i know i need to manage my dream. But my virgin goal is:

    To grow a tomato, in the ground and not a pot, that I actually mature enough to eat.
    Grow pumpkins
    Grow potatoes

    I am so excited! Thanks again for your great blog. You have single handedly changed the way I am going to spend this spring/summer with my kids. I hope that love it!!!!

  32. I will try: sweet potatoes for my little man, tomatoes for all of us, cilantro that doesn’t get leggy and yellowed after 2 weeks.

  33. Sarah Fox says:

    This is great! My husband is the amateur gardener in the family- the amazing garden he designed last year was way over the top, but produced some great food for our family. I’m the one who cooks with said food, though, so this will be my motivation to finally do some serious preserving.

  34. Louise says:

    My children’s Papa grew tomatoes last summer for the first time and my two year old was so proud coming home from visits with a brown bag of fat ripe tomatoes. It made him want to eat them all the more. This year I am going to jump on his enthusiam and start our own small garden. I am so excited! Virgin Harvest sounds like a very useful tool!

  35. StellarMom says:

    We have a nice big back yard with plenty of sunshine, but my previous two attempts at yeilding anything more than a few measley strawberries or an inedible squashkin have been… fruitless. The soil and climate in Colorado is TRICKY but I’m determined that this will be the season of bounty. I want to be a part of this Virgin Harvest to keep me motivated and inspired. Thanks Nici!

  36. Ok, I’m jumping in this year even though we’re still on the road. I am bound and determined to conquer container gardening so I’m looking forward to any and all helpful hints and tips. Here’s to a great growing season!

  37. megsplegs says:

    spring is just around the corner! i’m already dreaming up new ways to add veggies & fruits in my yard & in lots of containers on my sunny deck….thinking i want to take on beets & garlic this year. thanks for getting the creative gardening juices flowing!

  38. demandablog says:

    I’m so excited to try growing a garden this year! I was too pregnant to get things started last year, but I prepared the ground in the fall and have just been waiting patiently for winter to be over!

  39. Woohoo! It’s 45 degrees today and there’s nothing like a mild weekend to get my heart racing about gardening.

    This is my virginal year for veggies, and I just ordered my “bible” from Amazon yesterday. Woohoo!!

    1) Carrots
    2) Beets
    3) Tomatoes – maybe even try canning some (that is if the harvest can avoid my appetite for fresh toms!)
    4) Potatoes
    5) Arugula
    6) Peas or beans
    7) One damn pumpkin

    Herbs are a given. Teaching my daughter while learning myself will be the best part. It’s all about growth baby!

    xo. Enjoy your weekend.

    -Jennifer from Annapolis

  40. Yuliya says:

    I am so excited to be a part of it this year! We built our planter boxes last year (when I was several months pregnant) and this year we will plant, can’t wait.

  41. I am so ready for spring, it’s insane. And this will be my first year gardening with a baby, so I’m excited!

  42. Katie says:

    I want to grow lots of tomatoes and can sauce for next winter!

    (and to not kill much this time)

  43. Amy says:

    YES! Totally signing up, just don’t have time at this second.
    That first picture… I shed a single tear. Feeling like I am in desperate need of some sunny days and a sunflower!

  44. K says:

    I love all this talk of seeds and soil and growing!

  45. Ozzy says:

    We are city dwellers in the heart of NE Portland and can’t plow up the best and only patch of sun drenched lawn here at the house we rent so we’re relegated to containers and maximizing the early eastern light that graces our meager flower beds before the precious rays are swallowed up by the cedar forest that stands along the western border of the property.
    We have very limited gardening options, but we are determined this year to enjoy our most cherished hobby. We are sealing this pledge by participating in the Virgin Harvest project! Our virgin harvest pledges are to conquer shade gardening, container gardening, and to take full advantage of the plentiful Willamette Valley harvest by learning how to put up preserves.
    Really growing things has been an unfortunate casualty of our move into the city. We haven’t altogether quit trying, but the last three years have been increasingly disappointing in the gardening department. That ends in 2011 come hell, high water, or marine fog layers that block seven precious hours of sunshine my east facing front yard is literally starving for. I promise I will have my hands in the dirt and I will make stuff grow!

  46. Sasha says:

    Last year I had a small plot of land with great soil that grew a quant garden I was able to enjoy in the Summer and Fall. Since then I have moved and I am sad about the real estate I lost. However I am still eager to grow, so I will be investing in some planters for my new baloncy…let the plant planning begin!

  47. TRB Holt says:



  48. booksNyarn says:

    I am still deciding what new things I want to grow (blueberries, maybe?).

  49. Melissa says:

    Hoping this will be a big year for us with plants in the ground – instead of in pots. Raised beds, here we come!

  50. jen says:

    not sure if i actually responded earlier … but if i did … sorry. KIDS.
    nuf said.
    so excited for this this year. last year i failed miserably and didn’t get a single potato in the ground. i still want to do that this year. (fingers crossed) … and i’ll have to think of more … i’ll email and join later on.

  51. patina says:

    sent an email! so excited to learn the ropes! thanks!

  52. FinnyKnits says:

    I’m in. Just strung the trellis for the Concord grapes I hope will grow with thirsty virginal abandon. Grapes are sexy that way you know. Ill go do the other stuff you called for, now. Xo

  53. Beth says:

    I am so excited to get going again this year! This year I will figure out what I did wrong last year, haha! Earlier seed starting, less crowding, less water, I think. I started another new bed in the fall which should hopefully be nicely composted down in time. It’s all about tomatoes this year!

  54. REBECCA says:

    This year we are trying a few new plants in our garden (um mini farm). They include: shelling peas, tomatillos, swiss chard (I never knew how good this was until last year), new varieties of paste tomatoes and new peppers. It will definitely be an exciting summer ahead. Let’s pray for warm temps in MT.

  55. Brittany says:

    Count me in! While I am by no means new to gardening (started with my dad as soon as I would walk out there to the back yard!), this will be my second season gardening in my first “real” backyard plot. We bought this home (our first) back in April and as soon as we moved the boxes in I ran outback, dug up a 22×22 foot plot, dumped some compost in and started planting! Needless to say, this Texas clay-soil needed much more amending, so this year we will properly till and amend in hopes of a more prolific harvest! We would also like to plant some blueberries this spring :) I look forward to sharing the gardening season with others! Your harvest always inspires me Nici :)

  56. Sarah says:

    So excited about participating in the 2011 Virgin Harvest, as I have several “firsts” in store! Most importantly, this is the first season of gardening with my new baby boy (curious how that is going to go, but so far he seems to love plants, just like his momma). I already got started on my second new thing – a worm bin. I can’t wait to work those castings into my garden boxes! Third, a little greenhouse – essential for growing any warm weather crop here on the Oregon Coast – so I hope to see some tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers in my harvest this year! And finally, I want to harvest the hops that were already growing here when we purchased our home, and make some home brew. What could be better than beer made with your very own crop of hops?

    Thanks for all the inspiration you provide on your blog. You have a sweet family, and you’re keeping it real. Your post about your husband’s preoccupation with snow conditions really hit a note… my husband is a surfer and he’s the same way.

  57. Auntie Jo Jo says:

    I sent you an email regarding the Virgin Harvest! I am so excited about this year. I see the light at the end of the tunnel! I am planning early this year and getting my seed ordering in and on time! My biggest challenge this year is making a greenhouse work for us. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  58. Gramomster says:

    So, out this year. Moving in June! Yay! So, in for next year… this year, I will just have to get really familiar with all the wonderful farmer’s markets and local farms and groceries where I am going.

    Last year’s ‘harvest’, though I never reported back, was rather disappointing… 4 Brandywine tomatoes. We get no sun in the backyard, so I tried containers. The squash I think were in too shallow of a container, and the vines molded through before any squash was big enough to eat. All the eeensy little things just fell off.

    oh well…

    Next year, if nothing else, I’mma get me a plot at a community garden in whatever neighborhood I land in, if I don’t have a yard that I can dig in. Maybe I can do some pre-pre-planning! Dreaming while knitting, and listening to internet radio… I’ll mentally think about a 2012 garden, and try to make theoretical quilt pieces fit together. I think those things are related, don’t you?

    And meanwhile, this year, I have pictures of your gorgeous garden to look forward to! Even the real thing maybe! Ooooooooo!!!! Giddy!

  59. Meredith says:

    I’m in! This year, I’m attempting to grow all of my tomatoes, cucumbers and squash from seeds. For the first time. Last year, I spent an outlandish amount on plants so I’m going to give this a go!

    Also growing Fordhook Lima Beans for the first time and seeing as I am doing seeds, I’m trying new types of summer squash (Horn of Plenty), cucumbers (Eureka) and tomatoes (Mortgage Lifter and Yellow Pear plus my old faithfuls of Better Boy and Big Boy).

    Plus, I’m adding winter squash to the mix. Acorn and butternut. After swooning over your sunflowers, I’m hoping to have better than last year’s attempt. They were, well, kind of little and pathetic.

  60. Kelli says:

    I am so excited to participate in Virgin Harvest this year!
    Last year I found you about 1/2 way through the summer. I just bought my first house last year & started a garden in pots & planters. This year I am super excited to add some raised beds to the front yard & get serious with my garden!
    Thanks, I love your site.

  61. me says:

    I would love to join your virgin harvest this year. I hope to have little gardens for my girls and a fence that actually keeps the deer out this summer!!

  62. Julia says:

    We just found out we’ll be moving in April, just in time to put in a tiny plot of a garden in a shared backyard. I’m hoping for tomatoes and green beans. My husband would love some corn and beets. :) We’ll see how the process goes. We’ll email you soon.

  63. smasco says:

    I’ve been in planning mode for a month now! I can’t wait this year!

  64. About me: says:

    I’m excited to participate again this year. What a fun way to spend an otherwise dreary February-planning the garden. We’re actually preparing the plot of land for our backyard chickens as I write, after two years of research and deliberation. Fresh eggs FTW! -Idaho Amy

  65. My Virgin Harvest… first time grower in Grangeville, Idaho. My husband and I moved here late Spring last year from Missoula, with our 2 toddler boys. This is our year to get on growing our own food again after not having a space to garden for 2 years. When Tahvo arrived in our world it was sooo much fun to see him his first growing season. Crawling around in the garden trying many of his “firsts”. With 2 boys now we are ALL anxious to get our hands muddy, look for worms, other bugs and grow some organic produce! Unlike Missoula, there is very little organic produce here. So we are super stoked to grow. Grangeville is surrounded by beauty, the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers are a 20 minute drive, we border the Gospal Hump Wilderness and we are blessed with a local ski hill to play in the snow. Living in an ultra-conservative town however, I am often in need of some momma inspiration. So happy to get a fresh take on things with your sharing of words, thoughts and ideas. I am digging your digs!

  66. Carla says:

    Ooh, so excited to join in this year. I’ll have to email later when I figure out what will be new this year. I know I want to learn how to can more than just tomatoes. :o) And I’d like my tomatoes to avoid the blight this year. Beyond that, not real sure, I’d like to try something new just not sure what.

  67. Bikini By 30 says:

    I’m so excited to begin garden again. I had mainly herbs and tomatoes last year, losing my squash and zucchini to moldy deaths, and this year I am ready to try again!

  68. JoanLindsay says:

    I want to try and grow more than ONE tiny tomato. I would also like to try and grow some zucchini and squash. Start small.

  69. Elliott says:

    I would like to grow heirloom tomatoes. I bet we spend $40 /week on them in the summer buying them from the store. There’s nothing better than a freshly picked, sun-warmed tomato with a little pepper on toast in the morning. I need to commit (and keep the critters away). Hoping to use the money savings on good wine to go with our nightly capris salad!