Welcome to Grow a Good Life, where you will find vegetable gardening tips and recipes to help you grow organic food, preserve the harvest, and create delicious meals from fresh ingredients.
Thanks for stopping by! I am Rachel, gardener, writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind Grow a Good Life.
We believe in a simple, frugal, and sustainable lifestyle. So we are getting back to basics, growing a fruit and vegetable garden, cooking from scratch, preserving the harvest, and keeping a small flock of backyard chickens. We share what we have learned to inspire everyone to Grow a Good Life.
Gardening is in My Blood
I grew up in a small town in New England where my family tended several extensive vegetable gardens on our property. My grandparents and great-aunt did a lot of the work in the gardens and preserved the harvest.
My mother always cooked balanced meals for us that must have included garden vegetables. However, growing up, I never thought about where our food originated. I was a fussy eater and remember hating most vegetables.
I have early childhood memories of pestering my grandfather with my endless chatter as he planted the garden, hoed weeds, cut small saplings for pole beans, and edged the garden. Unfortunately, I didn’t share in the chores of gardening or learn how to garden from my elders through direct instructions. I guess I was too busy to pay attention. Even so, the seed was planted.
As a young adult, I lived in apartments and grew fresh herbs and vegetables in pots while dreaming of a future in my own home with a yard and vegetable garden. Then, finally, I purchased a house on a few acres in rural Maine.
The property came with a small vegetable garden, overgrown Concord grape vines, neglected apple trees, a pear tree, weedy flower gardens, and a mixture of raspberries and blackberries behind the shed. It was a nice foundation to build on.
I’ve been gardening on this property for over 20 years and have around 500 square feet of vegetable garden space. I love experimenting and using a mix of sustainable gardening methods, including growing in raised beds, square-foot gardening, growing food in containers, no-dig gardening, and growing crops vertically to save space. Our garden is located in zone 5, Maine.
I have expanded the garden over the years, added raised beds, planted raspberries, tamed the grape vines, and trimmed the apple trees and blueberry bushes. Each year we add another element that allows us to become more self-sufficient.
Remember, it doesn’t happen overnight. For me, gardening began as a hobby to provide fresh vegetables to add to salads or enjoy during the growing season. However, growing so much food from just a handful of seeds was rewarding. Encouraged by this, I continue experimenting with growing different vegetables and increasing the crops planted to replace our reliance on supermarket produce departments.
Gardening now provides substantial food to feed our household. I grow enough food to keep our basement storage area stocked with a year’s worth of home-canned vegetables, tomatoes, salsa, meats, grape juice, soups, stews, tomato sauce, jams, jellies, and applesauce.
In addition, I freeze peppers, blueberries, broccoli, raspberries, and other bounties from the property. In my basement storage, you will also find enough potatoes, garlic, winter squash, and onions to last until spring.
In 2013, we added seven fluffy day-old chicks to our little homestead. With very little building knowledge or skills, we constructed a coop and pen and provided the girls with a safe and dry place to live. The goal was fresh eggs, manure to add to the compost bin, and a little bug control. I discovered that chickens were a lot of fun to have around. They have their own individual personalities and are a constant source of entertainment.
Preserving the Harvest
With an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs available steps away from the kitchen, it is fun to explore ways to preserve the harvest and develop recipes that allow it to shine.
Here at Grow a Good Life, you will discover ways to preserve homegrown fruit, herbs, and vegetable harvests, including home canning, dehydrating, freezing, and root cellar storage (without a root cellar).
Cooking from Scratch
You will also find simple recipes, kitchen tips, and inspiration to help you cook budget-friendly meals from scratch so you can enjoy good food with your family. Since most of us don’t have time to spend in the kitchen, my recipes are organized, easy to follow, and come together with minimal effort. I use easy-to-find ingredients you can purchase in your local grocery store, farmers’ market, or online.
Since I live in New England and come from Italian and French-Canadian roots, this region and heritage influence many of my recipes. However, I also love exploring cuisines from around the world and strive to match the flavors of meals from my favorite restaurants. In addition, I am an avid collector of vintage cookbooks and love old-fashioned recipes that make the most out of common and locally sourced ingredients.
Food is nourishing, tastes good, and has a history. I often explore the origin of a recipe and various ways of preparing it before tweaking it to fit the time-crunched, busy lifestyle we find ourselves living. My goal is to encourage you to cook from scratch using good quality ingredients rather than rely on unhealthy fast food or packaged convenience foods with mystery ingredients.
My recipes are developed and tested at least three times before publishing, so you can be sure that your dish will come together if you follow the process. In addition, the recipes shared are ones that I often make in my home kitchen, so they are also re-tested frequently. Some of the most popular recipes are Zucchini Garlic Bites, Tourtiere French Canadian Meat Pie, and Crockpot Applesauce.
The Journey to Grow A Good Life
You Too Can Grow a Good Life!
The journey to Growing a Good Life begins with one step…one act…one decision that can lead you to a more fulfilling lifestyle of self-sufficiency, control over the foods you eat, and the overall quality of life that you live.
I am writing this blog to document our progress, share tips and techniques, and encourage everyone to Grow a Good Life!
Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.