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Documenting the Year of Growing

man climbing rice terraces

As the momentum begins to build into 2018, I’ve decided that I really want to dive into documenting my whole process of growth – both in & out of the garden.

On one hand I have a ton of goals on my plate this year. I have them broken down by category & timeframe. Personal, Work, Fitness, Nutrition, Gardening, Social, Video, Audio, & Photography are my main goals & I have Daily, Weekly, Monthly, & Yearly goals for each category.

It’s a lot, but I’m ready to execute. The time has come & gone where I piddled my time away consuming instead of creating – but it’s even beyond that – I have figured out my place in the cosmos and I have learned how to Be instead of worrying what I was going to Become.

It is pretty apparent that my passion is growing, nurturing, and continually learning in order to overcome the challenges that nature undoubtedly will force upon you. I have talked about my big dreams for the future, but in order for that to happen, we need to execute on the scale we’re at by providing the best CSA Veggie Box Subscription this side of the Great Miami River!¬†ūüėā

With 10+ people ready to sign up, we have a lot of work ahead of us!

Last year I dismissed the idea of a Veggie Box Subscription because:

  1. Didn’t think I had enough growing space to execute.
  2. Wanted to save veggies for friends, family, ourselves – but we had wayyy too much!
  3. Didn’t want my passion to be tied to someone else’s expectations. I didn’t want to take the fun out of growing. I don’t grow for money, I grow because I love it!

This year I realize that this is the perfect test to see if we can pull this off!

My biggest concerns are:

  1. Not enough space to grow it all. This is a concern, but also a really fun challenge. Here’s your small ass backyard, now grow an abundance of veggies for at least 10 people! We’ll probably grow some lower-maintenance plants like potatoes & corn at my garden plot at my parents’ house. (I’m trying to talk them into letting me plant raspberry bushes along the perimeter of the property, but I don’t think they’re sold yet). Other than growing at other locations, we’ll also utilize interplanting, succession planting, container production & vertical growing systems when possible! (Stay tuned, that bolded section will have to be its own post!)
  2. Not enough production. This is a stupid worry to have, but it’s a real one! Due diligence of monitoring the fertilization and water should be enough to solve this problem though. That coupled with a good disease/pest management program will ensure a bountiful harvest.
  3. Timing.¬†This will be as simple as following the production schedule that I’ve created, but the weather will determine a lot of this. Last year the tomatoes took forever to ripen up due to the high temperatures in July – that could delay ripening by a week or more! The good news is that we’re growing so many different things that it shouldn’t be a problem to fill a veggie void!

It’s only January, but stayed tuned! We have so much stuff Growing on that we’ll keep the Blog & YouTube busy all year long. We are getting ready to start some of the earlier seeds, like onions, within the next week. Not only are we getting the garden ready, but I’ve got some growing tips for Succulents & Orchids on the way – plus we’re getting ready to test out growing White Button & Portabella Mushroom growing kits.

There’s so much growing in my mind & I can’t wait to share it all with the world!


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Why Can’t I take a Step to Start Anything?

Spiral Staircase

Read Danny Neth‘s answer to Why can’t I take a step to start anything? on Quora

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My Passion Projects

2017 was an amazing year for me with a lot of execution on creative projects. Typically I’m not much of a creative, or much of a person that shares those things either, but 2018 is the year of speaking my truths & executing further on my dreams.

By dreams, I mean the eventual plan of owning a farm – or to stop the negative looks/thoughts/feelings that everyone has when I say I’m gonna be a farmer – I’m going to be a grower; a field grower, a container grower, a greenhouse grower.

And this is a PLAN – not a pipe dream. Pipe dreams are for wishful thinkers & dreams are for losers – there’s no room for pointless dreams in a world that needs action & execution.

So here’s a quick rundown of my projects & channels!

Gardening 4 Gains Р Garden Blog|Plant Shop|Mission РThis is the engine that powers everything that I do! Gardening 4 Gains began as my Instagram handle & is a mix of my 2 biggest passions: bodybuilding & gardening. As my love for gardening grew, I began to do research, watching gardening videos to learn more. One of the biggest gaps I found was the amount of information that needs to be relayed to people about gardening, so I began blogging & have slowly gotten into YouTube Рthat is one of my top targets for 2018 Рto post weekly videos of relevant, interesting, and engaging content to build the Gardening 4 Gains Community & spread the awesomeness of the art of gardening.

Plant Rant Series – YouTube Channel¬†– One of my top goals for 2018 revolves around publishing to YouTube. And not just posting videos, but creating a stream of content that is highly relevant, helpful, and engaging for people curious about learning how to garden. If you’re stepping into the gardening world, leave me a comment with some of your top questions & I’ll be happy to answer!

Writing TV Show Script – Sorry, no link to this guy just yet, and I don’t think I can tell you much about the story until we get it polished & ready for the press! The idea for this show is something that my buddy Tony developed – we actually discussed this a few years back in college, but for some reason, it has just started clicking with us. That’s the thing about a great idea – it doesn’t die! It only becomes stronger in its slumber because it’s a living, breathing, ever-morphing idea in the mind and once we started writing, we rolled! Currently we have 5 episodes written, all between 25-35ish pages – so needless to say, we’ve been crushing it! Now we finish editing, polishing, and then we will be submitting it to multiple companies like Amazon & Netflix – where else should we submit?

Plant Rant Radio – Anchor Podcast¬†– This is my least expected venture, but one I am having the most fun with. Anchor is an easy-to-use podcasting app that I have been using for my show called “Plant Rant Radio”. Anchor allows you to record 5 minute segments, add background tracks, add music from Spotify, call-ins – you can basically do it all! What you’re supposed to do is get all the components together & then stitch them together to create an Episode. This will allow you to make a podcast that is much longer if you only record through Anchor (you can upload from your computer as well). I like the 5-minute segments because it puts a limit on my Rant & forces me to be quicker & more creative on the fly. It’s interesting to see how this has been progressing; I’m feeling more comfortable & getting into a groove. My show has no real direction other than just talking about life – reflecting on the day or just ranting about the stuff bubbling up in my mind. I’m sure I’ll get some “Plant topics” in there eventually, but right now I’m having fun with being myself & being real!

Last year was monumental in the movement & traction I gained with my Passion Projects, 2018 is a year to execute further & take these ideas to new heights.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting around wondering what my passion was – worried that I would go through life just searching, worried that I was “wasting my life” since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or had no true passions outside of bodybuilding & fitness. But it doesn’t matter when you find the thing that makes you tick – the only thing that matters is that you know it’s out there & if you’re paying attention, you’ll find your passion & turn your dreams into realities.




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Why are my Succulents Stretching out? 5 tips for saving your Succulents

Have you noticed that your succulents are starting to grow taller & awkward-looking? The Echeveria is no longer compact, full, and vibrant with variegated colors through the leaflets – it is now lengthy with a lighter hue, but why?

Here are 5 things you can do to save your Succulents:

  1. Give them more sunlight!¬†Chances are that your plants are not getting enough light! This can be tough to achieve if you’re growing your succulents in your office or a spot that doesn’t get sufficient light. A south-facing window usually does the trick, but through winter, that light may not even be enough as I have found this year. (Or maybe I have too many plants competing for that small sliver of sunlight)
  2. Give them a grow light!¬†After continually moving my plants around, it was clear they just weren’t getting enough light. Compact plants had stretched, the Echeveria was losing its reddish tinted leaflets, and some of the lower leaflets were dying due to lack of sun. They really don’t need a “fancy light” like an LED, but I’d love to see how the color pops under those (I think we have a new experiment!) Now check them out after less than a week under a T5 fluorescent light!
  3. Check the moisture levels.¬†Remember it is okay for succulents to dry out between watering – but also, don’t forget to water them altogether! You’ll want to use a high-porosity, well-draining soil – too much moisture can cause fungus or damage to lower leaflets.
  4. Prune them!¬†Don’t be afraid to give them a trim! When you’re seeing growth, the last thing you want to do is cut it down. But if your succulents are stretching, this could be a great way to save them. See how this Echeveria has stretched? 20171203_084128489041420.jpgWe can definitely replant the rosette at the top and some of the leaflets that will be affected by this pruning. You want to cut about 1.5-2 inches above the soil line. Leave the plant in the pot, in a couple weeks you should start to see some new growth – just make sure it is getting enough light!
  5. Propagate, & Replant!¬†Next remove the leaflets below the main rosette, keeping them intact & undamaged from tears or rips. Let the individual leaflets & rosette callous over for 2 weeks and by that time, some roots may begin to form. At this time you can replant & have 10 times as many Echeveria! This can be done whenever you have plants stretching – or whenever you decide you want some more succulents! It is a process that requires 2-4 weeks of patience, it may not work 100% of the time, but it’s an awesome way to keep your plants around for a long time.

I hope that this was helpful & you’re able to save some of your succulents that are struggling in your home or office. And if you’re looking for Succulents to add to your personal spaces, or a unique gift idea, head over to our Succulent Shop!

Thanks for reading! Stay up-to-date with new Articles, Plants, Videos, & Giveaways by joining our email list – sign up today & get entered to win a Potted Succulent for our New Year Giveaway!

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Executing on my Dreams

Tomatoes on the vine

“Don’t justify your dreams, execute on them” – Gary Vaynerchuk

As I reflect on 2017, I realize that I spent a lot of time justifying my dreams. Writing a business plan, revising, revising, revising; all the while, questioning my motives, questioning whether I would want the outcome of my plans to be actualized.

And over & over again, the answer is a resounding


You have to start in a realistic place & begin to execute. My biggest failure this year was not participating in a Farmer’s Market – but I think there was a reason for it.

This past summer was a huge learning curve for me in the garden. Managing 50+ tomato plants, 60+ pepper plants, a small herb patch, 30+ heads of lettuce, as well as garlic & onions taught me a great deal about the amount of care & attention I had to feed the garden. And just like with your personal health – preventative pest & disease control always trumps curative approaches. It’s much easier to attempt to stop a problem before it occurs rather than trying to cure a plant of a disease.

Not going to the Farmer’s Market felt like a loss – especially since it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions, but here’s how NOT going actually helped me.

  • Learned how to be a grower first.
  • My motivation was internal, not pre-empted by a customer’s wish or desire. Customer service is incredibly important, but you need to serve your own soul first – once your soul’s desires have been quenched, then you can let the abundance overflow & everyone can share in the joy you find in growing.
  • Timing the seasons. This year I will have a much stricter plan, not start tomatoes & peppers as early, and have a rotation of crops to be sown & grown from early March until the frost hits in November.
  • Build awareness. I work at a horticultural tool & supply company and nearly everyone shares the same love I do for the garden, horticulture, and the Green Industry – it’s the best support system I could ever ask for. Yet even in the midst of that support I feel like I don’t want to ask too much of people. They’re coworkers & friends, so it’s hard to think about converting those people into paying customers – especially for something that comes from the land, something I find an immense amount of joy in – I am happy just to see the satisfaction on people’s faces when they have that fresh tomato, green tomatoes, peppers, or whatever delivered to their desk. So essentially, as my obsession grows, so does the awareness of my obsession with the people around me. I want to grow that passion as far, wide & high as I can.
  • Addiction to improvement. I love this about the garden. When I think back to the first garden I had 3 years ago, I’ve come so far! That was back when I thought everything would grow without complication. A time when I was afraid to use fertilizer on my plants. A time where I relied on faith more than knowledge (but faith is a very important thing to have in the garden), but my knowledge just continues to build – and it’s something I have an extreme desire to build. To build greenhouses, to build a farmhouse, to build my business in the sale of plants & produce.

So the next step to this execution on my Moonshot Master Plan is to build my customer base through a few different channels. In the physical world, that means a CSA (community supported agriculture). Essentially it is a weekly subscription box of fresh produce. I also plan on taking excess produce to the Farmer’s Market, but I am hoping to build a big enough following to cater solely to my Veggie Box program. And in the digital world, I will be building my channels through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, my YouTube channel, & my latest venture, my podcast on Anchor!

The veggies & herbs offered will differ throughout the year & will include:

  • Lettuce (head & leaf)
  • Tomatoes (green or red – Roma or Early Girl Hybrid)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Jalape√Īo Peppers
  • Habanero Peppers
  • Anaheim Peppers
  • Ghost Peppers
  • Trinidad Scorpion Moruga
  • Carolina Reaper

Another thing that held me up were regulations & WORRY about regulations. I’ll be getting my Dealer in Nursery Stock license renewed so that I can sell all of the other plants I’m growing, or plan to resell:

  • Succulents
  • Paper Birch liners¬†(growing from seed)
  • Boxwood liners¬†(growing from seed)
  • Blue Spruce liners¬†(growing from seed)
  • Japanese Flowering Cherry liners (growing from seed)
  • Who knows what else I’ll add to this list!

So this is the year of execution & follow-through.

The seeds have been sown & there’s only one way to grow!

What else would you grow? Or what else would you like to see me grow? Drop a comment or fill out a form for a chance to win a Gardening 4 Gains t-shirt or tank!


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Plant Rant Radio on Anchor

This year has been an inflection point for Gardening for Gains – our vision has been shared with the world & this coming year I want to really ramp up what that means.

The most difficult thing about running Gardening for Gains is having a clear focus on what I truly want (a farm 3-5 years down the road), yet maintaining what Gardening for Gains currently means.

So what does Gardening for Gains mean – what’s the point? what do you do?

And that’s why I have started my newest venture called “Plant Rant”.

I plan on doing Plant Rant segments on YouTube, but my main medium of delivery is going to be on Anchor.

Anchor is an app that allows you to have your own radio station. Quick, easy set-up and it’s Free!

Basically you hold your phone up to your ear like you’re on a call and that’s how you record your segments – super easy! There is also an option to add background music, interludes, and you can integrate music from Spotify.

Anchor used to have the Snapchat effect – your segments would be archived after 24 hours. Recent updates allow you to convert your segments into episodes. I haven’t really gotten too fancy with episode creation, but I imagine this is a way you can make a super-solid, professional-sounding radio show: throw a background track on it, add a song for an intermission between segments, toss in some sound effects for humor or drama & boom! You gotta radio show!

Check mine out here!¬†ūüĎá

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Would love to hear your thoughts on the show or any requests for future Plant Rants!

Leave some love!

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Winter Pruning

bug on berries

I feel like I am saying this all the time – winter is a sad time for the gardener. But this is the natural way; the tomatoes get smaller as the summer heat is blown away by the refreshing autumn air, the trees shed their leaves & soon the snow will be falling. Though the winter is an off-season (until we get some land with high tunnels or greenhouses :)) it is one of the most critical seasons for reflecting, planning, & executing a great next season.

There is great pain in destroying all that you created to support your garden, but also great satisfaction in looking back to all that we harvested & enjoyed, and the lessons learned along the way. Just from clean-up I learned 1 thing – I am never using bamboo as a staking method for tomatoes again. Bamboo is a go-to stake because of cost & the sustainability factor, but I ran into a few issues:

  1. Insert the thicker end of cane into the ground, not the skinny end. Once the tomato plants got loaded up with fruit, the weight coupled with wind & rain, caused some of the stakes to actually snap!
  2. A little too flexible for the Florida Weave Trellis (check it out here).
  3. What do I do with all this used bamboo?? Once the season was done, I pulled out the bamboo stakes – 50 from the tomatoes & 60 from the peppers. The labor wasn’t difficult, it’s just the clean-up & disposal that takes time. And the fact that the stakes can’t be reused makes me feel wasteful – even though bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet.
  4. Tying & securing plants to stakes is another area I want to modify. Next year I’ll be moving my plant tying to a Max Tapener Machine – basically, it holds plant tie ribbon in a dispenser & with one hand you can secure a plant to a stake. The tie holds up to the elements, but the main challenges we kill with this machine are labor for plant tying & saving money switching from the ADC bands I’m currently using.

As a gardener, you want to reuse everything; to be the most sustainable & resourceful steward of the land that you can possibly be. But this isn’t always the case. You need to pull yourself from your emotions & throw your old & consumable supplies away to prevent the spread of disease from this year’s plants to next.

When you think of a gardener, you probably envision someone covered in dirt and who isn’t afraid of getting dirty – you wouldn’t think it, but cleanliness of the garden is the first thing on their minds – and it starts in the off-season.

Winter is about reflection, but it’s also about pruning the excess from your life in order to facilitate growth. We must clip dead limbs & branches from our trees & shrubs, opening the plants to more sunlight exposure, managing excessive growth in some parts of the plant, and encouraging new growth in other parts.

It isn’t only the plants that need pruned. Take a minute to examine where you’ve grown so far this year – is it where you wanted to be? Why not? What grew unexpectedly from your inputs & maintenance throughout the year? Or maybe, what stunted your growth?

The most important thing to realize through all of this is that the environment had less of an impact than you think, or less than you want to think. In the case of overgrowth, is this “good” or “bad”? What were your goals? If you wanted to grow, then “overgrowth” is just your first reaction to growth because you’re not sure how to manage it; how to deal with success. There were so many areas you excelled, shouldn’t you leave all that success in place to grow & thrive naturally? We are so scared to cause a flaw, that we would rather let it grow untamed & without a purpose other than rampant growth. You need to take a look and say, this was a great year – what can I remove from this success to make the next year even more successful. It is so hard to cut branches from a beautiful rose bush – but it’s just as painful to watch it grow without a purpose, plan, or care for the aesthetic pleasure.

And in the case of stunted growth we can only ask “why did this happen here”? Is the environment to blame for this?

With my garden, stunted growth came in 3 forms.

  1. Lack of irrigation for plants in Root Pouches. Due to the wet start to the season, I did not set up drip irrigation, so watering depended on hand watering with hose attachments.
  2. Lack of growing space or planted too densely. With the trends of square foot gardening, vertical growing, etc. all touting the benefits of packing plants in & increasing the yields per square foot. This works for certain crops, but not as well for tomatoes that seemed to need a little bit more room – I do this every year because tomatoes start so small & then just grow like crazy and jungle-ize the garden.
  3. Growing location. Growing too closely to other plants cuts down on air circulation, water circulation, and light. This can leave some plants without the proper ventilation, too wet, or too shaded. Next year we’ll only interplant with manageable options like garlic planted with tomatoes.

Environment wasn’t necessarily my issue, but how I was using my environment. In the garden, and in life, our first reaction is to create MORE. More is better, more plants = more tomatoes = more salsa = more tomatoes to sell. We did get MORE, but the quality of the plants eventually suffered. Bugs are natural & expected, and were controlled for organically with Neem Oil, Hot Pepper Wax, & Diatomaceous Earth. But the fungus & disease is what got the tomato plants in the end. We harvested a ton that we used for salsa, pico, spaghetti sauce, chili, and anything else we could use them for, but would we have harvested longer with healthier separation of the plants? Or was the disease already present in the soil?

These questions lead me to envision what my future garden would look like – and I’m not even quite sure what that will look like next year. It seems like every year that I garden on, I narrow my growing focus. The first year I grew everything from broccoli to watermelon & this past year I cut the varieties, but still had:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Peppers
  • Jalape√Īos
  • Habaneros
  • Raspberries
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Mint

Okay, so that seems like a lot, but the onion, garlic, and lettuce were mainly in the spring, we didn’t add mint or oregano until late summer, and our main focus was Tomatoes & Peppers. Right now I’m tossing around the idea of growing a slew of peppers next year. There are so many different varieties that I have never tried & think it would be a great talking piece for the Farmer’s Markets.

Leave a comment below with what you want to see me grow!

The garden does have some current tenants – raspberry plants in their first year, blackberry, some garlic, and tree seeds that I planted in Root Pouches. Those trees are: Paper Birch, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Boxwood, and Blue Spruce. These seeds need to be vernalized; exposed to the cold in order to induce seed propagation. I hope that they’ll be okay in the Root Pouches they’re growing in, but may cover them with a frost blanket before deep winter sets in.

I am really excited to see what happens next year. This is my first foray into growing trees & I feel like a “real grower”. That and I feel confident & curious enough to grow just about anything. I truly believe that the garden is my one small step for Dan-kind – I’m just preparing for my giant leap!

Learn more about that Giant Leap here & help support us by becoming a member of the Gardening 4 Gains Community Garden below!

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1.7 Minutes of Motivation

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Bumblebee Devoured by Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis