Producing a podcast was at the top of my Resolutions List this year & I’m finally making it a reality thanks to my lifelong friend Tyler Gutman (aka Romo Loco). We had no plans, agenda, or structure going into this podcast, but I really feel like we got into a great flow & cadence – would love to hear your thoughts on the topics we dove into! We start off talking about the origins of our names – “Romo Loco” & “Gardening 4 Gains”, talk about Tyler’s time in the jungle & the practices of Permaculture he learned. Then we talk about Tyler’s music & what he’s currently working on – then we go everywhere from DNA & genetics to politics & just about everything else – Enjoy!
I took a half-day off work today to get some long overdue chores out of the way before the holidays & inevitable travel that follows. We don’t have to travel far for family but Kyla & I both have 10 days off work between Christmas & New Years – who knows where we may end up with all that time.
I love my new job as a Product Manager, but when you dive in head first every day going 110%, with a huge variety of tasks, you need to unwind every once in a while – everyone needs a break – and not only that, but I feel as though it is necessary to get out & explore new terrain. Winter isn’t ideal but we can get creative & adapt.
And the more I think about it, bring on the cold! Lately I have been feeling like forcing myself into a certain amount of suffering – and by that I mean breaking out of your comfort zone – I feel like if you’re not struggling in some capacity, then you’re getting comfortable, and when you get comfortable, you become vulnerable. But vulnerable to your routine and inability to adapt, or better yet, to innovate; to be visionary instead of reactionary.
Sorry for the severe detraction but I can’t help but wonder what all these guys are thinking as I’m sitting at Sidney Tire, waiting on my oil change, while writing chicken scratch in a notebook. What kind of “kid” writes instead of being on their phone or laptop?
First, this is partly about not giving a shit what people think – if you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one. Secondly, I think that the action of writing, the mode I choose to write with, has been the bottleneck. It’s much easier to write & flow with a pen & pad of paper. Typing is mechanical and restricted to certain strokes, but with handwriting, you work your way down the lines, down the page physically, not in a theoretical technological representation of it.
We grew up writing everything & only recently have things been switched to digital. Does the younger generation feel weirdly about writing vs. typing/texting?
Either way, I feel more creative with the pen – and I’m so thankful that I figured it out. If anything, it is the 1st draft & when I type it, that will be the time to refine & perfect.
And I thought I didn’t give a shit – this African dude is blasting some African chanting music on his phone in the waiting area – some people just don’t care and that’s the way to be! No matter how cringe-worthy it can be for everyone else!
Being carefree & not judging one’s self is crucial to survival. And yet at the same time you need to care about a lot & be very judgmental of yourself in order to improve. Finding the balance is tough but one that I’m working towards in several aspects of my life: health, wealth, & happiness, to be extremely vague & cliché.
It all basically circles back to the statement I made about forcing suffering. Being overweight is a product of over-indulging on foods, not working out enough, not walking the dogs frequently enough. It is also a product of being in the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in, happy with my job – and simply being overall satisfied with the direction my life is going.
I’m not extremely overweight, but I would like to be slimmer. I’ve been bulking for about 5 years – it’s time to begin the cut for next spring/summer – after Thanksgiving.
It all begins with the consistency of lifting & activity. Since I spend the majority of the day at my desk, I NEED to walk the dogs (maybe run them), lift at least 3 times a week, and get cardio in wherever I get the chance.
When you force yourself into difficult situations like waking up early, lifting hard, doing morning yoga – when you overcome the struggle, you unlock more & more energy to propel you forward. Become the habits. Live the change.
Other than that I really am working hard towards formulating the right plot to take the garden to a full-blown farm. I keep talking about buying land but I think the better way to think about it is, “how much can I squeeze out of my small garden area that I already have set-up?” The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries, yet produces an enormous percentage of the world’s food & plant material because of agritech and grower knowledge that is beyond the conventional realm of agriculture & horticulture.
I feel confident that with more diligent planning, & the accumulated knowledge through experience and education, that I can at least double my production next spring on the same amount of land. To be fair, half of the garden at my parents’ house was devoured by hungry deer, but I think I can double production at the Garden of Gains South (my house) too. Through the use of container production, organic principles, biological controls, and a little bit of luck, I have learned how to dial it in & prevent disease rather than trying to cure them.
Learning from experience is different than education from classes though. Through classes, you learn more about the biology, the chemistry – and that fascinates me – I just wish that I learned those subjects under the same context in high school & college – it probably wouldn’t have changed my mind without me actively gardening though, but I’m glad that I found it at a certain point in my life. I was always interested in those areas of science, but never realized how I would utilize them in my future passion that is growing plants & gardening.
So often in life we feel as though things are out of our control because we aren’t in a position of “power”.
But true power is never attained – it is earned; it is something that exists within your soul already. You exercise this power by taking risks; taking calculated leaps of faith & fighting for your mission.
Sometimes you lose – most of the time you will lose – learn to love it.
If you always get your way, you will never learn the truth. You’ll never learn the true mechanics of the world and learn what the market desires; in the end it is the market that dictates who/what wins.
Your losses & failures seem so ultimate in the Now – our society celebrates success as if it always happens overnight; instant gratification. And when success isn’t instantaneous, we want to quit. We want to protect ourselves from the insecurity & vulnerability we feel – or fear we will feel. On the plus side, nobody gives as much of a shit about your feelings as you do.
The other good news is that you have 60-100 years of life left (I’m planning on living to 132) to learn from those mistakes & to pivot towards a new path.
Your failure is never an end – it is a new beginning.
If your failure is a dead-end & you see it as your goal’s death, that is a problem with your perception, or maybe your ideas do suck!
How you react & refine it shows your faith in your mission, and more importantly, in your Self.
Give yourself permission to fail.
Failure is the only true path to success & victory because it shows how badly you want It. When you see success as “winning” and failure as “losing” – you lose! Life is not binary unless you want to limit the scope of your mind to that. In success there is room for improvement & in failure there are micro-victories to be celebrated – a little paradoxical, no? Well that’s life – confusing as hell & so complex that we will never fully understand the relationships that intertwine to form our reality.
Giving yourself permission to fail or succeed is the critical component in the equation of life. And if you think of it as an equation, that may be the perfect analogy.
What you want could be the product, sum, or difference & the rest of the equation’s components are in your hands – and then it is algebra from there.
My equation looks something like this:
[Blogx+3Instagramx+YouTubex+(15CSA+add-on products)-Excuses-TimeWaste]² = Greenhouse Grower / Farmer
In other words, I know that I need to produce content on my Blog weekly, post at least 3 times a day on Instagram, create a weekly YouTube video, build up my CSA (veggie box subscription), and when I take that to an exponential level – I will be on the way to attaining my goals. I’m constantly tweaking that equation with different approaches. When I slip on one platform, then I know I need to increase activity on another in order to balance the equation. And as I fail, I learn – as I succeed, I learn & seek to replicate that or fabricate new ways to succeed further.
Your goals are only crazy if you follow them blindly. If you continue to see your ideas/thoughts/desires surface – maybe there’s something there. If they continue to fail, what is poking holes in your theory? Study its credence & eliminate its influence if you still feel as strongly.
I LOVE telling people that I’m going to be a farmer because I see the smirk, I see the doubt, I see the almost-condescending attitude pouring from them. But I also know the truth of the economics, and more importantly, I know the truth of my passion.
Most people love their cushy office jobs, but I love nature & I love work. I remember helping my parents mulch our house when I was about 8-10 years old and just loving the fact that I was sweating my ass off, working hard in the hot Ohio summer – that is the difference – I love what other people fear or avoid. And on the academic side – I seek to understand as widely & deeply as possible. When you can combine an academic mind with a body that loves work – you have a farmer.
Whether I succeed in the end depends on my short-term actions that map to my long-term goals. Today I start with 15 people who have subscribed to our Garden-Fresh Veggie Boxes, but just a couple years ago I couldn’t even manage to supply myself with enough produce!
The moral of this rant is to chase down your dreams until you catch them. Fear of Failure is the 1 thing that will deter you initially. But what is worse: to try & then fail? or to not try & never know the outcome?
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 – Garden Blog|Plant Shop|Mission – This 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 – that is one of my top targets for 2018 – to 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.
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! 👇
<iframe src=”https://anchor.fm/e/1ad8f30″ height=”270px” width=”400px” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>
Would love to hear your thoughts on the show or any requests for future Plant Rants!
Leave some love!
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:
- 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!
- A little too flexible for the Florida Weave Trellis (check it out here).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Green Peppers
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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