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I have read many books on my growing journey, but when I read The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier my way of gardening and garden planning changed forever.

Do you, like I did, only make a drawing of your garden and a list of what you are going to grow and that is all there is in your garden plan?

Growing a garden is more than just planting the seed and waiting for a crop. If you want to keep growing year after year you need to take care of your soil and make a garden plan that can help you do more. Help you grow like a market gardener.

In this podcast episode you and I are going to discuss what I learned and how you can apply these truths in your own garden planning and growing journey.

Let’s get growing!

What You Will Learn:

  • You will learn what a grower’s garden plan should include

  • How to Stems for your Garden

  • The most import thing you must grow in your garden

Growing with God Verses:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. ~ Hebrews 11:1-4

Genesis 4:1-10

Resources Mentioned

The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier is a book that changed the way I grow a garden and how I looked at my growing journey as a whole.

When I first started gardening or even writing out a garden plan all I had was a rototiller, a pile of seed packets, and a drawing of what I want to grow where. This is great when you are first starting but I quickly found out that I needed more. My garden needed something more. We both needed something that would give me a schedule and my garden more care. A garden has a long list of needs and mine were not being met by my weak or lack of systems.

I don’t know if that is how you feel too. You work in your garden everyday but half of your time is just figuring out what needs done. This is not efficient and when you are an already busy person your garden and especially your garden soil suffer.

That is why I decided I need something new, I need to look at my garden and my garden from a different perspective. And that is where this book came into my life.

Now before I dive into all that I learned, first let's talk about why the mindset of a Market Gardener is so important. First of all they look at their garden as not a hobby but a job. This simple fact tells them that they need more from their garden plan and also their garden soil. Their plan needs very specific schedules and jobs so that the market gardener knows what she or he is doing each day or if they have employees then they know what to tell them what needs done. As for their soil it needs to be taken care of first because without a crop they are out of a job.

You may not be growing crops for customers everyday but you are going for your family and they are who you want to eat your produce. This means that you need to fulfill their needs with what you grow. So you are going to need quantities like a market gardener does and having a schedule would sure free up your time to grow more for your family. I hope you see where I am going with this. I promise I am going to go into more detail in a moment.

Second, I want to tell you who Jean-Martin Fortier is. He is from Canada. Him and his partner started a market garden together more than 20 years ago. And what intrigued me about his methods is that he focuses on growing on a small scale. This meant without huge equipment, small acreage, and only a few employees. Almost exactly what I was trying to create on my homestead. And just maybe what you are trying to create too. Mr. Fortier also practices no-till because he feels this is the best way to care for the soil and combat weeds. And truly what I loved about him, his book, and what I have seen about him on YouTube, is that he comes to growing with a simple straight forward viewpoint of adding abundance to my garden.

And I hope the things I learn from him and his book inspires you to give it a read or better yet change the way you look at your garden and garden planning. Let’s get into it.

Soil is the Beginning and the End

Soil is the most important thing we are growing on our growing journey. It is easy to look at it as just a clump of mud but that mud provides all your plants need to produce a crop for you to eat. You may just see yourself as a gardener but if you have been around this farm for a while you know that what you truly are is the steward of the soil. It is up to you to take off the soil first and last. And what I mean by that is that when planning your growing you need to think of your soil needs before your plants so that your soil will have all that your plants need. And last because before you stop growing at the end of your growing season you every year you need to put your garden soil to bed. You need to clear up your plant debris and cover your soil to protect it through the winter. When you do just these two things you will have abundance beyond measure because you will have fully stepped in your role of steward of the soil.

You can also:

  • Move to No-Till

  • Building Permanent Beds

  • Making a Fertilization Schedule

  • Crop Rotation

  • Utilize Cover Crops

  • Cover the Soil with Tarps

Location is Important

As a market gardener Mr. Fortier does talk about location when it comes to building yourself a market for your product. But he does have a wonderful visual in his book that show you how a garden should be originated so that you can make a mini microclimate the will help your grow more produce because your garden will be protected.

Your garden needs to:

  • Have a wind block to the north to protect it and your soil from the harsh north winds

  • Be on a slight slope that faces to the south, for more sun and to help with drainage

  • Permanent Beds should face south

  • Have permeate Beds to bring ease in your other systems

  • Be situated on your property so that it is close to water and your tools

Grow Cash Crops First

In the Market Gardener world they are focused on making money on what they sell. Which means that they don’t want to grow something that takes a lot of space or worse will not give them a profit. I was not sure how this could help me as a grower but then I thought if what they call Cash Crops are worth more and would cost me more to buy then those should be the ones that I should grow first.

Now my family is unique and we don’t necessarily eat all the types of vegetable so I may not grow all of the cash crops but when it comes to me adding a new crop to my list I am going to look at the list of cash crops in this book to help me decide if it would be better for me to grow or if I should just purchase them. This is also tied into the quantity I need too. But by growing through this list I have stopped growing several crops that are just easier for me to buy so that I can open up space in my garden to grow our staple veggies we love.

Develop Systems

Like I said above a Market Gardener looks at his or her garden as not a hobby but a job and with that they need systems for everything. They need a calendar to know what they are doing every day or what their employees are doing every day. They need to know what is ready to harvest and when so that they can market that product. This may seem like something you may not need as a grower. But I have a question for you.

Is growing a garden all you do on your growing journey?

I can answer that with a resounding, NO!

There are so many things that need to get done on a growing journey and the key that I have to get it all done is to develop systems.

Because what a system does is it lets you take everything out of your head and gives it a place. A safe place where you know that when you need to work in the garden, clean the house, or prune the trees you can go and pick up what you need and get to work. Everything is laid out so that when you are working in different areas of your growing journey you can work with less stress, peace, and confidence. Because you know that what needs done is getting done when it needs to be.

I have felt that the best way that I can help you on your growing journey is to help you develop your own systems. And that is why I have developed the Purposeful Growing Journey.

The Purposeful Growing Journey is a page on my website designed to help you figure out what stage you are in and then help you start to build a system to help grow. The stages are:

  • Just Grow where you focus on you and your goals

  • Purposeful Kitchen where you start growing no matter if you have land or not

  • Purposeful Homemaker where you develop systems to help with all the things that need done

  • Purposeful Garden where you grow and develop a garden of abundance

  • Purposeful Homestead where you grow and design a homestead based on the 15 Permaculture Principles

  • Purposeful Life where you bring it all together and begin to scale

Please jump over to the Purposeful Growing Journey and find your stage today and get growing right where you are on your Growing Journey!

Wow, that was a lot but now back to what I learned from reading The Market Gardener.

Spacing for Abundance

The back of the seed packet does have proper spacing for your produce in the garden but that system is for rows and rows of plants not permanent beds that are what market gardeners use. They then have to develop their own guidelines for plant spacing so that one they can grow in beds, but two to make sure every piece of real estate they own is growing something so that they can earn a living.

At first I didn’t see how this was going to help me but then I realized that if I simply changed my spacing I could grow more, I knew I needed to follow this system in my garden. Also I found out as I continued to read that growing closer is not just to grow more but that it can also be used to help with weeds. Weeds in the garden create competition for our produce and this can cause them to struggle but by placing my produce closer the produce will actually block the sun from the soil and this results in less weed seeds germinating and reduce water evaporation from the soil.

There are many reasons for adapting to the spacing a market gardener uses in their garden so be sure to check out this section of the book by Jean-Martin Fortier.

Make a Plan for Everything

I have mentioned this topic, I think, in every part of today's episode or blog post. Market gardeners have a plan for everything they do so that they can bring clarity to everything they do. And you can do this too.

One of the biggest benefits that I notice from this is the focus that I can give to everything I do. And I think it is because now that I have all of the things out of my head and in a safe place I don’t need to worry about them any more. I can give my full attention to what is at hand and when it is time to pick up the next thing I can just look at my list or my plan and just start.

Do you crave clarity in your growing journey let alone every part of your life?

Then I hope that reading the Market Gardener for yourself can help at least build systems in your garden but if you would like to learn more about creating more systems for yourself be sure to check out a link I have for you below.

I hope that this topic and episode have helped you in your garden planning and growing a purposeful garden.

I hope that you can now see that your garden plan needs to be more than a list and a drawing and how you can transform your garden plan into one that includes everything.

And if you are ready to start planning like a pro and make this year’s garden your best yet, grab your spot on the Purposeful Growing Waiting List, and start learning how to grow your own purposeful garden, even when you don’t have large amounts of time, money, or tools.

And Remember,

Don’t let the world hold you back,

Pray, Just Plant

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