Growing A Vegetable Garden (And Skipping The Doctor)

Phil Growing A Vegetable Garden

We had a family get together a couple of weeks ago.

It’s always fun trying to explain to family or friends who I haven’t seen for awhile about what I do for a “living.”

“I have a website where I teach people about growing a vegetable garden, and organic gardening in general.”

“How do you make money?”

“I have a blog where I give away information for free, but then I also have an online course that gets into much more detail on organic gardening, with a focus on how to grow a vegetable garden full of highly nutritious food.”

Make sense to me, but I think it’s quite a foreign concept to most people.

My family and friends are very supportive, but I can see on their faces that it doesn’t always click.

I think they don’t understand how it works, and I imagine to the uninitiated it sounds like a rather disposable, unimportant service I’m providing.

Organic gardening. A hobby. Who cares, right?

Growing A Vegetable Garden – What It’s Really About

When I was younger, I was lucky enough to get it in my head that I could achieve whatever I wanted in life.

For whatever reason, I was reasonably bright, so for example, perhaps I could have been a doctor.

And yet, I think I’ll actually help more people doing what I’m doing now.

That’s not to say that doctors aren’t important for your health – it’s just that growing a vegetable garden full of nutrient-dense food is one of the most important things you can do for your health in my view.

It’s preventative medicine. I don’t know about you, but for me, eating healthy food and exercising and doing things to keep my stress down are my main doctors.

Dr. William A. Albrecht got me thinking about this today. He was one of the most influential people in the organic farming world. He realized he could help more people by being a soil scientist than by staying on his original path of becoming a medical doctor.

So yes, organic gardening is fun, and the outcome can be very aesthetically pleasing, which is fine.

But many non-gardeners think it stops there, as a hobby, perhaps a bit of an elitist hobby. Or maybe just a way to increase the value of a home.

Yet, if you’re growing a vegetable garden and learning how to get all of the nutrients into that food – a little more difficult than it used to be when we had better soils in many areas, but still doable – then that food is medicine.

Some nutrient-dense foods have the same anti-inflammatory ingredients that are in aspirin, just as one example.

That is not happening in food from most grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

The thing that most people don’t know is that vegetables from your own organic vegetable garden have the potential to be many times more nutritious than foods from the grocery store.

That’s partially because they were freshly picked just a few minutes before you eat them, but also because you can get all of the 60, 70, 80+ nutrients into them, and in high quantities.

Even if you don’t learn about growing highly nutritious vegetables and fruits and you just grow any kind of basic food, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. You’re hooked, right?

Not to mention the environmental and social benefits. Permaculturist Geoff Lawton said “you can fix all the world’s problems in a garden.”

When you learn about growing a vegetable garden and you study permaculture and other organic gardening methods, you start to see how important this is.

I know that gardening was my introduction into sustainable living, politics, and nutrition, my movement away from materialism and over-consumption, and even my ability to question conventional thinking on pretty much everything.

So back to this recent family gathering. I pulled out a copy of my new gardening book, which I had just received in the mail 2 days before.

I saw it on their faces. They got it right away. I think they understood a little better just exactly what I do.

A book is something we all understand. This one’s called ‘Building Soils Naturally’, and it’s obviously not as comprehensive is my online course, but it’s jam-packed with information about improving your soil and growing a vegetable garden.

It’s now available for order. More info on all of this here: Building Soils Naturally

Why are you interested in growing a vegetable garden? What doors has gardening opened for you? What are you harvesting this weekend? Let me know below.


  1. T Rast on July 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Gardening gives me joy. When I am out in the garden, I feel peaceful. It has opened up new recipes and I have begun to can my own food. I have made several batches of pickles this summer already. This year, I plan to have a year round garden and can’t wait to have fresh salad in the middle of a Wisconsin winter. I have already ordered your book and can’t wait to read it.

  2. Frank on July 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I have been organic gardening since 1978, and yet I feel like I’m new at gardening. I have learned so many new methods on the internet, that I am overwhelmed by the information that is out there, thank you for your contribution.Frank

  3. Shasha on July 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I am a widow living in a condo. I miss my big garden BUT I dug up 5 ft along the side of my house about 30ft long and planted it fairly intensely. I am now eating and sharing  lettuce, green beans, snow peas, peppers, heirloon tomatoes, broccoli, swiss chard, herbs and this fall, a few potatoes. What fun!!! I still need to do more to improve the soil. I added composted cow manure and fertilize with worm castings.

  4. Ben on July 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    You da bomb! Having others understand us is nice, but not vital. Listening to and following our calling is!

  5. Maddie on August 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I love how families try to grasp when your an all time gardener and they don’t understand the rewards a garden can bring

  6. Phil on August 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

  7. rohit on August 16, 2012 at 4:33 am

    What a very impressive post. I am glad for the share. Nowthat you mention it, I guess I should allocate a space for hoe test. I reallydon’t have one. Wow its a very good post. The information provided by you isreally very good and helpful for me. Keep sharing good information..Hyderabad Flowers 

  8. Kathy Marker on August 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Wow, wow,  WOW  I just found your website a couple of days ago….I’m so excited. I’ve ordered your book and expect it next week. Looking forward to studying in the Academy too….I’m growing a vegetable garden for fresher, healther, and taster food!  I’m discovering more about myself and about my soul’s passion….could this open the door to “making a living from my land”….could I really change the health of family and other people ??  This week end I’ll harvest some tomotes, cucs, zucs, peppers, strawberries and grapes. Enough to eat fresh and preserve some too.

    • Phil on August 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Awesome! Stick with it!

  9. Ben. S on September 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    G’day Phil, Not sure where I could have posted this, I know you’ve done a no-till article before but not sure where it is. That said I’ve really been thinking about the no-till theory and how to maximise it. My thought is in relation to above ground producing vegetables and fruits; for example when a tomato crop has finished producing could we simply chop the plant at the base of the main trunk and simply replant a new and different crop beside the old trunks?  My father seems to think this may attract adverse root rot nematodes which could cause damage to the newly planted crop. The idea seems ok in theory as it would be a lot less disturbing to the soil than pulling out the whole tomato plant root system which essentially destroys the immediate soil food web and built structure. Your thoughts would help here as I’m not sure to give this a go just yet. Kind regards, Ben. S

    • Phil on September 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      It’s a great idea in my view. Leaving that root system in the ground means it will feed the soil food web and be transformed into organic matter.It may attract some nematodes as the roots dieback, but they shouldn’t eat your new plants as long as they’re healthy. And of course you won’t be planting tomatoes there again right now – you’ll probably plant brassicas or lettuces/greens right? So the nematodes that eat the tomatoes may not care about them.

  10. Cherie Proctor on April 23, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Phil, you are READING MY MIND! So glad I’ve found your blog – it’s awesome.. 🙂 Started reading your eBook yesterday and already looking forward to getting the full version.. I cannot tell you just how much I agree with your whole way of thinking! About gardening, doctors and life.. The more I research, the more I realise you can’t assume that everything you’ve always been told is actually the best / healthiest way.. Can’t wait to buy our house so we can move on from pot / container gardening to proper garden beds! Keep up the good work..

  11. Lindsay on July 5, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Gardening is my way of healing not only my body, but my soul as well. As a communications officer, I am “plugged in” to a busy world, and as a mother, well, I am just busy. For my sanity’s sake, as well as for the health of my family, I am passionate about gardening. Your sharing has opened my mind to a new way of gardening that in some way, I had sensed, but without knowing I did not “realise”. Your views and approaches to building ecosystems just feel so right! Thank you!

    • Phil on July 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Glad to meet you Lindsay!

  12. Guest on September 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I just found your site via Joseph Mercola’s site. I did quite a bit of perennial gardening in Texas 2003-2009 (dianthus, oxalis, scabiosa, speedwell, coreopsis, cacti, sedum, etc…). But, then, life got in the way (long story) and I moved back home to North Carolina. I have downloaded your eBook and will digest the material ASAP. I WISH I could live as you do…disengaged from the “un-merry-go-’round”. Unfortunately, I am a debt slave. I am moving away from materialism but, the piper still has to be paid…

    • Phil on September 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Ya, it’s a gradual process. Obviously get free of your debt first and then gradually move away from the rat race. Hope you enjoy the ebook…

  13. Guest on September 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Sorry for the large picture…

  14. audrey on May 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    growing an organic raised bed garden has been difficult for me. this year i am trying you em and fertilizers. My carrots get big green tops and no carrot, small white little root. help.

    • Phil on May 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Could be a lot of things. Sending a soil sample to a good organic lab and following their fertilizer recommendations will help. Do you use a lot of nitrogen fertilizer? That can be a culprit, as can neglecting to thin the carrots so that they’re too close together.

  15. Tina Martino on May 15, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I agree that fruits and veggies grown in the back yard carry so much more nutritional value than what you can get in the store! We grow a large vegetable garden every year and share it with friends and family. Often they will even bring their kids and share in the work of planting and weeding as well!

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